Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good recruiting news

According to his MySpace page Dwight Smith is on campus. His journey has been fairly well discussed on here so I will just paste some state championship highlights below. Our backfield is loaded, lets just hope we give the backs more than 10 carries a game next year.

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Festivus Miracle???

Wh...what's that over there, behind the tree? I think there's one more present back there. Why, it's for you, Ralphie!

I know everyone out there is a little bit bummed out about the loss out in Phoenix the other night, but I think you'll (at least those of you that follow recruiting, anyway) be glad to know that there's one last Christmas present for you. The long-awaited running back from Carthage, Dwight Smith, has finally arrived at TCU, at least according to his myspace page.

I'm not really one to second-guess our coaching staff, but maybe Smith's arrival will convince them that we are indeed a run-first offense...

Conference opener tonight

It may surprise some of you to learn that TCU actually has a basketball team. It's true! Jimmy C and the b-ball playing Frogs are 7-7 and open up their MWC schedule tonight with a home game against Air Force. Tip-off is at 8:00pm, which is late enough for even you Dallasians to make it over to the DMC to watch. If you can't make it, the game will be on CBS-College.


The first loss of a season is always a pretty tough pill to swallow, especially when it's also the last game of that season. After a few months of nothing but the sweet taste of victory, the prospect of the sour remnants of defeat lingering for nine months is enough to make your stomach turn.

But if the worst thing that's ever happened to you is your team losing a hard-fought, down to the last minute Fiesta Bowl to a team as good as Boise State, you've led a pretty charmed existence.

So congratulations to the Broncos on the win, your team was definitely the better of the two on Monday night. Hopefully these two teams can meet on the field again conference rivals.

Fiesta Bowl Final.

Some Boise State losses are more of a nut-punch than others.

In the wake of our internet savvy pals from Spudtown exercising their right to google search and destroy, I would at least like to debunk one of the many allegations they've brought against as fans which is that we are afraid to admit defeat. I know I'm not the first to say it, and the majority of our contributors had our own party bus to and from the game Monday night so they can back me up on this, but not one of us bitched or moaned or whined about the loss. Yes, we were all disappointed with the loss, but we didn't ignore the facts. Boise was the better team. The coaching was better. The defense was better. The fake punt was one of the most well timed and executed plays I've ever witnessed. That wasn't another case of "oooh look at Boise and their wacky offense;" that was just a damned fantastic play call. When Boise deferred to start the game, I was absolutely ecstatic because I felt like our offense would come out and put up six in the blink of an eye. Instead, the Broncos quickly stole the momentum with that pick six and by the time we got it back, it was gone once again. I don't have any excuses like, "Well, we REALLY should've been in Pasadena," or "Well, Dalton wasn't at full health after that hit." - Boise won fair and square and when you lose a close game because you absolutely know the other team wanted it more and performed at a higher level, that's a loss you'll take over a Statue of Liberty play in overtime everytime. So congratulations Broncos and I hope one of these days we get to make it an annual thing in the newly revamped Mountain West Conference.

If you've tuned into the comment sections since the end of the game, you'll see we have a little bit of a blog slap fight going on with Boise fans telling us how trashy and foul mouthed and childish we are and how our blog is amateur hour and, you know what? Part of that is true. We're not shy about the fact that we feature little censorship on here, and we've never advertised ourselves as the quintessential TCU sports blog. We started this with five to six contributors as a way to entertain ourselves with our TCU homerism and some dirty jokes and have picked up a pretty decent following along the way, so apparently we're doing something right. We are what we are - a bunch of twenty something newish college alumni with an unhealthy obsession with all things TCU and, due to advancements in interweb technology, we now have a way to force our views on other narrow minded folks such as ourselves. If you don't like the way we do business, we invite you to never visit our site again and go about your business on the more family-centric KillerFrogs. By coming on here and telling us how terrible we are, you're basically verifying everything we stand for making all that we saw relevant, even if you hate it. We're not only here to ruffle a few feathers, we strive to do so. We're just as big of fans of our team as you are of yours, if not moreso, and just because we have a different way of expressing that, doesn't mean we're garbage. Like I said, if you don't like it, then air up your floaties and stick to the shallow end of the pool, kiddo.

Anyway, with all of that being said, I have a few thoughts and observations about the game that I'm sure everyone wants to discuss. Assuming you all aren't off the bandwagon, that is.

First, the big huge story that everyone and their dog was talking about was: What the hell happened to our record setting game plan on offense that we've smothered teams with all year? Seriously, Wesley, Turner and Tucker ran the ball 10 times - COMBINED. You read that right. 36 yards rushing, o TDs 20 total attempts, including 9 by Dalton. If you didn't watch the game, you are going to see that stat line and say, "Well, apparently Boise must have completely closed down the run lanes and forced the Frogs to pass, right?" In reality though, Turner was averaging 3.1 yards per carry, Tucker 9.0 and Wesley 4.0.

So what happened? To me, I think our first year offensive coordinators finally ran out of rope. Let's face it, we played in two close games this year, and the Air Force game was never truly in doubt, so really, Clemson was the only time where they had to kick it in gear and scheme some points on the board. In that contest, Andy Dalton single handedly won the game, and I think that's what they expected to happen last night. However, why did they go about it the way they did? I understand that sometimes the best way for a quarterback to get his confidence back is to allow him to get right back on the horse and toss a few down field, but really, Dalton hadn't done that all year. They got caught in a knee jerk situation, and completely misplayed it. 44 attempts. FOURTY FOUR vs. TWENTY pass/rush. And they weren't just little dump passes, they had Dalton flinging the ball all over the place. Yes, his receivers dropped a few - oh Antoine, how could you? HOW COULD YOU? - but the fact is, we've been a spread, short underneath passing team all year and only went for the big bombs when we'd established said passes and the run game. Everyone in the stadium knew that we went away from this, and Boise ate our lunch. Would we have won with a different technique? Who's to say. But I do know that the way we played it let the Broncos know they had the upper hand, and they never relinquished it.

Defensively, though, we should have nothing to be ashamed of. 211 yards passing allowed – I’m discounting the yardage from the fake punt - is no slouchy effort against the top rated offense in the country. We held them to less than half of their season average in points scored, and Kellen Moore was a non-factor on a lot of their drives. Other than the fake punt scoring drive, our guys were giving it their best effort every step of the way and just couldn't get enough help from our offense. Jerry Hughes ended his TCU career with 4.0 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and Boise did a great job keeping him off of Kellen Moore. I think we all expected a monster night from Hughes, but he was consistently double teamed and Boise mostly avoided running plays to his side. Daryl Washington, playing the role of Stephen Hodge, finished out his career in strong fashion, leading the team with 10 tackles with 3.5 of them going for losses. Obviously the bad news is that we lose both of them, but if there’s any silver lining, we’ll be able to watch both of them play on Sundays for a long time.

Something that was clearly lost in the fracas of the loss, with his 272 yards passing, Andy Dalton became the career leader in yardage for TCU, passing Max Knake. Also lost was that Dalton had more yards than his more heralded counterpart, Kellen Moore, who was held to 211 yards passing and 0 TDs. I suppose that’s what happens when you toss three INTs, but for those of you who are blaming Dalton for this loss, you may want to reevaluate. If anyone from the Skiff or anywhere else runs their mouth this off-season about Casey Pachall coming out of training camp with the starting job, I would love to have a discussion with you and my good friends "brass" and "knuckles."

Also overlooked was the play of our special teams, namely Anson Kelton – nice call there, lyle – who went a long way in redeeming what was, for him, a pretty poor season overall. Kelton punted eight times for a 48.4 yard average – 13 yards more than his season average – and even boomed a 65 yarder. He also dropped three inside the 20. Our offense may have been stagnant for the majority of the game, but Kelton wasn’t about to let our three and outs singlehandedly beat us. Considering we were a pathetic 1-12 on third downs, Kelton had his work cut out for him and he rose to the occasion. Also rising to the occasion was Jeremy Kerley who, although he didn’t break one, returned five punts for 75 yards, including a 39 yarder that should’ve set us up to tie the game. Instead, we went four and out. Ross Evans also shook off his case of the shanks in big games and nailed a 29 yarder to tie the game in the third quarter.

A lot has been said about the Boise fans being louder and more rowdy and, while I didn’t necessarily notice as HUGE a discrepancy as the media would have you believe, it was definitely obvious that they helped push their guys over the top better than we did. Obviously, a big reason why this happened is because Boise made the big plays to start the game and immediately had the momentum. Another is that I think TCU fans have just been so used to jumping all over teams this year, that it was a bit jarring to be knocked back on our heels like that. We hadn't faced much adversity and it showed on our psyche. Mostly though, I just think they have pretty great fans. Sure, there are always going to be some outliers, but for the most part, everyone I personally came into contact with was thankful to be there and excited about the matchup, whereas we still had a group of fans who were more focused on the fact that we weren’t in Pasadena. The fact that our bus was parked dead smack in the middle of the Boise RV section - and, fueled by gallons upon gallons of booze, we weren’t exactly the most un-obnoxious fans in Arizona that day - yet we had absolutely no problems with anyone says a lot about their mindset. And this is, to me, was the biggest factor in the game – Boise had been there, TCU had not. Boise looked absolutely like the team that had once before come into a BCS bowl and knocked off a favored opponent, and TCU looked like the deer in the headlights BCS busting mid-major who wasn’t ready for the big stage.

In hindsight, we probably should’ve seen this coming a bit. Our team was crushed to be one second and a stadium railing away from potentially playing for the BCS National Championship. As fans, we were completely crushed. When the matchup was announced, no one liked it – neither us nor Boise fans. I mean, did you see our team at the announcement party? Jeremy Kerley looked like he was attending a funeral wake. But, this isn’t an excuse – when you get a BCS invite, you come out firing on all cylinders. You don’t read the press clippings about how you should be playing elsewhere and mope about it; if anything, this should put even MORE pressure on you and make you want to obliterate your opponent as a big middle finger to the BCS selection committee. The difference was while TCU was 1 second, a stadium railing and 3 yards away from playing in Pasadena, Boise was 1 second, a stadium railing and 3 yards away from playing in the Poinsettia Bowl as an undefeated team for the second straight year, and they recognized the opportunity they had an seized on it.

When they immediately stole the crowd factor, rather than getting on our horse and running them to death, we panicked and focused on making the big play, a play that never came. All year we’ve lived by the run, but seeing Boise’s poise and talent firsthand, as well their unexpected defensive adjustments, we had no idea what to do. I’ve never doubted our coaching staff, and I still don’t, but I was just completely taken by surprise to see how they handled the predicament we were in. Most of this was because I had a ton of faith in them coming into the game, but I also noted the eerie similarities to the game last year and I guess just took for granted that we were going to come back on them in the second half. Seriously, think about it – a quick score , a drive ending in a field goal , a missed FG that kept us alive , a big TCU drive and score right before the half , some defensive stops and a score to keep us right there, stride for stride despite the killer turnovers … and then the fake punt happened and the comparisons ended.

I wanted to end this with some big sweeping paragraph that would give us all hope and make us get over this loss, but I’ve really run out of things to say at this point, so I’ll be brief. Boise was the better team Monday night and they deserved to win the game. I don’t know that we left it all on the field – any game where Curtis Clay is your biggest contributor probably doesn’t qualify as a best effort, no offense to Curtis – but that isn’t what this is about. It was a great ride and it’s a shame it had to end like this, but when you lose a game because you were flat out out- played and you know it, that’s a loss you should be able to accept. It was an awesome season and a great weekend in Arizona and, even knowing the end result, I wouldn’t give it back for anything. So keep your heads held high, Frogs fans and I’ll see you all back in Arizona next year, this time for the Big One. Go Frogs!