Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taking Inventory: Running Backs

As a team in 2010, TCU rushed for 3,216 yards. Players returning in 2011 represent 2,660 of those...or just under 83% of the yards gained on the ground last year. The only running back lost to graduation was backup fullback Ryan Hightower, so what the Frogs lack in experience at quarterback they definitely make up for in the backfield.

Junior Ed Wesley led the team in rushing attempts (166), yards (1,078) and touchdowns (11) last year, so you have to pencil him in as the #1 option for this crowded backfield. Among his highlights last year were a 209-yard game against Air Force and providing perhaps the funniest moment in the all-around hilarious game against Baylor. He became the first Frog to rush for over 1,000 yards since Robert Merrill in '03, and the first to sport a sweet flat-top since sometime in the early '90s I would guess. Fellow junior Matthew Tucker is also to likely get a lion's share of the carries this fall. He rushed for 676 yards as a true freshman in '09 and then 709 last year. In his last game at the "old" Amon G. Carter Stadium, he reeled off a season-high 131 yards against San Diego State.

Looking to catch and perhaps pass Wesley and Tucker on the depth chart will be sophomore Waymon James and junior Aundre Dean. James, who at 5-8, 203 is built similarly to the 5-9, 200 Wesley, came on strong at the end of his redshirt freshman season last year finishing with 513 yards and 5 TDs as well as the game-clinching first down at the end of the Rose Bowl. Dean, at 6-0, 215, is built a lot like the 6-1, 210 Tucker. He finished with 223 yards and a touchdown last year, but by all accounts has had a fantastic offseason- not that the other guys have not. Perhaps the biggest variable in the backfield is redshirt freshman Dwight Smith. He just might be the most talented of all the TCU running backs- but for a number of reasons (injuries, academic issues), he's yet to see the field in a game.

At fullback again this year will be senior Luke Shivers, who has done most of his damage as a blocker the past three years. Last year, though, he scored 5 touchdowns (including the game-winner in the Rose Bowl) on just 9 carries and also caught 3 passes out of the backfield. Listed behind him is...nobody. Fullback may not be the most crucial position on the field, but I have been surprised that the issue that the Frogs do not appear to have a backup for Shivers has not been raised at all.

So how do you sort through all of the talent at running back for the Frogs? Do you think Wesley and Tucker will continue to shoulder most of the load, or will one of their three backups take on a bigger role in 2011? Let me know your thoughts on the tailback rotation, as well as who might become Shivers' understudy at fullback, in the comments section. Because I know you have an opinion.

Dallas Coaches' Event TONIGHT.

When I Google Image searched "Gary Patterson," this was a top match.
So I'm going with it.

Just as a friendly reminder, tonight marks the 53rd* Annual TCU Dallas Coaches' Dinner, this time with the added bonus of it actually taking place IN Dallas County! The McKamy Party Barn was nice and all, but it may as well have been in Oklahoma as far as my perception of the Dallas bubble is concerned because if it's above 635, I don't want to know what goes on. And the best part? It's at a museum at Love Field, so we can all just wing the private jets and helicopters our moms and dads bought us over for the event and then have power cocktails afterwards at 40000 feet! Sorry, Killerfrogs proletariat, but it looks like the Spitblood bourgeoisie wins this round!

But anyway, after reportedly hearing that one of our very own SpitBlood Elite Contributors dismissed the possibility of his attendance because it, "sounds like a beating," I want to be the first to assure you that it is, in fact, NOT a beating. What could possibly be a beating about paying $25 to rub elbows with the likes of Gary Patterson, Jim Schlossnagle, Jim Christian and Chris Del Conte, not to mention the likes of Sir Wesley Willis, WWHD, shortnkerleys and the rest of the crew? Not to mention the fact that said entry fee gets you all you can eat gas station Dickey's BBQ and domestic libations? Not to mention that from the list of scheduled speakers, it appears they even cut the bullshit of having the Women's Tennis Coach or someone similar speak! Not to mention GP is always full of a few little anecdotes about the team - mostly negative, just the way we like em- that you can't get anywhere else unless your parents are major boosters, or that listening to Jim Christian preach at you in that Long Island accent will always make you think the Frogs Basketball team is poised for a deep March run, although it typically just ends up being a March run in the quicksand that is our basketball skillset. And Del Conte is the most forthcoming of all of them - just IMAGINE what he might say in this setting where we're paying for his thoughts?

Seriously, what negative reaction could you possibly have to all of that?

Strangely enough, this year's event has yet to sell out - an all but clockwork occurrence in past years, so I'm assuming the new venue has something to do with it - and you can still sign up HERE to get the pre-registration price. If not, walk ups will have to part with a cool Ulysses S. Grant, which will not only make you the topic of casual ridicule because it is double what everyone else paid but also forces you to admit that you walk around with that filthy Yankee Union currency in your billfold, which is an avenue you just do not want to travel down.

Seriously, even if you live in FW, this is an opportunity you do not want to miss out on.

Of course, if you do decide to skip out on the event in lieu of watching women's soccer or whatever else you would do on a Thursday night in July, I'll have a full recap of the juicy tidbits you missed out on tomorrow morning. But then again, maybe I won't? ENTICEMENTS, PEOPLE!

Morning Dump

Football:


For Spit Blood's female readers: