Monday, November 2, 2009

Final thoughts on the UNLV game

-Is anyone else as impressed as I am with the versatility of the offensive line? Nothing really seems to phase them. Redshirt freshman Blaize Foltz is playing like a seasoned veteran. And the guy who's job he appears to be taking- junior Josh Vernon- stepped in admirably when center Jake Kirkpatrick went down with a (hopefully) minor injury.

-Two of the most fantastic plays of the season have featured a younger Frog continuing to play despite losing equipment. First there was Tanner Brock's helmet-less block against SMU, and now Antoine Hicks' 75-yard TD against UNLV with only one shoe (he lost the other breaking a tackle).

-As has been stated already, Ed Wesley is really turning into a nice weapon for this offense. The great part is, I'm pretty sure he's only scratched the surface so far.

-Who the heck are Jason Phillips and Robert Henson??? I'm kidding of course, but how phenomenal have Daryl Washington and Tank Carder been this year? Washington is earning himself millions in future NFL earnings, while Tank is establishing himself as one of the cornerstones of the defense for his two remaining years on campus.

-How scary are DJ Yendrey and Matthew Tucker going to be once they've had a full off-season with strength coach Don Sommer?

-While I was very disappointed in the attendance, ESPN and Versus deserve punches in the nuts for being so quick to point it out. Cincinnati and Boise State both had less people at their games.

Week 9 Recap

The Frogs are treading water in the BCS, although I think we've got a better rack.

It was kind of a conflicting weekend for the Frogs, at least from a rankings perspective. On one hand, we actually gained some ground on Boise State despite their SOS getting a big shot in the arm with Oregon’s destruction of USC. On the other, we were jumped by Cincinnati, who beat up on a Syracuse team that is probably worse than UNLV. In fact, they moved from 8th to 5th in the BCS based on that win. Are they better than us? Probably not. Does it make sense in the scheme of the BCS? Unfortunately. Like I’ve said before, we’re all deluding ourselves if we think we can move into position for the national championship and that keeping ahead of Boise is the only name of the game, but still, it’d be pretty cool to have some hope. Anyway, let’s take a look at the results.

The Good… I think.

# 12 USC 20, # 8 Oregon 47. Whew, that escalated rather quickly. USC surrendered 613!!!!! Total yards to the Ducks, including 391!!!!!! On the ground and pretty much just bent over and touched their toes the minute they walked into Autzen Stadium. Too bad Oregon couldn’t have opened up the season like this against Boise, but maybe they’re only playing good because of that loss. Still, I THINK this is good for us, as it kicks a team out from in front of us, and keeps us ahead of Oregon in the meantime as I thought they would surely get a huge boost for the win. Fortunately, it looks like the BCS system prefers us to Boise, and, by the standard of Boise beating the Ducks, keep us ahead of them as well. I was really afraid that Boise would move back ahead of us this week because of this boost, but like I said, we actually gained some ground. As long as Boise stays undefeated, I don’t know that the polls will move the Ducks ahead of them, so hopefully this bodes well for us. The best result of this? Although USC should have dropped well below 12th, this will surely cast a doubt in the minds of the voters in future polls as they’ve pretty much given Pete Carroll’s teams a pass with elevated rankings to open the season, despite obvious personnel losses. Also strange about that 12th ranking – it’s behind Ohio State, a team with the same record as USC and a team that USC beat on the road earlier this season. Forget kids, voters say the darndest things.

The Meh.

#1 Florida 41, Georgia 17. Tim Tebow threw 2 TDs and rushed for 2 more to replace Herschel Walker as the SEC’s career rushing TD leader – fitting it was against Georgia, no? – and Florida LB Brandon Spikes tried to steal some dude’s eyes in Florida’s rout. Georgia tried to get sneaky by busting out the black pants and helmets, but they again got more pansted than helmeted just as they did last time they broke out the black unis against Alabama. Tebow accounted for 249 of the Gators 374 yards in an attempt to silence the critics of the Florida offense. In other news, it should be noted that Georgia is a really, really mediocre football team with a ginger QB who hates the sun.

# 3 Alabama – Idle. and they lost a spot in the rankings because of...

# 2 Texas 41, # 19 Oklahoma State 14. As the last opponent standing between Texas and a return to the BCS NC, the Okies sure didn’t show up to play. OSU QB Zac Robinson was picked four times, including 2 for scores, while McCoy managed the Horns offense to a big win. Heck, UT freshman phenom Garrett Gilbert even got a few snaps, although I’m wondering why they burned his redshirt for mop up duty? Perhaps he's played before, I don't know. OSU actually outgained the Horns 277 yards to 275, but the turnovers were the difference. Cody Johnson was the unicorn in this week’s RB carousel, and he rushed for 2 TDs. UT plays their remaining five games in the state of Texas, which includes the Big 12 Championship.

# 4 Iowa 42, Indiana 24. The bottom line won’t show it, but my god Iowa is mediocre. Iowa was down the entire first quarter, including 14 in the third when Indiana had an INT returned from inside the Iowa redzone for a TD and the game completely changed course. Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi threw for 337 yards and 2 TDs… but also 5 interceptions. FIVE! Yet they still won by almost 3 scores! Big Televen football, baby. Ugh.

# 8 Cincinnati 28, Syracuse 7. Cincy scored exactly one touchdown in each quarter and beat up Syracuse for 422 yards to defeat the Orange. Backup QB Tony Collaros went 22/28 for 295 yards and all 4 TDs scored in this one. Patterson and Cincy Coach Chip Kelly are two of the most commonly talked about coaches who could coach at a bigger school but don’t leave, and even though they’re in a BCS conference, would you say that Cincy is a better program to coach than TCU?

# 9 LSU 42, Tulane 0. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it fall…

The Bad.

# 7 Boise State 45, San Jose State 7. Every Boise win is bad. It was close early and was actually tied in the second quarter, but Boise’s superior talent eventually won out as the Broncos cruised to their billionth WAC win in a row. Kellen Moore threw 3 TDs, including one TD to his baby brother Kirby which the commentators about pooped in their pants over, and the Broncos D completely shut down the… Spartans? Holding them to 223 total yards. San Jose is now 1-6 and not exactly helping that schedule for the Broncos.

Like I said, we didn’t gain any ground despite the USC loss, but hey, we didn’t lose any either, so let’s take it. Haven’t looked at the games this weekend, but off the top of my head I know Boise goes to Louisiana Tech Friday night, so there’s your early weekend drinking treat.

Game Awards - TCU v. UNLV

Another week, another huge play from Hicks. What do you think was his best play of the year? The catch in Clemson, him burning the BYU secondary, or embarrassing this guy on Saturday? I still vote for Clemson but this one is a close second.

Defensive Player of the Game

Another great defensive performance by what has to be the best defense that GPa has put together. I never thought I would say that after last year, but last year's, believe it or not, didn't record a shut out. That being said, it has been really difficult to single out one player this year in each game because of the great performance by the whole team, but today I am going to have to give it to the Tank (boosh! boosh! - that's me trying to imitate the arm gun going off every time he makes a play). Tank only had 5 total tackles but he was just inches away from having not one but two picks. I don't know if he and DWash have eclipsed the duo of 51 and Phillips yet, but they sure are doing all they can to help us reload.

Offensive Player of the Game

Watch out MWC, Ed Wesley has three years left to fully embarrass you all. Wesley (who needs a nickname) had 107 total yards with two TDs, one rushing and one receiving. Both of which showed off just how fast this guy is. This was a close one between him and Dalton, but that fumble by Dalton took him out of the OPOTG. You have to keep that ball in tight when your going to pull it down like that. If you don't think Utah will be trying to strip him every time, then you are crazy.

Special Teams Player of the Game

This one goes to Ross Evans (I just really loved this picture after we recovered the muffed punt) with Sharples coming in a close second. Evans hit two, one from 29 and 42 and all PATs. Sharples kicked two kickoffs to the 1, one to the 2, and one to the 3 (the rest were ok too), which is very encouraging and means that he getting some more muscles into his kicks.

Play of the Game

This was a tough one, but I have to give it to the run by Wesley. While the Hicks play was incredible, it only took the score to 10-0. The Wesley run which took it to 17-0 really kicked UNLV when they were already down and pretty much put it out of reach. The Hicks play also didn't have a great "phantom" block by Dalton which sealed the TD for Wesley, and a complete cross field cut which was awesome.

Superfan of the Game

There weren't too many people dressed up (which is a good thing, we aren't Tech). But out of those that were, the kid dressed as GP in front of us in X was classic. Not only did he have the XBox live Motorola headset, but he had a laminated player card too, so whenever we had a question on who was a red shirt and who wasn't, he could answer (and hike his pants up).

Game 8 Recap: UNLV Rebels

Much like many of their Vegas counterparts,
UNLV does a poor impression of a Division I Football Team.

For me, the biggest statement about this team came on Friday night when my dad called me asking for gambling advice. Now, my one shot at picking games on this site was abysmal, and I’m still somewhere near the bottom of the pack in all my college football betting pools, but the Frogs have been good at covering the spread so far this year, so at least I’ve been winning those games. Regardless, 35 points? 2 weeks before Utah? Against one of the better offensive teams in our conference? It was a hard one to pick and I had no doubts about telling him to take the points. Then it happened – I started doubting the pick, did a little resreach, had a few drinks and called him back, proclaiming that UNLV was a terrible football team and that we’d kill them. 154-37 point scoring in favor of the Frogs in the 4 times we’ve played against them since joining the MWC? Beat CSU by 38 and BYU by 31? Please – this was going to be easy. And it was, and TCU did something that so few teams ever do – they covered the drunk homer bet, rule #1 of things to avoid when placing your bets. TCU doesn’t just sneak past teams – other than Air Force – they embarrass teams and cover ridiculous spreads, giving you complete gambling confidence no matter your condition. And that’s why I have full confidence in the Frogs the rest of the year.

Offense – A. First, the bad. Two fumbles in UNLV territory to start the game? We now have 9 fumbles in 8 games. This is bad. This will not stand against the Utes. Other than that though? Umm… yeah, our offense has finally caught up to our defense. Yes, UNLV has a terrible, terrible defense, but 578 is 578 yards. 390 rushing though? My GOODNESS. The whole Fuente/Anderson experiment continues to improve to the point that I have absolutely no fear of losing a game, even if our defense has an off day, which it doesn’t look like they will anytime soon.

As always, gotta start with my main man under center, Andy Dalton, who had yet another solid day throwing the ball, going 12/21 for 178 yards and 3 TDs. Are they Heisman numbers? No, but would you rather have a 300 yard passer who consistently turns the ball over, or a guy with 14 TDs and only 3 INTs on the year? I think it’s a no brainer. For the second week in a row, Dalton hit Antoine Hicks for a 75 yard pass play, although where the one against BYU was all Dalton, this one was ALL Hicks. The pass itself was iffy as it was underthrown into tight coverage, but fortunately for us Hicks is almost as elusive as UNLVs skill at tackling as he broke the tackle, losing a shoe in the process, and BURNED everyone to the end zone. Sorry you missed it Hammer, because it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Dalton also hit Wesley on a 21 yard TD late in the game, a TD that, much like the one to Hicks, was helped along by the receiver’s tackle breaking ability. He also hit Kerley on a 14 yard strike to start the third quarter, a TD that some of you may have missed if you were fighting the aisle loiterers as I was. On one hand, at least people are in the aisle and not the parking lot, but on the other… move along! Perhaps the most impressive play on the day from Dalton would have to be on Wesley's rushing TD, where he out-sprinted the entire team and, while he definitely whiffed on the block, he caused just enough of a disruption for Wesley to sneak into the end zone untouched. That Ginger has some serious superpowers. Marcus Jackson also made an appearance in mop up time, throwing once for a 10 YD to Billy Pizor – his first catch as a Frog. Way to make it count.

The big story of the day, though, is going to the ground game which tallied the abovementioned 390 yards, although only 1 TD. Looking back, that really stuck out to me, but then I remembered the two drives that stalled due to fumbles, and the fact that Dalton was moving the ball with ease, and it made it a little better. The Ed Wesley TD helped a bunch as well. I think we all remember it: From our own 41, Wesley took a handoff left and immediately ran into a group of UNLV defenders, except I suppose they thought they were B team intramural players playing flag football, because instead of tackling him, they elected to let him bounce off, cut right, and take the ball 59 yards for the score. Between that and the Hicks TD, pretty sure there might be some hitting drills in the Rebels future. Most impressive to me, though, was that we ran up those yards without having a single rusher break 100 – a benchmark that we’ve only broken once all season. The three headed rushing attack is a big thing in football these days… but 10 headed? Yes, we had TEN players touch the ball on the ground this weekend, led by Wesley who had 86 yards on just 7 carries. The rest of the rundown looks like this: Joseph Turner (10-65), Matthew Tucker (9-60), Dalton (8-53), Marcus Jackson (3-40), Skye Dawson (3-33), Ryan Christian (2-25), Jeremy Kerley (2-14), Jercell Fort (3-12) and Jai Cavness (1-4). Other than Wesley, I’d say Dawson got the biggest ovation of the backs with all of Section X staring at him slack jawed and stammering, “whoa… that dude is fast.” He’s going to break one on an end around before the season is over – I like busting out that wrinkle for Utah.

If the run game was story 1A on the day, the receivers have to be 1B. There were only 12 receptions in the game, but 3 of those went for TDs, including the 75 yarder to Hicks. Kerley led all receivers with 5 catches for 43 yards and a TD with Ryan Christian pulling in 2 for 8 yards. Hicks may have only had the one catch, but, like many of the rest of his touches, he knows what to do with the ball when you put it in his hands. So far this season, he has touched the ball 17 times… and scored 7 touchdowns. WWHD kept screaming, “ALL HE DOES IT SCORE TDs!” and, well, he’s right. In fact, he is second on the team in TDs scored, only trailing Turner’s 8, and Turner has had 96 chances to do so. Kerley gets all the pub, but I will continue to say every week that Hicks is hands down our best weapon. It’s just nice that he’s been insulated all year by Kerley and Jimmy Young. Six other Frogs had one catch a piece, including the Pizor and Wesley TDs, and a fantastic 14 yard catch by Bart Johnson. I will make one complaint, and perhaps I’m just being fickle, but we had two third down attempts, one deep in UNLV territory, where Dalton went to Wesley and rather than pulling in the passes, he tried to one hand them, dropping both. Fortunately this didn’t matter in the final outcome, but I bet the receiver coaches will have a few things to say about that when watching the tape. Pretty curious that Jimmy Young had no catches, but if we can do that much damage without him becoming involved, just imagine what we’ll do with him?

Also, a big shout out should go to our O line who continued to protect Dalton and paved the way for the big rushing day. Like most of you, I kind of panicked when when Jake Kirkpatrick went down, but Josh Vernon filled in find until he was able to return. Still only 9 sacks allowed on the season.

Overall Numbers – 27 first downs, 578 total yards (390 rushing, 188 passing), 8.3 average yards per play, 3 fumbles/2 lost, 0 INTs – although we had to have one reversed to keep the streak intact – 6/12 third down, 0/1 fourth down, 3-3 red zone, 33:14 TOP.

Defense – A+. After the complete destruction of BYU last week, we all had to wonder what our defense would do for an encore, and they certainly didn’t disappoint, pitching their first shutout since 2007 and holding UNLV to over 200 yards under their season average. I think the thing that stuck out most to me about our defense’s 160 yard day was that it isn’t even close to the record low under Patterson, which was when Tommy Blake and Co held Northern Illinois to 60 yards in the Poinsettia Bowl. That just shows that the defense can potentially be even better, and how terrifying is that? The Rebels were held out of the red zone the entire game, only coming as close as the 37, and were forced to punt 11 times. UNLV did have 118 yards rushing, although 40 of those came on a QB sneak by backup Mike Clausen. Most notably, TCU held Omar Clayton and Clausen to 42 yards passing combined on only 9 completions. All Conference athlete Ryan Wolfe? 25 yards. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this? The defense didn’t even have to record a sack to accomplish that! Sure, Clayton is maybe the first true running QB we’ve faced this year, but he still only gained 16 yards on the ground. This one goes to the secondary, although the front 6 definitely put the pressure on.

True Freshman Tanner Brock actually led all tacklers with 6, despite not starting. He’s getting a very early start in his Henson/Washington ‘backup who plays starters snaps’ role and could actually end up being better than either of those guys by the time he’s full grown. Daryl Washington, Jerry Hughes and Tank Carder each had 5 tackles, with Washington having one for a loss on a big blast up the middle. Tha Carder not only had the five tackles, but he broke up two passes, both on Ryan Wolfe running over the middle, if I remember correctly. Ever since reading the story about Tank’s life threatening car crash, you’d be a robot not to feel a heightened level of respect for the guy, but even if you ignore that fact this guy is a stallion – and I mean that in the most hetero way possible. Brock/Carder is going to be as impressive as anything self proclaimed Linebacker U Penn State has ever turned out. Just you wait and see.

After his hyping this week as the QB of the secondary, Tejay Johnson lived up to his billing by recording 4 sacks, with one for a loss, and snagging a second half INT. Jason Teague, also not starting, also had 4 tackles and made several big plays to stop the UNLV passing game. Others of note were Freshman tackle DJ Yendrey, who made his first start in place of Cory Grant – injury update, anyone? – and totaled 3 tackles. Alex Ibiloye and Kelly Griffin each had 4, while Colin Jones had 3 with a pass breakup. Not sure what constituted his personal foul penalty, but I bet GP filled him in on it afterwards. Kris Gardner also recovered a fumble for the Frogs.

Overall Numbers – 7 First downs, 160 yards (118 rushing, 42 passing), 3.1 yard average, 52 total plays, 1 recovered fumble, 1 INT, 26:46 TOP, 3/14 third down, 0 sacks.

Special Teams – B+. Although, despite his best efforts, I refuse to come around on Romo, I’m going to keep riding this Ross Evans train until we find out if that light at the end of the tunnel is the BCS sun, or a late missed field goal train wreck. You did good, Ross Evans. You did real good. He bailed us out of some early stalls with field goals of 29 and 42 yards and converted all 5 of his PATs. Nice work, kid.

Kickoffs, too, got a big boost this week as Kevin Sharples may not have recorded any touchbacks, but was consistently booting the ball to the 1 yard line and kept them all in bounds. Overall he had 8 kicks for about a 65 yard average and, with perhaps a few more tweaks to his technique, he can start putting the ball in the end zone on a consistent basis.

Anson Kelton may have only had 3 opportunities to punt, but he did well, putting 2 inside the 20. The 40 yard average wasn’t much, but he put the ball where he needed to and let the coverage team do the rest.

Obviously, Jeremy Kerley didn’t have the big game we’ve been spoiled to expect from him, and it sounds like he took it pretty hard as GP mentioned he was moping afterwards. Coach put it the way that only he can by telling him that “Look, we won the ball game. It’s not always going to be Kerley Day.” He’s right, and I respect the fact that Kerley holds himself to a higher standard, but if he goes a couple of games without a return and returns to being a simply superior human being rather than a transcendent one, let’s hope he doesn’t get too down on himself. I think he’ll be fine though. On the day, he returned 3 punts for 54 yards with a long of 24 and smoked his one kickoff for 43 yards – again, I missed it due to the above mentioned congregating. It’s nice when you shut out a team so that they only have one kickoff all game, but at the same time, I’m kind of excited about the possibility of Kerley taking one of those to the house too. Also getting in on the return game was Curtis Clay, although it was only for one punt, and he did not return it.

Overall Numbers – 2/2 FG, 5/5 PAT, 3 punts for a 40.3 yard average and 2 inside the 20, 8 kicks for a 64.9 yard average, 54 punt return yards, 43 kick return yards.

Overall – Probably the most solid performance we’ve put together all season, although you may have to give a little more weight to BYU given the competition difference. The thing is, while we all thought UNLV was going to be a much better team this year, they simply don’t have it, and it’s unfortunate that it will probably cost Mike Sanford his job. They have some talent, but they just haven’t been able to put it all together, whether it be through coaching or injuries. Regardless, they WERE facing the best team in the conference and the now best defense in the entire country; the 160 yards dropped our per game average to 235.8 per game, which is 0.8 yards better than 2nd place Florida. This was an obvious letdown game for TCU, and just as we have all year, we put our foot on their throats and kept it there. It was a great way to get a shutout, and great way to play heading into a game with a curious San Diego State team.

The two things that most obviously stood out about the game didn’t occur on the field though, but we’ll get to the one you all want to talk about next. First off, the announced attendance of 33, 541 was even worse than any of us could have imagined and just a real gut punch. Not sure if any of you watched the Sportscenter highlights, but the very first scene was a shot of a completely empty section on the visitors side, which makes me mad at ESPN for rubbing it in, but how much can I really argue? Yes, it was their section and they brought no fans, so it isn’t fair, but that’s no excuse as we got the tickets back and they were being sold at a discount. Just… ah, not getting into it, but I think lyle made the biggest point that, no matter what the Sugar Bowl reps say, they were most certainly looking at the attendance numbers. I don’t know what our Southern California alumni base is like, but if the same reps do in fact head to San Diego this weekend, I really hope they show up enmasse to knock the notion that TCU doesn’t travel. If I wasn’t already locked into a hunting trip, and if I had a trust fund, you bet your ass I’d be there.

The most noteworthy thing that happened, though, would obviously be the much anticipated Killer Frogs/Spitblood rumble. Apparently I was one of the root causes of the whole thing, and, if the KF guys read their own site, they’d have seen that I apologized for what I said and tried to make some sort of peace. Like everyone else, I was just frustrated by the lack of fan support and unfairly made the comment about the Lettermen, and I was wrong. I’m not afraid to admit it, and, as everyone could see, we have far bigger fan issues. Obviously if people can’t get behind this team, they never will, and it’s a fight not worth fighting.

I’m not going to get too into it all because apparently Scott Nix and TheFinch established a Rocky peacefor the Gaza Strip that is the TCU blogosphere, but I did want to point out one thing, and it’s the notion that a lot of those guys seem to think that we aren’t “real” fans. That was one of the more common things those guys seemed to be preaching in the aftermath, and that just really confuses me. I mean, I don’t write on this blog because I like hearing/seeing myself talk – although that’s probably part of it – I honestly just really, really love the Frogs and enjoy getting to analyze the games in order to inform myself as much as anything. Like I said, those guys don’t have to like our ways, but I respect the fact that they are serious fans who will gladly funnel away hours of their workday for the sake of promoting TCU, just as we would. Regardless, if this whole thing is indeed over, that’s a great thing because there was nothing to be gained for either side and as long as we can just co-exist, there shouldn’t be any more issues. We’re all Frogs and I don’t think this whole fan inter-fighting situation is going to pay many dividends in the Karma department. Let’s just ride this thing because, honestly, we may never have a team or a season as special as the one we have right now. Go Frogs!

Morning Dump

TCU remains sixth in BCS despite convincing win Star-Telegram

Frogs have dominating D, highest ranking since '56

TCU team notes USA Today

WR depth covering for loss of Brown
San Diego Union-Tribune

Remaining unbeatens sit atop BCS standings
CBS Sports

Non-AQ power rankings: Week 10 ESPN