Now that we have our typical opening week W behind us, we now move into the anti-climactic Game 2 hole that has recently featured such stallions as UC-Davis, Texas State and Stephen F Austin – fun fact: Their student body has more STD’s per capita than Tech’s! The more you know.
So usually I’d give it my best shot, attempt to put together a meaningful preview and dig up a reason for our overmatched opponent to have hope, but it’s late in the afternoon and I’m leaving town for four days at 8 AM tomorrow so I won’t even be in attendance at the game anyway, and there isn't much hope anyway. Some of you might think this is just me underestimating the competition. You might say, “Well, did you see Ole Miss and Kansas last week? They were in our shoes against a low rent opponent, fell asleep and were rolled on. Or, in Kansas’ case, they’re just an awful damned football team.” At which point I would say, “Yes, I understand your concerns, and I understand that TCU hasn’t always avoided the D-1AA trap game… but we’re also not coached by Houston Dale Nutt, or a guy who cut his teeth at Buffalo and only got his job at Kansas because there was such an uproar about him not getting the Auburn job two years back that someone had to take a chance. Seriously though, Jayhawks – dude had ONE good season, and he’s a Husker at heart. Should’ve kept the fat man.”
In other words, you’re right – I am overlooking Tennessee Tech, and I’ll tell you why: They put up 187 total yards of offense and a stalwart 12 first downs against Arkansas last week in their opener. Arkansas is coached by one Bobby Petrino, a man who fears defensive success the way a UT fan fears a burnt orange stock shortage at Wal Mart. Thus, Arkansas had an ABYSMAL defense last year, ranking last in the SEC and at the bottom of the barrel in the entire country. So unless Petrino completed the most incredibly insane defensive turnaround in the history of the world, and like I said, he’s an offensive minded coach, chances are the Hogs are going to have some points scored on them this year, and that Tennessee Tech is just really, really terrible.
So instead, treating this game as a glorified scrimmage, I’m going to fire off a list of things you guys should hope to see happen this week before the game with Baylor. And if you want to send me up to the minute status updates while I’m away, I’ll be more than happy to accept them.
The Return of Andy Dalton’s Passing Game. We all saw that AD still has his legs about him in the opener as he was scrambling around like some sort of break dancer last weekend, but it was apparent that in a high speed situation the timing of his passes wasn’t quite up to par. Fortunately he faces a Golden Eagles secondary that allowed Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett to go 21/24 for 301 yards and 3 TDs last weekend. I don’t expect AD to put up those types of numbers necessarily, nor would I want him to because our offense is at its most efficient when we let the running backs do the work. But, it would be nice to see him throw a couple of TDs and mix in some long pass plays as we run up the score. I need some Antoine Hicks running wild in the secondary, and Jeremy Kerley breaking some ankles and, while he doesn’t have to necessarily hit a seam route to the house, it would be nice to see Jimmy Young at least get a couple of looks in his direction this week. We won’t need Dalton to have a big game to win this one, but if he wants to pick up where he left off pre-bowl game, I’m all for it.
Aundre Dean/Waymon James. As I said last week, when you’ve got Ed Wesley able to run loose like he was last week, you don’t need to vary your tactics and risk messing up a good thing in a close game. That said, I’m ravenously curious to see what two of the top rated backs in their respective classes can do running behind our big O line. And much like Tennessee Tech did against the pass last week, they also failed to get too enthusiastic about slowing the Arkansas run game, allowing 196 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. So, if we’re going to see what these guys are capable of, let them loose in a game where they may as well be going up against the SMU scout team. Both guys had big camps, and I’m especially excited to see Dean as he’s essentially a faster and possibly harder hitting version of Joseph Turner. He would’ve been too young to take any handoffs from Andy Dalton while at Katy, but I have no problems letting a couple of ex-Tigers take care of business for us on the ground. And James, while he didn’t get a ton of attention while redshirting and supposedly had a few attitude issues, those have since been resolved and he could end up being the best one of them all. I think we all got a tiny bit deflated when Herschel Sims and Malcolm Brown – who was never coming to FW anyway – opted to ply their trade elsewhere, but look at our RB depth chart. Everyone will be back for the next two years, and I haven’t even mentioned the injured Dwight Smith. We have as much depth as anyone in the country at running back and they’ve all got a fair bit of talent, so unless you’re the second coming of Herschel Walker, no need apply. Regardless, it’d be nice to see what the other guys are capable of sooner rather than later.
Ross Evans in a Field Goal Situation. This one may seem counterproductive to the first two, because obviously I want to see TDs. But, let’s say we’re down the field, up by a few TDs and facing 3rd and long. Why not put it on the ground, get a few yards and then let Evans boot a couple? That way we avoid completely running up the score and let Ross get some practice in because down the road when facing BYU and Utah – ESPECIALLY Utah – it’ll be nice to know that we can rely on him somewhat. And if he misses? Send him to the glue factory.
The Redemption of Greg McCoy. Not that McCoy necessarily had an awful game last week. After all, Ryan Katz was still only 9/25 on the night and McCoy had the huge play where he broke up a certain James Rodgers TD… but, when the only two passing TDs of the evening are on your tab, you’ve gotta step up the next week and show that it was a fluke. And I’ll be honest – Tennessee Tech’s passing game is pretty terrible, so if it happens again, then maybe Malcolm Williams or one of the rookies should get the start the following week. I think McCoy will be fine, but I also like to have my confidence backed up from time to time. Prove it to me, Greg.
A true bookend to Wayne Daniels on the D Line. Based on last week’s game, it looks like Braylon Broughton and Stansly Maponga are your two main dudes attempting to fit the role. Both looked good, although Maponga admittedly looked stronger. I know the way our D line functions, guys are going to be rotated in and out pretty regularly to get fresh quarterback devourers in the game. However, there are still established starters and we know who the coaching staff is going to have in the game on major downs. I’m not sure we have that at left end. I’m all for a platoon system this week as one last audition, but it would be in our best interest to have a 100% established starter for the Baylor game.
Rookies. I’ll be honest – I’m not sure who is and isn’t red shirting from our most recent recruiting class, that’s more lyle’s department, so a lot of these names could be moot. But, if we’re going to let some guys opt out of a redshirt year, I want to see them this week. I’m talking about guys like Travaras Battle, Jonathan Anderson, Matt Anderson, Stephen Bryant, Antonio Graves, David Johnson, Kevin White and all of the other guys we kept reading about in the Purple Menace practice reports. If any of these players are already redshirting, then by all means keep them there. But if we have guys called up on the sidelines because they had good enough showings in practice to be second or third team but are just wasting away, let’s get them some reps and see what they’re capable of.
And now, some of the more arbitrary wishes…
The Watson Brown Face. I’ll be honest, shortnkerley's mostly hit all the high points on this one, and for all I know Watson Brown has nothing in common with his brother except a last name, but if the Brown face does run in the family, I want to see it early and often. You know the one – after 903s own Vondrell McGee coughs up the ball, Mack will toss that that microphone back up over his head, tighten his lips into a flat grimace, lean forward with his hands on his knees and then slowly rise back up, clapping his hands and trying to rally the team to do better next time, all the while looking like he just walked out of a prostate exam. Unfortunately, ever since McGee was benched last season, the Mack Brown face has been far less prevalent, but this gives me hope that Watson can redeem the family name this week. If there’s a WMF for every TCU score and Tennessee Tech mistake, I expect at least a dozen over the course of a 60 minute game.
A Decent Crowd. I know this is hypocritical of me considering I will not be in attendance, but I at least gave both of my tickets away, making sure that there will be warm bodies in the stadium keeping the train rolling in the absence of me and the Mrs. I’m not sure what the overall reaction was to last week’s 46K attendance at Cowboys Stadium, but I honestly thought we did a pretty solid job considering the price of tickets, the holiday weekend and the “what have you done for me lately and by lately I don’t mean 12-0 last season I mean like five minutes ago what did you do for me?” attitude of our fanbase. Do we even have 46,000 living alumni? Or, factoring in Oregon State fans, 40,000? And while I don’t expect this game to be close to a sell out, I think we should at least be able to expect 35000-40000 fans for the 4th ranked team in the country and best team in the state of Texas, no? The Baylor game being close to a sell out pleases me immensely, so if the crowd is poor this weekend that will help soften the blow, but by now there’s no excuse for the fans not to show up, no matter the circumstances.
A blowout debut performance from Section V. I’ll be honest – more than the actual game, I’m bummed I’m missing the unveiling of Section V. Truthfully. I imagine it will be a thing to behold. How will the Section V old guard handle all of the new hooligans infiltrating their space? And they can’t just ignore us – we’re right in front of them, taking up all of the rows from 10-20 at the very least. Knowing some of the new blood that is moving in this season, I’m absolutely giddy to see what happens the first time some jackass on row 25 suggests we sit down during a crucial third down play on defense or a 1st and goal on offense. The verbal catastrophe that should occur will make Al Swearengen’s language look like a mild mannered school teacher by comparison. I have had seats in V for the past 2 seasons, but probably still split my time 75/25 between X and V because our numbers weren’t strong enough to overcome this nay saying. This will obviously not be the case this year. For those of you who are new to V, you’re in for a treat. Great seats, and although they may not act like it, the opposing players can DEFINITELY hear what you’re saying if you’re adamant enough about it. If you didn’t hear me, Bo Levi, then why did you transfer to Eastern Washington, the furthest point in the continental United States you could’ve gone? I honestly think we can swing a few games on our own if we can push the correct buttons of the opposition. And also as a bonus, V is just two sections away from the main vistor section, and naturally there is some spill over in the section dividing the two, so needless to say, things can get heated. I’m sad I’m missing the trial run, but I’m also kind of giddy to not know what to expect when Baylor enters the Lions Den. I’ll be there in spirit guys. Drink some rage juice and leave it all out on the stands for me.
So as I will not be in attendance this week, and since the game is not on TV, there will be no Monday recap unless someone else wants to take the reins. Really, a Section V report is all that’s necessary. Have fun out there guys. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive. And, if you meet a young lady at the Aardvark post game, you better sleep at Colby or you’ve done it all wrong.