Friday, October 21, 2011

Spit Blood Predictions: TCU vs. New Mexico

I would say I've been bored during the Frogs' bye week, but we did have a Big 12 invitation and another World Series berth for the Rangers come down the pipeline. But TCU football finally gets back on the field tomorrow with a homecoming game against the Houston Astros of college football.

As much as we all might be pretty certain of a W, there are still plenty of questions regarding tomorrow's game. Will the Frogs' continue their improvement on defense? Will they play a complete four quarters? Who will handle punt returns? If you think you know the answers to these, go ahead and let us know along with your prediction on the final score of the game, the MVPs in all three areas and how you think the World Series will turn out now that the Rangers are coming home tied 1-1.

Game 7 Preview: New Mexico Lobos.

That's Mike Locksley, realizing that all of his money is gone and that his days in ABQ are numbered.
Also, I can totally visualize him being indebted to the proprietor of the local Church's Chicken.

After a much needed -and mostly deserved -off week, the Frogs head back into the less than friendly confines of Amon G Carter Stadium to take on a bad New Mexico Lobos team. And when I say bad, I mean B-A-D BAD! I mean Bad like losing to Sam Houston State bad. I mean Bad like the kind a middle aged high school chemistry teachers with early cancer breaks in the Lobos hometown of ABQ. I mean like Michael Jackson Bad. Yeesh! Mike Locksley was clearly the problem, and there has yet to be a solution. But if there is one, let's hope its wearing Mike Leach's barnacle covered swimming trunks because the SS Leach can only co-exist with his superiors in a desert setting with low expectations. Although I hear ex-Lobos Head man Dennis Francione might have some eligibility left. You all remember dear Dennis, don't you? He probably didn't envision his career panning out as it has.

Anyway, despite my back sass, this particular TCU team isn't in the position to take anyone lightly, even the 0-6 Lobos, so allow me to attempt putting the Fear of God into you heading into Saturday.

How TCU COULD lose to New Mexico. Typically a 41-pt favorite should have no worries at home against one of the worst teams in NCAA Football not named Memphis or UNLV, although the jury is still out on that specific order. But most 41 point favorites haven't had the ups and downs that the Frogs have this year on defense. Lyle touched on it admirably in the Players to Watch segment, but it's worth revisiting - UNM receivers Deon Long and Ty Kirk are pretty good. They're not GREAT, but they're good to the tune of 72 catches and 833 yards. However, the most eye opening stat is Long's 18.7 yards per catch over his 31 receptions. That's REALLY terrifying considering our affinity for giving up game breaking plays. Fortunately Long has only converted 3 of those catches for scores, but if Jason Verrett is the only guy attempting down field coverage Saturday afternoon as has been the case the past few games, he could make that number see double.

However, the most interesting thing about the Lobos might be the guy getting Long and Kirk the ball, or I should say guyS. Yep, the Lobos, in their infinite wisdom, employ the dreaded platoon QB system with Sophomore Tarean Austin and Junior B.R. Holbrook. In their defense, the Lobos were left in a bit of a bind when expected starter, the incredibly named Stump Godfrey, made the curious decision to transfer to Hawaii in the offseason. What does Hawaii have that New Mexico doesn't? Maybe it was just the shock of finding out Los Pollos Hermanos is not a real place that finally sent him over the edge, we'll never know. Regardless, both Austin and Holbrook appear to be capable signal callers as they have nearly identical stats. Seriously, look at them. It's weird:

Tarean Austin5811270051.86.2531111.3
B.R. Holbrook5910369757.36.7732119.9

Seems to me they could probably just pick one guy and roll with it and achieve the same results, but hey, I don't have the inherent genius of Mike Locksley's hand-picked board of directors. The situation becomes even more curious when you realize that, despite taking only half the snaps, Austin is the team's leading rusher. I don't care to investigate the matter myself, but if New Mexico still has fans who are paying attention, surely this is a major point of contention. However, since the staff is still rolling with it, I'm presuming said fans no longer exist.

Neither Austin nor Holbrook have had huge days flinging the ball, but they also haven't played a secondary nearly as generous as ours. Both guys are also very responsible with the ball, having only tossed 3 picks between them. Despite the strides made against San Diego State, the TCU secondary gives up 257.3 yards per game; the closest comparison the Lobos have faced would be the Aggies of New Mexico State at 206.8. The Lobos lost that one 42-28, but managed 265 yards through the air, all by Holbrook as Austin took no snaps. Other than the opener against Colorado State - a 14-10 loss - this was easily the Lobos most complete effort of the season. Of course, they followed it up with a 6 TD blasting from Nevada, so it's hard to know what to make of this team.

At this point I would normally include some statistics about the UNM Defense relating to their superlatives but... I just can't. They are not good at playing defense. Like, at all. Let's move on.

How TCU COULD NOT lose to New Mexico. Yeesh, how long do you have? First of all, New Mexico not only possesses an offense that can't score, they also possess a defense that can't stop other teams from scoring. Success FAIL. UNM has been losing games by an average score of 44-17 thru six games this season. That's, uh, pretty bad. In fact there's only one team worse than the Lobos on defense, and that's our future Conference mate Kansas. Like the Jayhawks, the Lobos experience the benefit of playing at a basketball-first school, so no one really notices what happens outside of the arena, including the 11 players on defense. Unlike UNM though, the Jayhawks have played high octane offenses like Georgia Tech and both Oklahomos. However, completely disparaging what I just wrote, UNM HAS played Arkansas and Tech, and got blasted by each. I'd say, all things considered, they should be tied for last place. Congratulations, you're a winner! If you're into overall numbers, the Lobos give up 44 points and 534 total yards per match with 287 coming through the air and the other 247 on the ground. At least they've attained a certain level of balance. Again, congrats!

So let's break it down. Casey Pachall should have a MONDO day through the air based on what the Lobos offer on the other side of the ball. They let Arkansas put up 260 yards and a score, New Mexico State tally 4 TDs and 300 yards in that area and, the coup de grace, Texas Tech's Seth Doege go 40/44!!! for 501 yards and 5 TDs against CERO picks. Like, most QBs couldn't have that kind of accuracy in pass skeleton drills. New Mexico's secondary is truly bringing sexy back, as long as we're all on the same page that sexy is failing miserably at your day job. Seriously, these guys get scholarships?

Failure seems to be a competition at UNM on defense as the front is actually worse than the back. Yes, while the overall UNM D ranks second to last and the passing D is 12th from the bottom, the run D is D-E-A-D DEAD last. I'll say this for UNM - at least they skew their rankings towards the bottom which makes it a lot easier for me to count their exact position. Want some more fun with numbers? Nevada had 338 yards rushing, TECH had 178, Arkansas - missing their star RB for the entire season, mind you - had 259 and, saving the best for last, Sam BY GOD Houston State had 373. Again, they lost that game. At home. I'm not sure what our overall record for combined rushing yardage in a game is - I have to assume the LT game is it - but you should by all means expect us to challenge it. The Lobos have given up TWANTY rushing scores already this year. TWANKY!!!

The title of the show Breaking Bad is meant to imply a situation where a person who has lived life on the straight and narrow to that point suddenly makes it a point to take a left turn into hoodrat territory. But what the Lobos have done ever since Rocky Long was let go is a variation of bad that I'm not sure even existed before they broke it. It's more like they're taking the reasonable definition of whatever bad is, putting it in a blender, dumping in a bunch of Arby's sandwiches with LOTS of horsey sauce, blending it up, freezing it and then taking the Arbys bad popsicle to the local ABQ Golden Corral and dipping it in the brand new chocolate fountain-o-hepatitis they've been advertising on television, eating it, waiting a few hours, evacuating and then bathing in what comes out. Then putting on their pads and lining up across from every offense they face.

Yeah, that bad.

I don't really know how else to describe what's going on, so here are some arbitrary statistics. UNM has punted 37 times this season to their opponents punting 15. UNM has 116 first downs to their opponents 164. UNM has scored 106 points to their opponents 264. UNM converts 33% of their third downs compared to 60% for the opposition. UNM has achieved this level of suckitude despite running nearly as many plays as their opponents - 425-456. How is that possible? You'd have to think that by running that many plays they'd put more than 17 points per game on the board? Probably something to do with letting their opponents score on every possession skewing the numbers. By comparison, TCU has run 416 plays, yet scored 236 total points. I'd blame it on turnovers, but TCU has 4 picks to their 3, and 5 lost fumbles to their 7, so there's not that much of a discrepancy.

Truthfully, I think the Locksley-itis is just so strong in ABQ it can't be overcome by conventional methods. I'm sure their fanbase is hoping a Leach injection is the cure for what ails them, but it really might take that, as well as a Holgerson booster and some Saban tablets, plus some of Uncle Les' Magic Elixir just for that extra kick. And even then football may still be dead in ABQ for the prolonged future. Brian Urlacher isn't walking back through that door, Lobos.

What Will Happen. Whew boy, lots of things. With 2 weeks to prepare - although I have to assume some of that time was spent focusing on BYU - if the Frogs can't figure out how to outwit this juggernaut of Fail, our problems run deeper than imagined. The Lobos will likely get at or around their season average in points because, let's face it, our defense lets "things" happen that previous defenses did not. Besides that, we haven't played our best games at home, so that compounds the potential problems. But wooooooooooooo boy you have to think the EdTuckWay Hydra is all sorts of fired up about the career numbers they could potentially have tomorrow. Like, it's by no means out of the realm of possibility that they all hit 100 yards. UNM is allowing opponents 5.6 yards per rush. Seriously, Ed Wesley will not sleep tonight.

Besides that, as teased earlier, the Lobos aren't keen on stopping opponents through the air either, giving up 12.2 yards per completion! Casey currently averages 11.79. The math is in our favor. It might not be a runaway immediately out of the gate, but if you're a fan of Jercell Fort, Aundre Dean and Matt Brown, the second half is your time.

The Pick: TCU 49, UNM 14.

It's another one of those dreaded early games, but it's Homecoming and the Rangers don't play until 7:05PM, so you really have no excuses if you aren't there. Besides that, the high is only 82 and the sun will be shining! And it's going to be a massacre! Do you know how many people they packed into the Coliseum to watch Russell Crowe get mauled by Tigers? 50,000!!! Or if Maritime Battles are more your thing, they used to flood the Circus Maximus and squeeze in 150,000 for real live actual SEA BATTLES. So surely we can scrounge up 32,000 of our ilk for this blood letting. This may be the only completely one sided game in our favor you get to witness all year. Well, at least until UNLV comes to town. Be there.

And now, some more Breaking Bad related Locksley metaphors for your pleasure. Mike is wearing the suit and glasses.