Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game 9 Preview (Mel Gibson Style)

Game 9 Preview: San Diego State Aztecs

Just as a reminder, SDSUs mascot is most famously known for giving Americans diarrhea.

With all the BCS, Gameday, UT/TCU National Championship hoopla that’s been going on this week, it’d be hard to blame the Frogs for getting a little off task heading into the weekend. However, as lyle illustrated in his post, there is absolutely no way the Frogs can take any team lightly from now on because one slip and it’s all over. San Diego State hasn’t exactly set the world on fire on the field this year – they most recently had to come from behind to beat winless New Mexico by 3 points – but still, they have one of the better passing attacks in the country and a coach who somehow made Ball State into winner, so the sky is the limit for the Aztecs. We shouldn’t have any problems, but you can never be too careful, especially when the media is slurping you - except in the voting, of course - and it’s in conference play. Let’s see how the Aztecs match up.

Offense – As is typical for a San Diego State football team, they have a guy who can throw the ball, and he does it a lot. They don’t run up a bunch of yards overall – 345 per game, good for 85th nationally – but they designate a solid chunk of that total to the passing game which is the 21st best in the country, averaging just shy of 290 yards per game. QB Ryan Lindley already has 2100 yards and 20 TDs on the season which is very impressive as long as you ignore those 10 INTs. Unfortunately in this game for Lindley, Vincent Brown, his favorite target who has 778 yards and 6 TDs of that total, was just shut down for the season with an injury. With Brown out, Lindley still has a very capable receiver to throw to in DeMarco Sampson -595, 7 TDs – but beyond that? Not so much. Lindley does spread the ball around though, as 8 different receivers have caught TD passes from him, so it’s not like we can just focus on shutting down Sampson and expect to completely derail their offense. Comparing Lindley and Dalton, well, numbers wise I suppose Dalton looks like a scrub with his 500 fewer yards and 6 fewer TDs, but, come on, we know better than that.

Where the two teams truly diverge, though, is in the running game. TCU ranks 7th nationally in the ground game with 233 yard on average. San Diego State? Last place with 66.5 per, and when I say last, I mean dead last, like, with a 119th written next to it. Apparently Marshall Faulk has seriously left the building. RB Brandon Sullivan leads the Aztecs with 91 carries for 314 yards and 1 TD. By comparison, Andy Dalton, our fourth leading rusher, has 72 carries for 297 yards. So yes, our QB has a better average per carry than their number one running back. Looks like this game is going to be a lot like playing Air Force, except the exact opposite.

Overall, TCU’s apparently average offense moves the ball a football field more per game than the Aztecs, coming in at 447 vs 345. 12th in the country vs. 85th. For further clarification, TCU has the 12th highest scoring offense at 35 a game vs. SDSUs 76th at 26. So, even without factoring in defense, we would win by 10 points. Consider the SDSU passing game’s biggest weapon will be sitting on the sideline, and you should be pretty aware of where I’m taking this.

Edge – Frogs

Defense –This just gets more homerish with each passing week, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to reverse course this week. So, you all know how good we are, right? Probably don’t need to go there with the best defense in the land, so let’s look at what San Diego State offers. Admittedly, San Diego State could be a lot worse on defense, and right now they’re in the middle of the mix with 350 yards and 26.9 points. It’s not good, but it’s not terrible. However, the numbers do skew a bit towards the passing D as they only give up 205 yards there, which means they give up 145 yards on the ground which is, as you can imagine, not that good. So, if you really look at it, we should be able to pass the ball relatively smoothly against them as they are not one of the better defenses we have faced, and if we can pass the ball, then running the ball should be remarkably easier. How do you think Turner, Wesley and Tucker feel about that? They have picked off 9 passes this year, which is 3 better than the Frogs, but they’ve also gotten to play New Mexico, New Mexico State and Southern Utah, so that makes these statistics seem a bit questionable.

When TCU is on defense, it looks like we will have to respect that pass game, but giving the run game any credence would be a HUGE overstatement against these guys. Can we say Jerry Hughes pass rush every single down? It looks that way. Not to mention we have the fourth highest rated pass defense in the country at present. Typically a Patterson coached team is going to be a lot more consistent shutting down the run, but this year it’s coming from both aspects, which is why this may well be the best defense Patterson has put together in his tenure. No, I can’t say that with any certainty and/or validity, but the results definitely don’t lie. DeMarco Sampson has given other teams fits, and they like to get their backs involved in the passing game, but do they really expect that to work against the best defense in the entire country? Oh yeah, just in case you needed further proof, we hold teams to 11.1 points per game. Them? 26.9.

Edge – Frogs.

Special Teams – This is always a fun one to evaluate. Let’s start with kicking.

San Diego State kicker Lane Yoshida is currently 23/25 on extra point attempts and 5/10 on field goals, with all his misses coming from beyond 30 yards. By comparison, Ross Evans is 33/35 on PATs and 9/10 on FGs. Advantage: Evans

Punting, SDSU Punter Brian Stahovic averages 45.3 yards per punt and has dropped 9 of his 39 inside the 20. Anson Kelton’s down year hasn’t gotten all that much better, as he still only averages 36.6 yards per punt, but he has dropped 11 of his 35 inside the 20. Just as a side note, last year Kelton averaged 10 more yards per punt and put 30 inside the 20. What happen? Advantage: Bad guys

Returning… DO I SPEAK HIS NAME?!?!?! Ummm… briefly checking stats, SDSU has no one that comes remotely close.

Edge – Frogs

Overall – Just like every non-Utah game the rest of the year, this one hollers trap, and even more than the others since it’s right before Utah. Honestly, I think Utah having to play UNM this weekend is a much bigger trap by comparison, although I think you’d have to play the game only throwing and catching the ball left handed to lose to UNM. I like that we’re playing a team that’s at least competent at best because we can’t completely sleep walk through it. I said the same thing about the UNLV game last week and was completely inaccurate in my assessment, so I have no doubts about this one even though they are better than UNLV and even though it’s on the road. I realize it’s apples to oranges, but a similar SDSU team rolled into FW last year and left with 85 yards and the wrong end of a 41-7 beat down. Given, Ryan Lindley only played a few snaps in the game last year, but for some reason I’m just not afraid. Brady Hoke may have these guys headed in the right direction, but they’re going to have to wait a while before they get their program defining win. They might pass the ball on us a little, but with the lack of a running game, Lindley is basically just Tokyo sitting in that backfield waiting for Frogzilla to burn him to the ground. Even without LT on the sidelines, you can’t help but feel good about this one.

The Pick – Frogs 44, SDSU 10.

Strangely enough, SDSU last year was the one home game I’ve missed in probably 5 years, so it’s fitting that it’ll likely be the one game I miss watching all of this year. Therefore, probably will not be a recap next week nor a Top 10, although this is mostly due to the fact that I will be out of town until Tuesday evening. Call it slacking on my duties, but I know that none of us will feel any need for reflection as soon as this game ends and will be perfectly content to turn our efforts towards Utah. Next week is going to make BYU week seem productive by comparison. Can’t wait. Go Frogs!

Q&A with Jim Schlossnagle

We haven't heard much about TCU's other Top 10 program lately, but the baseball team's fall practices just concluded. Here's an interview with Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle, talking about what you can expect to see from his 2010 squad this spring.

The Trap is Set

All of the talk about TCU football this week seems to be about the Utah game and the BCS. And why not? It's only natural for us, as fans, to look ahead at the exciting possibilities that may be in the Frogs' near-future.

You've just got to hope that Patterson, his staff and the players are not joining in the fun. All of the anticipation, all of the excitement goes right out the door if they don't take care of business in San Diego this weekend. And even though the Aztecs don't seem that dangerous, ANY team is dangerous if you're overlooking them. Turnovers are often the vehicle for upsets, and we've all seen that the '09 Frogs have been apt to give the ball away a time or two every game.

I hate to be the Negative Nancy that brings this up, but it would just be a tragedy for the Frogs to be too focused on the BCS and Utah and let San Diego State, Wyoming or New Mexico become the new name that haunts TCU for years to come because of what might have been.

Trust Fund Tailgate

With all the recent hullabaloo concerning Frog loyalty, political correctness, and trust funds, I'd like to propose the following:

Somebody buy this truck.

Created to celebrate country legends Brooks & Dunn's farewell tour, the Tundra Midnight Rider Tailgater ($TBA) is yet another concept we wish a forward-thinking CEO would turn into reality. Based on the Tundra CrewMax Limited full-size 4x2 V8 pickup, the Rider features a Grill N Chill cooking space with countertops, infrared barbecue, beverage tap and an ice chest, an electronically operated tonneau cover, a bed-installed 42-inch HDTV, separate interior and in-bed Kicker sound systems, 20-inch Mickey Thompson polished aluminum wheels, 35-inch tires, a three-inch suspension lift, Bushwacker fender flares, and more

Meet the X-Man is introducing each of the basketball team's six new players, one by one, until the season opener next Friday. Today, part 2 of 6: former Houston Yates guard Xavier Roberson.

TCU vs. Texas for National Championship?

Trevor Matich of ESPN breaks down this battle and make his pick on who would win this State Championship.

Strength of Schedule Watch: Week 10

With a razor-thin lead over Boise State in the BCS rankings right now, the Frogs need their opponents to do all they can to help out:

Game of the Week:
Clemson (5-3) vs. Florida State (4-4) (6:45pm Saturday, ESPN)
-The former "Bowden Bowl" is pretty important for the Frogs this time around for a number of reasons. For one, as ESPN's Heather Dinich points out, the ACC Atlantic Division is Clemson's to lose. A win against the 'Noles this weekend would go a long way towards getting the Tigers to the ACC Championship game. But it's also a chance for Florida State to take some of the luster off of one of TCU's big road wins...on prime time. Got to have this one, Clemson!

Other important games:
Utah (7-1) vs. New Mexico (0-8) (5:00pm Saturday, The Mtn)
-With the Utes currently sitting at #14 in the BCS, it would be a shame to see them slip up the week before they come to Fort Worth for their showdown with the Frogs. While this game probably will never be in doubt, it will be interesting to see who starts and/or gets more playing time at quarterback for Utah- Terrance Cain or Jordan Wynn.

Air Force (5-4) vs. Army (3-5) (2:30pm Saturday, CBS-College)
-With the Game Day crew in town, the Falcons need to flex their muscles and show the nation that Colorado Springs isn't an easy place to play. With a win, Air Force would become the 4th MWC team to become bowl-eligible. This is also the last non-conference game for any MWC team this season.

BYU (6-2) at Wyoming (4-4) (1:00pm Saturday, The Mtn)
-After a week off following their 38-7 dismantling at the hands of the Frogs, the Cougars need to remind Wyoming (and the pollsters) that they are still an elite team. At #25 in the coaches' poll, BYU is probably a win or two away from returning to the BCS Top 25. As a consolation prize, a win for the Cowboys would go a long way in getting them bowl-eligible. Still though, BYU is the way to go here.

Colorado State (3-6) at UNLV (3-6) (9:00pm Saturday, The Mtn)
-This one's pretty simple: the loser is eliminated from bowl contention, while the winner keeps their slim chances alive for another week.

SMU (4-4) vs. Rice (0-8) (2:00pm Saturday)
-Coming off a win at Tulsa and finding an adequate QB, things are looking up for the Mustangs. But it seems like every time they start to get just a sliver of momentum, they take another step back the next week. If they can beat the Owls ("hoo" can't beat anyone), they'll be just one win shy of that ever-elusive bowl bid.

Texas State (5-3) at Central Arkansas (5-3) (6:00pm Saturday)
-After beating Stephen F. Austin last weekend in San Marcos, the Bobcats hopes of winning the Southland were rejuvenated. Too keep those title hopes alive, they'll need to take care of the UCA Bears up in Conway, Arkansas this weekend.

The game I probably don't want to see the score of, unless it goes the opposite way that I'm expecting it to:
Virginia (3-5) at Miami (6-2) (11:00am Saturday, ESPN 360)
-It's becoming pretty clear that the Virginia win isn't going to be something that the Frogs can really plant a flag in, although maybe the Cavs still have an upset left in their tank. It's probably not going to be against Miami on the road, though.

Morning Dump

Scout teams give TCU an edge Star-Telegram

Hughes and Patterson named semifinalist for major awards

Visiting TCU to show what Aztecs hope, strive to be under Hoke San Diego News Network

TCU at San Diego State Sports Network

TCU defense trying to keep top ranking

ESPN College Gameday coming to TCU?

What to watch from the non-Aqs, week 1o

Best in Texas - Texas or TCU?
San Antonio Express-News

Conference could have trouble filling its bowl agreements Deseret News

Can two non-BCS teams make the BCS? Idaho Statesmen

The more unbeatens, the merrier for the BCS
Los Angeles Times