Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Holiday Humor

CBSpeak

Utah vs. Boise tonight in Vegas

The 2010-2011 bowl season has been kind to current & future conference mates of TCU's, as BYU rolled UTEP, 52-24 in the New Mexico Bowl, and last night future Big East foe Louisville beat Southern Miss 31-28 in the Beef O Brady's Bowl. Tonight, though, the undefeated streak will end as current MWC member Utah takes on future MWC member Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

This match-up, while certainly intriguing, also causes a bit of a dilemna. Should we, as TCU fans, be cheering for Utah or Boise State? On one hand, the road win in Salt Lake represents TCU's best win, and even though strength of schedule doesn't really matter now- wouldn't you like to see the Utes gain back some of the respect they lost after losing to Notre Dame? Also, we've been cheering against the Broncos all year, so why stop now?

On the other hand, Utah was the first team to leave the Mountain West. Sure, I don't hate the Utes for leaving like I do BYU, who did so in a childish & selfish way, and it did lead to the Frogs being invited to join the Big East, so perhaps they are forgiven. But still, the MWC could've been something special. And as briefly as it might be, Boise will be in the conference with TCU next year so a bowl win in 2010 will help their initial ranking for 2011.

I'm not really sure who I'll be rooting for, but I know I'll be watching this game somewhere tonight. Let me know who you'll be pulling for in the comments section.


Frogs' Season on the Ropes?

Because apparently this is how we post now.

I wanted to write this post because it combines two of my favorite things - Spurs Hate and Frogs love.

If you weren't one of the roughly 15 people in attendance at the TCU - Directional Lousiana game last night, this morning's article by Mac Engel probably sent a bit of a shiver down your spine. Of course, the heading of "Frogs Lose Point Guard in Win Over NW State" was just a bit of journalistic gamesmanship by Mr. Floyd Engel as TCU didn't REALLY lose Cousy nominated PG Hank Thorns, the undisputed heart and soul of this year's surprisingly adequate squad. Ok, well they did technically lose him, but not the way it came across in my mind. But while the initial reports sounded terrifying, including crying and having to be carried off the court by his teammates, later reports suggest that Thorns suffered a relatively minor knee sprain and should be back in time for the conference opener/Rose Bowl celebration extender against San Diego State on January 5th.

In the interim, though, Thorns will miss the Frogs' three remaining non-conference games, and with a current 8-4 record and a salty as ever Mountain West slate, those three games could go a long way in determining whether the Frogs get a bid to one of the 42 post season tournaments or are merely an early season distraction to our baseball team. Here's who we have coming up:

December 28th - vs. Chicago State (3-11). Fortunately for the Frogs, Chicago State appears to be perhaps the worst team in all of college basketball, having only snuck by three teams that no one has ever heard of, including the people who attend them. They've been beaten by 30 points seven times, including a 94-38 humbling by SFA, and rank near the bottom of the barrel in just about every statistical category. Christian could probably rotate lyle and I at PG and still beat these guys by double digits.

Chances of winning sans Thorns: 100%

December 30th - @ Tulsa (5-6). For you Nolan Richardson nostalgists out there, you'll recall that Tulsa used to be somewhat of a household name in basketball, most notably their Sweet Sixteen run in 1994 - I'm not one of those, I just remember it because they played at the same regional site as Richardson's National Title winning Razorbacks and I was in attendance. Despite the six losses, Tulsa has been competitive in in just about every one of their games this year, playing MWC stalwart UNLV very tough and taking out Stanford. They match up very well with the Frogs statistically except in assists, but that is probably a wash now with MWC leader Thorns on the bench. With Thorns, I'd love our chances to pull this one out; without him, I'm not so sure. This feels like a good one for Ronnie Moss to take over and Cadot to continue his hot shooting streak if we want to win.

Chances of winning sans Thorns: 50%

January 2 - @ Rice (6-4). The Owls have never had a particularly worthwhile basketball program, and this year may end up not being any different, but if you look at the schedule you'll notice they've got some fight in them. Of their 4 losses, 3 were by 3 points or less, including against a very good Texas team. The fourth, a blow out loss to a not very good Arizona squad, appears to be an outlier. They haven't beaten anyone of merit, unless you count something called Stetson, but they look to be a decent rebounding team, although they do not score many points. TCU took out the Owls last year by 12 with a team that doesn't come close to touching the ability we have now, even without Thorns. Having to play them in Houston makes it a bit more challenging, but I don't imagine the home court advantage will be any more daunting than our own. It could be a tough fight, but the Frogs should be able to win this one even without Hank.

Chances of winning sans Thorns: 75%

So while two of these games will not be walks in the park, the Frogs have a legitimate shop of sweeping them all and heading into the conference opener on a high note. But, the hastier Thorns returns, the better for all parties. See you in the post season!

Rose Bowl Preview: Linebackers.

Despite the harrowing potential for a devastating injury,
You kind of have to admire the way TB genuinely does not care about his body.
But Tank still broke his neck and went on to become an All-America Linebacker.
Scoreboard.

On this very special second annual Tuesday edition of the Rose Bowl preview, today we'll take a look at the linebacker units for both teams. This edition is going to be a little different though as we apparently have one reader who does not agree with my assessments, or at least doesn't take my predictions at face value. Surely you guys realize that I could just come here, write down, "Gary Patterson is the greatest linebacker maker of all time and Tanner Brock plays football without a helmet" and give us the edge without even giving Wisconsin a second glance, right? Unbridled homerism is one of the rights of writing on a fan site for a specific team and more often than not we embrace it to he fullest. However, even if I think we're clearly better in one area - QB!!! - I have to at least pretend that I'm making it a debate in my mind, or this little exercise would be even more boring than it already is. Still, this game is incredibly evenly matched and these previews have been much more difficult than I expected, so if I don't always sound all peaches and cream, it's because that'd be a lie. Of course, I'm clearly going to pick TCU in the end, but the road there might not be as pretty as we want it to be. So consider this the "Choose your own adventure" edition of the preview.

If you are a commenter who thinks I'm being just a little too real about how we stack up to Wisconsin, stop reading now and go watch Hannah Montana reruns because you may not be prepared by the faux even handedness that follows

If you are anyone else, continue reading and get absolutely DOUSED with knowledge.

Wisconsin:
Blake Sorensen - SR. 6'1", 231 lbs.
Culmer St. Jean - SR. 6'0", 234 lbs.
Mike Taylor - SO. 6'2", 223 lbs.
Kevin Claxton - JR. 6'1", 230 lbs.

TCU:
Tank Carder - JR. 6'3", 237 lbs.
Tanner Brock - SO. 6'3", 246 lbs.
Kenny Cain - SO. 6'1", 210 lbs.
Kris Gardner - JR. 6'1'", 238 lbs.

Underinformed Analysis.

To begin, please take a second to check out Wisconsin LB Culmer St. Jean. I have a feeling he will hit you square in the sack if you call him Frenchy or ask him to go get you a croissant. And apparently 59 backs and receivers in the Big Ten made fun of the size of his baguette this year, because those are 59 souls he now carries around in his European Carry-All. That's good for second on the team. Fellow senior LB Blake Sorensen is the team leader in the category with 60 tackles on the year, and he has 2 INTs as well. I find it interesting that neither of these guys have a QB sack, but with JJ Watt and his pals up front accounting for a good majority of them, I'm guessing there just weren't enough to go around. It's also maybe worth mentioning that both of those guys were academic all big ten selections; those smarts could potentially translate to the football field and hurt us when trying to outscheme the Badgers. Either that or they went the normal, acceptable route and had their tutors write all of their papers for them.

Mike Taylor also plays a major role in the Wisconsin defense and piled up 51 tackles, including 8 for losses, this season despite only playing in 11 of the team's 12 games. Kevin Claxton brings up the rear with 24.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, it's somewhat difficult to compare the two defenses simply because few teams run our 4-2-5, but seeing as how that second strong safety often operates as a third linebacker, I'll make do. Of course we're pretty familiar with Tank Carder and Tanner Brock by now, and both guys should be pre-season All Americans next year as they begin their senior and junior campaigns, respectively. Brock leads all TCU tacklers with 97...and second place is not even close. Really? 97? I honestly had no idea before I just looked that up but my goodness. A sophomore! Tank is 4th on the team, although that 57 looks pretty measly by comparison. Both guys have a pick and they have combined for 5.5 sacks. But there are couple of stats that stand out to me, and those are their stats in the passing defense, as they both rank in the top 3 on the defense in passes defensed and passes broken up. I'll be honest, I'm not sure the difference between the two - if passes defensed is when a player defends a man on a pass his way, shouldn't there be one for almost every passing down? - and I have to imagine it's something that's not too concrete to keep track of, but I like that those guys are up there. Versatility, we have it. They've both recovered a fumble, and in Brock's case two. Clearly they are a major factor behind TCU's third consecutive top ranked defense.

Kris Gardner and Kenny Cain, although not nearly as heralded as the other two, saw reps in every single game this year, and Cain especially had an impact, finishing with 27 tackles. Gardner only had 12, but one was for a loss. Much like sacks at Wisconsin, though, with Tanner Brock taking 97 tackles for himself, there aren't a ton to go around.

So how do you directly compare the two units? Well, linebackers typically help control the pace of the game, and one way to look at it is with total plays run by opposing offenses. In this case, TCU has a clear advantage with 647 to 741. Time of possession is another and TCU leads that as well with 25 minutes allowed versus 27 for Badger opponents. And then, of course, there's the almighty rushing yards allowed stat, which, of course, the Frogs lead by about 40 yards per game - 89-131. Looking at the track record for linebackers under Patterson, this should come as little surprise, especially to AFC West fans with David Hawthorne and Daryl Washington. Really, I have nothing else to say. Tank and Tanner, while perhaps not as widely revered, are as good as anyone who has come through here and I look for them to be a huge reason why TCU wins this game. Sugar coated enough for you?

Edge - Frogs.


Rose Bowl Mistruths


Didn't see this one in the Dump. But it's a great article on basically everything that we already know.

TCU Faces Numerous Rose Bowl Mistuths - Brian Smith, Fox Sports Southwest

Morning Dump

Football:

Horned Frogs move outdoors in 'change of scenery' Star-Telegram

Cannon named to Pro Football Weekly All-America Team gofrogs.com

Phil Steele tabs five Frogs All-Americans gofrogs.com

Basketball:

Frogs continue home surge with win over Demons gofrogs.com

Frogs lose point guard in win over Northwestern State Star-Telegram