Monday, October 3, 2011

Mr. Dalton and Co.

Movement Watch Roundup: Week 5.


The Movement Watch is dead. Long live the Movement Watch. With TCU falling out of the Top 25 to the point that there were not even votes received, the Movement Watch is on an indefinite hiatus. In the meantime we'll be adding a new feature to be determined later. An upset alert preview? CFB gamblin' chat? Terrible SMU and/or Baylor fan of the week? YOU be the judge, commenters.

Time to move on

First of all, congratulations to June Jones and his Mustangs on a game well played and for the victory. For the interest of the future of this great rivalry, I wish you all good luck the rest of the way in 2011 and until these two teams meet again in Dallas next fall.

As for the Frogs and the purple-clad fanbase, it's just time to move on. I'm not going to try to downplay how much Saturday sucked or how painful it is to lose two drama-filled games to your two oldest rivals. And I'm certainly not going to just gloss over the problems that this year's team has, especially on defense. But to listen to and read some TCU fans' comments after this loss, you'd think that our football program is boarding up the windows in preparation for the end of the world.

If you thought this team would go undefeated again this year and would have no problem adjusting to life after the legendary senior class that graduated after the Rose Bowl, you're foolish. If you expected them to, you're an idiot who probably secretly has a closet full of burnt orange. Even though the team that eventually hoisted the trophy in Pasadena grew up ahead of pace, finishing in the Top 10 in '08 and '09, there were still plenty of growing pains along the way. This current crop of underclassmen may not blossom as quickly, and honestly in the end they may not achieve the same amount of glory- but a Gary Patterson coached team will improve and will get back to a place where they are in control of every ballgame they play.

I know things seem pretty low right now, and I'm not going to even come close to guaranteeing a victory over San Diego State this weekend, but I do think we have a lot more good times to look forward to. There are a lot of fans out there that would kill to have a team coming off 46 straight weeks of being ranked. Despite the struggles of the early part of this season, TCU is still a program very much headed in the right direction, so for now let's just enjoy the fact that 3-2 is what we consider a "disaster" these days and look forward to the day that this young team has its break-through. Because whenever that may be- it is coming.

Go Frogs!

Requiem For a Gut Punch: Hate Week Recap.

Our defense has more holes than Jared Leto's arm.

Well, fart.

Just when we all foolishly thought the Frogs D was going to get it together, they go and kick us square in the junk. Oh, you didn't realize that JJ McDermott and Darius Johnson - seriously, two dudes whose names are interchangeable with Barea and Hootie - are the second coming of Montana and Rice? Oh yeah, that's probably because they aren't, we just made them look that way. It's kind of our thing. We kicked off Robert Griffin's Heisman campaign with an absolute bang, and now it appears we've furthered the SMU to the BCS Movement more than a fansite with shoddy reasoning ever could. I guess it's our way of giving back for the good fortune we've received the past decade.

Seriously, double turds.

Rotten Arsenal did a good job of recapping the worst of what was a pretty miserable game for a biased observer, which is good because I have no intention of doing a true recap anyway. You probably expect me to talk about how, despite it all, the team once again showed resilience after getting down and how that should help them in the future. But you know what? That's what losers say, and yes, I understand the inherent hypocrisy in that statement. After the Baylor game it was fine to have this mentality. First game for a VERY fresh team on the road against an opponent in full on revenge mode with an apparently Heisman worthy QB. The team had yet to figure out exactly what their issues were in a live game situation, so there were going to be some severe growing paints. But SMU? No no no. No morals victories here. It was game 5. It was in our house. There's really no excuses, and I don't intend on finding any.

For those of you who genuinely blame the refs, I urge you to go back and watch the film. Yes, there were blown calls, some egregious, some less so. But just watch McDermott; if he had the touch Robert Griffin had against us in week 1, I counted at least 4 incompletions that would've gone for EASY scores. EASY. Like, plays where Devin Johnson - and no offense to Devin Johnson, but when you're putting in your, what, third string DB, you know you have big, big problems - had his back turned to the ball and was at least 3 steps behind his coverage. I'm just saying, justify the loss in your mind all you want, but it should've been worse. A lot worse.

I was critical of Greg McCoy in the comments section in my inebriated post-game anti-glory, and a lot of you pointed out how that wasn't exactly fair. And you're right. Me blaming McCoy's fumble to open the second half for costing us the game is like blaming Ross Evans for the Baylor game. Yes, it UNDOUBTEDLY decimated the momentum we had built going into the half, but it's definitely the "forest for the trees" thing. Or like shuffling deck chairs on the Titantic. In other words, blaming one play for changing either of those games is COMPLETELY overlooking the iceberg that is our entire defense.

Let's start up front with everyone not named Stansly Maponga as he had 2 sacks and another forced fumble. Now, to be fair, SMU's offensive line is very good; if I recall correctly, they are the most experienced line in the nation as far as combined starts. But they made our front look BAD. JJ McDermott threw for 349 yards and 4 scores, and while you can blame the secondary all you want, the main difference between this year's defense and the last few is the lack of a consistent pass rush by our D line. They tried, but for the most part I saw a lot of spinning in place that did absolutely nothing to take the SMU linemen out of position. Like I said, give credit to the SMU O line, but we didn't exactly make them earn it.

Disclaimer: I'm not going to even BEGIN to talk about Linebacker play. Just look at the stats for an idea. The same goes for our secondary - I honestly am out of things to say about them, as is Gary Patterson based on post game comments where he suggested his grandma could've made some of the plays these guys missed. If you're into masochism, the kids at Ponyfans.com are absolutely running with a lot of his comments, and there's probably SOME merit to a few of them. Fan and coaching expectations have clearly been too high for this particular team this year; whether or not we should throw the players under the bus is a major question mark, though. Like I said above, blaming a single play or player in games like this one or Baylor is just being fickle because there are myriad issues that need to be resolved. Moving forward this season, the Coaching staff needs to get to the core of what exactly is holding the team back. They are going to lose some more games this year, perhaps as soon as this Saturday. But they can't let that completely derail momentum. They can't allow losing to become OK just because this is your classic "rebuilding year."

Maybe our problem is the same problem - well, ONE problem, because we don't have anywhere near as many as they did - that plagued UT last year in that highly rated athletes bring different sets of baggage. You may have read the one or ten thousand stories lauding Gary Patterson's habit of taking low rated offensive talent and turning them into superstar defensive players. But our most recent recruiting classes feature athletes who came to college at a particular position and have remained there. Maybe it's a case of these guys being used to being the best at what they do at the high school level and having to adjust, rather than guys who weren't the best who are busting ass to get there? Saturday I suggested, "We should start recruiting shitty athletes again,"and while I was clearly making the comment in jest, perhaps there's some painfully subtle truth to it? But then again, we have seniors who aren't performing up to task and freshmen who are, so I'm not sure that's it.

So could it be a case of the team buying into the recent TCU press? Maybe they look at the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl and the undefeated seasons and the consecutive Top 25 rankings and the home win streak and the conference win streak and think, "I guess that's normal, so why bust my ass?" And if that's the case, then losing to Baylor and SMU in a five week span should be the best thing that could happen to them. I say SHOULD because if losing to your two biggest historical rivals isn't a wake up call, then whatever problems we have are clearly not easily fixed and we may as well turn the page on this season.

And maybe this is the case? There is no one on the team that was around the last time we lost to SMU. I know there is definitely an expectation in the fanbase, myself included, that we should simply beat SMU year in, year out without question. And if I can still remember the misery that was being heckled by the SMU band as the Ponies ran roughshod over our offense and still have this mentality, then it's by no means unrealistic to think players who may have not even considered TCU in their wheelhouses back then would feel like Hate Week is a given. I saw comments before and after the game from SMU players referencing their hate for TCU: I didn't see much of that on our end at all. At least now they have the image of the entire SMU student section running onto our field to celebrate the victory to fuel their hate going forward. I think we were all pretty disgusted witnessing that for a variety of reasons: The loss itself, the disrespect, the fact that almost any time we rush the fields there are arrests - kerleys should have some uncalculated insight into the disaster that has become the TCU gameday experience for the home fans later today.

But at the same time, you know what? Good for them for caring. In a world of tree poisonings, castrations and marching band assaults that epitomize the major college football rivalries, TCU/SMU is definitely an unloved stepchild. If you're involved in it, you understand the severe disrespect our two fanbases have for one another, but to an outsider its just two predominantly white, upper middle class fan bases playing second fiddle to the Big 12 schools in their state. We need stuff like to happen to keep it fresh. Beating SMU is fun, yes, and I want to beat them every year and badly, but a one sided rivalry, which this has been, isn't a rivalry at all. One of the funniest sentiments I saw and heard after game was SMU fans genuinely believing/TCU fans genuinely fearing that this loss COMPLETELY shifts the decision making processes of the Big 12. I guess SMU is the team who is 10-3 against TCU since the formation of the BCS, the team who just finished two undefeated regular seasons knocking off ranked foes and capping them both with BCS invites. I could be wrong about that, though.

While hopefully our program is never at the point where rushing the field after beating SMU is justified, keep in mind the Ponies haven't beaten a ranked team on the road since the 80s. It's a pretty huge win for their program - probably the biggest since the Death Penalty, considering their most recent success is their only success since then. So what did we really expect to happen? For them to act like they've been there? Because they, you know, haven't. At all.

And heck, acting like you've been there is overrated anyway - During the Beatdown of 2008, lyle and I were on the verge of a near assault post game due to our extreme lack of graciousness in victory. It's what makes rivarly games great- you grind the knife as far as it will go, and then grind it a little more. I'm not suggesting I'm glad SMU rushed our field Saturday, but I am pretty thrilled that we will all have that mental picture eating away at us for a full year to fuel the hate.

The rivalry just got real again, that's for damned sure.

“Think I got his attention”

If there's anything we all needed after such a kick-to-the-groin weekend, it was something to take our minds off of football for a while. I know some of you hate good television and would rather just watch whatever crap your girlfriend/wife wants to watch, but we definitely got a few
solid hours of non-football entertainment last night. Dexter started a new season with Dex attending his hilarious high school reunion, the sharks continue to circle around Nucky on Boardwalk Empire and the debut of Homeland certainly made it seem like that show might live up to the hype.

I'm not going to turn this into a TV blog all of a sudden, but we are still going to have to talk about Breaking Bad as it nears the end of its fourth season. Because I'm sure there are some of you out there that recorded it and will watch tonight, I won't give away anything here. But I don't think it will be giving anything away to say that shit is definitely going down in next week's season finale.

What did you think about last night's episode? How do you think things will end up in the season finale? Forget about football for a bit and fill up the comments section with your thoughts.

Morning Dump

TCU's streak of 46 weeks in rankings ends Star-Telegram

TCU's 40-33 OT loss to SMU latest blow to Horned Frogs' run of success
AP

Big East gets busy planning expansion
Boston Globe