Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Movement Watch: Week 4.

Slowly but surely. And in a dress.

First off, hopefully TCU is in the process of pulling an OU of their own and demanding the removal of John Marianotto as head of the Big East. Any Commish that doesn't recognize that members of his own Conference leaving until practically reading about it on Twitter perhaps needs a new line of work.

Second off, we're ranked 20th in both polls. Yip yip yiperoo. Only one of four ranked teams in the Coaches' Poll, so that's fun too. Let's see how this train will keep rolling. As usual, Coaches' Poll will be used until the AP ranks us higher or the BCS Rankings are available.

Potential Movement, High:

None - I see no games on the slate that a team ranked around us should lose.

Potential Movement, Low:

#2 Alabama vs. #12 Arkansas. Saturday, 2:30PM. CBS. I will say, between this game and OSU/aggy, which kick off simultaneously, it could be a second half ghost town inside Amon G once again this week. I'd say a close game could change that, but clearly our die hard fans who can't understand why we don't get a Big 12 or SEC invite while they stand in a parking lot outside of the stadium during regulation proved that wrong. Besides, hopefully Portland by god State won't pose as many issues as that juggernaut from Monroe. But as for this one, it should be pretty mondo super duper entertaining. Last year these two teams faced off in Fayetteville as undefeateds - Bama was ranked #1 at the time - and the Hogs controlled the entire time until Ryan Mallett did as Ryan Mallett does and threw a CRITICAL pick near the end of the game that took away a comeback bid. As a reformed Hogs fan, it was pretty brutal to watch, but not unexpected because that's how football go in those parts. Mark Ingram and Mallett, the two main culprits in that outcome, are gone to the NFL so it's a clean slate in Tuscaloosa. However, both teams may be better off with their replacements - Arky QB Tyler Wilson and Bama RB Trent Richardson. Both guys haven't quite had the offensive explosions expected of them yet this year, but perhaps this is the week? Neither team has faced anyone of much substance - Bama could've argued Penn State until that dastardly performance against Temple last weekend, and Arkansas has eaten more cupcakes than Rosie O'Donnell this season, although Troy State bit back a little bit last weekend. So this is really the first test for both teams. As has been the case with these two teams under their current regimes, they beat you the same way every week - the Tide with a pounding running game and criminal defense, and the Hogs with a passing attack and, well, less criminal defense. Let's call it a misdemeanor defense. However, the Hogs' Joe Adams has been killing it this year on special teams, having already taken 3 punts to the house in three games. That's efficiency. Winning in Tuscaloosa has proven difficult for most SEC foes under Saban, and the trend probably continues this weekend, but with a big step up in the SEC West on the line, expect both of these teams to play at their best. I list this one as low movement potential because with a loss I would imagine the Hogs would remain up on us, if only by one spot.

#3 LSU @ #16 West Virginia. Saturday, 7:00PM, ABC. So if the 2 games mentioned above are the mid afternoon snack, then consider this one the big ole barrel of bourbon you slug down before dinner to "cleanse your pallet." Because, oh my god, there will be deaths. Lots and lots and lots of death. And not just on the field via LSU's nasty, nasty defense. These two teams faced off last year in South Louisiana for part one, with the Tigers squeaking out a 20-14 victory, a trend of last year's LSU team. But that should be nothing compared to what's going to happen in Morgantown. For one, LSU fans are that drunk for EVERY game, no matter who it is, so it's not like they pulled out any stops special for the Mountaineers. And two, did you know they started selling beer at Mountaineer Field just this year? THink this was coincidental? Hide ya furniture because, win or lose, shit is gettin' BURNED. I don't even know how to think about this one outside of the context of brown liquor.

LSU hasn't shined on offense in any game, mostly relying on their defense to force turnovers to give their running game the opportunity to beat opponents into submission. West Virginia, on the other hand, has been incredibly erratic so far this season. In their opener against Marshall, it took them a while to get things going, and they never really were able to get into their rhythm as that one was cancelled by lightning. And then the next week they actually TRAILED Norfolk State at the half, only scoring 9 in the first 30. Of course, they finished the game with 55, so yeah, that's nice. And then last week against Maryland, they ran up a 34-10lead at the start of the 3rd quarter, and then had to hang on 37-31. So it's hard to know what to expect from these guys, which is kind of art imitating life in the sense that Dana Holgorsen is as wild card as there is in the NCAA ranks.

I'll be honest, this could be the most fun game of the year when reflecting back on the season. You'll have a record number of walking moonshine containers flooding into Morgantown. YOu'll have Dana Holgorsen in all his alcohol infused glory. And then Les, a man who may not even realize he's the Head Coach of an NCAA football team the way he behaves sometimes. This one could literally go any possible direction you could imagine.

Seriously, shit will be set on fire.

It's arguable that, with a loss, WVU would fall behind TCU, but I have to imagine losing to a team the caliber of LSU would cancel out our squeaker over an FCS team.

No Movement:

#14 Florida State @ #22 Clemson. Saturday, 2:30PM. ESPN. After a relatively crushing defeat at the hands of the Sooners last week, Florida State has to turn right back around and head to Clemson to face a suddenly potent Tigers team led by Dabo Howard Dean Swinney. To be fair, I think Clemson is being SUPER overrated by merit of beating an at the time even more overrated Auburn team. Apparently the pollsters believe so as well, holding them down at #22 despite the 3-0 record. However, a win over the Noles propels them above TCU, while at the same time dropping Florida State out of the Top 25, bearing no effect on us; the opposite result doesn't effect us, either. The outcome of this games hinges on the shoulder of currently injured FSU QB EJ Manuel. With him, the Noles should be able to pull this one out; without him, well, Dabo could wind up making the Nintendo64 kid seem tame.

Potential ESPN Approved Jumper:

#21 Michigan vs. San Diego State. Saturday. 11:00AM. BTN. In a pretty ironic scheduling twist, Brady Hoke faces off against his former team at a time where a win would falsely signal a return to greatness for Wolverines football. Both teams are undefeated and both put up pretty gaudy offensive statistics. Both teams have also relied heavily on the run this year: QB Denard Robinson leads all Michigan rushers, and RB Ronnie Hillman leads all for SDSU. SDSU QB Ryan Lindley hasn't exactly torched many teams this year, but with Ronnie Hillman having already piled up 497 yards and 8 (!!!) TDs, he hasn't had to. With neither team playing much defense, this one could be a pretty silly offensive performance to check out, although playing at 9:00 Pacific, I'd expect SDSU to start a little slow. My gut tells me Michigan wins a high scoring affair, but maybe SDSU finds the passing game that's thusfar alluded them this year? Regardless, we should pull for the Aztecs as a Michigan win likely means a drop in the rankings for the Frogs.

#24 Georgia Tech vs. #25 North Carolina. Georgia Tech ran up 604 rushing yards last week against Kansas, our potential future Conference mate. They average 59.3 points and and 675.3 yards per game. Their QB, Tevin Washington, averages 37.3 yards per pass. UNC, meanwhile, just vacated all of their wins the past 2 years. Ummm... Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. GT probably leaps us.

#27 Illinois vs. Western Michigan. I'm not even going to pretend I care about previewing this game, but the Fighting Ron Zooks are riding high after a win over then ranked Arizona State this week. Since the Big Ten is the preferred Conference of ESPN, a 4-0 Illini squad likely gets enough love to get close to jumping TCU in the rankings. Considering Western Michigan has done little of interest as of late, I wouldn't expect an upset.

With the way things may shake out right behind us, I wouldn't expect much upward trajectory this week. Ah well. Go Frogs.

Portland State offense: good news, bad news

The Vikings of Portland State come to Fort Worth on Parent's Weekend undefeated after having trounced Southern Oregon (an NAIA school) 52-0 and edged out Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona 31-29. Over the course of those two games, the offense- mostly led by senior QB Connor Kavanaugh- has rolled up 1,024 total yards. But I can't decide what to think about the Frogs' match up against them.

Is it good news that the TCU secondary might catch a break this week, considering PSU throws the ball just 32% of the time? That figure may even be a little high, since 31 of their 46 pass attempts came in their rout of Southern Oregon. Either way, the Vikings are a running team- averaging 348 yards per game. I doubt they can overpower the Frogs on the line of scrimmage, which will take them out of their game plan fairly quickly- a hallmark of the dominant performances by GP's defenses through the years

Or is it bad news that, with pass-happy SMU and San Diego State looming in the following weeks, TCU will be facing a team that may not provide the much-needed trial by fire moments for a still-gelling crop of safeties and corners? I'd hate the TCU defense to get lulled to sleep stopping an FCS ground game only to revert back to allowing big plays through the air against the Mustangs and Aztecs (and Cougars, and Broncos...).

However you look at the match up against Portland State, I think it's important to appreciate each of the small steps that the TCU defense takes and focus on the positives. For instance, while the first quarter against ULM was bad (17 points and 129 pass yards), the rest of the game was actually fairly good (0 points and just 103 pass yards). The pass rush also found it's way a little bit, recording 5 sacks and led by Stansly Maponga's 1.5 (and third straight game with a forced fumble). If the younger guys on the defense can start defending by instinct a little more than the slightly delayed reactions displayed so far, we'll look back on these first three weeks and laugh at how some of us reacted.

Morning Dump

Defense has been burned by big plays, but Frogs are taking corrective measures Star-Telegram

Big East sticking together, giving TCU cause for hope Star-Telegram

Patterson holds weekly presser

TCU, Gary Patterson and superconferences ESPN

TCU's pending move to Big East is suddenly shaky AP

Athletic Department:
Boyce and Igodan are athletes of the week

Answer this: Bob Schieffer Politico