Monday, August 22, 2011

Top Moments of the GP Era: #5

It's no secret that the breakup of the Southwest Conference was a painful experience for TCU. Seemingly overnight, four of their long-time rivals left them for dead to form the Big 12. Despite the best intentions of the Longhorns, Aggies, Red Raiders and tag-along Bears, the Frogs did not wither away- but instead thrived, fielding Top 25 teams, winning bowl games and churning out NFL talent. For the first ten seasons after the end of the SWC, none of the four visited Amon G. Carter Stadium even once. That changed, though, when #22 Texas Tech came to Fort Worth on September 16, 2006 to face #20 TCU.

But of course, there was more to this game than just the Big 12 chip on TCU's shoulder. The two teams had faced each other two years before in Lubbock, when the Red Raiders had overcome an early 21-0 TCU lead and hung 70 on the Frogs in a blowout win. As for the court of public opinion, the game was seen as a shot at redemption for Patterson's 4-2-5 defensive scheme against the Leach Air-Raid offense. It was the first sellout of a TCU home game in 22 years, and I still remember the oddity of seeing scalpers hawking second-hand tickets outside of the stadium.

After Texas Tech's first drive stalled out in TCU territory when Tommy Blake sniffed out a screen and tackled Shannon Woods short of the sticks on 4th down, the two teams traded field goals and the game was tied at 3 at the end of the 1st quarter. To the surprise of just about everyone except Patterson, his staff and team, that would be all of the points that the Red Raiders would score on the afternoon.

The rest of the game belonged to the Horned Frog defense. They held the vaunted Red Raider offense to just 204 passing yards and 242 total yards- compared to their season averages of 369 and 448. They allowed Tech to convert just 3 of 14 third-down conversions and 0 of 3 on 4th down. They sacked Graham Harrell 3 times, but hit him an additional three times and hurried him on just about every snap with a dizzying array of blitzes and confusing coverage schemes. When Harrell was able to complete a pass, which was just 23 times (compared to his average of 34 per game), a TCU defender was always right there to tackle them immediately.

As much as TCU's defense was dominating the Tech offense, though, the Horned Frog offense had trouble putting the game away. A field goal in the second quarter gave TCU a 6-3 halftime lead, which they extended to 9-3 with another field goal in the third quarter. Early in the final quarter, Jeff Ballard led the Frogs on a 13-play, 72-yard drive that took 6:29 off the clock and got the Frogs all the way to the Tech 1 yard line. A touchdown would've all but certainly put the game away, but Patterson decided to play it safe and sent in Chris Manfredini to kick his fourth field goal of the day to increase the lead to 12-3.

Tech's last-gasp drive started at their own 22 with just over 4:00 to play. Harrell drove the Red Raiders as far as the TCU 34, but an intentional grounding penalty (how could you really blame the guy after being chased by the Frog D all afternoon long?) put them in a 2nd & 21 when THIS happened:

With all of the backstory about the SWC and the Big 12 and all of the disrespect that had been spewed TCU's way by Tech and the rest of the conference that deemed the Frogs to be not worthy of membership, how fitting was it to see Red Raider wide receiver Robert Johnson laid out, his helmet having flown off his head as part of the violent collision with Marvin White, right on top of the MWC logo? It sent the message that, no, TCU doesn't have the fancy "XII" painted on it's field, but that doesn't mean shit. There was still two minutes and change on the clock, and I don't mean to gloss over Brian Bonner's 4th down sack that ended the drive, but everyone in the house knew the game was over right when Marvin White decapitated that poor kid.

I'd love to be able to wrap up what this game meant in a tidy, three-or-so sentence paragraph. But I'll let GP do that himself with his emotional post-game press conference from that day:


shortnkerley's said...

I could watch that guy's head get blown off for hours. I loved that game, mainly because of all the ridiculous Techtard shit talk leading up to it.

Cro-magnon Frog said...

Speed Baby!

Sir Wesley Willis said...

Man, OLN? No wonder no one knew who we were until a few years ago