Three of the biggest questions that I’ve had to ponder over the past few years are as follows: What REALLY happened at the end of the Sopranos, Who honestly thinks Donovan Lewis is funny, What am I going to have for dinner tonight and WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH ANDY DALTON’S ACCURACY THE PAST TWO WEEKS??? You guys know I love Dalton. We all love Dalton. But, as it is with our sports heroes, that love is certainly conditional, and right now we’re bordering on the edge of a breakup. As George Bush said, “Fool me once… shame… shame me… on you, fool shame.” Or something like that, and that’s how it is with Dalton. You fooled me once last weekend with that poor game, so shame on you, but this week? Definitely shame on me. Much like the shame a parent feels when their son tells them he’s dropping out of Princeton so he can become a women’s fashion consultant, or when your daughter introduces you to her new boss who is wearing a fur top hat and mink coat. Deep down you know you always have to stand behind them because they’re your own and you’ve been through a lot together, but that doesn’t mean you have to support their recent decisions. And Dalton’s recent decisions have been rough.
But let’s be positive first. The Frogs ground game is still churning along the same as it ever was. Ed Wesley’s brain looks like it is unscrambled after last week’s body slam, Matthew Tucker, despite his lack of breakaway speed, had his best game of the season and Waymon James is quickly climbing the mountain as a frog favorite with his low center of gravity and bowling ball running style. Even Aundre Dean got some touches this week. The offensive line, despite a weak first half, put it together after halftime and bitch slapped the Rams back to Mountain West cellar where they belong. And Luxury Tax took one to the house for the first time all year.
And then let’s talk about the defense. Anytime you pitch a shutout is great – it’s certainly a sign that your defense played to the fullest of their abilities. It also helps when you’re playing the most godawful looking group of offensive “talent” that I’ve ever seen assembled. But, for the sake of homerism, I’m going to say that our defense played a major role in that. Although Greg McCoy almost gave a few back but was bailed out by Pete Thomas and his fail-o-arm. Seriously, that kid may end up being pretty good, and he actually had a decent performance… but he’s going to beat himself senseless watching the tape because he overthrew some wide open receivers. Seriously, Fairchild is going to put the leeches on him before this is over. Terrible. It also could’ve been because he was running for his life most of the evening as well. Correction: it definitely had a lot to do with that. If the number one scene from my nightmare’s has to do with being stuck in a club that looks, sounds, feels and smells like anywhere the cast of Jersey Shore or The Hills hang out, then my lighter subconscious nightmares revolve around Pete Thomas’ afternoon of being sacked four times and hustled goodness knows how many more.
But back to the passing game. It’s not fair for me to pin it on Dalton at all. Fuenderson called a poooooor first half and the drops MY GOD THE DROPS!!! I think there were five in all officially, but it felt like so many more. SO MANY MORE. Vomit. Just vomit. This is the best receiving core we’ve had in all my years being associated with TCU, and we’re playing one of the worst secondaries in college football. Seriously, looks it up. We should’ve had a FIELD day out there… but we relied on the dumbest underneath passes to Kerley that got eaten alive every single time and when stretching the field, things consistently went wrong. Seriously, Kerley is a transcendent athlete, we know this… but so does every single team we face and it was only a matter of time until some defensive coordinator decided, “Hey, let’s key in on this guy and force TCU to make plays elsewhere,” and while I didn’t think it was going to be Colorado State, it was and that terrifies me for things going forward. Why Funederson and company don’t realize that Dalton’s single greatest asset is his ability to run the read option is beyond me. It always works. Every single week. Seriously, the kid hides the ball incredibly well and if he keeps it, has a stride so long that you have to see it to believe it. Seriously, he should not be able to move like he does, but he runs like a gazelle on steroids. He averages 5.4 yards per carry. IF you look at runners on our team with at least 20 attempts, he ranks third behind the shifty Wesley and barreling James. And speaking of Wesley, I can’t recall the exact play, but early in the game we needed a couple of yards for a first down and AD hands it off for what should’ve been a three yard loss… and then Ed spun out of one tackles and juked a linebacker out of his Achilles tendons and got the first. Seriously, if any of us had attempted said move, we would’ve needed knee replacements afterwards. It was that quick.
But if our passing game didn’t come ready to play, at least Ross did. Keep that up kid and you’re out of the dog house for good. Can you imagine the difference in momentum had we gone into halftime tied at zero with those clowns? We still would’ve won because, like I said, their offense was the proverbial one legged man in an ass kicking contest… but crapola man. There’s no excuse for getting outschemed by the Colorado State Rams. None.
I’ve probably been a little harsh, but I’ve become a spoiled, bitter and entitled fan. Seroiusly, I’m no better than anyone from the University of Texas… except our team is at least undefeated and top five. So I’m probably worse. Bitching about the first road shutout of the Patterson era is soulless and ridiculous, I understand this. But… do you not all feel sort of the same way? Fortunately the schedule sets up well – Wyoming will not win this weekend, BYU is GARBAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sa it with me, BYU is a rotting compost. But that Air Force game is looking tragic. Not because they’re going to run for five billion yards like they’ve done against most of their opponents this year. But because their defense is a lot better than anyone gives them credit for. They may have lost their DC to aggy last year – that’s where he went, no? or was it Boise's? Where am I? – but they have not missed a beat. We will not win unless we play at least half as good as we did against Baylor.
(takes a 10 minute break to calm down and assess the game with a clear head)
Ok, if I’m going to give grades here, they’d look like this – Offense B-, Defense A+ and Special Teams – A. As for the offense, it’s way harsh to make such a broad judgment based mostly on the lack of a passing game because the rushing set a season high mark. But the problem is, by the time the second half came around, I had a bad taste in my mouth about all that was going on and mostly ignored any positives despite the win. So that’s probably not right, but I’m hard headed. But yeah, it bears mentioning, after all that was said above, that we still had 346 net yards rushing for the day. But it seems like that should’ve accounted for more than 27 points, no? I think so. Our offensive scheme isn’t going to change. We’re not going to become Air Force or Georgia Tech overnight and just start running the ball every single down. That’s just not how it works unless you’re playing a video game. So the passing game needs to get on track this week. For real. We have the talent – Dalton, when he’s on, is absolutely ON FIRE. The Baylor game is the finest example, but even something like that pass to Skye Dawson in the opener, or any number of deep balls to Antoine Hicks last year. Heck, the pass to Jimmy Young this week was very, very pretty and Young made a superb effort to get into the end zone. And I really like how we’re incoprating Josh Boyce into the games a lot more as the season progresses. But something about Dalton’s timing has been a bit off the past two weeks and I’m not sure what it is. At first I wanted to chalk it up to the jitters of high expectations, but I don’t think that’s ever the case with a fifth year senior, four year starting QB. He’s clearly tough. But, he’s over the hump now – he’s not winning the Heisman, he now has every single TCU QB record, and he doesn’t have a truly huge game until Utah a month from now. He needs to settle down and play his game. He can do, and I think he will do it, but it really needs to happen this weekend against Wyoming. Make the third time the charm. He’s had big games against the Cowboys before – the Jimmy Young game springs instantly to mind. Let’s have another one.
The defense though, like I said, looks to be firing on all cylinders at this point. CSU only netted 161 yards on the day. They had 45 yards rushing – prediction: Confirmed. They had 8 first downs. Pretty shocked we had no interceptions, but that hasn’t been a huge part of our game all year, and I’ll take the results we’ve generated without them. We also forced three fumbles. That’s good. And, Greg, for all I’ve said about him, had a pretty magnificent pass breakup on what would’ve been a sure big gain down the sidelines early in the game. In fact, I’m not going to pick on them at all; especially Tanner Brock and Tank. Our linebacker assembly line knows no equal. Also Colin Jones and his 3.5 tackles. And Braylon! Way to look alive on the sack. And Wayne, too. Also, Terrekrin Cuba filling in for the injured Ibiloye looked like the highly recruited prospect we know him to be. Just an all around solid day.
I think it’s good that our passing attack had this game, but it’s especially good that it happened in Week 5 against Colorado State, three weeks before Air Force and five weeks before Utah. There are clearly bugs that need to be fixed because we made the Rams defense look like Pattersonesque. Our running game is certainly a nice security blanket to have, and being able to win despite half of our offense being stagnant is a blessing, and maybe the TCU offense really doesn’t begin and end with Dalton? I think that’s a fallacy though. Down the road we will need Dalton to will us to victory as he did last year against Clemson and Air Force. He’s got what it takes, now he just needs to rediscover it over the next couple of weeks.
And Casey Pachall got his first career completion, which is nice.