As the final gun sounded and we were all still trying to make some sort of sense out of what we just saw, ironically Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham put it best when he said, "The score was not indicative of how lopsided this game was. They were better at every phase of the game. We were outcoached and outplayed. Gary Patterson has something special there and they are an exceptionally high-quality football team." Doesn’t that really say it all? We’ve seen Patterson’s TCU teams dominate opponents before – heck, they dominated a very similar Utah team last year – but, could this have been the most dominating performance yet? I think it has to be when you consider the circumstances. Other than probably the Fiesta Bowl, these were the biggest circumstances yet for a Frogs game, and you can’t even begin to compare it to another regular season game. In fact, if we’re talking about the Fiesta Bowl too, this game may have actually been bigger than that one considering the long term implications. After the weekend, all that stands between TCU and a National Championship invite is an Oregon team that, admittedly, probably isn’t going to lose another game, and an Auburn team with a cheating QB and no defense. Sure, they’ve run the tables to this point, and Alabama is extremely beatable, but the Tigers have to play them in Tuscaloosa and the Tide faithful would love nothing more than to derail a championship season for the team they view as a little brother. Besides that, Auburn would then have to win an SEC Championship game against South Carolina or Florida, and while they SHOULD have enough fire power to beat either of those teams, would you bet your life on it? The way I see it, worst case scenario we play in the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. Not a bad consolation, eh?
Of course, the downside of Saturday’s massacre is that the media are already getting their feathers riled about Utah being a “FRAUD!” and “OVERRATED!” to which I say, “Hey jackwagons, you’re the ones who voted them 6th!” Utah’s pillaging of Iowa State gets downplayed because, “Is Iowa State REALLY that good?” while Nebraska squeaks out a win on a botched extra point attempt in OT against those same Cyclones and gets lauded for their grittiness and valor in the face of adversity. It never ends. It really doesn’t. After the game, everyone was toeing the company line and downplaying any talk of a national title… everyone, that is, except Luxury Tax himself who said he would be very, very displeased if we were shut out of the discussion at the end of the year because he feels like we can play with anyone. He’s right, of course, but all the talk in the world won’t make a difference unless one of the two teams above us drops a game. For now, let’s enjoy what happened Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City and accept that, no matter what happens from here on out, our team, “put itself on a different plateau,” – GP’s words, not mine – and take comfort in the fact that, no matter what anyone says, we put the fear of God in the rest of the college football world.
Our offense looked a lot like this.
As I’ve started off many of these offensive recaps, I must say, “Dear Dalton Haters, Get Died. Love, SWW” Pretty nice timing for the best game of your career, Big Red. I think all the necessary superlatives have been lavished upon 14, so I’ll just stick to the facts: Dalton treated the Utah secondary like Cam Newton treats boosters pocketbooks, and while he won’t win the Heisman, he should at least merit an invite to New York. Those are the facts. Sure, the Heisman isn’t what it is intended to be – the best player in college football, but instead the best player on the best team in college football – but, to be honest, that may actually play to his argument because Dalton is the best player on the best team in college football. If the winningest current QB in the game who hasn’t lost a regular season game in two years can’t get a call up, then I’m not sure I’d be proud to call the award my own this year. For the day, Dalton finished 21-26 for 355 yards and 3 TDs to no INTs in just over three quarters of work. Shockingly enough, he only had 5 rushing attempts for 15 yards which shows you that Utah had a specific game plan to control our offense and it blew up in their faces. How nice is it to have an offensive coordinator that can adapt on the fly like that? Utah came into the game focusing on shutting down our ground game – which they KIND of did –, we picked up on it, and put it all on Dalton. You know the end result. Hint: It didn’t work out well for the Utes.
In hindsight, after watching the 9 play, 80 yard opening drive where Dalton completed all five of his passes including the TD to Josh Boyce, we should’ve known how it was going to go. I came into this game expecting a first half dog fight before TCU slowly pulled away and had resigned myself to a slow offensive start. Obviously, not so. But still, I don’t think anyone felt like the game was in hand after that opening score. After the 93 yard Josh Boyce catch and run? Perhaps. But after the Wynn turnover and immediate Kerley-Johnson Wildfrog hookup, I think we all kind of started to feel like the sky was going to be the limit as far as what we could do. Utah was BROKEN. Absolutely broken. Go back and rewatch how they played – the armor had started to crack last week against Air Force, but getting immediately popped in the mouth at home after all the hype and buildup and confidence they had that week did something to their psyche that they just couldn’t recover from. It begins and ends with Andy Dalton and we should all be there early this weekend to send off the greatest Horned Frog of our time on Senior Day.
Of course, if we’re going to give Dalton props for his big day, I suppose we need to give Kerley a shout out for his first career TD pass, a 26 yarder to Bart Johnson to end the first. Johnson has now caught a pass in like 344 games straight. Such greatness and completely unexpected. The Wildfrog has died down a bit since it’s 2008 inception, but being able to pull it out at times like this make the absence worth it. Kerley also caught 7 passes for 68 yards and was a huge reason why we were able to do the things we did all day. We all ripped on the short underneath routes after the Colorado State game, but the coaching staff one upped us again as Kerley had all sorts of space to work with and was breaking tackles all afternoon. Jimmy Young also had 5 receptions and TD and moved into fifth place all time in yards and catches in school history. Tax has been quiet the past couple of years compared to his breakout 2008 season, yet here he sits in the record books for everyone to see. He’s not Dalton’s first, second or maybe even third focus, but he makes plays when necessary and will be missed.
But, if we’re going to reflect on Jimmy Young’s past, I think we have to be just as pleased with the future of Josh Boyce. Three catches, 126 yards and 2 TDs. Of course we’ll all remember the second, and we’ll especially remember it when we think back on how it wasn’t even how the play was drawn up – Boyce was supposed to run a cutback route, but instead beat his man so bad Dalton made a read on it. The way he was able to break the tackle, turn and then outrun the entire Utah team despite them operating at full speed should’ve given you goose bumps. Let’s just hope Casey Pachall will learn to appreciate him as quickly as Dalton has.
It’s pretty unusual that the run game would be featured this low on the recap, but obviously they were not the main difference between winning and losing on Saturday. Utah did a fine job holding us to 177 yards total, led by Waymon James and Ed Wesley with 64 and 51 yards, respectively, and a TD a apiece. But still, we scored twice on the ground, including the easiest TD run of Wesley’s career, so you can’t completely say they kept us quiet. Matthew Tucker continued his stumble down the depth chart with a fumble in the third quarter immediately following a recovered Utes fumble and I think it’s safe to say that Waymon James is now back 1B to Wesley’s 1A.
However, other than Dalton, would the offensive line perhaps be considered the secondary MVP of the game? Reserves Spencer Thompson and Jeff Olson have played their asses off filling in for our injured starters and the future is definitely bright there. Dalton wasn’t sacked all day and, really, was he even pressured? I can’t think of a time when I feared for his life, despite playing one of the more daunting defenses in the MWC. Also, they kept the penalties low and when you look at our 558 total yards of offense, you have to put the O line at the top of the props list. And we had three scoring drives of 1 play. That’s efficient. Just an all around remarkable day.
They're remade this movie in Utah Saturday, except they called it 365 days later.
And for as good as our offense played, could the defense have potentially played better? I was watching the Kansas State/Texas game later Saturday night, noting how Garrett Gilbert often looks like he’s never picked up a football before in his life nor understands any of the game’s basic concepts, and had flashbacks to Jordan Wynn the past two seasons against TCU. That’s really the best way I can describe our defense: We are so good that we make otherwise talented football players appear as if they have no familiarity with the game at all. It’s incredible. Their receivers dropped balls, but only when Wynn wasn’t throwing behind them or at their feet, and when he wasn’t doing those things he was running for his life. Eddie Wide, Matt Asiata and the Utah O Line looked like they had taken their talents to South Beach and traded them to an AIDS ridden Cuban hooker for her services. It’s simply indescribable how much we outplayed them all day on that side of the ball. Honestly, I had to do a double take at the final score to realize that they even scored a TD. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, I guess. The third highest ranking offense in the country came into a game at their home base in front of the second largest crowd ever playing for a shot at BCS game and potential national title berth… and totaled 199 yards and 7 points. That is not efficient.
But where do you even begin when you talk about this? I guess Wayne Daniels is as good a place as any. We may have only had one sack on the day, thanks to Wayne, but we also had Jordan Wynn rethinking his career and college choice all afternoon. Seriously, wouldn’t he rather be at Colorado right now, playing such stalwarts as Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas and Texas? I’m being serious. Wayne also forced an early fumble which led to one of our three one play TD drives, the Kerley to Johnson connection. It was just a perfect play that I’m sure Patterson and Bumpas stress all the time in practice – run him down and punch the ball out. Even if he had failed to do so, he still would’ve registered the sack because he was that much faster than Wynn. Also moving up was team leader in tackles Tanner Brock who had 12, which also set a new career high for him. He also picked off a pass and returned it to the four yard line, setting up our last one play TD drive, the Wesley score. Kid is a true sophomore. And Greg McCoy!! Just when I think I’m out… he puuuulls me back in. Given, Jordan Wynn may as well have been passing the ball directly to McCoy it was so poorly underthrown, but after a rough start to the year, McCoy has recovered nicely and is a complete asset to our football team. I like it.
I could go down the list here – DJ Yendrey looked like a man among boys out there filling in for Kelly Griffin and it appears that that whole transition is going to run a bit smoother than we anticipated. And Jurrell Thompson got a little unexpected playing time, finishing with 4 tackles. But honestly, just like many of them are, this was just a total defensive domination and everyone deserves equal recognition. I’ll leave you with the overall numbers for Utah – 11 first downs, 51 rushing yard, 148 pass, 3.8 yards per play, 2 picks, 2 FF, 8 punts forced, 3/13 on third down conversions, and less than 20 minutes TOP allowed. All in a days work.
Special Teams – B+.
ROSS!!! YOU RUINED IT!!! Ok, so he didn’t TOTALLY ruin it – he did, in fact, redeem himself with 2 FGs in his triumphant return – but why can’t you make your PATs? It’s so EASY. Chad Johnson can do it! Look! It’s in the video! Chad barely has a working brain! Ack, just so frustrating. I know it doesn’t count, and it’s looking like it’s not going to be a difference maker in any of our games this year… but come on. I’m not mad, just disappointed that we could’ve had A+s across the board.
Other than that though? About as you’d expect. Kelton looked fine on his three punts, downing one inside the twenty and kicking another 50+ yards. This took Shaky Smithson out of the equation altogether as he only returned one for 10 yards. Kevin Sharples put two of his nine kickoffs through the end zone, and there were a couple of others that could’ve qualified had the Utes not brought them out. Smithson had his opportunities, averaging 23 yards per return, but never broke a big run, although he did have one for 45.
Kerley had a quiet afternoon, only fielding one punt for 4 yards; both Utah kickoffs went for touchbacks. Again, the drawback of our defense is that we get few kickoff return opportunities, and opposing offenses have been smart enough to kick away from Kerley when possible.
Overall. What more is there to be said? This was a soul crushing for the ages. I know professional sports teams boo their own all the time, but when you have a fired up college football fanbase booing their undefeated team at home in the biggest game of their lives and it’s only the second quarter? Well, that’s something to behold and you’ve done the damn thing well. It looked like a lot of the Ute faithful enjoy cruel and unusual punishment because the stadium remained semi-full even until the end, but I’ll need an eye witness report to confirm or deny this.
Like I said above, despite what the frightened media and coaching elite say about it, they know that we made a serious statement Saturday afternoon and they have to feel a little guilty when voting TCU behind Oregon and Auburn. Probably not “OJ getting away with murder guilty,” but at least, “spying on your older sister in the shower” guilty. Heck, Craig James even said he'd push for TCU in the title game and Robert Smith has us voted #1!
In the post game, GP said that he’s not going to lobby for the team right now, but also that he won’t have to because there are plenty of others who will and if Chris Del Conte isn’t sending under aged latina schoolgirls handpicked by Jerry Jones to the heads of every major conference and the BCS for the rest of the year, then perhaps I need to start mine (cunning) , lyle’s (brains) and WWHD’s ( WILDCARD!!) joint campaign for TCU AD a few years early. Of course I’m kidding because I think Del Conte should be a sleeper for AD of the year, but on that note, how successful have the Tarrant based sporting organizations transitions been this year? Right place, right time for all parties involved.Of course, the season isn’t over and this weekend should be viewed as a terrifying trap game. Like, kind of in a bad mood about it, to be honest. I know the boys will be ready, and GP is clearly already in San Diego State mode, but the obvious remains – we have to win out to have a discussion about bigger things. So let’s enjoy this win, but we need to get game ready ASAP. The last one at Amon G in its current form. Senior Day. Let’s do this Bumpas style commence mouth kickin’. Go Frogs.