Monday, October 11, 2010

Game 6 Recap: Wyoming Cowboys.

Just imagine Amon G with some cacti and this was basically the scene.

Now THAT is more like it. After two straight off weeks, at least by our loftiest of standards for this particular team, the #4 team in the country showed up this weekend and gave Wyoming and their 5 fans the Baylor treatment. It was pretty much what we all expected to happen I think, but seeing it play out like it did was definitely a boost… and apparently someone else noticed it as well as we got a first place vote in the AP poll for the first time… ever? I genuinely can’t remember a time when it has happened, and if it has, definitely not in week 6. Our sleuthing commenters will have to verify this information though. Let’s revel in this thing for a bit, shall we?

Offense – A+. Rarely do I give our offense an A+, even after an absolute decapitation like we witnessed Saturday, but considering the slow starts of the past two weeks, it seemed in order. It was such a positive reinforcement of what this offense can do when it’s clicking on all fronts, and it all started with Dalton. Clearly I’m just as wishy washy as any licensed and paid media member when it comes to critiquing the home team, but I have no qualms eating some crow on this one. I tried to suggest that maybe our offense doesn’t begin and end with Dalton, but when he has days like Saturday, it’s very, very obvious that the team is all the better for it when it does. And, truth be told, it wasn’t a day that’s going to turn many heads outside of Fort Worth; heck, the Star-Telegram named Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker co-offensive players of the game without giving the Rooster any sort of mention. But, if 14/17 for 270 yards and 3TDs is what we can expect every Saturday out of him, then who needs the attention?

I said something in my preview along the lines of not caring if Dalton ever has 20 attempts in a game ever again, which was mostly just suggesting that running the ball is what we do best so let’s have some more of that… but if he wanted to bump those numbers to 17/20, 300 yards and another TD week to week, that’d be fine too. The thing that stood out to me most was, after two weeks of looking extremely loopy and rushed, Andy didn’t make a dangerous pass all day. Seriously, I can remember two of his three incompletions, and one was a TOUGH sideline route early in the game that anyone would have trouble completing, and the other was a short route to Josh Boyce that he left just a little high and fast that ended up on the Wyoming sideline. He looked absolutely money on the Kerley TD early in the game – I think I yelled loudly enough from the stands “KERLEY!!!” when we were lining up on the play that the Wyoming defense should’ve been able to hear me and send all 11 players to the end zone with him to try and stop it – and the Bart Johnson TD was both a great throw and catch. The Hicks TD was spot on, but upon seeing the replays it was mostly the result of some very good body contortion by Hicks, and as GP was clearly reminding him as he went back to the sidelines, he had Luke Shivers running across the end zone untouched about 3 yards in front of him the entire time. Basically, it was clear that Andy wanted to get Antoine a TD as he hasn’t had too many touches this year, butI’m not going to complain about six points in any situation. One of Dalton’s better assets, for me at least, has been his ability to spread the ball around, and he certainly did not disappoint this week by getting it to 10 different receivers. And they weren’t just check downs, as he had 5 tosses that went over 30 yards. An all around great performance by Dalton and perhaps his pending engagement really was the reason for his struggles the past two weeks?

Another typically solid day on the ground by the TCU runners, led as usual, by Ed Wesley and his 115 yards on 17 carries with a score that will likely be remembered as his most exciting TD of the year. In case you somehow missed it, Ed took advantage of a little known football rule that states, “you have to tackle a player to the ground before the play is over” as he was wrapped up, sat on the tackler, spun out and stood up, spun out of another tackle and slipped into the end zone early in the second quarter. A very impressive move by the compact sophomore and just another one to add to his already bulky highlight reel.

But Wesley wasn’t the only runner to make an impact, as there were 4 more rushers with at least 4 carries and 39 yards. Matthew Tucker busted out of his place in the shadows behind Wesley and finished with 45 yards on 7 carries and a score, Waymon James continued dominating his role as the third back with 6 carries for 43 yards, and Aundre Dean took advantage of the action he saw in the fourth quarter, finishing 39 yards on 6 carries and looked every bit the explosive back that UCLA expected him to be when they signed him out of high school. After their 28 point beat down by Cal, they probably wish they could’ve kept him around a little while longer. Andy Dalton also had 4 carries for 42 yards, although a couple of these came late in second half when the game was clearly in hand, causing the few remaining fans who hadn’t retreated to the shade of a tent in the parking lot to cringe and silently curse Fuenderson for putting him in harm’s way. All in all NINE players had carries for 305 yards, which is what you call “offensive weaponry.”

I’ve already highlighted what Dalton was able to do through the air, so just a quick run-down of the guys on the other end of those passes. Kerley led all receivers with 3 catches for 65 yards and the TD, and surprisingly enough, Matthew Tucker was second with 3 receptions for 53 yards followed by Logan Brock with 2 for 22. This is clearly a new wrinkle the offensive staff has chosen to add in the past couple of games and I think the more we can get the tight ends and running backs involved in the passing game, the better off our offense will be. I think many of you will agree with me that it’s been a bit disappointing how little we’ve viewed the tight ends as threats in the passing game the past couple of seasons, but as wide open as Brock was on his two receptions, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have a few directed his way each week. Following those three are seven other receivers with a catch a piece – again, that’s some SERIOUS athletic balance – led by Bart Johnson and Antoine Hicks, who also had a TD rushing the ball. Skye Dawson’s 43 yard reception should also stick out due to how difficult his QB made it for him to catch. Dawson had a CLEAR seam to the end zone, and Andy left the ball a little light and outside, but Dawson compensated beautifully by coming back and snagging it just under the nose of the defensive back. I think most of us assumed that he was mostly good as a speedster in open space, but Dawson clearly showed that he has the hands and strength for the job as well.

One last thing that stood out was that Yogi Gallegos took all of the mop up duty reps. Naturally, the concensus in Section V was that this was Fiesta De Los Frogs related, but it begs the question – did Pachall lose his hold on the backup position? I don’t recall reading anything about this, but I know it was certainly disappointing for a lot of us not to see him get some significant action as we all presume he is the future of the team. Still, although Yogi was mostly in the game to hand the ball off, he did complete his one pass attempt for 11 yards and had 2 rushes for 8, although one was called back.

Overall the offense had a season high 586 total yards, controlled the time of possession for 32 minutes and was perfect in the red zone. Also, the 27 first downs to Wyoming’s 8 is just silly, as is our average of 9.2 yards per play. And we scored on five of our six first half possessions, with the sixth one ending due to halftime. Efficiency, we gots it.

Defense – A+. Again, an A+ typically implies homerism… but for a TCU defense that recorded back to back shutouts for the first time since 1955, I have to make an exception. Yes, having to rely on something called Dax Crum at QB, Wyoming had likely lost the game before getting on the bus to the airport in Laramie, but there are two key instances that really stuck out to me about this performance. One would be the very first drive of the game when Wyoming executed the slowest developing trick play ever that we were still fooled on for 40 yards and an instant trip into TCU territory, yet our defense immediately forced them into a 3 and out, albeit a three and out aided by two Wyoming penalties. The other, of course, is late in game when Cuba got burned on a deep route and Wyoming looked like they were going to break up the shut out bid until Tyler Luttrell, back from a week 1 injury, made only the second most athletic INT of his career, and ballgame. Probably helps that he used to be a receiver. Really, last week was a dominant performance – and statistically it was better – but for some reason this week stands out more. Probably because it wasn’t as boring to watch as last week’s slug fest… and when I say slug fest, I literally mean it was like watching slugs battle each other in a 100 yard dash until our running backs finally poured salt on the Rams hopes. Colorado State maybe even has a better offense than the Cowboys, but still, we were so dominant this week that it’s hard to even know where to begin. ..

…So I’ll begin with the overall picture. 191 total yards, 75 rushing and 116 passing, but that passing total has a HUGE asterisk as two plays account for 78 yards. Wyoming only ran 45 plays, held the ball for 27 minutes, and converted CERO of their 10 third down opportunities. It wasn’t quite the turnover fest that some of us predicted – before the game I remember someone suggesting that we were going to set the record for pick sixes in a game, and this didn’t seem the least bit unreasonable to expect – but a 3 and out and Kerley punt return is just about as good if not better.

Tekkerin Cuba, despite the one bad sequence where he was being played out of position on the outside, had a monster day with 12 tackles, 9 of those solo. He’s really starting to play like the touted athlete coming out of high school that we all expect him to be. Following him were Tanner Brock and Colin Jones with 7 and 6 a piece, and while we always knew what Brock was capable of, I’ve been extremely impressed with Colin Jones this year. It’s common for a quick, hard hitting safety to occasionally whiff on a tackle because they’re just a little too enthusiastic about making the hit, but if there’s such a thing as an automatic tackler on our defense, he is certainly it.

Tejay and Tank had 4 tackles a piece, but following them are three guys who show the kind of depth we have on defense and why the future is and will always be bright under Patterson. Kris Gardner, Greg Burks and Kenny Cain made the most out of their playing time finishing with 3 tackles – 2 for Burks – and, should definitely see some minutes in the rotation the rest of the year despite being low on the depth chart. Cain, wearing #51, would’ve made Henson very, very proud.

Also impressive were true freshmen Travaras Battle and Elisha Olabode who didn’t put up huge tackle numbers, but were a big reason why Dax Crum only had 11 completions for 116 yards. In fact, there were more than a few times where both players were in at the same time, showing that they have exactly what it takes to handle the CB load on their own. Jason Teagueand Greg McCoy probably don’t have to worry about losing their status as starters, but it’s clear that they have very little margin for error and are definitely going to lose some minutes along the way regardless. Others of note were Wayne Daniels who continued to add to his sack total and had the only QB take down of the day and Johnny Fobbs and Kelly Griffin who had a tackle for loss each.

There’s really no other way to put it: Wyoming is a really, really bad offensive football team and even more so without AUSTYN calling the shots. Looking back, I thought it was interesting that Crum actually had the same number of attempts as Dalton because it really felt like they were trying to protect him with running plays all game, but most of these came in the second half when the starters were pulled and they were trying to break some deep plays to get that goose egg off the scoreboard. No dice though as Tyler Luttrell decided that he didn’t want to feel the wrath of GP for the second team blowing a sure shut out. It also didn’t help that Wyoming only waltzed into our half of the field three times all game. Definitely a great game for those of us who enjoy looking to the future as, at least according to GP, the true first team defense probably only took 30 snaps all afternoon. BYU may be rolling into town slumping, but having these guys getting some extra rest will definitely be a bonus later in the year when they’re chasing Air Force all over the backfield and the increasingly terrifying trip to Salt Lake City.

Special Teams – A+. And it’s a clean sweep! Although I thought about giving them an incomplete due to lack of evidence, but it’s not fair to fault them due to Wyoming’s terrible performance. But let’s start with MR AUTOMATIC Ross Evans and his perfect 6/6 day on extra points and a tough 37 yard FG. In fact, if I recall correctly, I watched Texas Hammer lose a little bit of dinero on that FG to our very own lyle lanley. Alright Ross, you’ve got me back on board and I’m riding this train until the wheels fall off.

Kevin Sharples also looked alive out there, pushing 2 of his 8 kickoffs to the back of the end zone for touchbacks and putting together a 67 yard average altogether. And although Anson Kelton only had 2 punts on the day, neither coming until the fourth quarter with the second team offense in the game, he averaged 46 yards and left one inside the 20. A good day for the TCU kickers.

Kerley didn’t break one again this week, but he only had 3 chances and came up with 48 yards, with one going for 26. And when you shut a team out, much like last week, you only have one shot at taking a kick return to the house, a performance Greg McCoy could not repeat this year against the Cowboys.

The coverage teams did their part as well, including Malcolm Williams snuffing out a sensationally poor timed fake punt. Glad that monkey is off our back. Neither of Kelton’s punts were returned by Wyoming and of our 8 kickoffs, 6 were fielded, but only for a 20 yard average, which may as well have been 6 touchbacks.

Overall – I don’t think anyone would disagree with me about this being the most complete game for TCU this season, even moreso than Baylor. It’s our 19th straight regular season victory and 11th in the conference. And although detractors will say that the 4th ranked team in the country should never have to compete with other sporting events for attendance, the announced crowd of 38,081 is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when you factor in fall break and a desolate section X. It was also nice to see Frog alums David Roach, Brian Bonner and David Hawthorne – Pete Carroll really DOES act like that in real life, I asked -in Lot 3 before the game. We should have some spitblood koozie related photo evidence of this up at some point today. This is definitely a game that we needed to have to prove to the doubters that we belong. We can’t control our schedule, but we CAN control what we do to that schedule, and two blankings in a row
should certainly open some eyes, especially now that the race for the second place in the polls is WIDE open. BYU will be a better test than Wyoming was and a great barometer of where we should expect to be when Air Force comes to town the next weekend and they should not be overlooked. On the bright side, the Cougars coming to town offers us an unprecedented third hate week on the year and the amount of fan vitriol for the quitters from Provo should be enough to help us get a convincing win before the initial BCS rankings are released on Sunday. It’s a great time to be a Frog.


Texas Hammer said...

If it requires making $5 side bets for the rest of the year in order for Ross Evans to keep making FGs...I'm in!

CounselorFrog said...

Those wheels will fall off, and the entire car will run off a cliff and instantly combust while still in the air. "Ohh my god, we're burning alive" - Tommy Callahan.

I got 5 on it.

Rotten Arsenal said...

Speaking of Ross... did anybody notice that it got REALLY quiet before his field goal attempt?

Oh, did anybody else see the temper tantrum Alexander the Ball Carrier had on the sidelines after the interception?

Rotten Arsenal said...

When are you lazy bastards going to update the header and add the Wyoming result?

Sir Wesley Willis said...

The Alexander rant was CLASSIC. Sec V started a chant for him afterwards and I was realistically afraid he might go ARtest on us.