Unrelated, I just like this a lot.
Well, this is unexpected. I always assumed this preview would basically be a, "PLEEEEASE COME SUPPORT THE TEAM EVEN THOUGH THEY'VE LOST 3 GAMES!!!!" manifesto. Instead, I'm not going to say anything because if you can't come out and support these guys after that showing last weekend, you should have your tickets revoked unless you are dead or dying. And even then, perhaps you should rethink the timing of your mortality. It's really that simple. After the SMU game - and, if we're being honest, after Baylor - never in our wildest dreams did we think the Frogs would be in the unquestioned drivers seat for a third straight Conference Championship and at least the Sean Connery in the Last Crusade side car for a BCS berth. But while the second is going to require a lot of cards to fall our way - the first of which fell last night in Birmingham- the first one is in our immediate grasp, and it all starts Saturday against a banged up Rams team. Let's get to it.
Clearly the main key to this game is whether or not incumbent QB Pete Thomas takes a snap. Admittedly, Thomas has been at the helm during almost the entirety of the Rams current six game losing streak, but he's certainly preferable to his freshman alternative, the G-man. To be truthy, having the G-man COULD be a potential advantage for the Rams seeing as how TCU would have no tape on the kid, but that's probably a severely overblown sentiment and any perceived advantage would go out the window the first time Tank Carder devours his soul.
In either case, the Rams have one main problem, and that problem is that they just are not very good. At all. Their offense is, to be frank, paltry at best - 103rd in yards, 88th in passing, 77th in rushing and 93rd in points scored. Paltry in a sense that they only scored 14 on New Mexico and won. Paltry in a sense that they couldn't outscore UNLV and Colorado teams that are among the worst in the country in points allowed. With Pete Thomas under center the Rams have passed for 1607 yards with 7 scores vs 8 picks. The G Man was less than stellar in his one shot at signal caller, but it's a small sample size and you have to think he'd improve at least slightly having a full week of practice to run the first team offense. Besides, he can't do much worse than Thomas. So could losing Pete really be addition by subtraction? Meh, probably not.
If the Frogs need to gameplan against anyone on the defensive side of the football, it would have to be RB Chris Nwoke and his strangely placed consonants. For the season he's rushed for 845 yards and 7 scores with a nice 5.4 yards per carry average. Given the struggles of the Rams passing game, even if Thomas plays you have to think they'll give us a steady dose of Nwoke. SnK already gave you a pretty decent sense what to expect when the Rams pass the ball in his players to watch, but it's hard for me to envision at situation like in 2008 when Billy Farris was flinging balls over the top of our secondary all afternoon and would've pulled the upset had they not been dropped. You'll recall Andy Dalton was injured that week and Marcus Jackson was having a SLUGGISH day moving the TCU offense and, had it not been for those drops, we would've lost 21-13. Seriously, I remember sitting on my couch, hungover, with WWHD just sinking deeper and deeper into fear and loathing watching that one. Our secondary got burned a few times last weekend in Boise, and is typically good for a big gain or two per game, but I see this looking a lot more like the UNM game than that one.
Truth be told, this team should not score many points against us. They average the same amount of points that we give up - 23, which puts us in a decent position in the rankings and them not so much -but seriously, 14 points vs New Mexico and Colorado, 13 against Boise 15 against San Diego State and 17 against UTEP. Call me old fashioned, but there's no way they come anywhere close to hitting their season average.
Moving on, what can we expect when we have the ball? Well, not a TON of resistance. The Rams give up 30 points per game and over 400 yards of total offense. Keep in mind that our defense, whose numbers are skewed based on the couple of torchings we've taken along the way, still only give up 357. And, while TCU's defense has been improving as the season has gone along and the competition has ramped up, CSU's has gotten worse, topped by a 63 point detonation by Boise. Not exactly very good houseguests during your only trip to Fort Collins, eh Broncos? Admittedly, the Rams DID play their best game of the season this past week against San Diego State, holding Ryan Lindlay to 150 yards and 1 TD...but they STILL lost.
That being said, the Rams have actually been pretty decent against the pass, only giving up 180 yards per game; if they hadn't let Kellen Moore treat them like Craig James treated those poor five hookers, the number would be a lot lower. Sure, they've played some ANEMIC offenses so far this year, but as we always say, you can only play the teams on your schedule. But, Boise's passing defense was supposed to be and you saw how La Manga treated them, although I think the Broncos D had mostly gotten by with smoke, mirrors and dirty play from Byron Hout all season based on what we saw. They can blame injuries all they want, but seriously, a drunken Snooki puts up a better defense in the hot tub than what we saw out of Boise. La Manga is going to have more big games, but last week was one for the ages and it'd be nearly impossible for him to replicate it for a second week in a row. I see him playing more to his baseline 250 yards and 3 TDs this week.
But you know what isn't going to work out in the Rams favor? The Scylla and Charybdis known as Waymon James and Edward Wesley. To date, the Rams have given up 220 yards and 2.3TD's per game on the ground. I'm thinking that second number will be doubled. Wesley and Waymon "the Sherman Tank" James - I'm trying that out. Thoughts? - have never struck me as being hot heads, but any player with their ability would have to take what happened last week in Boise as a bit of a pride blow. The fact that Waymon told Aundre Dean, "Hey Dean, watch this," before his huge run against Wyoming suggests that he's not lacking for confidence in his abilities. Look for them to blow the doors off of CSU as much as possible, with a dose of Tucker thrown in for good measure.
I really can't say much else about this one. TCU is favored by nearly 5 TDs; if they lose, it would be one of the biggest shocks in TCU Football history and of the 2011 NCAA season. I'd definitely expect a bit of a "back to earth" type game after last weekend, but this isn't going to be like SMU in 2005. This is a team that has fought off adversity all year and came through against pretty insurmountable odds against the Broncos for a victory. GP would never admit it publicly, at least not right now with the Conference race on the line, but it has to be one of if not THE proudest he's ever been of one of his teams as head man. I can't imagine a situation where he allows this one to be close. The Frogs push the win streak against CSU to 8 and the Senior Class gets their record setting 45th win.
The Pick: TCU 44, Colorado State 7.
Since this is on the shorter side and we'll likely never see Colorado State on our schedule any time in the near future, let's send them out on a high note. They may not win too many games ON the field, but those kids in Fort Collins have plenty going for them to garner our envy. Let's help 'em out!
- New Belgium Brewing Company. Sure, there are plenty of fantastic microbrews in the area, but New Belgium is the most well known, much like the Spoetzl Brewing Company in central Texas. You can have your Rio Blanco, Rahr and Saint Arnold's, but when folks think of Texas beer they think Shiner, much like when folks think Colorado beer they think New Belgium since Coors Light is nothing more than "near beer" anyway. And it's RIGHT IN Fort Collins. They even sell it in the stadium! Fat Tire is probably the most popular varietal, but you'd be hard pressed to say it's a better brew than Sunshine Wheat, Blue Paddle or 1554. So when the Frogs have the game well in hand by halftime, at least they have a tasty, local treat to wash it down with.
- Rocky Mountains! Well, this one goes without saying. I like Texas a lot, but Colorado is probably my favorite state in the Union. Yes, I'm sure living in multiple feet of snow for 6 months out of the year can be a drag, and Mud May is kind of a disaster, but easy access to skiing and then 70 degree summer days? Sign me UP. And Colorado is probably underrated as our most lawless state, no disrespect to Louisiana. They let Kobe get away with R'ing the help and medical marijuana facilities are popping up on every street corner, even in the sleepiest of mountain towns. You can underrate that kind of tolerance when choosing your higher learning destination.
- Economy No Longer Based on Gold. Well, considering the strength of gold vs. the dollar, perhaps this isn't such an advantage. But, as anyone who has traveled at length off of I-70 in Colorado knows, there's a LOT of evidence leftover from the gold rush of centuries ago. Abandoned mine shafts litter the outskirts of towns everywhere you go. And while there's a certain rustic nostalgia about spelunking in the Rocky Mountains for your family fortune, cave ins and whatever lung associated with working in a mine shaft you can develop make big business look a lot more attractive.
- Umm... Indoor Plumbing? I mean, that's just something we should all be thankful for, plus I'm kinda running out of ways to make the Ram Faithful optimistic.
- We Don't Have to Go for SMU tomorrow, necessarily. After throwing all of those bones to CSU, I wanted to throw one to you guys as well. And after much discussion, it certainly appears as though the Cougars losing to SMU may not be as much in our best interest as we thought. For one, losing that game doesn't really accomplish much because the Coogs can still beat Tulsa and win the division and the Championship. Losing to Tulsa is the most direct route, but your rooting interest tomorrow depends on two things: How far you think Houston would fall with a loss, and how you think it would affect their psyche going forward. For the first, I'd like to suggest they'd be punished SEVERELY because the voters love kicking a team with a poor schedule in the balls when they're down. However, would they take into account that we, you know, lost to the same team? It's hard to say. The second question is hard for me to answer because I know nothing of Houston or Kevin Sumlin. Chances are, though, losing to SMU yet still having a shot at the Sugar Bowl would fire them up even more and Case Keenum would go all sorts of scorched earth on Tulsa and USM/Marshall. Unfortunately, it may not even matter as Zach Line, the Ponies new, less of a puss Craig James will not be playing at Cougar High.
- At Least They Aren't the Buffaloes. Because even though they can't beat them, and even though they're 3-7, the damage Captain Intramurals, Brother did in Boulder won't be undone anytime soon. And, to be honest, I'm not sure the locals even care.
See you cats tomorrow. Go Frogs.