Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Movement Watch Roundup: Week 1.

As astute poster Rotten Arsenal pointed out earlier, despite the stumble in Waco, the Frogs stayed up in both polls, sitting uncomfortably at 25. Baylor went from outside of the "others receiving votes" category all the way to 22 in the AP poll, but still sits one spot behind us in the Coaches' - re: the one that matters down the road -, which I'm sure is irking their catastrophically fair weather fanbase considerably. It appears the Coaches' did not have the knee jerk reaction to the loss that the AP did and instead took into account the closeness of the final score, how it happened and isn't overlooking Baylor's own defensive collapse. If both teams keep winning, based on the caliber of opponent that ranking should stay the same for the foreseeable future. However, I have no doubt that we will finish the season ranked higher than the Bears by any count, so no reason to get upset about that AP ranking quite yet.

Clearly we did not do our part to help ourselves out in the rankings, but fortunately a few other teams helped us out along the way. For the sake of brevity and timeliness, I think it's only necessary to look at the teams who did themselves no favors over the weekend, as well as only focus on the Coaches' rankings as they seem to be the smarter of the two, despite what I said last week.

#18 Notre Dame 20, South Florida 23. After a series of rain delays that outnumbered the number of successful series by the Notre Dame offense, future Big East Conferences snuck out of South Bend with a big victory. We knew ND was overrated coming into the season - as they are every year - and fortunately we didn't have to wait too long for them to be drop kicked out of the rankings. New Ranking: NR.

#19 Auburn 42, Utah State 38. It's pretty rare for the defending champs to be ranked this low entering the year. It's even rarer for them to fall in the rankings after a week one tune up against a WAC program. But rarest of all? They actually beat said WAC team. But, as I'm sure you all know, it was NOT pretty. A miracle onside kick, the defense of which was botched MISERABLY by the Utah State hands team, led to a last minute TD and a much closer than you'd expect victory. Auburn fans had fled the stadium earlier when USU took a 38-28 lead on a fake field goal which doesn't say much for the goodwill they generated by purchasing last year's BCS title. As a result, Auburn dropped out of both rankings, which certainly helped the Frogs stay up in the polls. New Ranking: NR.

#22 Georgia 21, #5 Boise State 35. And it wasn't really that close. Georgia was flat out humiliated in front of the home crowd by a Boise team that had no idea what it was capable of heading into the season. Kellen Moore was pretty much lights out all night, shredding the Boise defense with a group of receivers that couldn't even wash jock straps in the SEC. I wasn't going for the Broncos, but I suppose a small part of me felt a little non-AQ pride towards the end. But it only lasted as long as it took to see the replay of Kellen Moore doing his uncoordinated, running backwards with his arms in the air looking like he's about to fall over thing. F Boise. New Georgia Ranking: NR.

No other upsets this weekend. Hopefully we can take care of business in Colorado Springs on Saturday or these Movement watches are going to go the way of the buffalo/TCU's pass defense.

Week 2 Opponent Hate (Kind of): Air Force Falcons

Cut block consequences...

Obviously I've addressed in the past how impossible it is to hate on any service academies because really it just downright wrong, so this mainly just serves as a warning for Saturday's game in Colorado Springs. Air Force will cut block all game, every play, and go straight for our defender's knees and/or roll up on their ankles, especially the front 4 and any blitzing linebackers or safeties playing near the line of scrimmage. For those unfamiliar with a cut block, it's basically just someone blocking you below the waist, which is completely legal unless the defender is engaged with another block. Waymon James got penalized for this Friday night, although I heard it was a bullshit call/drive killer. Teams like Air Force that are undersized and have inferior athletes (seriously, ask Fisher DeBerry) tend towards the cut block since it's easier than trying to match up physically. It's also very common for teams that run the triple option to use the cut block tactic regularly, so Air Force is a perfect candidate to spend an entire Saturday trying to annihilate our helpless defender's knees and ankles.

Seriously, every single year before the Air Force game I get nervous that someone will get injured, whether it be a high ankle sprain, a torn ACL or whatever the case is. It is just commonplace when playing them that someone will inevitably get caught flat-footed and rolled up on. Last year we suffered a very, very substantial injury to the defensive line due to the Air Force cut block, breaking the ankle of 4 year starting DT Kelly Griffin and keeping him out until the Rose Bowl. Oddly enough, TCU was lucky enough to have sophomore Jeremy Coleman and D.J. Yendrey step in and fill his void nicely. I'd like to see more out of the same from those two this year, although Coleman is most certainly M.I.A. so far this fall. Former standout cornerback Drew Coleman also was injured during his TCU days due to an Air Force cut block. Coleman hurt his knee, and fortunately for him it wasn't very severe because now he's found a good home in the NFL spending the past several seasons as the Jets nickel back before coming over to Jacksonville this season.

I'd say our players need to be alert and on their toes, looking out for cut blocks and avoiding injury, but from everything I read and see there's really no way to avoid it. Plain and simple- you will be cut blocked and we just have to hope we don't sustain any injuries because of it. Our depth on the DL isn't exactly stellar, and we have a lot of young guys getting serious playing time at that spot and I hope they aren't forced into permanent action. As evidenced by the Drew Coleman injury a few years back, defensive backs aren't out of the woods either, and we can ill afford to lose any DB's, because as we saw against Baylor, that is an area where we need to grow up fast and get stronger. Let's all hope that week 2 goes a lot better than week 1, and we make it back for the home opener in good health and are ready to roll with a 1-1 record.

Raining on Baylor's Parade

USA Today's Coaches Poll just hit. TCU is now #25... Baylor is #26. Guess the coaches are more impressed by our young team's comeback than Baylor's near collapse.


Step Away from the Ledge

Well, for the first time in nearly 22 months, the Horned Frogs have dropped a regular-season game. It's definitely painful that it came at the hands of a former conference rival that sits just 90 or so miles from our own campus, but judging from the reaction of some Frog fans exiting Floyd Casey Stadium you'd think that we'll never experience victory again. What we should all do is congratulate Baylor on a game well played and move on.

I hope you don't think that I'm ignoring the obvious problems that our team displayed the other night. You can't just give up 50 points and 414 yards through the air and pretend that everything is right on track defensively- especially when you've still got aerial assault artists like Boise's Kellen Moore, San Diego State's Ryan Lindley, BYU's Jake Heaps and SMU's Kyle Padron (or is it JJ McDermott?) left on the schedule...and don't sleep on CSU's Pete Thomas. Patterson definitely has his work cut out for him to get his corners and young safeties ready for the rest of the season.

The good news, though, is the fight this team showed on Friday night. A majority of teams across the nation would give up if they were down 24 points without a hint of momentum headed into the 4th quarter. But this team, filled to the brim with freshmen and sophomores, pulled themselves together and darn-near pulled off what would've been one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history. Playing the largest roles in that comeback were an unproven QB who we now have a lot more confidence in and a shaky offensive line that kept that QB's jersey clean the entire night.

It will be interesting to see how this team deals with disappointing early season setback. Will they rally to win a conference championship the way they did in 2002 and 2005? Will they let the loss compound itself and enter a death-spiral like in 2004? I'm not sure it'll be either of those extremes, but there is still a lot of football to be played...starting with another tough road test against Air Force this weekend.