Monday, November 30, 2009

Game 12 Recap, Bullett Point Edition: New Mexico Lobos


Johnny Cage knows that a 12-0 season
is the real flawless victory

*disclaimer – I had my recap typed up entirely before I went to lunch, then came back and my computer crashed, so I’m definitely not going back and doing it again in its entirety.

12-0. Sit back for a minute and let that sink in. Truly, since we’ve won national titles and all, this doesn’t necessarily qualify as our best season ever, but we’ve also never won 12 games and with the coverage in today’s college football, I suppose the argument can be made. As I mentioned in last week’s preview, the team had quite a few records to break this week, so let’s take a quick look at the milestones.

  1. The Senior Class moves into first place in all time wins with 42, passing last year’s record setting class. Patterson now has three of the top ten winningest senior classes in TCU history. The silver lining in losing such a decorated senior class? There are only 13 of them.
  2. Andy Dalton tied Sammy Baugh for the career wins record with 29. He can make it 30 with a bowl win or, like I said before, he has at least 12 chances to do it again next year. He also moved into second place on the career TD list with 43, trailing only Max Knake’s 49. He also only trails Knake by 176 yards in career passing yardage.
  3. The offense beat the records set by last year’s team in points scored and total yards with 488 and 5,613, respectively. I have a feeling next year’s offense could one up the records once again.
  4. Jerry Hughes is alone in second place on the all time sacks list with 28.5, including 11.5 this season. He trails Bo Schobel by half a sack. I have a feeling this record will fall during the bowl game.
  5. Finally, the TCU fanbase actually won an award! The all time record for attendance was set with 229,121 total and 38,187 per game. This was definitely helped by the Utah sellout and the pleasant surprise of 41,738 on Saturday despite it being a noon game on a holiday weekend. Pat yourselves on the back and you can all have extra dessert tonight after dinner.

Oh yes, and there was a game played!

Offense

  • AD had five touchdowns Saturday. Just wanted to make sure everyone knows that.
  • Antoine Hicks! Not that he needed a breakout game… but I’ll certainly take one. Five catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs. On the first, he simply blew past the secondary and high stepped his way into the end zone. The second was a bit more of a challenge, but AD stung the ball in between two defenders where only Antoine could get it and he yanked it from the defender for a score. As Texas Hammer kept reiterating to me, yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is only a sophomore.
  • Bart Johnson also had a heck of a game for the Frogs, scoring two TDs, both in very acrobatic fashion. The first, Dalton hit him on the sideline and he just beat a defender to the pylon by diving for it. The second, Johnson caught the ball in the middle of the field, juked a couple of defenders, and took it in for the score. Pretty wild that those were his first two TDs this season.
  • The run game didn’t have a huge day, but it didn’t need to. 202 total yards and only one TD, which was by Dalton, but Joseph Turner had several big runs on senior day, finishing with 44 yards on 11 carries. Matthew Tucker led all runners with 63 yards on 11 carries. It’s going to be sad seeing Turner go as he has been such a big part of the offense the past few seasons, but you don’t have a pulse if you aren’t excited to see what it’s going to look like when we unleash Tucker, Ed Wesley, Aundre Dean and Waymon James on the world. Defensive coordinators are going to be fired because of them.
  • It was good to see Marcus Jackson get some PT, although it was during garbage time. Wish they’d let him throw the ball a couple of times, but when you’re up by 41 points, I suppose that’s bad sportsmanship. MJ may have been an innocent bystander this season, but just remember what he did for us last season when Dalton went down with an injury. Fortunately we did not need him this season, but he was a great presence on the team and it speaks volumes that he stuck around through it all even though he knew he was not going to be a starter.
  • The offense didn’t make it to 500 yards Saturday, but 430 is awfully nice, especially after the way they started. I had to miss the first quarter while driving in from the airport, but the radio broadcast didn’t make it seem like I missed a whole lot.
  • The fumbles HAVE to stop. Two fumbles, both lost. I keep saying it will cost us a game, and fortunately it hasn’t, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable.
  • The offensive line allowed one sack, but continued their dominating performance this season. Overall, they have only allowed 10 and are one of the biggest reasons for our record setting offense.

Final Numbers – 430 yards (202 rush, 228 pass), 23 first downs, 6.2 yards per play, 0 INTs, 31:46 TOP, 5/13 third down, ¾ red zone, 1 sack allowed.

Defense

  • Daryl Washington certainly went out on a high note. 11 tackles, which led the team, and the first pick six of his career. Apparently Tank Carder had been egging him on pre-game about how he needs to get his TD, and he certainly did at a great time. Combine that with Rafael Priest’s pick six on the very next UNM possession, as well as the opening safety, and the defense had themselves a pretty nice day.
  • Speaking of that day, the defense only allowed 172 yards total to the Lobos, including 10 net yards on the ground. Donovan Porterie, who has now been in school longer than Jordan Shipley I think, couldn’t get comfortable all day and, despite his reputation as a mobile QB, was only able to gain 16 yards on 7 carries. He was also sacked four times by the defense.
  • Jerry Hughes went out on a rather quiet note, but his one tackle was a sack, which is a fitting end to his career at Amon G. It was also a fitting changing of the guard for the defense as some of the younger guys were able to step up and fill the void. Tank Carder had 10 tackles, but FOUR of those went for a loss. The defensive line, anchored by Wayne Daniels and Kelly Griffin, not to mention Clarence Leatch who had a sack, could actually be better than this year despite the loss of Hughes. Not that Hughes can be replaced, but as balanced as the line will be, it’ll be impossible for defenses to shut everyone down. I expect big things.
  • TCU came into the game with one of the lower interception totals in the country, but thanks to Porterie’s generosity, they piled up 4 on the day, including the two above mentioned pick sixes. Jason Teague and Tejay Johnson had the others; Hughes and Kelly Griffin also had interceptions bounce off of their fingertips. Much like the defensive line, it’s going to hurt to lose Priest and Nick Sanders on the edges, but there will not be anything resembling a drop off with Teague and Alex Ibiloye.

Final Numbers – 16 first downs allowed, 172 yards (10 rush, 162 pass), 4 INTs, 1 safety, 2.3 yards per play, 28:14 TOP, 3 sacks, 0/1 fourth down, 2/15 third down.

Special Teams

  • Anson Kelton continues to decline and I have to think we look at some other options in the off season if they arise. A 38.5 yard average, including a booming 27 yarder, just isn’t going to cut it. In other news, we punted SIX times! That just shows how slow our offense started.
  • Ross Evans converted all seven of his PATs, but he missed his one FG on the day, although it was 42 yards and the wind was whipping around. I’ll give him a pass.
  • Not much to report from the return game. Ryan Christian had a big 43 yard return when we replaced Curtis Clay with him on a rekick. Greg McCoy also almost made it two in a row with a 55 yard return. Jeremy Kerley only took one punt return for 7 yards and one kick for 10, but he wasn’t given many opportunities as we seemed to be trying out a few new wrinkles on the return team, or more than likely trying to keep Kerley from getting injured. Curtis Clay took two punts, but he muffed one, almost got slaughtered by not calling a fair catch on another, and called a fair catch when he should’ve run it on the last one. Needless to say, he probably isn’t going to win that job anytime soon. Kerley will be back for the bowl game.

Overall – Great day for football and a great crowd. Seriously, when we arrived at the stadium at the end of the first, the parking lot was completely devoid of people and the east side of the stadium was 100% as full as the Utah game. The home side was also quite full, although the upper deck was mostly open. Section X was rowdy as could be to begin the game – lots of parking lot dwellers in the second half – and I even saw a smattering of T shirt fans. We always give UT shit for their legion of t shirt fans, and we always will, but it’s definitely a double standard. Speaking of UT, cheers to the Xers who were absolutely abusing the two lone UT fans in the middle of the section, and even went so far as to try and get one of the cops to toss them out. We don't need that kind of garbage mucking up our home crowd. Bravo, sirs. It’s going to be a very long week waiting for the BCS announcement, but I know that it will be entirely worth it. Sad that there won’t be a game this weekend, but seeing as how almost all of the championship games impact our bowl situation, it will be an exhilarating weekend of football nonetheless. It’s been a great season and the end result should be even greater. Sad that this will be my last regular season recap of this 12-0 team and one of the last times I can write about Jerry Hughes, Daryl Washington, etc as Frogs, but having that last time be for the BCS marbles makes it all worth it. Even though we’ll have a month long break from Frogs football, we’ll still keep the content rolling. Go Frogs!

BCS Bowling... but where?

Big Ern McCracken says bowling in Pasadena this time of year is quite nice.

Later this morning I plan on doing a full recap of the weekend’s big game, but first I thought it pertinent to get to the real matter at hand and what we will be pondering all week: Which BCS Bowl are we going to? The general consensus is the Orange or Fiesta Bowl, with the most likely destination apparently being the Fiesta, although I disagree, and I’ll show you why in a minute. Let’s take a look at the potential matchups and how each one would happen. Remember, the baby Rose Bowl is out of play due to the automatic Pac 10/Big Televen monopoly, but the Grown Up Rose Bowl is still very much a possibility, although a very remote one thanks to aggy, they of the end zone interception offensive attack. Bowls will be shown in the order that they pick; once each has picked, the order reverses itself.

Sugar Bowl – January 1, 8:30 PM.

Automatic Tie Ins – SEC Champion*

Possible Matchups – Alabama/Florida, whichever loses SEC title game.

The Dirt – The Sugar Bowl typically gets the SEC Champion assuming they do not qualify for the BCS Championship game; in those years, the bowl will take the SEC runner up. This will certainly be the case this year as, due to Alabama and Florida being ranked #1/#2, the winner of that game will be ranked #1 and go to the BCS NC and will give the Sugar Bowl the first selection of at-large teams. This would obviously be the dream matchup for TCU fans if we are unable to reach the big game, but unfortunately this looks like a distant possibility at best – probably more so than the NC. Since the Sugar gets the first at large pick as a replacement for losing Florida/Alabama, they then get the last pick for the second slot. The brightside is the reason we will not be playing NOLA is that the other bowls think highly enough of us to take us first, but it goes without saying that this is where we all want to be. The worst part? There’s a very good chance Boise will get the Sugar treatment! That just burns my soul.

Fiesta Bowl – January 4, 8PM.

Automatic Tie Ins – Big 12 Champion*

Possible Matchups – Iowa/Penn State, Boise State, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Pitt/Cincinnati, Miami.

The Dirt – The Fiesta Bowl presents the most intriguing opportunity for Frogs fans because there are a good deal of possible matchups and whoever the Fiesta takes with their second overall replacement pick will determine how the rest of the bowls fall into place. Had Oklahoma State won Saturday at Oklahoma, the Fiesta would’ve more than likely honored their relationship with the Big 12 and taken them with their replacement pick. Now it’s a crapshoot. It is very possible that the Fiesta selects the Frogs second overall, eschewing the guaranteed ticket sales that Penn State or Iowa would bring. Let’s say they take us second – this would give the Orange Bowl the third pick, where they would likely take Penn State or Iowa. The Fiesta would then have the following pick, and this is where things get interesting. Let’s say Oregon loses the Civil War with Oregon State this weekend. Oregon State would get the Rose Bowl, but the Ducks, currently ranked seventh, might still remain eligible for an at large. The Fiesta could easily go that direction, but with their three losses compared to Virginia Tech’s two, the Hokies would be a more likely candidate if they skip Cincy or Pitt. A Cincy/Pitt vs TCU matchup wouldn’t be a ratings or ticket sales extravaganza, and don’t be foolish enough to think they don’t care about that and above all else, but it could be the only other matchup to pit two undefeated teams against one another. I think a Big East/TCU matchup only happens if Cincinnati wins, however. Lastly, and hopefully and fortunately leastly, the Fiesta could pretty much say, “Up yours, Tostitos!!” and take Boise with their second selection, but seeing as how that’d be an absolute financial disaster for the bowl and its sponsors, not to mention a repeat matchup from last season, I don’t see this happening. Miami is on the outside looking in as far as qualifications right now, and I don’t see them making enough headway to jump in, but they are still mathematically in it. I think if we can’t go to the Sugar Bowl most fans would rather be in the Fiesta versus a wildcard team rather than in the Orange versus the ACC, but my gut tells me that the Fiesta Bowl eschews the fiery non-AQ team and chooses ticket sales with Penn State or Iowa, which leads me to…

Orange Bowl – January 5th, 8 PM.

Automatic Tie In – ACC Champion.

Potential Matchups – Georgia Tech/Clemson.

The Dirt – I have felt for a while that the Orange Bowl was our likely landing spot because Georgia Tech seems to be the class – can you call the ACC class? – of the ACC. Clemson has come on strong lately, but Tech beat the pants off of them for three quarters early in the season before hanging on for a narrow win, so I don't think the Bees take the Tigers lightly this time around. However, both GT and Clemson lost their games this past weekend to their in state, mediocre SEC rivals, so both teams would appear to have flaws they need to clean up before Saturday. Perhaps having clinched their berth in the ACC Championship game before the weekend both teams were looking ahead, but it never looks good when the two teams in your conference championship have 6 combined losses. Anyway, if Georgia Tech wins and the Fiesta passes on us the first time around like I suspect, TCU is a no brainer here. It may not be a sexy matchup, but don’t you think it’d be pretty fun to watch one of the top ranked run defenses matchup against GT and their top ranked triple option attack? Georgia Tech also lacks a little thing called pass defense, so can you imagine what Dalton, Hicks, Kerley, Young and company could do against them? Regardless, it’s a BCS bowl with BCS money and BCS prestige, so I’m taking it.

On the flipside, let’s say Clemson wins. Does the Orange Bowl committee care to reprise the sloppy slugfest from September? I think no, in which case we’re in the Fiesta Bowl either way because there’s no way we drop past them twice. The Orange could also choose to match the Big Least and ACC Champions as they have in recent years, which would put us in the Fiesta as well.

BCS National Championship – January 7th, 8 PM.

Automatic Tie in – BCS #1/#2

Potential Matchups – Alabama/Florida.

The Dirt – Sure, we’re not officially out of it, but unfortunately we’re mostly out of it. The only way we’re making it is if Nebraska somehow knocks off Texas in the Big 12 Championship Saturday and if Cincinnati either loses to Pitt, or wins but doesn’t gain enough ground in the standings to overtake us. Fortunately with Pitt losing to West Virginia last weekend, the Bearcats strength of schedule doesn’t get as much of a boost as they would have otherwise, but it’s still possible that we could get jumped. We gained some ground on Cincy in the latest BCS standings, but are still hanging on by a thread.

As far as Texas is concerned, a lot of anti-UTers are trying to legitimize Nebraska’s chances by suggesting their defense is strong enough to hold the Horns in check. What they’re failing to take into account is that Nebraska has an awful offense – remember, they scored seven points and had EIGHT!!! Turnovers in a loss to Iowa State – and likely won’t put many points on UTs top ranked defense. UT looked vulnerable against aggy on Thanksgiving night, but that was on the road against a bitter rival whereas the Big 12 game is likely going to be almost as pro UT as an Austin crowd. It’s not unprecedented for a highly touted Big 12 South team to stroll in the Championship game and get beat – see OU/Kansas State or UT/Colorado, otherwise known as the night Chris Simms officially died to Texas fans if he hadn't already – but I don’t see it happening. I’m still going to be the biggest Nebraska T-shirt fan in the area Saturday night, but, much like against aggy, I’m not getting my hopes up too far.

So that’s how I see the bowl situation adding up, at least in my humble opinion. There’s really no way to have any clue where we will go until the games are announced Sunday afternoon, so I hope you guys haven’t rushed out and bought Orange or Fiesta tickets just yet. Good thing that New Orleans flight I bought a while back is fully refundable!! Regardless, as exciting as Utah and BYU week were, this could be the most highly anticipated weekend in TCU football history, and we don’t even have a game. I wrote this to keep myself informed, but I really want to hear some of your opinions on where we will go. Go Frogs!