Now that we've all had a couple of days to read the positive press and reflect on things, the game wasn't THAT bad I don't suppose. Clearly we've all been shopping with Paris Hilton at Stupid Spoiled Whore a bit too much lately because a 21 point win for this particular team should most certainly not be something to bitch and moan about. The problem is, as much as we say we've tempered our expectations from last year, we have done the exact opposite and seemingly have greater expectations than we did before. I know this because I am the ringleader of this particular mindset. And unless we change it, this season is going to wind up a major, major failure, even if in reality it isn't.
Then again, in light of Saturday's off-field activity, we'd have to be forgiven a little for being overly pessimistic about everything football related. Much like the NBA and NFL lockouts, as well as last year's initial cycle of realignment, it's completely pointless for us to fret about any of this until it is over because there's a lot of behind the scenes BS going on that we won't know about until the dust settles. So while we're all going to be unsettled and have our panties in a wad, there's really nothing that can be solved by doing that, so let's put on our big boys pants and chill the F out. All I'm going to say is, from what's coming out now, the Big East as constructed as recently as last Friday didn't sound like it was long for the world, so we may as well get the fence sitters out of the way and move forward. Also, fuck you, Jamie Dixon.
But there was still a game Saturday, despite no one on the West side of the stadium being around to see it, so let's talk about it. As has been the case the first two games this year, the recap is going to more or less completely stray from the offense/defense/special teams/overall grades because that way is boring. Plus, Jeremy Clark does the same thing over at Menace and does it better - he must not drink during games because he sees a LOT of stuff - so if you really care about a genuine breakdown, head thattaway. So these recaps are mostly going to reflect my current mood and how I want to handle them, and right now I want to rant.
I'm going to get it out of the way first thing so we can move on. But our fans. Are seriously. The worst. Of all time. GP and McCoy both made mention of it in the post game, and don't think the recruits in attendance didn't notice either. We may as well have been in an opposing stadium. The West side is clearly hopeless, although I understand a lot of the die hards got moved from their seats to the end zones to make way for the big money donors who don't attend games anyway, but it was pathetic. And Section V, the almighty section V we love to hype up, was just as bad after halftime. I get it guys, drinking is cool! and fun! But you can do it every single day of the week! So why not take a 3 hour break and watch football live and in person! lyle put it best earlier by saying, "All we have are a bunch of Dallas acting fairweather fans who like to bitch about Dallas." And that's all I'm going to say because I like my blood pressure like I like my opposing offenses - low scoring and bloody.
So we got that out of the way.
There's one main reason why I think everyone hated Saturday's game and that is because no one came back after halftime so all they have to go on are their memories of the first half and the box score. And when you look at the box score, it's not exactly a dominating performance. TOP was pretty much even, they gained over 300 yards of offense to our 400, and they had a receiver with 13 receptions. THIRTEEN!! In the first half the secondary looked lost, our LBs couldn't cover receivers to save their lives and the underneath routes were there ALL day. We also got burned on a fourth down conversion for a TD which is something I cannot remember ever having happened outside of Boise's fake punt.
I'll be honest, I was pretty unhappy with the results when I got home Saturday evening, although I'm pinning some of that lack of enthusiasm on the Conference shifting business. But I think a lot of it is because I JUST missed seeing Greg McCoy's kick return, which didn't allow me to gain the subsequent adrenaline infused boost of enthusiasm that came with it to carry me through the rest of the game. And, defensively, the rest of the game was a pretty big success. I definitely didn't realize it at the time, but after the first quarter our defense gave up 0 points and only 123 total yards, including only 71 in the second half. But like I said, sorry for overlooking that fact after a first quarter that featured 189 yards, 17 points and a 3 point TCU deficit. This clearly turned some folks off early and kept them in the parking lots after halftime. A bullshit reason to be sure, but it's all I can come up with.
Perhaps worst of all though was Tank Carder, THE ONE player even the most uninformed TCU fan is familiar with, missed about 6 tackles that he normally crushes. Tank Carder's performance has been one of the biggest headscratchers of the young season, and although I can't comment on the first two weeks, at least we know the reason why he looked out of sorts on Saturday. Turns out Tank had hand surgery and was playing with pins in his hand, which would certainly explain his inability to grab jerseys and fling players into the front row like we're used to him doing. I've never been good at sports, or at least contact sports, but according to message board posts by middle aged men who had a similar surgery and try and legitimize their knowledge by comparing Tank over coming it at high level NCAA football to them overcoming it in their weekly rec softball league, playing with pins in your hand hurts. A lot. So the fact that he was out there at all is a pretty big statement that he wants to play and contribute. And with Kenny Cain allegedly nursing an injury he sustained last weekend, his presence was even more vital.
But something is missing, isn't it? I'm sure our expectations play a role in that we mostly think of Brent Musberger deifying him in the Rose Bowl, but that can't be the entire reason. Perhaps the lack of Tanner Brock? I'm not going to act like I have any idea how to properly scheme an NCAA defense, but perhaps Tank and Tanner played more of a role in helping each other out than we gave credit for? It also can't help that our safeties are inexperienced which likely shifts even more focus on Tank. We know what he is capable of, and we can't discount his hand injury. Let's just hope we get Brock back sooner than later and those two can resume eating opposing backs alive.
Offensively though, things didn't look as in sync as they did in the fourth quarter against Baylor and all week against Air Force. Pachall had his weakest outing, which shouldn't suggest it was bad because he still had 204 yards on 15 completions and a TD and no picks. His TD pass to Boyce was absolutely on the money. But he was sacked twice, which equals the total for the year, and had the fumble at the end of the first half which could've made things even dicier than they were. Fortunately ULM got Evans'd and we went into the locker room with a 4 point lead. Post game Pachall suggested the team didn't come out as fired up as they should have been and that, until McCoy's return, there wasn't much doing in that department. Fortunately that was all it took.
Well, that's a lie, because it took 6 other things as well: the 4 legs of Waymon James and Aundre Dean and the 2 hands of Josh Boyce. I know we've been referring to Waymon as the bowling ball, but maybe we should amend that to cannon ball, because dude looked like he was fired out of one everytime he touched the ball. 11 carries for 89 yards - an 8.1 yard average! - although his biggest play on the day may have been the block he threw on McCoy's run back. I definitely recommend going back and rewatching it because it's absolutely textbook. McCoy is running down the sidelines right behind Waymon, points at the defender, and Waymon knocks him into next Tuesday, at which point McCoy cranks up the jets and is never challenged the rest of the way. Pretty glad we have that guy.
And Dean. We knew he had a chance to be special considering he was the #1 overall RB coming out of Texas his senior year, and now we got to see it. He, too, had a 11 carries, gained 69 yards and probably would've scored had the play calling been a little more creative. It's been tough going for Dean since he arrived in FW via UCLA as he's been stuck behind 3 guys who could start for a lot of other teams, but with Wesley out indefinitely and his performance Saturday, I'd expect to see a lot more out of him as the year goes on.
As you're all probably aware, Boyce had a career high in receiving yards, finishing with 7 for 134 and a score. I'm assuming his previous career high was Utah last year. So at least we have that going for us.
What we don't have going for us though? Skye Dawson, for one. On a day that he had drops and only 2 receptions, he also got his position as punt returner all sorts of stole by Brandon Carter after a terrible muffed return in the second quarter. Carter immediately came in and rumbled off 18 yards... so let's go with that. That sequence was also why I think we had bad tastes in our mouths because we were pretty fortunate with the way it played out. After Dawson muffed the punt, ULM recovered BUT were called for illegal procedure and rekicked which led the Carter's return. Then on the subsequent drive, ULM was called for a big time momentum shifting PI which eventually led to a score. It sounds fickle, but I think, given the circumstances at the time, we felt kind of, I dunno, dirty for needing penalties to bail us out against a team like ULM. You should always take points no matter how you get them, but that seemed to be the feeling at the time.
Worst Recap Ever by far, so here are the positives we should take away. I like to leave things on a happy note:
- Trent Thomas looked good and was capable of making tackles
- Josh Boyce and Casey Pachall make beautiful music in a football sense
- We don't miss Ed Wesley that bad and Aundre Dean should live up to expectations
- We were forced to play our 4th and 5th options at LB and didn't lose
- Our defense remember how to play football after the first quarter
- We don't have to play Boise for 7 more weeks, and 8 if you include the bye. So we shouldn't have any humiliations until then, although SDSU shouldn't be overlooked.
- We get to play an FCS team this week which should give Brock another week to heal up before SMU
- Tank Carder was all over the backfield, he just couldn't take the knockout shots he's used to. This will get better.
- The O Line had their worst outing of the year and we still scored 31 points on offense.
- As bad off as we think our situation in the football world is, just know its worse for Baylor and SMU
- Last time we had a weak outing at home it was against SDSU, and then we won a lot after that
Sorry, that was not very good. I'll do better next week as long as the team promises to do the same.