Monday, November 15, 2010
After this morning’s less than optimistic posting, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to sit here and rip apart Saturday’s effort for making such a post necessary in the first place. And while there’s certainly a lot of bad to highlight about the game – The increasinngly poor decisions of Ross Evans, Anson Kelton, our terrible students rushing the field, our defense illustrating homo-sapien qualities, Ross Evans, again – I’m going to take the opposite approach here. I’m going to put on a happy face, tighten up my homer trousers, and spin this into one of the more positive learning experiences of the year. It’s just what I do. So with the specter of the Las Vegas Bowl looming over our shoulders, here goes the Week 11 recap.
We Clinched a Share of the MWC Title. Well, I had to lead it off with the hollowest victory of all, didn’t I? But, the fact remains that we can’t reach our ultimate goal of winning a national title without first winning the conference, and we essentially did just that Saturday night. And actually, didn’t we win it outright? I mean, I understand if Utah wins out and we somehow lose next week, we would both have one conference loss, but wouldn’t we get it because of the tie breaker? And surely losing badly to a team who lost to Navy and Tulsa on back to back weeks eliminates you from any sort of title discussion, no?
We sent Amon G out with a Win. An even smaller victory, but a victory nonetheless. You definitely don't want to pull a Dallas Cowboys with the whole Texas Stadium thing.
The Senior Class tied Last Year’s Group for the Most Wins in School History with 42. No explanation necessary here, that’s just good work. Expect that record to fall next weekend.
Even when his accuracy is off, Andy Dalton is still pretty fuggin’ good. He may have started slow – did he get re-engaged after the first quarter?- tossed the crappiest INT of his career, and have only been 21/36 … but he still tossed 4 TDs and is more or less the reason we won this game. Of course, Jeremy Kerley would have something to say about that – his first TD of the game was pretty much the definition of a “Kerley Play” and you got the feeling that after that the game was going to take on a different look – but I still would give the nod to AD as the player of the game. Of course, people are still going to find ways to complain about this – “what, he couldn’t even hit his ridiculous average of 66% for the game? That guy sucks” – but that’s just what we’ve come to expect from our wishy washy fanbase, none moreso than Section U and the SHAMELESS way they detached themselves from the game Saturday. Lyle and bucknasty know what I’m talking about. You could've electrified those seats and they wouldn't have left them. This wouldn't have been as big of a deal, except the ENTIRE home side was standing for the bigger plays of the game, and you know they're about as averse to standing as Texas is to scoring touchdowns this year. Very, very poor.
But back to Dalton - I BARELY missed his senior day introduction, but I hear he got a pretty remarkable ovation, as he should have. The Star-Telegram ran a pretty great article about him the morning of the game that is a must read for anyone who calls their self a fan. For a kid who split reps his junior year and only had scholarship offers to UTEP and Memphis to end up as the current winningest QB in the NCAA is basically like a Disney story, except an R rated one when you add in Patterson and Bumpas to the screenplay. I'm sure everyone is excited to see Pachall, and I have no doubt he can be very good, but I think Dalton is going to be remembered as the most underrated player in TCU history a few years down the road. Stay gold, Pony Boy.
Even Without Ed Wesley, Our Ground Game Still Dominates. Ed Wesley rushed one time on Saturday afternoon before having to take a seat with a leg injury. No matter, Waymon James and a suddenly rejuvenated Matthew Tucker combined for 45 carries and 233 yards. Tucker was especially fun to watch blast through the line and run over linebackers like they were paper tigers. And I mean literally like pieces of paper crafted into the shape of tigers and placed in a defensive front. And Waymon James continues to impress week after week – my assessment of his game was as follows, “I could beat Waymon James in a tall contest, but he could beat me in arm wrestling” and that’s pretty much how he plays, like a gravity challenged battering ram. I’m far too lazy to look it up, but I have to imagine those were career highs in carries for each in the game and they did a great job of knocking the Aztecs defense off kilter and setting up the pass for the man listed above. It's going to hurt losing Kerley, Young and Dalton off of next year's offense, but our ground game, with the addition of Dwight Smith, is going to be better than ever.
I Never Have to Listen to Techno Music Again. Or at least not for a long time. Seriously, kids in Lot 3 who took over the space down the row from me – the techno music is fucking GARBAGE. No one likes it. No one wants to hear it. No one enjoys it. I understand how it is; you’re in college and your dad bought you a tailgate spot. I’ve had mine since I was a then junior, I understand how that whole thing works. And I appreciate the efforts you’ve made there, but the 150 decibels of Jersey Shore soundtrack rejects is not working out. And when everyone else who has had spots in the lot since you were in middle school asks you to turn the music down, don’t tell them to fuck off and crank it even louder. There’s a difference between having a good time and being an asshole and you crossed the line. Props on keeping it frat with the ice block Saturday, but the techno garbage has to go.
Also, props to the oaf who talked shit to my wife and almost incited a riot when he managed to turn the entire parking lot against him. Note for the future: when you’re arguing for the music to be louder, and the kid who owns the speakers and is picking the tunes disagrees with you, then that’s an argument you’ve lost there, big guy.
And did you see the riff raff it was attracting? I’m all for T shirt fans, but I also want my hubcaps to still be on my car when I come out after the game.
Also, hey you damned kids, stay off my lawn!
Jeremy Kerley Quietly Putting Together A Record Season. Well, not necessarily quietly, but I think we’re all focusing a lot on his lack of special teams touchdowns and overlooking how much he has improved overall as a wide receiver in this offense. Kerley had three scores on the day, but none more important than the one mentioned above on 4th and 4 with the Frogs down by 14 in the first quarter. With his 8th, 9th and 10th TDs of the year, he has tied Mike Renfro’s school record for a single season and, if I were a betting man, I’d say he clinches it in Albuquerque. I was actually operating part of the year thinking Kerley was still a junior - I'm good with names, but I am not good with hometowns and eligibility - and it was like learning that there is no Santa Claus when lyle corrected me on his age. He will be sorely missed next year and I hope he fares well at the next level.
The Run Defense is Still There. Despite the absence of DEUX starters Stanlsy Maponga and Kelly Griffin, the Frogs run D only surrendered 54 rushing yards to the #1 running back in the conference, Ronnie Hillman. In fact, overall the Frogs only gave up 38 net yards on the ground. This will be severely overlooked due to the final score, but it’s worth making note of here. The passing D is going to be all sorts of maligned by the national pundits after surrendering 167 yards to Vincent Brown – shockingly enough, I believe the two TDs were on Jason Teague, easily the biggest gains he’s given up this year – but they should get as much credit as anyone for holding the Aztecs to 1 first down and 100 yards until the fourth quarter.
Offensive Line Coach Eddie Williamson is Going to be OK. Early in the game, kerleys turned to me and said, “My brother just sent me a text that said our O line coach had a heart attack,” to which I replied, “Yeah, it was probably after that third false start.” Except it turned out he REALLY did have a heart attack, and then I felt bad. Fortunately he was able to walk off and is apparently in stable condition at the hospital and will be fine, but I can’t imagine anyone in the stadium didn’t have flashbacks to Jim Pittman.
The Continuing Redemption of Greg McCoy. Of course, I’m talking about his interception because, are you KIDDING ME??? Considering he caught it directly in front of Section V, we had the best vantage point in the house to watch him pull it in, but there are receivers who wouldn’t have made that catch. The way he was able to stay on his feet long enough to roll it off of his hip and tuck it in before hitting the ground was sensational. I also can’t recall him getting beat on any throws of note as he for once outshined his counterpart across the field. It also helps when you have TeJay Johnson playing center field.
Curtis Clay’s Return. I didn’t know whether to put this under the negatives or positives category, but considering how quiet and overshadowed Clay has been this year, it was great to see him get an opportunity and very nearly make the most of it. Of course, he stumbled over his feet with only the punter to beat, so it wasn’t to be, but he’s one of the class acts of the team and hopefully that run will help folks remember how vital he’s been to the team in years past.
I’m taking the Anti-ESPN Approach and Lauding our Perseverance. Think about it – You’re the #3 team in the country, you’re playing in your last home game in front of a sold out crowd and Rose Bowl reps, you’re playing in the last home game at your stadium in its current form in front of 400 Lettermen, your family and friends are there because it’s senior day, you’re playing without several starters including your leading running back and receiver who went down during the game, and you’re coming off a 40 point win the biggest regular season game in school history. Oh yeah, and your offensive line coach may have died, you really do not know because it’s not like you can call the hospital and ask when you’re in the middle of a game. I’d say it’s a fair assessment to say that the players had a few distractions to cope with out there Saturday. And despite going down by 14 early, they still immediately ran up a 20 point lead and won the game despite a late push from a talented team. Call me old fashioned, but I’d say that’s a pretty damned good win. But I forget, we didn’t blow out a team that’s 1-4 in the WAC or sneak by a team who is 5-5. Guess you just can’t make everyone happy.
Perfect Time For a Bye Week. Given, we should and probably would be able to beat New Mexico with our scout team, but you can’t deny that this is an ideal time to catch a break as far as injuries are concerned. The O line has been banged up all year, Stansly Maponga is down, as is Kelly Griffin, Wesley has been hurting, and we lost Kerley and Josh Boyce during the game, although I’m pretty sure their injuries are not too severe. Alex Ibiloye has missed time as well. If we are to make a BCS game or even a national championship, having these guys healthy is going to be absolutely vital to our chances. New Mexico shouldn’t be anything more than a tune up, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a lot of back ups making the rotation early and often just to make sure everyone is fresh and ready down the road… although if you can’t get fresh and ready in the month+ between the end of the season and a major bowl, then perhaps you’re too injured and shouldn’t be playing anyway.
Ugh, even after that writing that I’m still depressed about this game. We bitch about the double standard all the time, but this game just proved how ridiculous of a standard the have nots are held to in comparison to the 61 haves. I mean, why can’t Boise AND TCU be automatically included? Did you know there’s a rule where the #3 team in the BCS gets an automatic bid if they did not win their conference? And if that school DID win their conference, that it goes to the 4th ranked team? In this case, TCU would receive the non-AQ auto bid and Boise would receive the 4th place team auto bid… oh yeah, except it only applies to the BCS schools. So only one of us gets in for sure. How bullshit is that? Any sport where the 4th ranked team doesn’t get invited to be involved in the post season in a major way is almost not worth being a fan of. Seriously, there are people out there who HATE college football because of the BCS system, and while I’m always like, “Yeah, but that’s just because you weren’t smart enough to go to college,” perhaps they’re really onto something. I just know that if TCU misses out this year and then remains in the MWC, I’m going to be harder and harder pressed to muster up enthusiasm year after year when it continually comes down to us and Boise for one spot. Then again, at least we’ll have an elimination game, so I suppose that’s a particular brightside. Death to the BCS, indeed. Ugh, kill me.
The game recap will be up later today, but with yesterday evening’s BCS revelations, I thought it pertinent to address that whole situation right off the bat this morning. For those of you who didn’t get the memo – and if you didn’t, Pete Carroll and I want to know what’s your deal? – TCU dropped to fourth in both of the homo-sapien polls, but remained up on Boise in the all-important BCS standings, BARELY. Thanks to a closer than anticipated game Saturday night, plus Baylor and Utah showing their true colors, our strength of schedule took a MAJOR hit which downgraded us overall in the eyes of the voters. Shockingly enough, Craig James was the one rushing to our aid last night, excusing us for having a “let down game” because, you know, according to everyone else only major conference teams are allowed those. On the announcement show, he was the only one out of Rod Gilmore, Herbstreit and himself to keep us above Boise, which made me pleased, but also kinda dirty. Seriously though, did anyone notice how Herbstreit looked on the verge of vomiting when he had to acknowledge that we were undefeated? I used to like Herbie alright, but maybe that’s just because I respected him for working alongside Lee Corso for all these years without going postal. Did anyone catch Gameday? Wasn’t it a bit creepy how excited Corso was to have the “Herbstreit Boys” on his lap? Chris Hansen has his eye on you, Lee.
So where do we go from here? Last week a few of you thought I was being a bit too arrogant by suggesting that we had “effectively eliminated” Boise from the non-AQ auto bid, and apparently you were right, although I’m guessing none of you were taking into account TCU’s defense showing its more human tendencies or Utah being an abject disaster in South Bend. Honestly, to play devil’s advocate here, Boise probably does have a better resume. Leaving out the result of the Fiesta Bowl, because the voters who rely on that are way off base, Boise has one win over a Top 20 team – yes, one that lost to JAMES MADISON AT HOME, but a top 20 team nonetheless – and has another one left on the slate against Nevada. Meanwhile, Utah has proven to be not as good as anticipated, although if they were Alabama or someone like that this weekend would’ve been as excused as a “let down game” as well, but the fact remains that any team who loses to Notre Dame probably shouldn’t have been ranked in the top 5 in the first place. It’s fortunate that they did not fall out of the Top 25 completely, but when you’re comparing marquee wins, Virginia Tech looks better in the warped mind of an AP voter. And Baylor… Baylor, Baylor, Baylor… at one point I remember sitting at dinner and someone making the comment that Baylor was up by like 20 points on aggy and how I suggested that no one loves beating aggy more than Baylor. And then apparently the bottom dropped out and they lost by 12. Combine that with the absolute destruction that occurred in Stillwater the weekend before, the even greater destruction from our hands, and then of course losing to the weakest Tech team in years, and you’re left with the same ole Baylor, except they beat the teams that they are better than. It goes without saying that the Bears Big 12 wins against Texas, Kansas State, Kansas and Colorado don’t quite hold the same weight as they once did. Let’s face it – when Oklahoma State is the front runner in the Big 12 South, that’s just not a very good division, so by being fourth place in said division Baylor has shown that they just aren’t ready for the big time, at all.
Of course, the worst thing for us going forward is that we have an off week this week then finish up our season with New Mexico while Boise gets three games, including one against a top 20 team. The WORST worst thing going for us though? Two of those games are on ESPN in prime time Friday night spots. When push comes to shove, who do you think ESPN is going to pimp on its BCS countdown show and on all 50 hours of Sportscenter they bring you each day, not to mention College Gameday? It goes without saying that ESPN rules the sporting world and, as a result, the minds of just about every single sports personality in the country that don’t work for the Star-Telegram. Listening to Herbstreit and Gilmore last night made me absolutely want to VOMIT the way they were slurping Boise. I’m not saying that Boise isn’t good, in fact they’re great, but the way they talk about them makes you think you’re dealing with the 2001 Miami Hurricanes or something.
For those who missed it, here was my favorite exchange of the night- Gilmore and Herbstreit RIP us for our close game Saturday, mostly focusing on the fact that we were down by 14 early. I’m not excusing our performance, but I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that we scored 37 unanswered points, didn’t allow a second first down until nearly the fourth quarter, and had those two scores put on us by a trick play and an end zone sack/fumble. Not to mention we left a 7 points off the board due to Ross Evans’ leg, had a turnover inside the red zone and we had a number of starters sit down with injuries. But, do you think for a second that if Boise had gone down by 14 to a 6-2 team who lost two games by 6 points combined- including one on a blatant home cooking call that the NCAA had to amend their rules to compensate for after the fact-rallied for 37 straight, then held off a late push in a “let down game” that Herbstreit and Gilmore wouldn't literally be fist fighting each other to get to rave about how “resilient” and “gusty” a team Boise is and how they “find ways to win?” And that’s not even my argument – that comes later when, comparing the schedules of Boise and TCU, they clamor to praise Nevada – a team who lost to Hawaii, who lost to Boise by 40 – for their win over Cal because Cal held Oregon to 15 points and should’ve beaten them had they not missed a field goal. You mean the same Cal team that’s 5-5 and has gotten BLOWN OUT in four of those losses? Those guys? And Oregon is still #1 in their eyes by the above logic. How does that work exactly? I’m just trying to show you what we’re dealing with here.
Mark May raised a pretty good point by saying that everyone is just assuming Boise is going to continue blowing teams out and finish a third straight undefeated year. They still have two tough games against Fresno and Nevada, and that’s without even mentioning Utah State who smothered BYU. They have to lose eventually… right? But, assuming they don’t the general consensus is that Boise will eventually rise above the Frogs – and when the consensus is raised by the people whose votes heavily influence, albeit indirectly, the overall rankings, that probably means its going to happen – what happens to TCU? Sadly, the Las Vegas Bowl is still in play here and although a lot of you would say, “Well, we’re undefeated, how do we get shut out of the BCS altogether?” just remember the Poinsettia Bowl when the same thing happened to Boise.
So why am I penning such a Debbie Downer article about the #4 team in the country? Well, first off it’s because I am a LITTLE down about it, but also because once I really sat down to think about it, I discovered that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Bowl Projections. Mark May also raised the point that everyone is just assuming that Auburn and Oregon are going to go undefeated throughout the rest of the year as well, which is FAR from clear at this point, and actually probably a little unlikely. Here are the scenarios:
If Auburn loses to Alabama, beats USC in the SEC Championship game, and Oregon goes undefeated. Would Auburn stay above the Frogs? Alabama still has a TON of respect among the voters despite losing twice, so it’s presumed that Auburn would not drop too far with a loss in that game. However, I don’t think they’d be able to jump over undefeated TCU or Boise. I just don’t see it. In this case, the door is open for one of us to sneak into the big game and, if we’re looking solely at the current rankings, it’d be us. And even if Boise went above us – which, of course would be a HUGE HUGE nut punch in the situation – the presumed stance is that some BCS bowl would be obligated to take us, and in their projections it’d be the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. The Rose Bowl would still be in play here because they could absolve their non-AQ debt, but the likeliest scenario is that they would take Stanford and roll it over to the next year because they only have to take the highest ranked, qualifying non-AQ school, not the second which TCU would be. Clearly this is the least desirable scenario, but it’s the one that everyone is assuming will happen.
If Auburn wins out and Oregon Loses. Pretty much the same scenario as above with us and Boise coming down to the wire for the second spot, except the Rose Bowl would FOR SURE be out of play here because they would not be losing a Big Ten or Pac 10 team to the title game. So, assuming we get left out of the title game and the Rose Bowl, what then? Well, before they updated their projections last night, they had Oregon and TCU in the title game, and Auburn and Boise in the Sugar Bowl. Umm… potential treat alert? Of course I’m not saying that this is preferable to the title game, but getting a BCS matchup against an SEC team in New Orleans? Are you kidding me? That’s better than the Rose Bowl, in my opinion. Of course, the Sugar Bowl gets first pick of the leftovers and could easily go for ticket sales and take Ohio State here – definitely a scary situation – but it’s also very possible that the Sugar Bowl, like the Fiesta last year, does the right thing and takes the most deserving team.
If Auburn and Oregon both win out. Clearly we wouldn’t be included in any title game scenarios, and rightfully so because Auburn will have run an absolute gauntlet, and it’s not like we expect to be above undefeated Oregon anyway. In this case the Rose Bowl would have to take the highest team between us and Boise, and whoever that turns out to be is looking like they’d play Wisconsin in Pasadena on New Years Day. But what of the second place team? I think the situation above applies and the Sugar Bowl still takes the team that gets shut out of the auto bid, except in this case they’d either be playing LSU or possibly Arkansas. Of course I’d be rooting for a matchup against Arkansas mainly to see how fun the Xmas holidays with my family would be, but clearly 99% of you would rather us play LSU, and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.
If Auburn loses twice and Oregon wins out. I think this would be the same as scenario one, except Auburn would be left completely out of any BCS game and South Carolina would get the Sugar. You still have Ohio State and LSU looking for landing spots, but the Sugar isn't going to match up two SEC teams, so it'd come down to us/Boise or Ohio State. Sadly they'd take the ticket sales here I'd bet and go Ohio State. In that case we'd be scrambling to find a spot in the Orange, Fiesta or Rose Bowls. Rose likely would take Stanford and Wisconsin, the Fiesta HAS to take the Big 12 winner and will likely end up with the Big East. That leaves the Orange, which has to take the ACC and then would be between us and LSU if they have one loss. Let's just say we do NOT prefer this situation in my mind.
If Auburn beats Bama, then loses the SEC Championship, and Oregon wins out. This is a curious situation because USC would have to be invited to the Sugar and you'd have potentially have two 1 loss SEC teams. Of course, a given conference can only have two teams invited, so we're not completely closed out, but I'm not sure this is a happy situation for us at all. Much like the above.
So that's my two cents. Of course there are more scenarios at play, but those are probably the most likely. Clearly the best scenario is for Boise and either Auburn or Oregon to lose so the Frogs can play on January 10th in Glendale, but I just wanted to point out that there are other situations out there that shouldn’t have any of us hanging our heads - except the last one. We very well may be passed by Boise and it’s something we should prepare for in the back of our minds, but if that does happen and the consolation prize is Auburn or LSU in the Sugar Bowl, the pain will be lessened ever so slightly.
Patterson defends TCU's close call against San Diego State Star-Telegram
Resilient Aztecs look to bounce back against Utah San Diego Union-Tribune
TCU remains at #3 in BCS ESPN Dallas
BCS perception is only what is seen in the score Star-Telegram