Monday, September 21, 2009

Top 25 Dragon Recap

By the skin of our teeth, the Frogs actually moved up a spot in the Coaches poll to 14th, but we remained 15th in the AP despite being jumped by Miami and <> Cincinnati! In case you haven’t noticed, the Bearcats surprisingly strong play has most of the media scrambling back aboard the Big East bandwagon while jumping off the Titanic that is the ACC and, in some circles, the Big Televen. Unfortuantely for the Frogs, our strength of schedule took a bit of a hit this weekend as I'm sure lyle will point out, but with Clemson beating Boston College for the first time at home since BC joined the ACC, a win in Death Valley should give us enough clout to make a move or two. Let’s see how everything played out this weekend – new rankings listed.

The Good

#16/16 Oklahoma State 41, Rice 24. For SHAME, OSU, who continues to devolve into a depressingly one facet team after giving up 377 yards to a TERRIBLE Rice team, including 301 passing. That’s a one way ticket to staying in your place in the rankings. T. Boone is currently seeking new ventures. Gambler says – FAIL!

The Meh

#9/13 Miami 33, UR/UR Georgia Tech 17. Well looks like someone’s drinking the Hurricane flavored Kool-Aid! In a town currently known mostly for its gay and Cuban defector population, apparently football is now king – and I’m definitely not talking about the Dolphins. Now it looks like the media has joined the pride parade, jumping the ‘Canes ELEVEN spots in the rankings. I spoke too soon last week with that whole Frogs staying up with a Miami win thing. Poor Georgia Tech, after slipping by Clemson, got big time punished, falling 12 and 14 spots in the AP and Coaches polls, respectively. Miami might be the real deal, but their next two games come against Virginia Tech and a surprisingly fertile Oklahoma team who may have Sam Bradford back. Survive those two and you’ll have earned that ranking. Gambler says – FAIL.

#11/12 Virginia Tech 16, #25/24 Nebraska 15. I only caught the highlights of this one, but it absolutely lived up to its evenly matched billing. Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor was able to rally the Hokies past the Huskers on a TD pass with 21 seconds left, capping a 91 yard drive. With these two teams you’d expect a defensive battle and this was definitely one of those. That’s all I got. Gambler says – FAIL.

The Bad

#14/15 Cincinnati 28, Oregon State 18. Standout Cincinnati Quarterback Tony Pike had a phenomenal night, going 31/49 for 332 and 2 TDs plus one rushing to move the Bearcats past the Beavers in Corvallis. Cincy led most of the game, but Oregon State kept it close, pulling within 21-18 in the fourth quarter before Pike led the Bearcats on a late TD drive. It probably helped that OSU running back Jacquizz Rodgers had a bum ankle and only rushed for 73 yards, but I’m not taking anything away from Cincinnati – they’re legit and the cream of the Big East crop (insert Big East joke here). Although perhaps slightly overrated, it looks like the pollsters are going to ride Cincy all the way up the polls to appease the East Coast audience. We really need these guys to drop one in the upcoming weeks, possibly next week against Fresno State. Gambler says – WIN.

UR/UR Utah 24, Oregon 31. For those of us who have been living in an insulated pro MWC bubble, you may as well go ahead and prepare for the big comedown because the media are going to hammer us for this one. After getting dumped by an admittedly strong Boise team, Oregon snapped the nation’s longest win streak and burst Utah’s BCS bubble, likely for the season. There won’t be a repeat for Kyle Whittingham’s team this year, but we still can’t sleep on the Utes come November 14th. Oregon was in control the entire game and absolutely crammed the ball down Utah’s throats on the ground, finishing with 217 rushing yards despite the absence of the suspended Blount. After Joseph Turner’s big game, combined with emerging stars Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley, you have to feel pretty good about the Frogs chances in a couple of months. Technically this is a good loss for our ranking perspective, but since it hurts the conference, we’ll file under bad. Gambler says – FAIL.

#8/8 Boise State 51, Fresno State 34. The Broncos roll on, although not as easily as they may have expected. After jumping out to an easy 24-3 lead, the Bronco tacklers took a collective dump on their run defensive efforts, allowing 320 (!!!) yards to the Bulldogs, including three 60+ yard TD runs by Fresno RB Ryan Matthews. Sure, the Broncos went off for 299 yards on the ground themselves, but it should be noted that they were outgained by Fresno 508-480 in total offense. Although Boise’s schedule is all downhill from year, that should still stick in the minds of pollsters when they cast their votes. Boise moved up 2 spots in both polls, thanks to the USC and BYU upsets, but I think they’ve pretty much reached their ceiling at this point and we will likely see them drop back into the 10-12 range as the season takes shape. Gambler says – WIN!

#13/11 Ohio State 35, Toledo 0. Well, I sit here and tell you guys to take the Buckeyes, then go out and don’t take the Buckeyes in either of my pools. Perhaps I should’ve taken Kenny’s advice a little more seriously. Anyway, that whole Pryor being unleashed thing proved to be true as he was 17/28 for 262 yards and 3 TDs to go with his team leading 110 yards/1 TD on the ground. Given Toledo isn’t exactly up to par – which is apparent as the AP voters dropped the Buckeyes 2 spots even with the win - but maybe Tressel is loosening up the reins a bit on the playbook and allowing Pryor to use his God-given athleticism – even if he does end up killing and murdering people in the end. That sentence had too many dashes. Gambler says – WIN! Technically.

#10/9 Oklahoma 45, Tulsa 0. It doesn’t erase the BYU loss, which now looks pretty dreadful given BYU’s egg laying against FSU, but this will give OU fans some hope. It looks like the voters are giving the Sooners a little bit more credit now as well, moving them back into the top 10 after a 2 week absence. Interestingly enough, The Pornstache set a school record by throwing 6 TDs while putting up 336 yards through the air. He did have 2 INTs, but how can you complain with the overall results? Well, if you’re Landry Jones you can complain that you’re hitting your stride just about the time you’re going to have to sit for the return of Hiawatha. The defensive performance on OUs part was also impressive as they shut out a Hurricanes offense that hadn’t been blanked in five years. That OU/Miami game in two weeks all of a sudden looks like must see TV. Gambler says – FAIL!

#19/20 BYU 28, #18/25 Florida State 54. Yelch. File under conference status killer. This is one of those scores they kept running across the scoreboard at Amon G that just made you sicker to your stomach each time you saw it. Looks like I jinxed it with all that TCU/BYU college gameday talk. BYU got a big ole dose of speedy sunshine state football, giving up 521 yards of total offense and dropping behind 44-14 at one point. Craig Thompson just switched his total allegiance to the Frogs. Again, like Utah, any non conference loss, no matter the rankings implication, will be considered a bad loss. Gambler says – FAIL!

#2/2 Texas 34, Texas Tech 24. A Texas win is always going to be in “the bad,” but at least they’ll sell a few more T shirts. In all honesty though, does Texas give off the impression of a national championship bound team? Taylor Potts threw for 420 yards, although the Horns did hold the consistently non-existent rushing game of Texas Tech to -6 yards. Very hollow victory for the Horns considering the revenge factor. Also funny fact brought up by lyle – is 24 hours the shortest a world record has ever been held as the Horns attendance for a football game in Texas was? Gambler says – FAIL!

#1/1 Florida 23, Tennessee 13. In conjuction with the above question – does Florida give off the impression of a national championship team? Yes, Tennessee has a strong defense, but Florida is supposed to be an absolute juggernaut on both sides of the ball. The Gators typically rub out teams when they’re bent on revenge, showing no mercy, but this was apparently not the case on Saturday. Also, 24 rushing attempts by Tebow for 76 yards? Good GRIEF that’s a one sided offensive scheme. Perhaps they miss departed OC Dan Mullen more than initially thought? The odds of a forgone UT/FLA BCS National Championship game just got a little longer. Gambler says – FAIL!

So you see, not a great week for the Frogs ranking movement, which is probably why we ended up where we were. Overall there weren’t any true “good” outcomes for us and there was almost the same number of “good” gambling tips on my behalf. After my 3-8 performance against the spread, it may already be time to hang up the Gambler for good. Hope I didn’t break anyone, but surely you were smarter than that. Anyway, biggest week of the season and a win will surely help us out in the rankings, so stay tuned until Wednesday and we’ll see what the odds are.

Game Awards - TCU v. Texas Stae

Eight years, eight straight home openers. There were some ups and downs to this one, as has been stated by my fellow commentators, so I will just go straight to the awards.

Defensive Player of the Game

Well here we go again, Jerry Hughes embarrasses yet another offensive line. His three sacks and five tackles (four for loss) was just another day at the office for him. By all accounts he should have had at least two more sacks, but oh well, he is already 6th in the country in sacks with playing one less game. Frogzilla baby

Offensive Player of the Game

When you put up 508 yards of total offense against a Division-IAA team there shouldn't be to much credit. You did what you were supposed to do as a top 25 team, kick the crap out of the little guy. That being said, it was good to see Turner put up a big game in the home opener. I love watching a senior have a night like that in front of the home crowd. Turner put up 129 yards on 13 carries for three touchdowns. Pretty good numbers for the small amount of carries. In fact he is 7th in the country in yards per carry at 8.5 per.

Special Teams Player of the Game

This one goes out to Jeremy Kerley, clap, clap, clap clap clap. While he has yet to take one all the way yet (which will happen soon enough) he did put up good return numbers with 73 yards on 3 kick returns and 51 yards on 4 punt returns. His real impact was how scared that guy was to kick to him there in the beginning. I can clearly (vaguely) remember them punting it out of bounds three other time because they didnt want him to touch the ball. Respect.

Play of the Game

With no TV coverage I couldn't re watch the game, and when I try to re watch the game in my head all I keep seeing are bs pass interference calls, people throwing beer cans, the head of TCU security yelling at "number 5!", and Zwack attack. So I had to ask for help on this one and the advice I got was the interception by Jason Teague. At this point in the game the score was 35-21 with the Bobcats driving and still having a false sense of hope. Teague picks off the greatest 42 year old I-AA QB in the world in the endzone to pretty much crush the hope of San Marcos' finest.

Superfan of the Game

I am giving this one to the entire group who showed up in our row at the tailgate. That was by far the most people I have seen in our area in years. It went pretty well. It is also obvious that most of those people went into the game (at least the first half) because that was the most crowded the student section has been since the Tech game. One step at a time, one step at a time.

Strength of Schedule Watch: Week 3 recap

Three weeks into the college football season, three very different weekends in terms of how our opponents helped out our strength of schedule. Week 1 was all about BYU upsetting OU and Colorado State also scoring a win over the Big 12. Week 2 was a bit more of a mixed bag, leaning towards more of a negative result. This past weekend was the 'egg on the face' weekend that the Mountain West has done a good job avoiding the past few years.

Let's start off with what did go right this weekend:

Clemson 25, Boston College 7
-CJ Spiller is a home-run threat on nearly every play, as Boston College found out early in the 1st quarter. Spiller returned a BC punt 77 yards for the game's first points. The Clemson offense, though, was pretty anemic- they never managed to put the ball in the endzone, relying on six Richard Jackson field goals to put away the Eagles.

Colorado State 35, Nevada 20
-This one was actually pretty important, as it improves the Rams to 3-0 and gets them a win against the team that was supposed to be Boise's biggest obstacle toward a 90th straight WAC title. The Rams forced 5 turnovers in this one, and that was the difference.

UNLV 34, Hawaii 33
-After losing to Oregon State in heart-breaking fashion last week, it would've really been a shame to see the Rebels lose this one, too. While the UNLV defense pretty much let Hawaii move the ball at will all night, they did stop the Warriors' 2-point conversion attempt on their last touchdown. Omar Clayton's 15-yard strike to Phillip Payne with 15 seconds left won it, and now UNLV has a good shot at going 3-1 in nonconference play.

Now, for the carnage:

Florida State 54, BYU 28

-Ouch. For the second straight year, BYU's talk of going undefeated is silenced by an all-out ass whipping, this time at home at the hands of Florida State. The Seminoles ran for more than 300 yards and held the ball for almost 40 minutes.

Oregon 31, Utah 24
-If the Mountain West was going to prove that Boise State's schedule wasn't worth a damn, this was the game that was going to do it. Instead, the Ducks have found their weapon on offense: Texas native LaMichael James (152 rush yards), who chose Oregon over...TCU. Damn!

Colorado 24, Wyoming 0
-Colorado has looked TERRIBLE this year, and yet they went out and just flat dominated Wyoming. After that incredible first half against Texas, it looks like Wyoming's got nothing left in the tank.

Idaho 34, San Diego State 20
-Seriously, San Diego State? Terrible, take a lap.

Washington State 30, SMU 27 (OT)
-OK, even though this one hurts our strength of schedule, it is pretty funny. The Ponies led 27-13 with 10:45 left in the 4th quarter. That's a two-touchdown lead and 10:45 separating them from their first 3-0 start since '84. Then Bo Levi Mitchell throws a pick-6. 27-20. Then Wazzou scores a touchdown with :28 left to tie the game. Then in OT, SMU has the ball first...and on 1st down, Mitchell throws an INT in the endzone- his 4th of the day. Washington State runs 3 plays then kicks the game-winner from 39 yards out. SMU fans' response: Boycott the TCU game. Mature.

Southern Miss 37, Virginia 34
-At least the Cavs showed some signs of life, right? Much like SMU, UVA just let this one get away. They led 34-17 in the 3rd quarter before letting USM come back to win. The Cavs' offense, which could barely do anything (until the end) against the Frogs, rang up 390 yards in this one. Hopefully they can snag a few W's to improve on their 0-3 record so far.

The lone MWC game of the Week:
Air Force 37, New Mexico 13
-The Falcons just ran all over the Lobos for nearly 300 rushing yards, and held the ball for about 38:00. New Mexico is 0-3 now...

Week 2: Southwest Texas Meth Mouths

Apologies for the Nightmares - but this would be your classmate if you went to SWT.

Well… we won, so that’s a good thing. The run game looked great… but that was about all that looked great. Let’s face it, this was one of the most hollow 56-21 victories in the history of the game. I will take into account that it’s hard to get up for a team like Texas State, especially with a huge road game looming, but still – GP’s teams don’t take games off. They go just as hard against UC Davis as they do against Top 10 ranked BYU. Without even getting into the post game comments, you can imagine what practices are going to be like this week, and you know Patterson is going to have those guys working their asses off and be fully prepared to go into Clemson and give it their best shot. Let’s just hope the team understands what they’re up against.

Before we get into the game though, there were a few non-game aspects that went in our favor, notably the crowd – or at least, the first half crowd. We put 35,000 butts in the seats which, while there are still about 10,000 seats to improve on, was still 8,000 more people than we had for last year’s opener against a similar opponent. Sure, most of the 35,000 didn’t make it back in after halftime, but that’s just the fair-weather TCU fan bullshit that we’ve come to expect, so it doesn’t really make sense to get angry about it. I mean, I sent my flu ridden wife home in a cab and went back into the game despite the obvious repercussions, so why can’t everyone else make the walk back in after halftime, or at least for the fourth quarter? Depressing. While we’re on the topic though, the tailgating situation was absolutely jam packed, which is mostly the doing of TCU as they corralled the 10 of us with parking spots in about a 20x20 foot space. I guess this made it fun, but when everyone just stays out in the parking lot and rampages through both of my coolers before I can hardly have anything to drink, it dampens the spirit, especially since none of said culprits set foot inside the stadium. For the ones of us with spots, I will continue to urge you to shut down your tailgate at kickoff, reopen for halftime, and shut down until after the game. If someone puts beer into your cooler, just let them know that’s how it’s going to be. I typically do this but was a little preoccupied and forgot to shut it back down after the half, but I will not make that mistake twice. Anyway, enough of my old man grumblings, let’s get on with the game.

Offense – A-. Obviously it seems pretty dick of me to criticize an offense that put up 56 points and 508 yards of total offense, but at any point during the game were you inspired by anyone not named Joseph Turner? In fact, I was so uninspired I didn’t even realize how many yards dude put up until the next day, but that could easily have something to do with pre game tailgating and in game treats with WWHD and I HATE H, who, as fate would have it, still really, really hates that son of a bitch H.

Let’s start with the good. Joseph Turner looked like a man among boys out there, rushing 13 times for 129 yards and 3 TDs. Surprisingly enough the guy hadn’t had a 100 yard rushing performance since 2007 – I believe the raping he put on San Diego State – which isn’t surprising since he split time with 2 other RBs last year, but let’s just hope this was a precursor to a HUGE season for the guy. We are going to need it. Also getting in on the action were Ed Wesley (6-26-1TD) who looks to be living up to the off season hype, and Matthew Tucker (11-57-1TD) who looks like he may take over the #2 running back spot over the course of the season. Jercell Fort, Chris Smith, Ryan Christian and Antoine Hicks got in on the ground action as well, with Hicks and Fort running in a score a piece.

Red put up another mediocre game by his standards, going 18-24 for 222 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, but it should be noted he passed the 5000 yard career mark for passing yards. He and Jimmy Young look to have the long TD thing going pretty well as he had a nearly identical 36 yard bomb again this week. The interception was a bad mistake on AD’s part, but hopefully he will learn from that. His numbers may not have been gaudy, but when your run game is clicking like ours was Saturday, there aren’t as many balls to go around in the passing game. Kerley finally go into the passing game after being shut out last week with 4 catches for 52 yards, but sure handed Bart Johnson led all receivers with 7 catches for 70 yards. Jimmy Young had 2 catches for 42 yards, including the above mentioned TD, Curtis Clay had 2 for 26 and is quickly becoming a go to receiver for Dalton, while Hicks, Jonathan Jones and Turner each had a catch a piece. Most notably, we fixed our third down fail from last weekend, going 7/10 while continuing our red zone perfection on the season, scoring TDs on all 7 opportunities. The A- ranking is going to seem a bit harsh after reading the stats, but it should never have taken our offense as long as it did to get rolling against a lowly team like Texas State.

Overall stats – Total offense: 508 (286 rush, 222 pass), 28 First downs, 8 offensive TDs (7 rush, 1 pass), 28 First downs, 7/10 third down conversions, 7/7 red zone, 2 fumbles- 1 lost, 1 INT, 31:26 TOP.

Defense – C. Here’s where things went wrong. Fortunately our offense had enough weapons to eventually pull away, but the score was 21-14 late in the 2nd quarter and the first quarter TOP went 11-4 in favor of the Armadillos. Their first scoring drive went over 15 plays and was helped along by dumb penalties, one of which will be credited to our specials teams later, and the other to the most unlikely of candidates, Jerry Hughes. Believe it or not, GP called him out about it after the game. Otherwise, Hughes was one of the few shining stars on the defense, coming up with all 3 sacks on the day and 5 tackles total. Had three of the five not been sacks, though, we’d be talking about a whole different story here. Fortunately it looks like we’ll have no problem shutting down the run with only 30 yards allowed, but let’s face it, the defense stunk and the only thing that stunk worse was SWT QB Bradley George who apparently forgot that he was the second best QB in the state and could start anywhere he wanted. Dude, when you’re 6’6”, you might want to take a little height off your throws. All I’m saying. 16-37-199-1-1 might win you a championship in San Marcos, but in the big boy leagues that won’t fly. Still though, I guess you can give some credit to our defense on that, but I definitely say it was more the fact that George is just not that good of a quarterback. We allowed these choads to reach the red zone 3 times, scoring twice, after not allowing UVA to get there once last week. With only 3 recorded sacks, we can’t say we put too much pressure on the QB either.

Anyway, trying to be positive, Daryl Washington efficiently filled the void vacated by Robert Henson and Jason Phillips, recording 9 tackles, 8 on his own. The Jason Teague TD in the back of the end zone was huge as well and pretty much ended the game for SWT. We all expected Tank Carder to have a huge breakout game, and he did fine with 5 tackles. Nick Sanders also had five but overall looked very, very overmatched. However, you’re probably wondering why that C is up there, and here it is – 21 points to Texas Forking State. I can grudgingly accept the 62 yard bubble screen for a TD because, let’s face it, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but 21 points? Are the serious? We hadn’t given up 21 points since the OU game last year and in that span played BYU, at Utah and in a bowl against Boise State – 3 of the top offenses in the country – and we let a team full of football rejects run up 3 scores? In fact, had Teague not made that interception in the end zone, we could have been talking about a 35-28 ballgame late in the third quarter. Color me cynical but that just makes me want to throw up. I couldn’t even enjoy the win I was so fed up and I think a lot of you were as well. It’d be one thing if we didn’t know much about what kind of team we have, but we’re the 15th ranked football team in the entire country with a defensive reputation to uphold. Clemson isn’t scared. Utah isn’t scared, despite the loss. BYU might be scared after getting bitch slapped by Florida State, but they get us at home. Heck, SMU probably isn’t even scared, although losing to a BAD Washington State team will probably drop any sort of fan momentum they may have developed over the first two games back to Bennett levels. There is absolutely no excuse for that display and I can only hope Patterson has enough fire and brimstone in him to make these guys ready for Clemson.

Overall Stats – 249 total yards (219 pass, 30 rush), 1 INT, 3/14 third down conversions, 2/3 red zone.

Special Teams – B-. Ugh, gag. Kevin Sharples, go play intramurals, brother. 6 kickoffs, one OB and none for touchbacks. Thanks for the field position! Ross Evans wasn’t any better on kickoff duty, but considering he thought Sharples was going to be the full time kickoff specialist, you can’t blame him. The biggest disappointment, though, was that fake punt and the events leading up to it. After a Johnny Fobbs offside penalty gave SWT another shot, even I started yelling,” FAKE! FAKE! FAKE” at the top of my lungs and I’m a) a complete retard when it comes to football strategy and b) 10 beers and half a bottle of Jim Beam into the afternoon. Ugh. Terrible. TERRIBLE. You have to stay at home on that one. You just HAVE to. Unacceptable. Other than that though, I guess things weren’t so terrible. Kerley looked fantastic in the return game and I still can’t believe he didn’t break one. He ended up with 4 punt returns for 51 yards with a long of 21 and 3 kickoff returns for 71 yards and a long of 31. One of these days, man, one of these days. Ross Evan convereted all 8 of his extra points opportunities and none of his field goals, which was ok since he didn’t’ have any. Punting, Anson Kelton only had the chance to boot it 3 times and averaged 40 yards per which needs to improve. Harping back though, our kickoff situation HAS to improve because CJ Spiller – who, please confirm, is rumored to be out this weekend – will take one to the house, no doubt.

Overall – Well, looking back I suppose things weren’t as doomsday as they seemed, but still, like they say, stats are for losers, and we can’t judge this based on the stats. However, I think GP said it best post game, “"We still held them to 249 yards. A lot of people in the country would take that," Patterson said. "We just happen to have a higher standard." As a fan, I feel the exact same way. You can listen to your auto qualifying conferences look down their noses at us for being a supposed “mid major” team, and after our conference results this weekend the rumblings are going to get even louder, but let’s look at the facts: We are the second best team in arguably the best football state in the country. Top to bottom, I don’t know how you could say Texas teams aren’t as good as those from Florida or California when taken as a whole. Heck, USC probably isn’t the best team in their own state this year and, after them and Cal, who do you even look at? Florida has had a resurgence lately with Florida State and Miami, but if you went UT/Fla, TCU/Mia and Tech/FSU, would you not take the Texas team in at least 2 of those? We’re the 15th ranked team in the country with a record setting offense and a defense that you know is going to wind up top 3 by default. We should shut out teams like SWT and probably half the teams in our own conference. There’s no reason to cave in to inferior competition like that. If it makes you feel any better, I think GP has it well under control, "I didn’t have to say anything in the locker room," Patterson said. "They know how this is going down." I don’t forseee a game like this happening again. Go Frogs.

Morning Dump

Gary patterson says TCU must improve before facing Clemson Star-Telegram

Ugly victory over Texas State not up to TCU's standards Star-Telegram

What we learned: Week 3 ESPN

What we learned about the non-AQ's ESPN

Around the MWC USA Today

Clemson football's C.J. Spiller may be available for TCU Greenville News

Clemson tackling a problem on offensive line
Sun News

Hairston and line's health crucial to Tigers' success Anderson Independent