Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fiesta Bowl Preview: Special Teams.

Boise special teamers need to make sure they order their Kerley fries
with a side of clean underwear/new ankles.

For the final part of our preview, I’ll take a look at the special teams for both sides. And just like I do for most of the special teams previews throughout the season, I’m going to make this one short, sweet, and with only half of an ass. I’m going to use the four categories of kicking, kickoffs, punting and returns, pick each one individually and then see who takes it at the end. Simple enough? Lezgo!


Boise – Kyle Brotzman.

17-23 FG, Long 52; 64-66 PAT.

TCU – Ross Evans.

14-17 FG, Long 48; 60-62 PAT.

When you look at the kicking breakdowns for these two teams, you can see why it’s much more worth the whiles for both to put the ball in the end zone rather than rely on a field goal attempt. In all fairness, neither kicker is BAD, persay – in fact, Evans is really pretty good as a whole. The issue with both is, neither can kick well under pressure. Evans somewhat redeemed himself this season in the Air Force game, although that game never should’ve gotten to that point, but unfortunately for this kid his only legacy will be the Utah debacle.

As for Brotzman, coincidentally enough, his biggest career gaffe to this point came in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl when he shanked a short field goal in the third quarter that would’ve in all likelihood given Boise the game. Sure, he made three others to keep the Broncos in it, but no one remembers those kinds of kicks.

Really, even though Evans has had fewer opportunities, he has a better percentage, and is more accurate inside 40 yards as his only misses came from beyond that mark. By contrast, three of Brotzman’s misses came from within 40 yards, including one within 30. They’re both going to make their extra point attempts, so I’m going to give it to Evans based on his FG percentage

Edge – Frogs


Boise – Kyle Brotzman, Jimmy Pavel. (stats averaged)

106 kickoffs, 61.1 yard avg, 7 touchbacks, 2 out of bounds, 42.9 yard net.

TCU – Kevin Sharples, Ross Evans. (stats averaged)

90 kickoffs, 63.3 yard avg, 5 touchbacks, 2 out of bounds, 43.7 yards net.

Should be self explanatory – Frogs have a slightly better average and net, but Broncos put the ball in the end zone more. Neither kicker is flawless when it comes to accuracy.

Edge – Push.


Boise – Kyle Brotzman, Brad Elkin (stats averaged)

49 punts, 42.0 yard average, 4 touchbacks, 20 inside 20, 11 50+


51 punts, 35.8 yard average, 1 TB, 16 inside 20, 3 50+.

Even Boise’s back up kicker looks like Secretariat to Kelton’s Rachel Alexandra.

Edge – Boise


Here is where things will get dicey and the pick will ultimately be made. We take for granted that Jeremy Kerley is just better than everyone at returns, but Boise feels the same way about Titus Young. For brevity, I’m just going to include the #1 punt returner and two starting kick returners for both schools.

Punt returns:

Boise – Kyle Wilson

20 punts returned, 10.4 yard average, long of 59

TCU – Jeremy Kerley

34 punts returned, 14.3 yard average, long of 71, 2 TDs.

Welps, that was easy.

Edge – Frogs.

Kick Returns:

Boise – Titus Young, Doug Martin (stats averaged).

34 kicks returned, 28.75 yard average, long of 100, 2 TDs

TCU – Jeremy Kerley, Greg McCoy (stats averaged).

26 punts returned, 32.45 yard average, long of 81, 1 TD.

Alright, so to a TCU fan, this can be skewed in our favor with few arguments, right? However, I’ll at least do some justice to the Boise faithful here and try and keep an even keel. Alright, so Titus Young is a really, really good kick returner. Jeremy Kerley is also a very good kick returner, although he shines far brighter fielding punts. You’d be surprised, though, to learn that Doug Martin and Greg McCoy actually average more yards per return than their more notable counter parts – in McCoy’s case, it’s 12 more yards (38). Yes, their yards are skewed because they have fewer overall returns – McCoy has 9, Martin 6 – but… 38 yards? Wowza! I haven’t personally watched Young return a kick this season, but for those of us who watch the Frogs, we know that McCoy is a muchbigger threat than Kerley to take one to the house by far – he’s been called the fastest player on the team – but has been kicked to this year because Kerley has the name recognition. Don’t be surprised if Boise picks the Kerley poison on Monday. It’s a close call, but, gotta go with the home team.

Edge - Frogs.

Overall Edge – Frogs – 2.5 vs. 1.5.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a final roundup and prediction.

Scouts Inc.'s take on the Fiesta Matchup

Here is the breakdown on the game from and Scouts Inc. along with a score prediction. Funny how they choose our QB over theirs and their RBs over ours. Interesting.










Boise State offense vs. TCU defense
• Boise State will continue to alter its blocking schemes and run out of different formations in an effort to free up RBs Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin. The Broncos will pitch the ball to the running back, block down with an H-back and tight end and then pull the front-side guard and tackle, and on the next play zone block up front and run a stretch play to the outside. They can even run their version of the Wildcat package with Avery. However, TCU ranks third in the nation (80.5 ypg) and showed in last year's Poinsettia Bowl matchup with the Broncos that it can slow the Boise running game. Horned Frogs LBs Daryl Washington and Tank Carder are sound open-field tacklers who rarely get caught out of position and are quick enough to make plays in the backfield. They should continue to benefit from playing behind a front four that can hold its own in the trenches and make it tough for Boise State to release blockers up to the second level.

• There's reason to be concerned about the Broncos' ability to turn red zone trips into touchdowns in this game. While Avery and Martin run hard they lack the power to push the pile when they don't get a seam, and TCU's eight-man front will make it difficult to open up holes in these situations. Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin can try to overcome this disadvantage by spreading the field and throwing but Boise State could be without its best red zone receiver. WR Austin Pettis (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) injured his leg in the Nevada game and will likely be a game-time decision. In addition, TCU's corners, safeties and linebackers will crowd the line of scrimmage and force Moore to throw into tight windows near the goal line.

• Boise State's pass protection has been stellar this season and QB Kellen Moore gets rid of the ball quickly, but the Horned Frogs should have some success getting to him. For starters, Broncos ROT Garrett Pendergast fractured his ankle during bowl preparations and will miss the game, and whoever replaces Pendergast will have a difficult time keeping TCU DE Jerry Hughes out of the backfield. Hughes explodes upfield at the snap, is quick enough to turn the corner and closes on the quarterback in a hurry. He can also redirect inside after starting outside and will occasionally bull rush tackles back into the quarterback's lap. Secondly, TCU's ability to slow the run will put Moore in some third-and-long situations that force him to hold the ball longer than he would like. Harsin will try to keep the Horned Frogs off-balance with his screen package, and Moore and his offensive line do an excellent job of selling the pass on screen plays and Avery is dangerous after the catch.

TCU offense vs. Boise State defense
• Moore has been the most efficient quarterback in the FBS this year but Horned Frogs QB Andy Dalton isn't far behind, ranking fourth in the nation (159.6) in that category. Like Moore, Dalton locates favorable matchups quickly and keeps opposing defenses off-balance by spreading the ball around and also shows above-average accuracy and touch on short-to-intermediate throws. There is one key difference between the two, though, and that is Dalton's ability make plays with his feet. Dalton is more of a threat to break the long run when he scrambles, keeps the ball on designed keepers or holds onto it on the read option. Boise State can't lose track of him when the Horned Frogs run and the Broncos must stay in their rush lanes when the Broncos drop back to pass.

• Boise State's front seven is relentless and disruptive against the run but the defensive line can struggle to hold its ground and the linebackers sometimes take too long to shed blocks when teams run right at them. The Horned Frogs can exploit this weakness with their size up front and open up holes between the tackles for RBs Joseph Turner, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. Keep an eye on the 225-pound Turner in particular, because he is a downhill runner who reads blocks well enough and can power through arm tackles.

• WR Jeremy Kerley is an explosive open-field runner who is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball and TCU gets him involved in a number of different ways. He can line up in the slot or at quarterback in the Horned Frogs' version of the Wildcat package, and he returns kickoffs and punts. As talented as Kerley is, though, Boise State is capable of limiting his production as a receiver and return man. For starters, CB Kyle Wilson has the fluid hips and burst to stay with Kerley coming out of breaks, and though Wilson lined up on the outside during our film evaluations he's more than capable of sliding inside and lining up over Kerley in the slot. Secondly, the Broncos' kickoff and punt coverage are among the best in the nation. However, Kerley could do some damage when he lines up at quarterback because he has the speed to exploit the seams his line creates and the former high school quarterback is a legitimate threat to throw the ball.

Scouts' Edge

These are different teams than the ones that met in the Poinsettia Bowl last year. Boise State has 10 different starters, TCU has 11 and Moore has developed into a more efficient quarterback in his second season at the helm of the Broncos' offense. Still, look for the Horned Frogs get the win in much the same way they got their 17-16 last season. They will frustrate the Broncos with their stout run defense and relentless pass rush, and while TCU's offense won't come close to reaching its normal scoring output it will run the ball better than Boise State and Dalton will make enough plays with his arm for the Horned Frogs to eke out the win.

Prediction: Horned Frogs 24, Broncos 20

Tech Fires Leach; GP entertains coaching offer


Hahahahaha, that got you looking, no? Anyway, as I'm sure most of you have seen, Tech parted ways with the always controversial Mike Leach today, ending a run that saw the most successful football season's in Texas Tech history. Yes, a 2 loss season ending in a rout in the Cotton Bowl by Ole Miss qualifies as the greatest season in Tech history. Thanks for screwing UT out of the national championship though!

Anyway, for the three people in the universe who weren't aware of how awful Tech fans are, just get ready for what's about to happen with the impending coaching search. You see, Tech fans have a HUGE chip on their shoulder and have this very, very curious sense of entitlement that springs from... well, nowhere to be honest. So, they'll feel like the Lubbock job is one of the premiere vocations in the country and therefore deserves a top rated coach.

Enter the Gary Patterson rumors.

Last year when Leach was on the firing line, Lubbockites were absolutely CERTAIN that GP would come running to Lubbock, and pretty much dismissed him as a candidate that they needed to entertain because, once they were turned down by a few dozen coaches, they could simply show him the money and he'd be there. This year though, with GP's new contract and the reality that Tech hasn't recruited a defense in the past 20 years, the joke will be on them.

Still, this whole situation is pretty remarkable for a few reasons. Number one, how sued is Tech going to be over this? SO FUCKING sued. For starters, the fact that they released him on the hearsay of a daddy's boy backup receiver is questionable in itself, especially when current and former players have run to the coach's aid. Secondly, that they did it the day before the coach was due a $800,000 retention bonus certainly raises a few red flags. Third - and perhaps the most interesting- is seeing where Leach will land. Lyle brought this up yesterday about how incredible it'd be for him to wind up at a lower tier SEC school and watch the sparks fly because, if Lane Kiffin qualifies as controversial in those parts, can you imagine the feathers the Pirate would ruffle?

The greatest thing about this, though, is going to be watching the Tech fans face the reality that they go to a shitty school with a one dimensional football team that holds very little appeal to any sane coach other than he can recruit the state of Texas. Aren't you simply giddy thinking about watching their spirits completely crumble when they're turned down by every viable coaching candidate in America and end up with the offensive coordinator from Tulsa or something along those lines? Circling back to the GP rumors and how I expect them to fly, how much can you wait for them to run their mouths about it again and get the Clemson, "no thanks, and I'm not returning your phone call, either" treatment? I have this strange, irrational hatred of Tech that almost borders how I feel about UT, and much like that one it solely revolves around the fans. Watching their world crumble as ours flourishes is going to make 2010 a year to remember.

Where Revenge Happens

Clips from Purple Reign







Morning Dump

TCU arrives in Arizona after 12 year journey Star-Telegram

For TCU, end of the rainbow is almost in sight Star-Telegram

TCU-Northern Colorado men's basketball preview Star-Telegram

Top 5 local athletes in 2009 Star-Telegram

Patterson addresses Fiesta Bowl media as Frogs arrive

Frogs set for home contest against Northern Colorado

Horned Frogs arrive in style for Fiesta Bowl

Scorned Frogs era long gone: TCU stands tall amid BCS
USA Today

TCU coach takes low road to Fiesta Bowl Arizona Republic

TCU aims to get jump on Broncos for '10

Exclusive video interview with TCU coach Gary Patterson Examiner

Offensive firepower Idaho Press

Boise State D-line eager for do-over Idaho Statesman

Fiesta Bowl Chairman "We knew it would be a good match-up"
Idaho Statesman

Boise State is cashing in on success Honolulu Adviser

Fiesta Bowl worthy of national championship game status
Epoch Times

Editorial: Mountain West soaring high Deseret News

Broncos sign Herb Taylor
National Football Post