Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Scouting the 2011 opponents: Colorado State

Does TCU own Colorado State? I'm not really sure- 'own' is a pretty subjective term, right? But consider that since Gary Patterson took over as head coach in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs are a perfect 7-0 against the Rams- six games as MWC foes and that cold, soggy Liberty Bowl win on New Year's Eve 2002. The total combined score in those seven games: TCU 203, CSU 48. The math whizzes amongst you will realize that means the Frog defense has held the Rams to less than 7.0 points per game- and impressive stat that's been enhanced by the fact that they've kept CSU from scoring a touchdown in eleven consecutive quarters dating back to 2008.

Here I go again...creating bulletin board material for one of TCU's opponents. But as bordering on overconfident as we fans may get about our team, you know that perfection-minded GP isn't letting his team overlook anyone- and certainly not the Colorado State program that dominated the Mountain West under Sonny Lubick in the 90s and early 00s. Current Rams coach Steve Fairchild has had a disappointing last two seasons, but did lead CSU to a bowl win in 2008- the same year they gave the Frogs all they could handle in a hard-fought 13-7 TCU win in Fort Collins. Many think he has them headed back in the right direction, and they are a trendy pick to be the surprise team of the MWC this fall.

On offense, Colorado State will be led by 6'5" QB Pete Thomas, a sophomore. Thomas was a very highly-rated recruit coming out of the San Diego area, and chose CSU over multiple offers from BCS-conference schools. He threw for 2,662 yards while completing 64.7% of his pass attempts last year- both very impressive numbers for a true freshman. He did throw 13 INTs, though. One thing limiting his production was an offensive line that allowed 44 sacks. Four starters are back from that line, so you can probably label that as a positive or a negative. A number of candidates will be vying to become Thomas' new go-to receiver this year, but keep an eye on friend of friends of Spit Blood, Thomas Coffman. His scrawny, white frame will deceive some opposing defenses this year, but he will usually be one of the fastest players on the field at any given time.

The Rams have implemented a 3-4 defense this season, but will likely toggle between that and the base 4-3 set. Whatever defensive formation they line up in, linebacker Mychal Sisson will be leading the way. Despite the unit's not so impressive performance last year, Sisson was a legit star- racking up 95 tackles, 15 of them for a loss along with 4.5 sacks. Starting alongside him will be Mike Orakpo...brother of former UT star Brian Orakpo.

-CFN 2011 Colorado State preview
-CFN 2011 Colorado State offensive breakdown
-CFN 2011 Colorado State defensive breakdown
-CFN 2011 Colorado State depth chart

Big East ready to cash in

If you thought the financial advantages of TCU's move to the Big East were limited the league's guaranteed BCS slot and the increase in ticket sales that will be a result of playing teams like Pitt and West Virginia instead of San Diego State and UNLV, you're wrong. It seems as if the Big East will be in a position to leverage the current media landscape when negotiating their next TV deal and get all flush with cash like Jean-Ralphio.

As it stands now, the Big East TV deal pays out about $5 million every year to it's members. That's already a healthy raise for TCU, up from the $1.1 million that MWC teams make annually. The Big East just turned down an offer from ESPN, the network that helped make it what it is now (and vice versa), that would've paid each team $11 million a year.

Why? Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News weighed in last week:

"The league is gambling that other TV networks are just as desperate for live sports programming, if not more. Representatives from CBS, Comcast (which wants a prime-time Saturday night game to compete with ABC), NBC Sports and Fox were all conspicuous by their presence at Big East football media day here Tuesday and sources indicate the bidding could escalate to between $15 million and $18 million for the rights, which would give Big East football more value than the ACC, whose teams make $13 million each in their deal."

Goo! Leaving an offer from ESPN can be risky, as we've obviously seen with the dismal Mountain West TV situation. But if it means more money and more games on at desirable times (i.e. not Wednesday or Friday nights), I think it's the way to go...provided you aren't creating a network that no one can watch like the MWC did. Keep an eye especially on NBC, which has just announced plans to re-brand and revamp Versus, which is already on in nearly as many households as ESPN.

Morning Dump