Well, it’s official: Andy Dalton is the most polarizing TCU athlete of all time. Yes, even after a day where he threw 4 TDs and no INTs, there were still rumblings to be heard in the parking lot after the game about his performance. It’s truly beyond me. When did we become these jaded, cynical UT-esque fans exactly? Andy didn’t win the game all by himself like he did last year at Clemson – Kilgore College could’ve pulled this one out with the way our defense was playing – but the facts are the facts, and you can’t honestly look at this game and say that he isn’t a talented QB. The only logical reason I have for the naysayers is that maybe they only stayed until 5 minutes before halftime when it was 3-0 and the offense was looking sluggish. That’s the only explanation. But, whatever the reason, even on a day where the vaunted TCU run game looked amateurish and Dalton’s arm was the only thing keeping us ahead, folks are still going to suggest that Dalton – STILL the winningest QB currently playing college football – isn’t special. And I’ll never be able to explain it.
Offense – B. Ohai, Josh Boyce! So nice to make your acquaintance! Antoine Hicks, your spot just got took. I don’t know, perhaps I’m overreacting to one big game… but I don’t think anyone is going to argue with me that Josh Boyce is as exciting of a receiver as we’ve had come through in quite some time. This wasn’t some fluky thing as we’ve seen flashes of what he can do the past couple of games. But wow, that kid is going to put up some big numbers before he graduates. Note to Fuenderson in 2011: No defense is going to be able to cover both Skye Dawson and Josh Boyce when they are on the field together. Seriously, Hicks’ may have fallen a bit out of favor this year – injury? – but could Dawson/Hicks/Boyce potentially be better than Kerley/Young/Johnson? Only time will tell, but you have to like what we have going forward. In case you missed it, Dawson had 8 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs, one of which was a showcase of pure speed, and the other shiftiness. I prefer the second TD, personally, where Dalton hit him on a little out route and he made a move and trucked it into the end zone. These short little 8-10 yard routes are easily among the most effective in our playbook and that was a clear demonstration of why. Saturday was officially Boyce’s coming out party, and I fully expect him to continue to be a threat going forward.
Sticking to the receiving game, because it was the only thing that we had going for us on the day, Jeremy Kerley and Jimmy Young also had scores, but Young’s was easily the more important of the two. I remember watching BYU run the ball late in the second quarter and thinking that they were clearly playing for 3-0, and thinking how foul of a mood I was going to be in for the ensuing 20 minute break, but then Boyce scored with 1:30 left and, after the Tank Carder pick, Dalton hit Young for a WIDE open TD down the middle. This was one of the few times on the day I was proud of Coach Fuenderson because they lined up Kerley and Young more or less one in front of the other and BYU just fudged the coverage. You’d think that the defense would recognize that with our two most prolific receivers lined up that close together, we’re clearly up to something sinister, but Young made probably the easiest TD catch of his career. He now only needs a few more yards to reach 2000 for his career and keep climbing the record books. Young has been overshadowed the past season and a half, but it’s nice to know that he’s still as reliable as ever. We just have too many weapons; notably Bart Johnson, who only had 3 catches but has now caught a pass in, what, 23-24 straight games? I can’t remember the specific number.
I’ve touched on Dalton already, but just to reiterate, he was 24/36 for 277 yards, 4 TDs and no INTs, which apparently just isn’t good enough for some folks. Sorry, just still SO confused. Sure, he missed a few passes… but he THREW FOUR TDs AND NO INTs. The incompletions can be overlooked. The biggest problem we faced early in the game was the lack of adjustments by the offensive staff who just kept calling for short screens and runs between the tackles that got snuffed just about everytime. You have to give the BYU front seven some credit – they’ve come a long way since that Air Force game. They knew what we wanted to do, what we’ve been able to do every single game this year, and stuffed it. But once the coordinators figured this out and let Dalton loose, it was absolutely game over.
Not one of the better games for our o-line, although losing Kyle Dooley did not help matters. Unfortunately, the prognosis does not sound very uplifting in the short term and he could miss some time. We only netted 108 yards on the ground, the lowest output in some time, led by Ed Wesley and his 53, but 2.8 yards per rush isn’t good for anyone. They also gave up 2 sacks and Dalton was under the most pressure he’s seen all year… even more of a reason to herald his big day. But, we did dominate the time of possession – 35-25 – and pick up 23 first downs. Still, the first half was UGLY and were it not for Tank Carder, I’m not sure how fired up we would’ve been coming into the second half. So a B ranking it is.
Defense – A+. You’d think that only a shut out performance would garner an A+ ranking, especially when you factor in a 2-4 opponent with a truly dreadful offense, but you can’t underestimate how important they were in this win. If they let BYU convert a few opportunities in the first half and put points on the board, this game might have been far too close for comfort. Instead, they limited the Cougars to 14 yards, 1 first down and 0 points in the first half… so there went any of those worries. And since I’ve already gone out on a limb by making arbitrary comparisons that can’t really be proven… could this year’s defense be the best ever under GP? They probably can’t be anointed yet due to some shaky performances against Oregon State and SMU… but my oh my they have been clicking the past 3 weeks. Sure, playing three of the worst teams in the conference contributed to this, but it’s difficult to only give up 3 points and less than 200 yards of offense for 3 consecutive weeks no matter who you play. Absolutely phenomenal. And, they didn’t even have Tank Carder for most of this game – reports suggest he’ll be ready for next week, and he was on the sidelines in his pads the entire second half.
And while everyone wants to talk about Wayne Daniels, TeJay Johnson and Tank, has anyone been more solid than Jason Teague for this defense? This is another stat that I’m shaky about, but I think he’s only given up 2 passes to his side ALL SEASON. He doesn’t have huge pass breakup numbers, tackles or picks so he’s not going to stick out on most radars, but this largely due to his coverage being so tight the receivers can’t get a hand on the ball, or QBs not looking in his direction altogether because they know what they’re going to get, or not get in this case. For the day he had 2 tackles, one for loss, and a breakup and that’s pretty much been the story of his season. No wonder LSU wanted the guy.
Looking specifically at Saturday, Tanner Brock was the standout with 11 tackles, including 8 solos and one for a loss, and Tekkerin Cuba helped his cause to at least split reps with Alex Ibiloye , who played a few snaps Saturday, finishing with 9 tackles. TeJay Johnson had 8 tackles and a gift INT, but Tank’s pick was easily the play of the afternoon as it led to our second TD and pretty much killed BYU’s hopes of a second half comeback. There were three sacks on the day, one each by DJ Yendrey, Cory Grant and Stansly Maponga, but I think the overall numbers are what really tell the tale here. BYU managed 147 total yards – 91 passing, 56 rushing – including the aforementioned 14 in the first half. The Cougars only managed 10 first downs and 2.6 yards per play. It was the worst offensive performance by BYU in seven years, and the best performance by our defense since 2008. Jake Heaps definitely got his introduction to top tier college football Saturday afternoon.
Special Teams – B+. Jeremy Kerley is just SO close isn’t he? He didn’t have any huge punt returns Saturday, although his 14 yard return average was quite nice, but he almost broke a kickoff that ended up going for 51 yards, and his other return was 31. Still, we aren’t going to break many kickoffs with the way our defense is playing, but I’ll take the trade.
Anson Kelton had a busy afternoon, mostly in the first half, and averaged 41.3 yards on 6 punts, putting half of those inside the 20, and Kevin Sharples also had 6 kickoffs for 64 yards a piece, although none for touchbacks this week. He still hasn’t kicked any out of bounds this season though, and that’s a major victory over his previous performance.
Mr. Automatic also converted all four of his PATs and his only FG attempt of the afternoon, a chip shot 20 yarder than put the Frogs ahead for good in the game… at 3-0.
Overall – Pretty decent crowd considering the massive game down the street, at a little over 40,000. After the game a BYU fan criticized our fan support which was just humorous considering the scoreboard, but it still stings a little bit. It’s just the unfortunate reality we face I suppose, but with the reported price increase being tacked on with the new stadium, I hope this trend doesn’t worsen. Still, attendance smack is for the losing team, and I’ll take the #5 team in the country over BYU’s massive fan base any day of the week. That’s about as no brainer as they come. However, it still seems like our fans haven’t quite figured things out, if this story is true, and even in Section V we still get hassled from time to time for our displays of enthusiasm. I’m not sure when everyone is going to wake up and realize that the team actually feeds off of fan energy, but the sooner this happens, the better.
As for the game, it may not have felt as complete as last week’s thrashing, or as satisfying as the American History X’ing we put on Baylor, but to more or less humiliate BYU in their on-going victory lap of failure should satisfy even the most skeptical of our fans. After two years where BYU had our number, we have now outscored them 101-17 the past three years, which includes wins by 25, 31 and 28 points. Not a bad way to take care of business. We finish our Mountain West career against the Cougars 4-2 and will forever be able to hold that over their heads. I’m going to miss those guys; they were a lot of fun to hate. Almost too much fun sometimes, to be honest, although I won’t miss the endless supply chain of Flaming Dr Peppers and Strawberry Margaritas at TGIFriday’s that would’ve surely complemented any future trips to Provo. I hate the fact that we’re losing a genuine rival due to the BCS, but I suppose we’ll always have SMU and hopefully we can keep rotating Baylor and Tech in every few years.
So good riddance, Mormons. I can’t wait to watch you crash and burn as an independent and become the laughing stock of all of college football. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of assholes.