Monday, October 11, 2010

I like the way we look following week 6.

Well, that was certainly a pleasant surprise. Although I listed Alabama and South Carolina as a big time potential movement game… did anyone REALLY expect the Gamecocks to win, especially the way they dominated the entire game? Anyway, it works out well for us as we were able to gain a spot in the AP Poll, although we’re still treading water in the Coaches’ with Nebraska jumping us. How disgusting is it to be going for Texas this weekend? Grrr.

#1 Alabama 21, #19 South Carolina 35. In my preview last week I wrote the following, “Might USC QB Stephen Garcia put it together this game at home in what I have to assume is the biggest game for the Gamecocks since joining the SEC? Could phenom RB Marcus Lattimore be the one to finally bust through the Tide’s criminally talented defense?” Well, questions. Answered. Garcia was 17/20 for 201 yards and 3 TDs, Lattimore had 3 TDs – 2 rush, 1 pass – and the apparently criminally talented USC defense held Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to 64 yards on 17 attempts combined. And, the game wasn’t even THAT close – Carolina jumped out to a 21-3 lead early and never trailed after 7:20 in the first quarter. Shockingly enough, Bama still stayed up on the Gamecocks by two spots… because the rankings are based on logic.

#2 Ohio State 38, Indiana 10. So much for that upset pick. Terrell Pryor threw for 334 yards and 3 TDs while Indiana decided to give the ball back 3 times and only put up 210 yards on offense. That’s all I have to say about that.

#7 Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13. Ditto for this one. Taylor Martinez – T Magic to his friends – looks to be the real damned deal in Lincoln, as he rushed for 241 yards and 4 TDs on just 15 attempts, and threw another TD just for fun in an absolute beat down. His timing is really unfortunate though – seems like an athlete and a team that would be fun to pull for, but after jumping us in this week’s polls, we have to pull for the Longhorns this weekend. It hurts. It hurts so bad. But if Nebraska loses, this could be a fun team to watch the rest of the year.

Just Missed the Cut:

#9 Arizona 27, Oregon State 29. Lyle outlined it above, but good work, Beavers.

#10 Utah 68, Iowa State 27. (Hides under desk a-la our parents in the sixties during Cuban Missile Crisis bomb drills, breathes into paper bag slowly)

Not Being Upset This Weekend:

#3 Oregon 43, Washington State 23.

#4 Boise State 57, Toledo 14.

#8 Auburn 37, Kentucky 34.

Clearly the big story is going to be that Alabama game, because everyone in the country declared them invincible after the Arkansas and Florida wins, and it’s nice for the Gamecocks to have made our path a little more navigable. Getting jumped by Nebraska in the Coaches’ poll clearly wasn’t expected at this point in the season, but perhaps the Mack Brown will give them a little going away gift this weekend? But, that’s all for another day. Enjoy the bump in the rankings and get ready for the first batch of BCS rankings this Sunday. It sounds like we’re gonna like the way we look.

Current AP Top 10:

1. Ohio State

2. Oregon

3. Boise State

4. TCU

5. Nebraska

6. Oklahoma

7. Auburn

8. Alabama

9. LSU

10. South Carolina

Strength of Schedule Watch, Week 6 Recap

The Good:

Oregon State 29, Arizona 27
-The third time was the charm for the Beavers when it came to playing Top 10 teams on the road, as they took down the #9 Wildcats in Tucson in what amazingly was NOT the Rodgers Brothers Show. Ryan Katz completed 30 of 42 for 393 yards and 2 TDs (and added 1 more rushing) and sophomore Markus Wheaton led all receivers with 113 yards. The win puts OSU at 3-2 overall, 2-0 in the Pac 10 and back into the AP Top 25 at #24.

Utah 68, Iowa State 27
-If you are still hearing from your Tech friends about TCU's schedule and the perceived weakness of the Mountain West, just show them the score from this one. Iowa State, fresh off destorying the Red Raiders, was humiliated at home by the Utes, who rang up 593 yards of offense. The Utes are now #10 in the Coaches' Poll and #11 in the AP.

Air Force 49, Colorado State 27
-Not that we expected anything but a Falcon win here, but it's good to see they held serve in improving to 5-1 on the year and climbing to #23 in both polls.

SMU 21, Tulsa 18
-The Mustangs took a huge step toward a possible CUSA title, edging the Golden Hurricane by three points in a game where they blocked two field goals. They are now 4-2 overall and 3-0 in conference play for the first time since the days where they were paying their players.

Tennessee Tech 34, Austin-Peay 21
-Hooray. I guess.


The meh:

BYU 24, San Diego State 21
-The Cougars broke their 4-game losing streak to improve to 2-4 on the year heading into their trip to Fort Worth this coming weekend. The Aztecs, who drop to 3-2, are a pair of 3-point road losses from being 5-0.


The Bad:

Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38
-There was a total lack of defense in this showdown between Big 12 "powers". It's interesting to note that, after the fanbases of these two schools ripped TCU for having just 47,000 for the Oregon State game, they combined to have just over 48,000 at the Cotton Bowl. I want to note that I'm not talking attendance smack, because I think that is the weakest trash to talk. I'm just pointing out the hypocrisy of these two lame fanbases.


The Ugly:

West Virginia 49, UNLV 10
-It was 42-0 at one point. Rough first year for UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, as the Rebels drop to 1-5.


The UUUUUUUUUUUUGLY:

New Mexico State 16, New Mexico 14
-Good God.

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.

Projected BCS Rankings

The first official BCS Standings are still a week away, but ESPN's Brad Edwards, who is to the BCS what Joe Lunardi is to the basketball field of 65, has released his projections of what the standings would look like if we had them this week, and it might open a few eyes:

1. Boise State
2. Oregon
3. TCU
4. Oklahoma
5. Ohio State
6. LSU
7. Nebraska
8. Auburn
9. Michigan State
10. Alabama

Morning Dump

Football:

TCU receives first-place votes in AP, Coaches Polls ESPN Dallas

TCU's schedule ramps up after ho-hum blowout Associated Press (via the Star-Telegram)

Dalton is simply a winner Wyoming Tribune

TCU blocks BYU's path back to respectability Salt Lake Tribune