Monday, September 14, 2009

Top 25 Dragon Recap

Great weekend for the Frogs, good weekend for the rankings as we moved to 15th in both polls and, more notably, great weekend for the unwashed masses, otherwise known as the non-AQ leagues. We may not have won all of the intersectional games this weekend, but we won the big ones that were televised, and that’s a HUGE step in the right direction. We all love tearing down the BCS hierarchy, and this weekend has to have kicked their blood pressures up quite a few notches. While the mtn. west missed its major upset opportunity in Las Vegas, our other brothers in arms more than made up for this and really shook things up for the rest of the season. Let’s take a look – rankings reflect new rankings this week.

GTWTRM (AP/Coaches)

#14/13 Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 27. If you didn’t catch this one, you’ll see this final score and view it as another evenly matched despite the rankings ACC game where one team simply out field goal’d the other. What you won’t see is that the score was quickly 24-0 in the first half and Georgia Tech simply took their foot off Clemson’s neck. Georgia Tech pulled out all the stops – a fake FG touchdown, last second FG to win, returning a Clemson pooch punt for a TD. They absolutely ran circles around the Tigers.

Honestly though, that’s not exactly how it went. I mean, yes, on one hand, I do believe the Yellow Jackets kind of took the heat off once they saw how soundly they were winning, but Clemson showed quite a bit of resiliency in this one. Heck, they were up 27-24 and likely would’ve won had it not been for a penalty on a play that would’ve given the Tigers the ball in the GT red zone. Clemson redshirt freshman QB Kyle Parker looked mighty shaky in the first half, but he settled down in the second and did quite a bit of growing up. Clemson has a refresher game against Boston College this weekend at home before the Frogs come to town, so that one might be worth watching via ESPN360 assuming you aren’t already tailgating for our game, which you should be.

UR/UR Notre Dame 34, 25/UR Michigan 38. Oh and how glorious it was! I don’t care much for Michigan, but I HATE Notre Dame as much as any other college team I dislike, so watching the Fightin' Fupas go down in the closing seconds was extremely satisfying. And to make it even moreso, the Weis himself is totally at fault for not running the clock at the end of the game, opting for 2 incomplete passes which gave Michigan the chance to make the game winning drive. Emu Clausen had a better game from a statistical standpoint, but Tate Forcier proved to be a solid dual threat QB and, more importantly, got the win. Seeing Notre Dame in the “Also Receiving Votes” section makes work worth coming into on Mondays.

#23/20 Georgia 41, South Carolina 37. Did not watch much of this one as it ran counter to USC/Ohio State, but it held true to form in the margin of victory aspect for this series. On the other hand, it was much more of a shootout than previous games between the two schools and actually came down to the final snap when Georgia’s Rennie Curran batted down a Stephen Garcia 4th down pass in the end zone. Lots of sloppy play, including 24 penalties, and special teams scores were the story of this game. Neither team proved much to anyone as that Georgia loss to Oklahoma State looks a lot worse after their Saturday, and I’m pretty sure no one expected South Carolina to put up 37 points in any game all year. This lack of respect showed as the pollsters dropped Georgia two spots in the AP poll, but they gained one in the Coaches.

GTKOM

#10/10 Boise State 48, Miami Ohio 0. Well, two games in, 0 points for Miami of Ohio. Pretty terrible. No one expected much in this game and they were right. Kellen Moore tossed 4 TDs for the Broncos and the defense allowed only 194 total yards despite losing the TOP battle by 10 minutes. Sounds like Boise works fast and they’re still a BCS road block for us.

GTMBTFIOTRBAUAH

#9/7(tie) LSU 23, Vanderbilt 9. Not exactly the romp I expected – in fact, it was pretty close – but LSU got the job done and got a nice rankings boost in both polls, moving up 2 spots in each. A late LSU TD by running back Keiland Williams eventually put it out of reach, but whew, if I’m an LSU fan, I don’t feel too good about my team right now after allowing two sub par teams to hang around. As suspected, the LSU passing game didn’t have too much zip on it as Jefferson aired it out 20 times for 138 yards and no TDs, but he also didn’t throw any picks, so I suppose that’s a small, managing the game type victory. They have a few more tune ups between now and October 10th when the Gators come to town so if I’m the Hat, I’m working overtime in those games to get this team where its unruly and unrealistic fan base expects it to be, as impossible as tha tmay be.

#12/12 Oklahoma 64, Idaho State 0. OU fans surely blew this win out of proportion and declared their Sooners to be back after absolutely destroying Idaho State with a backup QB, but the real win for these guys was what happened earlier in Stillwater. Combined with Texas looking beatable for one half in Laramie, OU may not be able to beat the MWC, but hey, at least a Big 12 South title still looks within reach. All kidding aside, The Ghost of James Battle could’ve won this game with a broken arm, so perhaps a rankings boost wasn’t exactly in order. Landry Jones at least looked partially like the record setting HS QB of his former years, tossing 3 Tds while completing 18/32 for 236 yards and… why am I congratulating OU again? Next.

#13/14 Virginia Tech 52, Marshall 10. The Randy Moss’ got their Byron Leftwich on and got fisted in Blacksburg. I have no idea what that sentence is supposed to mean.

#24/19 North Carolina 12, Connecticut 10. This game should’ve gone the other way. When you’re a ranked team and you only beat Connecticut with a late safety, you deserve that 5 spot drop in the polls. Apparently the coaches had on their rose colored glasses when they put in their votes for the Tar Heels.

OGOITHNBOTF

#3/3 USC 18, #11/11 Ohio State 15. Yeah so, hope you didn’t heed my advice on that whole “life savings” thing. Just goes to show that there’s no such thing as a sure bet unless it’s Houston +15.5 at Okie State or TCU -11 at Virginia. Very entertaining game capped by a phenomenal fourth quarter drive led by USC QB Matt Barkley. Sorry, Aaron Corp, you’re officially the new Matt Cassel, although Cassel’s wallet suggests this isn’t a bad thing. I don’t like USC any more than anyone else, but I’m buying the hype on this kid… until they lose to Oregon State or Washington mid season. Ohio State continues to demonstrate futility in big games and further illustrates how ridiculous the BCS process is as they have as good of a chance as anyone of making the Rose Bowl, although a potential rematch of this game might be worth checking out.

#16/17 Oklahoma State 35, #21/UR Houston 45. Finally, the one that really spun the college football world on its heads. For once, the pundits called for an upset all off season and they got it. This is the result that ended up giving us our rankings boost, which is surprising because I in no way thought a loss would drop Oklahoma State that far. Apparently the pollsters don’t care for my opinions. Fortunately I took the points in this one, but I still figured OSU would win by 2 TDs simply because they were at home. Houston might be a force to be reckoned with… for me to poop on. These guys are going to move into the rankings watch this week, but have no fear Frogs fans – they still play in CUSA which means they’ll get even less respect than we will in the late season polls. Think Ball State last year. They do have Tech coming to Houston in two weeks which should be worth a look, but Tech isn’t going anywhere and OSU will lose another game or two along the way, so expect that to hurt their SOS. Still, you can’t deny that Case Keenum is a pretty good QB as he put up 366 yards and 3 TDs against a defense that only gave up 10 to Georgia a week ago, although we know now Georgia’s true colors. I don’t know, I just don’t like Houston so I hate to give them credit.

So that’s it. Like I said, great week for the Non Automatics, especially with Toledo gut punching Colorado and Central Michigan creeping past Michigan State on some late game heroics. Interesting how the AP pollster were a lot more harsh on underachieving teams than the coaches, but I guess they must be protecting their own. The top 25 preview will come later in the week, but don’t’ expect the Frogs to do much moving and shaking as Texas State isn’t exactly a respected football powerhouse. Still, quite a few decent games on the schedule this weekend, but you’ll just have to wait and see what they mean for us… unless you go to ESPN.com, then you can see for yourself.

Clemson Game Time Announced


Well thanks, at least in part, to Clemson forgetting to play in the first half last week our game will be played at Noon CDT, that is 1:00 for those of you traveling.

In another kick to the groin, the game will not be on TV. It will however be available on ESPN 360. All the more reason to make the trip to Death Valley.

Game 1: Vagina Turncoats.

Benedict Arnold Smoking some Pole - much like his team did this weekend. Thanks, Disciples of GP

Another season opener, another win for the Frogs. Has it really been SEVEN years since that Cincinnati debacle? I was a freshman! Pretty impressive considering we’ve played at Oklahoma, knocked around Baylor at their place and ours, and opened up in a hostile road environment in New Mexico last season to get conference play kicked off at the earliest possible second. GP might talk about how lack of preparation hurts his team, but the results don’t lie – he whips those boys into shape over the summer. In a game that wasn’t in doubt for too long, it was pretty obvious that our biggest obstacles to the win were standing on our own sideline, because, let’s face it, Virginia is a TERRIBLE team who likely won’t have the same coach this time next month. Errant throws and a big turnover were the signatures of a first half that didn’t do a whole lot to ease the minds of the Frog Faithful but that second half and the overall defensive performance were enough to garner a 30-14 win and a one spot bump in the polls. Let’s see how it all shook out.

Offense – B+. First thing’s first – Despite the monitoring of the situation, I have to think Dalton is going to be just fine because there’s no way the coaching staff would’ve put him back in the game if there was a risk, especially given his injury history. Good thing we kept MJ on retainer this year. Now, that being said, sorry to be a wet blanket, but 1-11 on third down against this team? COME ON, GUYS! A team of trained dolphins could’ve run up the score on that defense. I know I’m being critical on this because the majority of our offensive performance was very, very good, but Dalton’s first half was enough to give me a few scares. Overthrown passes and near interceptions weren’t enough to overshadow Dalton’s overall 15-21, 177 yard, 1 TD performance, but I will have to chalk that up to season opening jitters and rust. Once he hit Jimmy Young on that seam route though, a route which was perfectly executed and helped along by a TERRIBLE secondary, I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and knew things were going to continue to go our way. In fact, he didn't miss a receiver in the second half, so big ups to Big Red.

The thing that impressed me the most, though, was how our new two OC system was able to unleash our three headed running attack to great success. Even though we live in a world where the mentality is “Anyone but Schultz,” you’re a liar if you say you weren’t slightly concerned with how the Anderson/Fuente collaboration would pan out. Well, I think we can honestly say these guys know exactly what they’re doing. I for one was impressed with their decision to resist temptation and abandon the Wild Frog after one disastrous series simply because there’s no reason to push it in the first game, especially when your main component really only has one full game of experience running it. When you’re implementing a new offense, you need to keep it simple until everyone is on the same page, especially during the first game. The decision to rotate Turner, Wesley and true frosh Matthew Tucker was also a phenomenal one as this will help keep these guys fresh throughout the season and allow them to utilize their individually unique skill sets to give opposing defenses headaches. This technique should hopefully make this year the year that we finally break the TCU running back curse. Turner led all rushers with 10 attempts for 66 years and a TD, including a man sized run where his brute strength alone gained an additional 5 yards and set up his first rushing TD of the season. Off-season phenom Ed Wesley was second in rushing yards with 10 attempts for 50 yards, including the only third down conversion for TCU, but had a fumble on the same play which could’ve been costly if Jake Kirkpatrick hadn’t jumped right on it. Matthew Tucker ended up with 10 rushes for 38 yards and fit in so well that it took me several series to realize he wasn’t Wesley. This is likely related to my alcohol intake, but what I’m trying to express is that for a true freshman who some would knock for being from a 3-A high school and wasn’t even the jewel of our recruiting haul of running backs, this kid was good and is going to be a fabulous asset. Jeremy Kerley had 2 rushes, one good for a 2 yard TD, and one bad for a Wild Frog fumble. Ryan Christian (7-28) and Andy Dalton (8-21) were the other 2 rushing leaders for the Frogs and, maybe it was just me, but does Dalton look like he’s gained a few steps in the off season? Ole Red had one keeper where he blasted up the middle of the field and looked like Usain Bolt, albeit pale, freckled, and not Jamaican.

Have I mentioned the receiving game yet? Because, yes, it is going to work really well as long as Dalton plays like he did in the second half. Our receivers were running beautifully precise routes, the best of which being the 31 yards TD strike by way of Jimmy Young. Note to Fuente/Anderson – I want to go to there. Early and often. Young led all receivers with 2 catches for 60 yards and the TD- although it could’ve been more had accuracy not been an issue in the first half- followed by Bart Johnson with 3 for 32 and Curtis Clay with 3-25. Johnson went out early in the game after taking a huge hit over the middle, but he wasn’t gone for a long which is great because he’s arguably our most sure handed receiver. Jonathan Jones and Antoine Hicks both finished with 19 yards on 1 and 3 catches, respectively, Jones’ likely being the second biggest of the game as it set up Kerley’s TD run. On the Kerley front, I had to double take when I saw that he had no catches, but sure enough, none. Despite this, Dalton still spread the ball around to 8 different receivers to get his 177 yards, including both tight ends and new old receiver Ryan Christian. Finally, saving the best for last, our offensive line was SUPERB. Yes, they gave up 2 sacks, but that doesn’t tell the tale considering what we had to replace. Dalton had ALL DAY to throw, Marshall Newhouse treated defensive ends like Serena Williams treats undersized Asian line judges, and they blew up the line to the tune of 203 rushing yards. Our biggest offensive hurdle in the off season is officially clear.

Overall Stats: 23 First Downs, 203 Net rushing yards, 177 passing yards, no INTs 2 sacks allowed, 4 TDs, 34:49 TOP

Defense – A. Holy. Shit. Alright, just to start off, let me continue to beat into the ground the stats that we’ve been looking at since the final gun - 7 first downs allowed, 3 of which didn’t come until the fourth quarter, 2 of those being fluke scores. no red zone attempts. 177 total offensive yards allowed, 83 of which came on aforementioned fluke TD passes when the game was well in hand. EIGHT sacks. Need I go on? It’s become somewhat of a trademark for GP to lose his major defensive weapons each season, yet perfectly insert new ones from his assembly line and have them perform equally or better than their predecessors, but, along with the new offensive system, having to replace 7 starters from the nations #1 defense was issue 1A in my mind going into Saturday. Again, case closed. Now, I won’t overlook the abysmal playcalling from Al Groh and company, because, I mean, dude, my only OC experience is NCAA Football on Xbox and even I realize you don’t run a QB dash on 3rd and long against a defense that is consistently tops against the run in the entire country, but still. Wow.

I guess we’ll start with the obvious – Jerry Hughes. Picking up where Stephen Hodge left off in the Poinsettia Bowl, didn’t it seem like Hughes was in on every single tackle in this game? 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Looks like we don’t have to worry about another Tommy Blake incident. The man is an absolute ANIMAL. Like, indescribable. I haven’t been this excited about watching a TCU player’s swan song ever, and it’s not even close. Sure, you might say that he’s going to face O lines with a lot more talent that UVAs, and you’d be right, but I don’t think it’s going to matter. I cannot WAIT to see what he does to Tx State live and in person this weekend. I’m giddy. Seriously, I might not sleep a wink between now and Saturday. Man crush confirmed. Do I even need to mention that he warranted MWC player of the week honors?

Other than that though, this defense played phenomenal, and I think a special shout out is in order for Tank Carder because dude was absolutely all over that field Saturday, registering 6 tackles and a solo sack where he blasted around the end and dessimated Jameel Sewell. He and D Wash, who also finished with 6 tackles, are going to give the Henson/Phillips combo a serious run for their money before this season is over. Another very special shoutout is in order for Tyler Luttrell who came into practice 3 weeks ago as a high school QB converted to a WR and suited up on Saturday as our starting strong safety. If you read the quotes, GP will suggest that he deserves a C minus for his efforts and, sure, I trust GP because he obviously sees things that no one else in the entire world sees defensively, but man, still a bit harsh for a guy who has never played the position yet finished with 4 tackles and a sack. Colin Jones should return from injury and move Luttrell down the depth chart, but for now at least it looks like we’re in good hands as the kid will only get better with each snap. Freshman Tanner Brock also finished with 4 tackles on the day and earned his role as the Third starter, most recently occupied by Daryl Washington and Robert Henson before him. Hughes bookend Wayne Daniels benefited from all of the attention Frogzilla merited and finished with 4 tackles and a sack and looks like he’s going to be a perfect counterpart on the right side of the line.

In the secondary, if you exclude the last 4 minutes of the game, all MWC corners Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders made life extremely difficult for UVA, allowing just 94 yards passing before the late TDs, although we did have backups in at that time. They may have only made 2 tackles a piece, but there wasn’t exactly a lot coming their way either. Safety Tejay Johnson also got into the mix, notching an interception off a tipped pass which led to a Ross Evans field goal and pushed the score to 30-0. Interior Linemen Cory Grant, Kelly Griffin and Jeremy Coleman helped plug the holes previously occupied by Cody Moore and James Vess, recording 2.5 sacks between them and contributing to that 1.7 yard rushing average. This defense flat out dominated an overmatched Cavaliers team and looks be in the mid-season form despite the late TD flurry.

Overall stats: 7 first downs allowed, 177 yards total offense – 57 rush, 120 pass, 8 sacks, 1 INT, 0 red zone attempts, 11 blood thirsty animals hellbent on destruction.

Special Teams – A+. Looks like Ross Evans got his mojo back. He didn’t even miss any PATs! Evans converted all 3 of his field goal attempts (28,25,32) although hopefully some of those drives will go for TDs over the course of the season. He also went 3/3 on extra points and earned MWC player of the week honors. This is exactly what his psyche needed after that game that shall not be mentioned ever again although they replay it daily on the mtn. Kickoff duties have been officially turned over to Kevin Sharples, and he had 7 for a 57.4 yard average. No touchbacks, but most importantly, no kicks out of bounds, a problem which plagued him last year. Good thing he has a phenomenal defense to back him up. Punting the ball, my favorite Frog Anson Kelton had 6 attempts for a short 38.5 yard average, but he pinned 3 of them inside the 20 and, given our favorable starting position most drives, he didn’t need to boom too many. Jeremy Kerley has resumed his kick return duties this year, although when your defense doesn’t allow any TDs until late in the game, you don’t get a lot of work on kickoffs. Like zero. He didn’t have a punt return TD like many of us had hoped for, but he did return 2 punts for 16 yards. Look for that to grow this week. Not sure if we can credit the botched FG attempt by UVA on our special teams, but what a break that was and I can’t help but think that UVA holder was terrified of the manbearpigs about to rip him to shreds on the other side of his feeble line.

Overall. What can really be said about this game that wasn’t said before the opening kick when the UVA mascot was thrown from his horse during pregame? UVA was like a bunch of rodeo clowns out there and it’s shocking to think that they technically have more clout than us playing in a BCS conference. If that doesn’t show you the unfairness of the system, then I’m not sure what to tell you. TCU dominated every single aspect of this game and should’ve made it much worse, truth be told. First home game is this weekend, and I’d expect us to demonstrate to UVA what it’s like to not lose to a D-1AA team. After that is the Clemson game, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: We have live and in person Frog Football at Amon G this weekend! Tailgates are in the same exact same spots as last year and I fully expect to be ready when the gates open at 2. In the immortal words of Dick Bumpas, let’s go kick those fuckers in the mouth. I hope you will join us.


Game Awards - TCU v. Virginia

Another season, another opening game W. That is seven years in a row for all you counting (last loss was in 2002, 36-29 to Cincinnati, oh wait, you forgot that Cincinnati wasn't always in the Big Least? Yeah, make a jump to a 'big conference' for basketball and suddenly your football program is nationally respected. Keep beating those directional schools 70-3, nothing makes you feel like a big man, but I digress). Here are the game day awards. The full game report and knee jerk reactions will be provided by sir wesley above.

Defensive Player of the Game

Uhh, is there really even a question on this one? As ESPN put it, Hughes it still a beast. Hughes set a career high in tackles on Saturday with 11, 2.5 of those for loss, and 1.5 sacks. His top moment of the game? With 30 seconds left in the first half after Virginia had just put up a decent return and appeared to be putting together a drive which might get them on the board, Hughes comes around the corner basically untouched and crushes the soul of Jameel Sewell right into the turf. You could see him coming the entire way and it was awesome.

Offensive Player of the Game

Well it took Dalton about a quarter and half to realize that the season had started and that his receivers weren't 6'7" and couldn't catch his overthrown balls. But after shaking off the cobwebs he looked very polished. 15-21 for 177 yards and one laser of a TD to Mr. Luxury Tax himself. The offense altogether turned it on. Our three TDs came in the second and third quarters on three of four possessions where we had 29 plays for 188 yards. Efficiency

Honorable Mention - Ed Wesley
The redshirt freshman looked good in his Frog debut. His 10 carries for 50 yards in our 'running back by committee' system showed flashes of some serious ability. Outside of him coughing up the ball early in the third (which thankfully was recovered by Kirkpatrick who fell on it for a first down) I think we all liked what we saw.

Special Teams Player of the Game

Ross Evans went 3 of 3 with kicks of 28, 25, and 32 yards. Nothing to spectacular, but consistent and that's all we can ask for. But seriously though, can we please get a deep kicker who can give us a freakin touchback? Ridiculous

Play of the Game

The play of the game had to be the dagger from Dalton to Young with 11:45 left in the third quarter. After picking up our very first third down conversion on the prior play (which was a fumble by Wesley that was recovered by Kirkpatrick for the first), Dalton took a good drop and threw a 31 yard strike to Young as he was striding into the endzone. While there was still basically an entire half of football left, this play was still the dagger into Virginia's back. The players and their fans looked dejected after this one, and, outside of a few junk tds in the last two minutes, the game was over right there.

Superfan of The Game

Well unfortunately I was not at the game so I am not sure who exactly should be this week's recipient. However, thinking back on seasons past, I am going to give it to three fans who I bet were the most vocal. Bucknasty, Spitpurple, and IhateH take the opening week Superfans of the game. If I was wrong, and these three were not so vocal that they offended even our own fans then please let me know, and I will be disappointed.

Morning Dump

Horned Frogs move up to No. 15 in AP poll Star-Telegram

What we learned among the non-AQ's, week 2 ESPN

Non-AQ helmet stickers, week 2 ESPN

Another reason to follow the Mountain West Conference St. Petersburg Times

Around the MWC USA Today

MWC winners and losers: week 2
Las Vegas Sun