Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frogs to play at Jerry World?

Ever since the City of Dallas made the fumble of all time, failing to build the Cowboys a new stadium in Fair Park and letting Jerry build his grand new spaceship in Arlington ("The Game Room of Texas"), said stadium has been the elephant in the room when discussing non-conference scheduling.

With the Frogs wanting to beef up their OOC slate and neutral-site games in vogue these days, it's easy to imagine a scenario where a big program would only deign to play at TCU if the game were shifted 20 miles to the east and played at Jerry World. That's all well and good, except that it robs TCU of any kind of home field advantage- do you really think that Frog fans could outnumber, say, Texas A&M fans if those two teams played in Arlington? Furthermore, I think that once TCU does move a home game to Arlington, every big-name program they try to schedule will only agree to play there. Without the ability to draw top opponents to Fort Worth, the dream of renovating Amon G. Carter into a top-notch, modern facility would begin to fade...rapidly. I, for one, am adamantly against doing this.

Now comes a rumor that the TCU vs. LSU scheduled for 2013 may be moved to Arlington. The difference in this game being moved off-campus, though, is that 2013 is the game that is slated to be in Baton Rouge, not Fort Worth. The Frogs would still get their shot at LSU in the friendly confines of Amon G. in 2014.

If true (and again, it's JUST a rumor), this could set an extremely beneficial precedent for TCU in their attempts to schedule quality opponents in the future. It's saying "we're perfectly willing to play you in Arlington", while still having a line drawn in the sand in terms of moving home games away from campus. Instead of signing 'home & home' agreements, maybe from here forward they can offer a '2 for 1' deal to teams that want to play at Jerry World, where each program gets a home game and then the opposing team's second "home game" is played in Arlington.

Capital One Mascot Challenge

Super Frog was just selected as one of the 12 finalist in Capitol One's Mascot challenge. So far there have been 4 others chosen, Testudo from Maryland, Jack Rabbit from South Dakota State, Butch T. Cougar from Washington State, and Mike the Tiger from LSU, the other seven will be revealed over the next two and a half weeks. While the award doesn't really hold any significance, being a finalist means that he will be featured in the commercials that run throughout the fall. Great free national advertising.

GoFrogs Story

Mascot Challenge Site

Taking Inventory: Running Backs

As has been the case at TCU for quite some time- and going along with a practice that is becoming increasingly common in the NCAA- the Frogs will likely employ a running backs by committee approach to their ground game again this year. The question is, which backs will command the largest pieces of the pie and get the most carries?

The two returning backs that shouldered the most load last year are 5th-year seniors Joseph Turner and Ryan Christian. Both were held out of spring practice with injuries, but should be 100% by now. If Turner can stay healthy (which has been a recurring issue), he ought to again lead the team in both attempts and yards, as he did a year ago. His tough running style can be especially demoralizing to opposing defenses in the second half. With a new offensive coordinator(s), though, Christian may see his role change just a bit. Toward the end of last season, he was given less hand-offs and started to become more of a pass-catching threat. In my humble opinion, that is what his role ought to be, because he is a very dangerous weapon for this offense when he is in the open field.

With the departure of Aaron Brown to the Detroit Lions and Christian possibly receiving less carries, who will be picking up the slack? The top candidate is redshirt freshman Ed Wesley, whom the coaching staff has been raving about since he arrived on campus last fall and was a stand-out in spring practice. At 5'9" and 185lbs, Wesley has been described by some as a smaller, faster version of Robert Merrill. Jai Cavness, a shifty sophomore who ran for 134 yards and 2 TD's last season, also has the potential to play a significant role in the offense.

The two returnees that haven't been as conspicuous in preseason hype are 5th-year senior Chris Smith and sophomore Jurcell Fort. Smith, a bruiser who weighs in at 231 lbs, has played sparingly in his first three seasons, mostly in blow-out victories. Remember though, that Justin Watts had a similiar track record and did score 4 TD's as a senior last year. Fort played in 2 games last year, gaining 5 yards on 4 attempts after moving over from cornerback.

When the Frogs line up in a formation that requires a fullback, 220 lb-sophomore Luke Shivers will be the man. He was mostly used as a lead-blocker last year, although he did score 2 TD's and caught a pass out of the backfield, showing that he could be utilized more as his career progresses. Junior walk-on Ryan Hightower is the only other fullback listed on the roster, but I'd imagine that Smith and Turner could line up at FB in a pinch with their size.

And then...there are the newcomers. The TCU coaching staff hit the jackpot when it came to recruiting tailbacks this past offseason, inking four oustanding ball carriers and creating an embarrassment of riches. There's 5'8" 190lb Waymon James out of Sherman (where he ran for 4,732 career yards, 54 TD and was a pass-catching threat out of the backfield), 6'1" 215lb Matthew Tucker out of Tyler Chapel Hill (6,093 career yards, 69 TD), 5'10" 225lb Dwight Smith out of Carthage (2,820 43 TD & a state title in one season) and 6'1" 200lb UCLA transfer Aundre Dean, formerly of Katy (5,495 career yards, 61 TD, 2 state rings). Even with a talented group of returning backs, all four of these backs have the talent to play this fall. Dean will have to wait a year, though, due to NCAA transfer rules and there is some question as to whether Smith will be academically eligible (fingers crossed). There is also, with this coaching staff, always the potential that one or more of these guys could end up playing a different position. Either way, the future looks very, very bright and I wouldn't get my hopes up about signing a high-profile tailback in the next recruiting class.

Up Next: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

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