Thursday, September 30, 2010
Game of the Week:
Air Force (3-1) vs. Navy (2-1)...2:30pm Saturday on Versus
-The Falcons, still a few weeks away from their trip to Fort Worth, are right on the verge of breaking into the Top 25. Every year, their biggest non-conference games are their battles against the other service academies as they compete for the Commander in Chief's Trophy. They've lost seven straight to the Midshipmen, so this one would be a huge confidence boost if they can win it.
Baylor (3-1) vs. Kansas (2-2)...11:00am Saturday on FSN
-As fun as it was to see the Frogs thrash Baylor and talk trash about how pitiful their program is, it'd be even sweeter to see the team that TCU destroyed go on to be a formidable piece of the Big 12 race. Griffin & company bounced back nicely against Rice last week (they beat them by the same 17-point margin that UT did), and will look to gain some more momentum in this very winnable conference opener.
Oregon State (1-2) vs. Arizona State (2-2)...5:30pm Saturday on FSN-Northwest
-The Beavers start their Pac 10 schedule this weekend, and they'll be looking to get back on track after having lost to both the Frogs as well as at Boise last week. They'll get an ASU team that probably should've taken down Oregon last week, if it weren't for an agonizing SEVEN turnovers.
UNLV (1-3) vs. Nevada (4-0)...9:00pm Saturday on The Mtn
-The Rebels have been a huge let-down so far this year, and are among the teams really dragging down the bottom of the Mountain West. They've got a major chance to redeem themselves this weekend, though, by taking down their in-state rival who also happens to be one of the teams that is looking like they'll give Boise a boost to their own SOS.
BYU (1-3) at Utah State (1-2)...7:00pm Friday on ESPN
-Yet another MWC vs. WAC matchup here. The Cougars' D has been absolutely unable to stop the run so far this year, and this is a test to see just how bad BYU's slide can get. I'll probably spend the rest of my life cheering against them, but I'm not sure I wish losing to Utah State on them.
SMU (2-2) vs. Rice (1-3)...6:00pm Saturday
-As nauseating an idea as rooting for the Mustangs might be, any time you let a team hang around with you well into the second half, you probably need them to come out and make a statement the rest of the season and especially in their next game...and especially when they have a chance to be compare to two Big 12 teams that have also played that same opponent. Some motivation for SMU? They haven't beaten Rice in Houston since 1986.
New Mexico (0-4) vs. UTEP (3-1)...5:00pm Saturday on The Mtn
-Everything I said about UNLV, you could say about New Mexico...except their opponent is not a Boise opponent. Still, though- the MWC/CUSA comparisons are always there, so a win by the MWC trainwreck against the CUSA contender would look pretty nice for the league. I'm not holding my breath, though.
Wyoming (1-3) at Toledo (3-1)...6:00pm Saturday
-The Cowboys have played one of the toughest schedules in the country so far, with their three losses coming at the hands of Texas, Boise State and Air Force. They were competitive against the Falcons last week, though, giving you some hope of them taking down the Rockets on the road. They really, really need this one if they want to come back to make a bowl this year.
Tennessee Tech (1-3) vs. Tennessee-Martin (1-3)...
-This game is actually taking place as I'm typing this post. Had I known they were playing Thursday night, I probably would've gotten this knocked out earlier in the week. But it's been a complete ass-whip of a week at work and how much do you really care about Tennessee Tech? Alright, so then give me a freaking break. They're winning, 10-6, right before the half. I'll be away from a computer pretty much all of Friday, so maybe someone can take it upon themselves to look up the score on ESPN.com tomorrow and let you all know if they won or not.
Utah (4-0) and San Diego State (3-1) are off this weekend.
This team is awful and I don't know much about them. I looked at their roster, their stats, their names, etc, and nothing really jumped out at me. Colorado State sucks, and so do the majority of their players, so these players probably won't make any impact. However, I said that last week about Zach Line and he gutted us like a fish, so who knows. Anyways, here we go...
Raymond Carter (Jr. RB, 6’ 217)
Should've stayed at UCLA, then you could've beat a top-10 team from Texas...
Carter, like Aundre Dean for the Frogs, sat out last season after transferring from UCLA. They either must have had a loaded backfield (which shined against
This season, Carter’s stats aren’t overwhelming. He is averaging 3.5 ypc with only 1 rushing TD and is averaging just under 36 ypg. However, he is their leading rusher by nearly 100 yards, which obviously means they are a pass happy offense (possibly because they are always playing catch-up). He has their only rushing TD this season, which is pretty pathetic to have 1 rushing TD in 4 games for an entire team. Pretty sure Tech and
The reason Carter is the player to watch is kind of obvious after watching last week’s run defense meltdown against another bigger back in a pass happy offense. If Colorado State’s coaching staff is smart, and their 1 win in the last 13 games tells me they aren’t, they will take a page out of the SMU book and try to take HUGE chunks out of our defense with the incredibly slow developing delayed handoffs. If our coaching staff is smart, which it is, then we will make the proper adjustments from last week and NEVER allow that play to work again like it did against us last week. Unlike Zach Line, however, Carter is a receiving threat out of the backfield. I suggest we spy with Brock or Carter, something we neglected to do last week.
Oh, Carter also has a Wayne Daniels type Mohawk, so he’s got that going for him.
Broderick Sargent (
Awesome name. Probably not that awesome of a game.
Sargent makes my defensive player to watch list not only because he has been a key player on the Rams’ defense, a unit which also sucks, but because he has a totally bad ass football name. Seriously, when Herbstreit does his all-name team, I don’t know how this one was overlooked, but maybe it’s just me.
Sargent played in every game last year, but mainly just as a special teams player. This year, he has emerged as the Rams’ leading pass rusher. He has 18 tackles, a team leading 5 of them for loss, and is tied for the team lead with 2 sacks. He also recovered the 1 forced fumble the Rams have this season. The Rams also only have 1 interception, which puts their grand total of turnovers forced this year at…you guessed it- 2! Even the Dallas Cowboys have forced more than 2 turnovers. There’s really not much else I can say about this guy. I just like his name, and he seems to rush the passer well.
Nothing much to state here, other than this being a travesty of epic proportions. Fort Worth is now home to a University CO-OP store. Located on the northwest corner of Montgomery Plaza, this calamity serves as a beacon for T-shirt fans, while simultaneously slapping the collective face of the Horned Frog faithful. The CO-OP has locations in other major cities including Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, but never did I think I'd see the day when a branch reared it's ugly head in Fort Worth. Frankly, it's nauseating.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
After a month of games, the Frogs will leave the Metroplex this weekend for the first time the whole season so far. Judging by the overall lack of nervous energy revolving around this game by the fanbase (or at least those in my immediate circle, but hey, isn't generalizing what the internet is for?), those of us wearing purple & white are not too afraid of Colorado State. And Vegas agrees, since the Frogs are favored by...hell, I don't know, a million points? Maybe one of you degenerates can fill me in on the specifics.
Sure, when you look at what CSU's done to end last season and start this one compared with TCU's track record over that timespan, it does little to instill fear in you. But just remember that the last three times the Frogs have tapped the Rockies in Colorado, it hasn't quite been as much fun as a frigid train coming out of nowhere, blasting the O'Jays.
Last year, you'll remember, the Frogs ventured up to the Centennial State (thank you, wikipedia) with a 4-0 record, as they are this year. What was waiting for them there was temperatures in the single-digits and and Air Force squad that wasn't about to back down to their heavily-favored guests in purple. The hard-fought game, which nearly derailed TCU's BCS hopes, wasn't over until the Frogs recovered an onside-kick attempt with just under a minute to play after a Falcon touchdown had closed it to within three...and all of Fort Worth breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.
The last trip to Fort Collins for the Frogs came in 2008, when a 5-1 TCU squad came into their game against Colorado State without Andy Dalton, who was sidelined with a knee injury. Then-junior Marcus Jackson filled in that day, and the Frog D held the Rams to just 11 yards rushing. TCU managed just 3.3 yards a carry and fumbled the ball FIVE TIMES, though, which let CSU hang around all afternoon. The game wasn't decided until Daryl Washington intercepted CSU quarterback Klay Kubiak with 20 tics left on the clock. Again, huge sigh of relief as TCU improved to 6-1 on the year.
In 2007, however, there was no sigh of relief punctuating TCU's trip to Colorado. That year, the Frogs followed up their ill-fated trip to Austin with a Thursday-night game in Colorado Springs against Air Force on national TV. They looked to be in control of the game when Walter Bryant's touchdown gave them a 17-3 lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter. But the Falcons rallied, and tailback Jim Ollis- who had 138 rush yards on the night- tied the game with a 71-yard, un-touched touchdown run on 4th down with just under six minutes left. The Frogs appeared to be driving for a game-winning score, but Andy Dalton's pass was intercepted in the end zone with :49 seconds left, leaving everyone wondering why then-Offensive Coordinator Mike Schultz would call a long pass when all they needed was a field goal. In overtime, Chris Manfredini missed on a 36-yard attempt before Air Force converted their own to win the game and send the cadets spilling out onto the field in celebration. Easily one of the biggest gut-punch losses the Frogs have suffered under Patterson.
I don't want to go as far as to say I'm putting the Frogs on "upset alert", but even the best teams don't play to their potential in every game of a season, and it's been the trips to Colorado the past few years in which TCU has under-achieved. Perhaps you can blame it on the weather- and it has been grizzly each of the past three trips up there- but that won't be an exuse this time around, as near-perfect weather is expected in Fort Collins on Saturday. Here's to hoping the Frogs can reverse this trend this weekend.
Over the past couple of years the Top 25 Preview has undergone some changes: it has been narrowed to ten, Hank Williams, Sr. has stopped by to help out, as has Tobias Funke from Arrested Development, a betting risk system was briefly introduced but, above all, the overall level of apathy has grown to numbers that Robert Griffin III didn’t even know existed… cause he’s dumb! In other words: no matter how you slice it, the Top 10 preview is kind of monotonous and altogether a time drain which most of you probably do not even read anyway.
So, what’s the best way to fight the already high level of change that has taken place? Why, more change of course! So, having already cut the preview by 15 teams once this season, I’m going to cut it again and mold it into simply “The Movement Preview.” Basically this will work as such – chances are TCU will not move upwards in the rankings unless someone moves down. Chances are even greater that, even if we keep winning as long as the teams directly behind us from major conferences keep winning, we’ll be in danger of moving down. This we know. But, not all matchups are created equal, so while Florida has a decent chance at defeating Alabama and shaking things up, as does Stanford at Oregon, New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe facing Boise and Auburn, respectively, do not and those games will not be looked at.
Of course, I did happen to choose the week where the a good majority of the top ten matchups DO have upset implications, so the above paragraph is practically moot this week and, by the time I get to TX/OU the apathy will have returned and I’ll have to think of a new approach next week.
#1 Alabama -9.5 vs #7 Florida. The game that ESPN has been thinking about late at night in the wee hours between sleep and consciousness while eyeing that bottle of Jergen’s on the nightstand has finally arrived -Florida/Alabama under the lights in Tuscaloosa in what will likely end up being a precursor to the SEC Championship in December. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the weekend heading into the game Alabama looked beatable and Florida massacred their opponent, a serious reversal of fortunes given how both teams started their seasons before last weekend. But here’s my problem with this one: It doesn’t really matter. Really, it doesn’t. Think about it – if Florida is to lose this one, they maybe drop to 11 or 12 at worst; if Alabama loses, no way they fall out of the Top 10. With seven more weeks of football following this game, neither team is out of the running whatsoever and can EASILY sneak back into the national title discussion if they run the rest of their season and beat the other in Atlanta. The BCS powers that be want you to believe that “the regular season is a playoff” but really, it’s only a playoff if you don’t go by the name of Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Florida, Alabama or Ohio State, although this year it may come with the asterisk of “As long as you didn’t lose to UCLA.” Any of those teams can suffer a loss and work their way back up as long as it's early enough, say week 5; everyone else in the country is screwed if they do the same. So, while I will more than likely sit back and watch the majority of this game which should be entertaining as all get out, it just loses some of its meaning this early in the season and with nothing on the line. Arkansas/Alabama was a much bigger game from the meaning standpoint because whoever won pretty much ended the SEC West division race. This game is basically what Michigan/Ohio State is going to become but with tons more sex appeal.
But anyway – the game itself is pretty hard to judge, mostly because Florida found a new toy to play with last weekend that could be the difference in the match – Freshman QB/RB/WR/football robot Trey Burton who accounted for ALL SIX touchdowns Florida scored against Kentucky and has the Gator faithful sack riding and anointing him the next Tebow; He’s good, but slow down there, guys. But while last week’s win was impressive, it still came against Kentucky, and it does nothing to erase the stank of weeks 1-3 where Florida was forced to win in spite of their terrible, terrible offense. Florida is sort of like the Texas of the SEC this year – rumoredly stout defense; inept offense that features no offensive line of note, fewer playmakers, and a shocking inability to run the ball. Admittedly, Florida has more firepower on that side of the ball than Texas does and basically just creeps around until unleashing the fury on their always suspecting opponent; a tactic which the Longhorns definitely demonstrated can go tragically wrong when the offense does them negative favors.
Meanwhile, Alabama was outplayed for three quarters last week by the most talented Hogs team in decades, yet bided their time until Ryan Mallett decided that beating the #1 team in the country and becoming the Heisman front runner and top overall draft pick, while a lot of fun, just isn’t as much fun as throwing three of the most gut wrenching INTs I’ve ever witnessed, losing the game , fading out of the spotlight and burning a few J’s while checking out the latest Aqua Teen Hunger Force ‘sodes. But, this shouldn’t necessarily be a knock on Alabama because, although Ryan Mallett gift wrapped the win for them, they still played through an off day by QB Greg McElroy and kept just enough momentum on their side for the 4 point win. This is why they have won 18 straight. And the win was probably for the better; sort of like the great Chicago fire caused by Old Lady Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern, had the Hogs won, northwestern Arkansas would’ve been ambushed by about 100,000 pyromaniacal cows otherwise known as “back woods rednecks ready to burn some shit in celebration” and there’s no way Fayetteville would’ve survived the evening.
So what does all that rambling mean? Florida has a great defense and poor offense; Alabama has an underwhemling defense and great offense. Both teams have concerns in the secondary, but Florida QB John Brantley is really, really underwhelming and Greg McElroy still has not lost a game since the 8th grade. Toss in a dash of Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram against Florida’s (insert viable running back candidate here. Keep looking. He doesn't exist.) offense, whisk in a record crowd in Tuscaloosa and you’ve got a pretty solid recipe for Florida not winning Saturday night.
#4 Oregon -7.5 vs. #9 Stanford. I know nothing particularly factual about the fan bases for either team, but just by my stereotypes this seems like one of the more interesting clashes of culture you can put together that doesn’t involve Cal and aggy. Sure, they’re both massively liberal, but the Ducks crowd strikes me as more of a Hurley wearing, tribal tattoo havin’, board short sagging, crunchy gnar gnar crew while Stanford is basically a school of band kids – sorry band kids, lumping you guys altogether into an analogous form is kind of one of the things we do over here at spitblood. I could be wrong, but for the sake of this preview, that’s how I’m rolling.
But I think the most shocking thing of all about this matchup is how solid both teams appear to be entering the second weekend of Pac 10 play. Oregon, after losing Jeremiah Masoli – can we just reflect once more on how much stealing a few laptops fucked this kid’s world up? – was supposed to have a bit of an off year, and Stanford sans Toby Gerheart was supposed to be even worse despite the presence of Andrew Luck. Then, Pete Carroll bailed on USC, they got thunder banged by the NCAA, Darron Thomas and LaMichael James became two of the most effective offensive playmakers in college football, and Stanford’s answer to their backfield hole involves a two way player who last week scored touchdowns on consecutive plays on each side of the ball. In other words, as much as I don’t care for the Pac 10, I’m probably more inclined to watch this one than I am Florida/Alabama.
Much like their fan base, I also do not know a lot about either team other than they both have high scoring offenses and coaches who do not mind creating excessive gaps where margin of victory is concerned (Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh iced the Wake Forest kicker before halftime of their game a couple of weeks ago, something that you might think is kosher and common… except Stanford was winning by 34 points at the time!) What I didn’t know is that both teams play defense comparable to their offenses with neither team giving up more than 14 points per game and Stanford actually giving up fewer yards per contest – 258.5 to 294.3. Oregon’s number is greatly inflated after they gave up 597 yards last week to Arizona State in their 11 point win.
This is probably the most evenly matched game of the weekend, although their record setting offenses prefer to come about their points in different ways as the Ducks like to run it and the Cardinal enjoy passing. But, as evidenced last week, when the Ducks running game gets bottled up, Darron Thomas simply puts up 260 yards and 2 scores. And, despite Luck’s more hyped pedigree, Oregon actually averages more passing yards per game than Stanford, and for their part the Cardinal rely a lot on the ground game and are 19th in the country in that category.
Seriously, very difficult to pick – Stanford took down the Ducks last year in Palo Alto, so that vengeance factor plus the Autzen crowd would cause me to lean towards the Ducks, but I really do not have any idea. So rather than do that, I think we need to look at this from a “What is better for the Frogs?” perspective. On the one hand, if Stanford wins, they are somewhat likely to switch places with the Ducks, thus keeping the Frogs holding steady at 5th. But, if Oregon wins, Stanford probably drops into the mid to low teens and has a tough road ahead of them as far as earning credibility. It’s not fair, but the Cardinal aren’t one of those teams the voters love keeping up in the polls if they can’t help it, no matter their success. Oregon, on the other hand, is a team that the media LOVES to overinflate and overestimate whenever feasible – probably a Phil Knight thing – so, even if they lose, they’ll hover around TCU and will just be a narrow win against Wyoming or UNLV away from moving ahead of us later in the season. So really, I’m not sure where to go with this one – I guess Oregon losing directly helps us as they will drop below us and Stanford isn’t assured of moving ahead of us yet and still has to play USC and Arizona so that could even out later, but on the other hand, if this is the only game Oregon loses all year, they still have plenty of time to creep back up the rankings. Still, I suppose Oregon definitely has to lose sometime because we aren’t jumping them on our own merit, so may as well take the Cardinal here.
#8 Oklahoma -4.5 vs. #21 Texas. A quick anecdote about UT fans – I work with a guy who attended UT and always goes through the same ticket broker to get tickets for the shootout/rivalry/hatefest/whoever sponsors it these days, and always gets around the same price. Last week he called the guy, tried to haggle him down on his price and failed because of the market demand. Sunday afternoon? Guy had already cut prices by a third because the market demanded that if he wanted to remain competitive. Seriously, UT fans? That’s some cold blooded fair weather stuff right there.
So you’re all fully aware of what happened last weekend – Oklahoma snuck by a 1-3 Cincinnati team who was beaten earlier in the season by Fresno State who was just destroyed by Ole Miss who was previously beaten by Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt, while Texas was castrated by UCLA who I didn’t realize still fielded a football program. To be blunt – neither of these teams are very good and it’s a shame that one of them has to win a downtrodden Big 12 South Saturday afternoon. Oh sure, this is the year aggy and Oklahoma State are supposed to riiiiiiiise up and take the trophy away, but let’s get serious; aggy will win the Big 12 South the same day that Colt McCoy consummates his marriage. It just isn’t happening.
If we want to go over specifics, these are them: Garrett Gilbert is a first year starter, UT has no running backs, UT has no offensive line, and UT likes to fumble the ball in back breaking situations. And they had a good defense, but apparently last week they decided that, rather than win games on that alone, they wanted to have a more team oriented effort, the results of which speak for themselves. On the other side of the ball, Landry Jones is pretty good, but the run game is even worse than UT’s and the OU defensive secondary would get pantsed by the Venus de Milo. Bitch doesn’t even have arms!!!
By the numbers, it looks like this – OU can’t run and apparently UT can’t stop the run anymore, so that’s a wash. On the flip side, OU REALLY can’t stop the ball – see Force, Air – but Texas can’t run either. So watching those struggles could make for some fun viewing in a family friendly Harlem Globetrotters way except both teams are playing the part of the Washington Generals and the Globetrotters will be played by fumbles and gravity. So, really, this game is probably going to have to be decided through the air, and this is where Oklahoma has a decisive advantage… or sort of. Landry Jones to this point has been vastly more effective than Garrett Gilbert… but he also hasn’t faced any teams that are remotely talented against the pass outside of Air Force and he had one of his lower outputs of the season. Then again, his worst game came against Utah State in the opener, and they have a worse pass D than Baylor – BAYLOR!! – so I’m not sure what to expect.
But while the head to head matchup would typically seal it for me, Garrett Gilbert has also not faced a passing defense as POOR as Oklahoma’s, who is also worse than Baylor – BAYLOR!! So, if there’s a chance for him to get out of his funk, it’s this week against the Sooners.
Honestly, this is the one game every year where I wish games could still end in ties because they would basically both be losers and that makes me happy. But from a TCU standpoint, we probably need to put on our big kid maturity pants and pull for the Horns in this one. I understand how tough this is from a moral standpoint – it’s like watching United 93 and pulling for the terrorists even though you already know they’re going to win. OU still has to play the bulk of their Big 12 South schedule, but other than MAYBE Okie Lite there’s no one of interest to knock them off, plus they get the scourge of the Big 12 North in Mizzou, Iowa State and Colorado. On the other hand, UT is going to lose another game this year – if you think Garrett Gilbert is going to rally this team to 11-1 then you are so dumb, you are really dumb, for real. So, even if they gain some in the rankings, it’s more than likely they’re dropping another one along the way to compensate. Besides, their fans have already given up on the team so they probably won’t even notice this victory and thus won’t be any more obnoxious than normal.
So, if things go well, best case is TCU moves up a spot to 4th with an Oregon loss. Florida/Bama is a wash because the winner will move ahead and the loser will drop below, and while I don’t know that Oklahoma jumps us with a win, they are out of the picture a while with a loss. Regardless, on that last one I’m pretty glad it conflicts with our game because the less of it I have to watch knowing I need UT to win, the better. Enjoy your first non-in person spectating weekend of the year while it’s here, because there are 3 straight exactly the opposite after it.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
At first the thought is pretty far-fetched. I mean, how could TCU possibly fit into a league primarily based in the northeast? Then again, the Frogs are already a complete misfit geographically in the Mountain West, so how big a change would it really be? (I, personally, am way too lazy to look up the comparative distances between TCU and Big East schools versus TCU and other MWC schools).
I think we all see the Big East as a league with greater visibility (read: TV $$$) and BCS access than the Mountain West, and I think it's also a league in which the Frogs would instantly be incredibly competitive in both football and baseball. They would definitely be a fish out of water in men's basketball, but could the increase in marquee teams coming through Daniel-Meyer and the opportunity to be the only Texas program to offer kids a chance to play Big East basketball actually be a BENEFIT to the program?
When reached by text message by ESPN Dallas, Gary Patterson said he was surprised by the report and stated that his focus was primarily on Colorado State. AD Chris Del Conte declined to speak on the matter.
As we learned this summer, it's probably wise to scrutinize the source of stories such as this one. So before you start getting excited over football games against Pitt and West Virginia or basketball games against Syracuse or Georgetown, remember that this came from the Post:
After winning their last 3 games in 2008, including a bowl win over
They followed their 3-0 start in 2009 by reeling off 9 straight losses. Yes, that includes losing the
Now the Rams get into conference play for the rest of the season, which they were swept in last year, so once again the outlook isn’t so rosy for Fairchild and his underachieving squad. On the bright side, they have
Basically all I am saying is that I hate
"Well, UT's loss to UCLA last weekend officially turned the state from a two-team tango to a one-man show.
The Longhorns were wildly woeful against the Bruins, turning the ball over multiple times — even unforced, occasionally — and failing to capitalize on any number of UCLA miscues. And while TCU didn't run SMU out of Ford Stadium Friday night, the 17-point win was still convincing enough to keep the Frogs in the top spot. For the first time all season, we have a consensus. A perfect 60 points for TCU, and the Horned Frogs will be heavy, heavy favorites in every game until they travel to Utah later this year. "
- TCU (6)
- North Texas
While it was good to hear that most Frog fans had an overall positive experience with the Pony fans in Dallas this past weekend, and that they were no where near as obnoxious or delusional as Baylor fans, I have managed to find quite a bit of whining going on in the blogosphere. Most of it revolves around SMU fans thinking that we are vastly overrated (and somehow using our ranking to rank themselves), attacking our strength of schedule, giving ridiculous predictions on how we would fare against teams from either the SEC or Big 10 (guess the Big 12 wouldn't really help their arguement), and basically massaging the hairy bean bag of June Jones while deflecting any blame/criticism away from him and his Tony Soprano-esque shiny grey shirt.
That being said, it was tough to narrow the biggest crybaby down to one person, but congratulations NickSMU17 on PonyFans.com, you are that guy. Here's some bombs of wisdom that he dropped on all of us:
"Did any of you go to the game...SMU played well but the first team defn was not outclassed by tcu, if tcu is #4 we are 10...they aren't that good...Curly was the difference tonight...dalton is far overrated as is tcu...If they played in an AQ conference they are middle of the pack...no knock on SMU as they are getting better, but TCU was not impressive...Padron played like a guy starting in his 10th game...he was safe until the last pick...1 bad decision all night cost us a shot at the game...tcu didn't win, we let them have it... the Int. was a surprise even to the DB who grabbed it...And to say the game was decided by the end of the third quarter is like admitting you were not there...TCU sucks...shtty academic school, bad campus, overrated football team...not impressed with them...I think the next 2 years are ours."
Gotta love the way he just launches into an attack on the academics and campus at the end, really gets his point across. Oh and he also went on to say that if we played Ohio St. we would get beat by 40.
Well thats it for this week, as always if anyone has found something better or has some good first hand accounts of opposing fans getting their panties in a wad please share.
Monday, September 27, 2010
No matter how the rest of the season goes, when we look back on this game there’s only one thought that will likely cross our minds: Thank you, Jeremy Kerley. Seriously, without that kick return after SMU took the lead, we may still win the game, but not by 17 points. Watching a game sober, as most of us likely were by the second half, offers two fascinating viewpoints – one, when rewatching the game on DVR, you actually remember the plays down to the very last detail and it’s kind of fun because you it makes you feel like an expert. Like on the Ed Wesley injury play; I remembered him getting flipped, but I mostly remembered the MAN block Dalton put on his defender when Ed reversed field. Despite his evening, Dalton is the Bill Brasky of our offense.
But the second perspective is far more sobering – sorry – because you really put the game in perspective and in a game like this, experience some of the highs, but reeeeeally experience the lows. And at 17-14, I felt as low as I’ve felt as a TCU fan in a long time; I completely understood how Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio have let football destroy their bodies. It's so stressful without the blurry veil of Jim Beam clouding your perception. Not necessarily because I didn’t have faith that we could come back, but more the fact that this wasn’t the same old SMU and with the way they were playing us during the first half it was going to be far more difficult than in years back. Then Kerley took the kickoff 83 yards, Bart Johnson scored a few plays later, and the SMU crowd was never really back in it. Still, I never really relaxed until it was 35-17, and even then it took TeJay’s pick seis to really put the game away when SMU creeped back within 11. The good guys won, but hats off to the Ponies who are far better than most of us probably assumed they were and who are going to give us all a few more heart attacks as long as June Jones is still on campus.
Offense – C+. Let’s start off with the biggest asterisk here, and that was the loss of Ed Wesley in the second quarter. Watching the replays it was hard to determine exactly what happened to him – I haven’t had a chance to scour the message boards for a more concrete explanation, so if there is one please let me know – but the way his body stiffened up when he hit the ground, it had to have been some sort of concussion related injury despite the fact that I never saw him directly hit his head. Even though he never came back, the fact that he was wandering the sidelines for the rest of the game has to be considered a good sign, although he mind may still have been a little loopy as I saw him hanging out with the kickers for a bit. I don’t imagine the kickers and running backs hang out in the same social circles often. A shame because before he went out, he looked like he might be getting something going, but the silver lining was we got our first real look at Waymon James and the results were extremely positive. He only had 8 touches, but averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored twice and looks like he could be the bulldozing back we’ve been missing with the graduation of Joseph Turner. He’s listed at 5”8”, 208 but he plays a LOT bigger than he looks and even when Wesley returns, with the way Tucker hasn’t exactly lit things up, you have to think James will get some more opportunities going forward. Speaking of Tucker, he had 19 carries for 74 yards and a score, but only averaged 3.3 yards per. I’m not sure why he hasn’t had the impact that he had last season, but he looks like he runs a little straight up and stiff and is perhaps trying to run through guys more than around them. Luke Shivers also scored a touchdown late in the game to essentially ice it for the Frogs. Shivers now has 10 touches and 6 TDs in his career. That’s what you call “efficiency.”
So you may have noticed that I’ve now gone over 600 words with much of a mention of our esteemed quarterback, and there’s a reason for that – the Rooster really flew the coop Friday night. This isn’t to discredit his post second half interception performance, because he helped bring the team back from the dead, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going wrong with him for most of the night. That first interception was regrettable but was probably a risk worth taking that late in the half, although Skye Dawson was clearly double covered and Andy, despite having a stronger arm than people give him credit for, simply let it float on him. Regardless, thanks to your Sportscenter #3 play of the day by SMU, it eventually led to points right before the half that SMU had no business scoring and made the second interception all the worse.
To be fair, the interception looked a lot worse in person than it did on replay – Dalton rolled out and thought he had Josh Boyce on an out route with the SMU corner dropping back in coverage, but the throw wasn’t perfect and the corner jumped the route and the Ponies scored two plays later to briefly take the lead. I’ve already gone over how that felt. Fortunately he was able to redeem himself a few plays later, but the fact remains – in the past three big games we’ve played, Dalton hasn’t looked like his normal, steady self and I think he’s still trying to be too many things at once. To call Dalton a “game manager” is an insult because, regardless of how you feel about him, he’s still the winningest current QB in college football, a title he didn’t gain by simply dumping the ball off in the flats 20 times a game. But, in certain situations – such as in a 4 point game against your major rival on national television when you just threw an interception and the crowd is more enthusiastic than they’ve been in 25 years – there’s no need to force anything. Dalton’s 14 completions are deceiving; all night he was throwing behind receivers and a lot of the catches were a result of a great play by the guy catching the ball. It wasn’t all bad – Dalton tied Max Knake with his 49th career TD – but if we are to have any chance at all to keep this undefeated season going, Dalton will have to improve these accuracy issues.
In that vein, you have to place some blame on Coach Fuenderson. Why we didn’t let Dalton run the read option until crunch time is absolutely beyond me. To me it looked like they were wired up pretty tight and, not being used to playing in a game this close since the Fiesta Bowl – overlooking the OSU game because it never felt like the Beavers were going to take it from us, although the aforementioned “in game alcohol corollary” could apply there – were trying to bust the big play and take an insurmountable lead. Fortunately, we escaped this week and have a couple of should be tune up games to get back on track, but that October 23rd Air Force game could be kind of terrifying should we get in a situation similar to Friday night.
Catching the ball, Misters Reliable Jeremy Kerley and Bart Johnson led the team again with 7 catches between them with Bart scoring a TD. For the second ESPN game in a row, Johnson made a grab on an underthrown ball that he had no business catching, so check that out America. However, the Antoine Hicks 41-yard catch and run in the third quarter that eventually set up the Shivers score was play 1A of the game to go along with Kerley’s return. Our offense hasn’t been as vertical this year as it was last year – the only BIG play I can think of was the Dawson bomb at Jerryworld – so that has taken some of Hicks’ touches away. Plus, Kerley and Wesley have been so effective, there’s no reason to go away from them until you need to. But, watching that play had to have sent a bit of a jolt through the coaching staff along the lines of “Holy crap, why haven’t we been getting this guy the ball?” Rewatch it – Dalton hits him on a short sideline route and he gets bottled up by the SMU defender for a short gain until he spins out, takes off, breaks another tackle and goes down at the SMU 36. This play came immediately after SMU had been forced to punt, with said punt taking a bad bounce and eventually being kicked out of bounds illegally by Szymanski, and were the second and third biggest turn of events in this one. So thanks, ‘Toine, you’ve earned yourself a shimmy.
The most disappointing player on offense Friday, to me at least, had to have been the normally sure handed Curtis Clay who had a couple of bad drops and only finished with one reception for 8 yards. Jimmy Young also had himself a case of the drops, and only had one catch. Luxury Tax may have been the top dog two years ago, but Dalton has been looking away from him more often than not this year which should hopefully be a wake up call. Same goes for Clay.
Rounding the offensive performance out, we did control the ball for 32 minutes and only allowed one sack, but we also had two fumbles although neither were lost. The official stat sheets show we only had 3 penalties for 35 yards, but I’m pretty sure that is extremely inaccurate as we likely had double that. Easily the ugliest offensive performance this season to date, but a lot of credit has to be given to the SMU defense who was as good as advertised. There’s no way they shouldn’t be able to win CUSA with that group, and for that I salute them.
A C+ is probably a bit harsh for a team that scored 41 point, rolled up 375 total yards and had a phenomenal 70 yard scoring drive where they converted two fourth downs, but I’m fickle and demand satisfaction.
Defense – B-.
To open, an admission of a mistake – Zach Line, I was wrong about you. WAY wrong. I suggested that Line was slow, fat and wouldn’t have a chance of coming close to a new career high, but 139 yards and an 8.2 average later, he did exactly that. I have to hand it to the SMU offensive coordinator – they utilize him PERFECTLY for that offense, mostly letting the defense collapse on the pocket and handing it to him on draw plays. Besides that, as a converted linebacker, he LOVES contact and runs as hard as anyone I’ve watched this year. Whereas we’ve had pretty good luck with bottling up elusive running backs, SMU simply lined up, ran Line straight at the defense and invited us to tackle him which we were rarely able to do at the first point of contact. His touchdown went 29 yards and involved the majority of our defense playfully slapping at him with arm tackles as he took it to the house. You can bet Tanner Brock heard about this play later from GP.
With that said, now I’ll stop slurping new Craig James and move onto our dudes.
Tank Carder, as he likely will most games this year, led the team in tackles with 8 and broke up a pass. Colin Jones also had a big night, with 7 tackles and Wayne Daniels had 5. Stansly Maponga also had 5 tackles, but also almost had a murder warrant after his forced fumble on Kyle Padron in the second half. Some might say that Padron was playing it up a little bit – and, to be honest, with the way that he looked walking off the field vs. the fact that he came back on the next series suggests there may be truth to this – but HOLY CRAP did he get crunched. It was the full meal deal – scrambling, never saw it coming, direct hit, neck completely snapped sideways, fumbled, driven into ground. It was the personification of the reason that most mothers refuse to sign the permission slip for their kids to play football. He had to be helped off by two trainers and looked like WWHD* after a post game trip to the Oui. And that was kind of the theme of the night. Later in the game, with Maponga out nursing some sort of injury, Braylon Broughton finally did what we’ve come to expect of him and replaced the void left unfilled by Henson’s graduation as the defensive soul devourer. On his first play from scrimmage he came around the edge and blasted Padron and I believe drew a penalty for it. No matter as, rather than holding up on the next play, he stood up in his stance and came around the edge once again for the same result. He may never knock out TWO quarterbacks in a game like his predecessor, but he’s going to seriously haunt some dreams going forward.
*So when brainstorming our in week material, it was delegated to someone to name the fan of the game. As you can tell, this obviously has not played out as planned. But for this week I want to give a particular shout out to WWHD as he spent almost the entirety of the game on the grassy part of the end zone standing behind the SMU mascot blowing a dog whistle via an iPhone app hoping to spook the equine spirit enablers. Well played, sir, well played.
Tejay Johnson will be remembered for two interceptions in this game; unfortunately one of them was an interception that wasn’t actually intercepted. Again, perception is in the eye of the beholder, so early in the game when Tejay swatted down a pass that LOOKED to be a surefire interception, we all went a little nuts at his playing it safe. In fairness, on the replay it would’ve been a TOUGH catch, and we ended up forcing SMU to punt and scored on the ensuing drive anyway. But, the INT he DID have, was play 1B of the game and effectively ended it for SMU. Early in the fourth quarter, we had given the ball back to SMU after they had scored to cut the lead to 35-24 and the crowd, or what still remained of it, was back into it…until Tejay picked off an errant Padron pass and returned it for six. Tejay ended his evening with 2 tackles, but that play will stand out.
Rounding it out, Tanner Brock finished with four tackles and our only sack on the evening, and Alex Ibiloye also had 4 although he left the game late with an injury. Malcolm Williams, seeing some game action, made the most of it with 3 tackles and was joined at that number by DJ Yendrey, Braylon and Jason Teague.
Much like the offensive grade, when I recap these things the homerism takes over a bit and makes it sound a lot better than it was, but this was the worst performance our run defense has had in quite some time as we were actually outgained 192 to 190. However, the passing defense did a pretty solid job of bottling up Padron as he finished 14/35 with an INT, but still threw two TDs, although that first one was broken up and happened to deflect right into Aldrick Robinson’s hands. Speaking of Robinson, he only finished with 5 receptions for 60 yards. We only sacked Padron once, but anyone watching the game will notice that he got knocked around quite a bit, although this was entirely his own fault as his offensive line gave him pretty ample time a good part of the night. SMU fans are going to bitch about how rough and dirty TCU played, to which I’ll offer this advice: A football offense is based on timing. When you hold the ball too long, the timing gets thrown off. When the timing gets thrown off, three things can happen : The QB panics and holds the ball too long, the QB panics and tries to run with the ball, or the QB panics and throws a bad pass. But one thing always happens – the offensive line lets someone get by them because they can only hold their blocks for so long without getting penalized. So in other words, fix the timing if you don’t want your quarterback to be reduced to a bloody stain at midfield. That was a really convoluted explanation, but I don’t think those guys understand how the game of football works. Then again, in all fairness, they aren’t used to watching much football of interest of late.
Special Teams – B+. Jeremy Kerley, again, was the big star of the special teams finishing with 172 kick return yards and 23 punt. For the evening, he had 245 total yards. You have to hand it to them Mustangs, they wanted to show that they weren’t afraid of him by never kicking to Greg McCoy, but sometimes that approach gets you burned and while it may not have officially cost them the game, it certainly didn’t help them win the field position battle. Nay sayers may talk about how Kerley couldn’t beat the punter, but most nay sayers couldn’t run a 40 yard sprint, let alone almost 100.
Kicking, Ross Evans clearly took a dive late in the game when he pushed the last PAT directly left of the goal posts and contributed to SMU covering the spread. Since Ross likely won’t be kicking past his career at TCU, I hope he pocketed some serious lunch money to get by on for a while. Of course I’m kidding, but when your team misses covering by half a point due to a pulled PAT, it makes you wonder. Anson Kelton had 3 punts for a 36.7 yard average, but he left 2 of those inside the 20 and didn’t give SMU any help on that front. And Kevin Sharples has finally come into his own, putting 2 of his 7 kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks and a third one that could have been the same had Daryl Fields not run it out for his longest return of the evening.
Coverage wise, everyone is going to remember that fake punt that the Mustangs perfectly executed more than the fact that the defense then forced them into another punt which resulted in the illegal kick and Hicks reception. But, the fact remains – perhaps when we’re playing a big time night game on national television we should keep an eye out for the fake punt from time to time. Hell, Tennessee Tech converted one as well, so perhaps we should ALWAYS keep an eye out for a fake punt. Brutal. Without any real evidence, with the way the game was going, SMU just seemed like they were waiting in ambush for a fake punt or onside kick and I just held my breath until it happened. Fortunately we’ve won three of the four games where this has happened, but we’re aobvoiusly susceptible and need to be more aware.
Overall. As I said before, SMU is a much, much better team that any of us wanted to give them credit for. Reading comments from SMU fans, they were basically all saying that TCU is good, but they aren’t Top 5 good, but that’s being over pessimistic to their team because SMU is really not bad by any stretch and with Houston effectively being done should have no trouble winning CUSA west. Heck, SMU smashed UAB and the same Blazers team took Tennessee to OT this weekend. Unfortunately, the rest of the country doesn’t see it this way either as we dropped to 5th in the rankings behind Oregon this week. It’s disheartening that a 17 point win against your biggest rival on their home field will do this, but I think it’s more a reflection of the current expectations the country has for TCU. Style points definitely matter and it’s a good thing our schedule gives us what should be two softies the next two weeks.
On the bright side, I found something out about myself that really goes against everything I’ve ever said in my life to this point- I don’t really hate SMU all that much. On the contrary, I had a pretty good time Friday afternoon. I fully expected, with the Ponies genuinely believing they had a chance, that trying to set up shop on the blvd. on Friday afternoon would be a hail of obscenities, smack talk and be a completely inhospitable environment, but I was proven entirely wrong. Everyone was in good spirits and seemed, if not happy about, at least tolerable of our presence. Right now they’re officially fourth on my list behind Texas, Tech and Baylor, but not to worry, SMU hate lessons will be forthcoming and just as vitriolic as always. No matter the reality, some things never change.
While Friday night may have left a somewhat bitter taste in our mouths no matter how we try and spin it, we’re 4-0 and exactly where we should be. Losing a spot in the rankings hurts, especially with the ground we lost to Boise with their win over Oregon State, but there is still plenty of season to go around and with Air Force and Utah continuing to win, if we pull out both of those games it will be a huge perceptual boost. Glad we won and, now that I’m officially over 3500 words, I’ll let that simple expression end it.
Friday, September 24, 2010
That was my heading for the preview last year apparently, and I'll be honest, I kind of like it. Also being honest, this isn't one of my better previews, but I'm so worn out on talking about this game all week I've got tired head. Regardless, most of you won't make it to the end anyway.
So....The Battle for the Iron Skillet, the most revered trophy in all of college football. Going to be a heated one tonight with the 4th ranked Frogs heading east to Dallas on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the 1935 game between the two schools which ended with an SMU win but ultimately resulted in a national title for both schools. The BCS… likes that confusion, but not that atrocious sentence structure. It’s SMU Parents’ weekend, they’ve got airplanes flying around Dallas promoting it, and ESPN is in town to call the game. Let’s get to it.
Offense. Typically when you think of a June Jones coached team, you think of offense offense offense with defense being more of an optional afterthought. However, this year the Ponies have been winning games with their defense shouldering a lot of the load, and the offense hasn’t had a truly breakout performance on the year. The Ponies currently rank 60th in total offense, and a surprising 50th in the pass game. Southlake Carroll alum QB Kyle Padron – who June Jones should’ve started MUCH earlier last season in favor of the Gunslinger – has done well enough with 643 yards, 8 TDs vs 3 INTs, but he’s only completing 55% of his passes which must go up for the Mustangs to succeed going forward. On the bright side, all 3 of Padron’s INTs came in the opener against Texas Tech and, had it not been for those, the Mustangs maybe could’ve won the game. I mean, Garrett Gilbert did it, right? And SMU has a much stronger run game than the Longhorns.
Speaking of that run game, Zach Line is the current white running back folk hero for the Ponies for me to poop on. His numbers are very nice – a 7.7 yard average sticks out the most among them. But, with Padron having accuracy issues, and TCU having a tendency to shut down the other team’s running back, I don’t expect him to have too big of a night IE 122 yards and 2 scores vs. UAB.
So obviously, if my thinking is correct, the best shot the Ponies have of moving the ball this evening is if Padron comes out and has a big game throwing the ball. For this to happen, the biggest thing SMU needs to work on is keeping him protected as he’s been sacked 10 times this year already. If you don’t think that has Patterson and Bumpas absolutely drooling, then you must not be familiar with their work. But, for the sake of argument let’s assume Padron DOES receive the proper protection. His #1 option is Aldrick Robinson- I agree with your assessment, SNK, dude HAS been in Dallas for a long, long time it seems – a speedster who is having a dazzling little season for himself, averaging 19.3 yards on 11 receptions with 3 TDs. However, Padron’s most popular targets have been Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley with 15 and 13 catches respectively and 5 TDs between them. So, while Robinson is going to be viewed as the biggest threat on the SMU sideline, it’s not like Padron won’t have other options to look to if he’s covered.
For TCU, you’re all aware what we have. Week to week, it feels repetitive to list off the same players with their updated stats, so what I want to do is prophesize how I think our offensive strategy is going to go. This should be fun, ill formed, and altogether uninformative. Get ready for a big X's and O's fail.
As I said before, SMU has a much more solid defense than in the past, especially up front where they are only giving up 82 yards per game, including 66 against against Washington State. But, they also haven’t faced Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. They might argue that UAB, a team that averages over 200 yards per game on the ground, was held well under that average when they strolled into Ford Stadium. But they won’t tell you that UAB is circling the bowl when it comes to passing the ball, so stopping the run pretty much shuts down that offense altogether. They also haven’t seen one Andy Dalton taking snaps across the line. And that’s where the difference will be made.
Andy Dalton is not going to wow anyone with numbers. He’s not going to pass for 400 yards in a game. He may not hit 20 passing TDs on the year. It’s just not who he is or how our offense is run. But, when he needs to make a play, he does, and he will tonight. SMU ranks VERY low against the pass despite not having played any aggressively pass happy teams. And while we aren’t going to turn into the Hal Mumme air raid offense in a week, tonight should be Dalton’s night to shine. Ed Wesley probably won’t set a second consecutive career high, and Matthew Tucker isn’t firing on all cylinders yet. But Dalton, as proven last week, is absolutely ready for any defense that chooses to stand against him. Kerley is our only receiver who has had a transcendent game this year, so you can bet SMU is going to do their best to shut him down. It won’t happen, but this will give our other receivers more opportunities to make some big plays. Jimmy Young and Antoine Hicks? Your roll.
I’d like to say that our offense will come out and run up 35 before it hits halftime, and while I don’t think this will happen, the stats suggest that if he can come out like he did last week, the odds are increasingly in favor of it happening. That sentence was SUCH a fail to the point that I’m not going to edit it whatsoever and go ahead and end the offensive discussion because that was just horrible.
Edge - Frogs.
Defense. As I said before, SMU has a much better defensive unit than they have in the past. They’re allowing right at 21 points a game and have only given up 246 rushing yards all year. But they’ve also faced the 105th, 30th and 113th overall rushing attacks in the country. Not exactly a juggernaut, and certainly not 9th as the Frogs are. This is going to be the biggest thing to watch from a TCU perspective. If we can run the ball, they’re in some serious trouble because they do not do well against the pass. If they are able to bottle us up, it’s going to be on Andy Dalton to move it down the field, which should not be a major issue, but the ground game is our speciality and you always want to have your best option available.
Leading the Ponies in tackles are linebackers Pete Fleps and Taylor Read, with 29 and 23 tackles respectively, which helps to explain the highly rated run defense. Both of these guys are solid and seem to be in on every play. Third linebacker Youri Yenga also ranks high on the team in tackles with 14. In the secondary, Chris Banjo and Ryan Smith are the team leaders, and while they have a fair amount of tackles each, the lack of turnovers to date is definitely an issue. In a big game with the adrenaline flowing – and this one being nationally televised against your big rival certainly qualifies – Andy Dalton is susceptible to letting the moment get to him and throwing an early pick. It happened against Boise. It happened against Oregon State. Fortunately, SMU has yet to fully take advantage of these types of mistakes, making their only pick against UAB in the home opener, one of the weaker passing teams in the entire country. Obviously we’re well aware that TCU’s passing game isn’t going to put up huge numbers, but the misleading part of that statistic is the efficiency with which Andy Dalton executes, firmly outlined in last week’s game against Baylor. And that was supposed to be an exceptionally strong defense.
As for TCU, here are the current rankings – 12th in points scored, 4th in yards per game, 16th in passing yards per game, 22nd in rushing yards per game. Shockingly enough, SMU is actually rated higher than us in the run department, allowing only 82 yards per game to our 88. But, SMU apparently has some issues with their offensive line, and we know what our front is capable of, so I don’t think there will be a discernible difference, especially as SMU ranks 53rd in run offense. I just can’t help but think that as bad of a night as Jacquizz Rodgers had, that Zach Line is going to do much better. And through the air, any of the SMU guys will admit that they haven’t exactly gotten it going. And even though Greg McCoy is apparently prone to letting receivers slip behind him for big gains, I think the coaching staff will figure out a way to protect him this evening. Besides, as much trouble as the mobile Robert Griffin had in getting time and space to throw, I think Padron could be in for a long evening. The SMU game is to hit short, underneath routes and quick sweep runs to open up the passing attack, which may keep them in it for a while, but I’m not sure how much it’s going to work over the course of 60 minutes. This is going to be the best SMU offense that Patterson has faced since stepping on campus, but in year 3 of the June Cometh era, I think whatever tricks he may have up his sleeve will be quickly snuffed out by GP.
Edge – Frogs.
Special Teams. Without getting too much into it, I actually think SMU is going to keep the special teams battle even for two reasons. One, they have a very good kicker in Matt Szymanski. He’s only had 2 FG attempts on the year, but one of them went for 61 yards at Tech, and the offense hasn’t needed him much to this point. Why he isn’t handling kickoffs as well, I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with him also doubling as the SMU punter where, as you can imagine, he can boom the ball with the best of them.
The other is, obviously, Encino Man Margus Hunt blocking kicks. Now, I don’t expect this one to come down to blocked PATs and FGs. I really don’t. But, remember how slow we started last year? And how he blocked our first PAT? Getting PATs blocked can hurt the momentum some, and as fired up as Ford Stadium is expected to be, we’ll need all the momentum we can get. Dude blocked 7 kicks last year on his own. This will likely take any long FG situations out of the equation because Ross is going to have to kick high to get over the 6’7” Hunt.
On kick returns, the Mustangs have one of the better ones in the country in Daryl Fields who is averaging a cool 34.3 yards a return, including a 92 yarder. Not sure how you get caught after 92 yards, but it happened. By comparison, McCoy and Kerley average 29 and 21 yards, respectively. Neither team has taken one to the house, but we will certainly have to be solid in our kick coverage and it’s going to be on Sharples to pin them deep.
We do win the Punt return with Kerley averaging 16.7 yards per and SMU rocking a solid 4. Still, let’s try and not punt the ball too much.
Really, aside from the run defense, this could be where SMU keeps it close. If SMU can start their drives with favorable field position and, assuming they stall, Szymanski can chip away with some field goals, if we are unable to come out firing, this one could be dicier than we want it to be. The matchup to watch is going to be Szymanski punting vs Kerley returning. He remembers last year.
Edge – push.
Overall. The SMU game is both my favorite and least favorite game of the year, if that makes sense. I’m always on edge about this one more than I am any other game of the year, save at BYU or at Utah, which, fortunately for my nerves, will not have to be considered after this season. But, when we win, it's such a huge relief. No matter the circumstances surrounding the game, in the past 10 years there have only been two true blowouts that I can remember, in 2004 and 2008. June Jones may not seem like the most inspirational leader to the naked eye, but you have to admit the man has a serious gift. To take SMU to a bowl game in his second year was nothing short of miraculous, and you can bet that he’s watched enough film on TCU to know how to exploit a couple of holes, assuming they exist at all.
Earlier in the week the spread was 17.5 and quickly moved to 18.5 over night before settling back at the original line. On the season we’re 1-1-1 against the spread, including that hilariously accurate 55 points against Tennessee Tech. So, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen tonight. I definitely did not think the game last week would go the way it did, but Baylor was obviously VASTLY overrated and altogether unimpressive. I wish SMU and Baylor could play this year because honestly, SMU is probably the better team and it’s always great to see the SWC castoffs take it to the Bears. SMU is expecting to perhaps break the stadium record at Ford and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 34,000 in attendance. Unlike most years, most of these will likely be wearing red and blue.
So I’ve been doing my homework and caught up on the episodes of The Climb that I missed just to see some live action of how SMU operates. Unfortunately, by the way it is edited, they make SMU look like the beastmaster years of the early 2000s Miami Hurricanes, so I’m not sure I get the proper feel. But while Ed Wesley has been the main difference maker this season to date, tonight I think it will be all on Andy Dalton to earn his status. Probably not going to be 21/23 like last week, but if there’s a night for him to put up Heisman numbers through the air, this is it. The speed of our receivers vs. the SMU secondary is no contest. Kerley and Hicks, especially. I think we should start off as we always do with some short out routes and option reads before blasting Jimmy Young or Antoine down the seam for a big gain. Anderson? Fuente? If you need my number, I’ll give it to you.
SMU will score some points. They just will – too much excitement and anticipation for this game, and if they have the resting heart rate of their coach, they won’t overhype themselves. But in the end, the Frogs will prevail as has been the tale in this rivalry in recent years.
The Pick – TCU 34, SMU 16.
Kind of a weird score, I know, but Ross probably gets a PAT blocked or we have a couple of drives stall and settle for FGs. Which still doesn't really explain things but leave me alone. Look forward to seeing everyone out there this afternoon. Not sure of a battle plan, but if history holds true, look for a cluster of purple in the midst of the wedonttailgateweboulevard and stick close to it. Should be an extremely fun one tonight. We Ready.