Monday, October 31, 2011

2012 or 2014?

I guess while I was out of town over the weekend the Big 12 announced they were indeed inviting West Virginia to join the conference? Welcome aboard then, Jesco White. The only question now is...when will the Mountaineers actually join the league? The Big East seems pretty adamant about holding WVU to the 27-month waiting period that Pitt and Syracuse are apparently also being held to before they can join the ACC. But West Virginia and the Big 12 brass both think they ought to be able to switch conferences immediately, like TCU.

So how will this little dilemma get resolved? If you guessed "by a game of Crossfire" like I did, I'm sad to report that you're wrong. Instead, West Virginia is getting all lawya'd up to take the Big East to court- claiming that:

"The denigration of the Big East Conference is a direct and proximate result of ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East Conference and its commissioner."

Take that, Marinatto! Does anyone else think the Big 12 might help their newest member kill off their opponents in the court room by just asking Louisville and maybe even Cincinnati to join? The part of me that likes to laugh at SMU hopes that's the case, while the rest of me thinks this case might make for some good TV watchin' in the coming months.

Weekend Roundup.

Given the current, SO CLOSE state of the Frogs re-emergence in rankings, we're going to flip the script as long as that status remains the same. In other words, we're flipping the script for 2 weeks.

Before we begin though, it's worth drawing attention to THIS article from ESPN.com briefly touching on Marcus Cannon's cancer being officially in remission and he is now practicing with the team. A once heartbreaking story keeps getting more and more amazing by the day and I know we all wish Marcus well in his journey. I just wish he played for a more likable organization...

But anyway, as I'm sure most of you noticed that the Frogs are sitting comfortably in 26th place in the Coaches' Poll with 55 points. This is still 67 points shy of 25th ranked Texas, but with LOLTetch going to Austin this weekend, don't be so sure they stay there. Consider that your MOvement Watch teaser for the week. The Frogs are 30th in the current AP Fake poll.

The Good:

#16 aggy 31, Mizzourah 38. See? Didn't I tell you it would be such an aggy thing to do to lose a sure thing at home to Missouri Saturday. You can pretty much give me all the credit in this one. aggy led 28-14 in the second half before performing their now weekly rolling over and playing dead act before losing in Overtime. We knew aggy can't beat the current SEC teams; Now they can't even beat the SEC teams that haven't been invited yet. Thanks for the spot, yo.

The Bad:

None. No one jumped us.

The Meh:

#26 Georgia Tech 31, #6 Clemson 17. I suppose it was bound to happen eventually, but rarely does a game that screams this much upset potential come to fruition. But this one wasn't even close as the Jackets led 24-3 at halftime and racked up 383 yards on the ground. Just Clemson being Clemson, I suppose.

#25 Southern Miss 31, UTEP 13. This one was actually tied at 10 at halftime... then stuff happened.

#24 West Virginia 41, Rutgers 31. Seriously, West Virginia? Paralyzed Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand leads the team onto the field in a wheelchair in a snowstorm and you're gonna ruin his moment with a win? Future conference hate, perhaps. Rutgers actually led this one 31-17 at halftime and 31-24 in the 4th before West Virginia got all West Virginiay. Also, if you haven't seen the highlights from this I strongly recommend a brief look just to see the weather beacuse it looked like the most miserable fan conditions of all time. Seriously, had this been one of our games we would've had a negative attendance.

#21 Georgia 24, Florida 20. Apparently Mark Richt had only beaten Florida THRICE in 11 years at the helm. That's pretty shocking. Florida has now lost 4 in a row for the first time in 20 years. Charlie Weis' offense scored 3 points in the month of October. ESSSEEEEESSSEEEEEE.

The LOL.

This will be a new section each week where we laugh at the misfortunes of those we do not care for. There were TWO winners this week, and three if you count aggy.

#19 LOLTetch 7, Iowa State 41. You read that right. In a game I figured was so in hand I did not even put it in the movement watch, Tech absolutely IMPLODED a week following their toppling of OU. Apparently Tech presumed it was well in hand as well. I did not have the distinct pleasure of watching more than the first quarter of this one, but it was a doozy if you wear red, black and herpes. The Cyclones, who are now only 1-4 in Conference play, held the Raiders to 191 yards passing and 0 TD passes. The last time Tetch was held without a TD pass? YOu guessed it, 2005 at Amon G. Synergy, we has it with the Cyclones. With the loss Tech became the only team in NCAA history to receive no votes one week, be ranked the next, and then no receive no more votes the week following.

Baylor 24, #3 Okie Lite 59. Remember that time RObert Griffin's Heisman candidacy died? Well, it probably happened at Kyle Field, but it officially unofficially ended in Stillwater. Mr. RG3 DID pass for 425 yards, but only one went for a score and he had his first multi-pick game of the year with 2. On the day the Pokes gave up 622!! yards of offense, yet led the game 49-3 in at one point in the fourth quarter. That is some serious dedication to bend but don't break tactics. The Bears had FIVE turnovers. Enjoy the TicketCity.com bowl, Wacoites!

SMU 7, Tulsa 38. Seriously, could losing to SMU have been the key to our season? Ever since they classed up the joint in victory at Amon G, they've gone 1-2, getting outscored 65-10 in their 2 losses. You have to understand, too, that this is SMU's most experienced and talented team in over 20 years and was widely expected to go head to head with Houston for the Conference USA title. Whoopsie!! JJ McDermott had 4 INTs to complement his 0 TDs Saturday in Tulsa.

NFL Round up.

Cincy 34, Seattle 12. Helped along by punt and INT returns for scores, the Bengals blew out the Seahawks in what is typically one of the more difficult road environments in the league. Dalton finished a Dalton-esque 18/29 for 168 yards and 2 TDs, as well as 2 picks. Just win, that's all he does.

Indy 10, Tenn 27. I love how much the team has turned on itself, notably Peyton Manning because its clear they're all in for Luck at this point. Hughes had 1 tackle.

Minny 24, Carolina 21. Hopefully Jason Phillips' next tackle will be on Kicker Olindo Mare's right knee because he completely blew this one for the Panthers. It would be good practice because he had 0 tackles. Did he even play? Viking?

Cards 27, Ravens 30. OUCH!! After blasting off to a 24-6 halftime lead, the Cardinals decided to go the CJ Wilson "winning is overrated" route and absolutely laid an egg. D Wash was second on the team with 6 tackles and a pass defensed.


All of a sudden, this weekend becomes big



Old Man Winter will be making an appearance in Laramie

I'll be the first to admit that, until very recently, I viewed the upcoming road game against Wyoming as a gimme win. And why not? TCU has owned Doo-Doo Brown as of late, winning the past three years by a combined score of 144-17.

But then the Cowboys surprised just about everyone by upending San Diego State on the road Saturday, 30-27, to improve to 5-2 for the season. They rolled up 500 yards of total offense, including a career-high 341 through the air by true freshman QB Brett Smith. When you compare that to the 446 yards that the Frogs produced against the Aztecs at Qualcomm, it's kind of like eating at Railhead right before heading to the tailgate: all of a sudden, Doo Doo Brown is a viable threat. We'll get more in-depth on the Cowboys' potent offense (and their verrrry suspect defense) as the week progresses.

Of course, all of those numbers and any scouting reports may have to go out the window because of the weather forecast. The Weather Channel is currently calling for a high on Saturday of 26 degrees, with a 70% chance of snow and winds up to 23 mph. Obviously, we'll be tracking this throughout the week- but if that holds up, the crazy weather combined with the altitude (remember, Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium is the highest in FBS football at 7,215 feet) will make for a formidable test for this young Horned Frog team.

Game 8 Recap: BYU.

Apparently not all Mormons wear ankle length denim dresses.

Six minutes. Six minutes was all it took for TCU to put 14 points on the board and essentially scrawl their name in the win column. Yes, they would need just about all of their final 38 points to make this one official, but a third quick start in a row pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening. Despite lulling themselves into complacency with a late 35-10 lead, the outcome of this game was never really in doubt. You can partially thank the TCU defense for their third impressive performance in a row; You can mostly thank Riley Nelson for playing football just like you'd expect a long haired Mormon that kind of looks like a lesbian to play. Yes, he had a nice night running the ball, but his two interceptions - and nearly a third and fourth - were CRUCIAL in keeping the momentum in TCU's favor. And just in case you think I'm targeting too much blame Nelson's way, you can also give credit to the BYU Punter developing leprosy in pre game because his hands must have literally turned black and rotted off without his knowledge based on his case of the fumbles. As always, if you want the more traditional, fact based, stat filled recap, check out the Star-Telegram or Purple Menace. Here is what I have to offer.

Casey Pachall did not have an outstanding night passing the ball. Actually, correction - Pachall did not have an outstanding night passing the ball based on what we know he's capable of. 13/23 for 147 yards and 2 Scores. Of course, it doesn't help pad your stats when the opposing team gives you fantastic field position based on their gaffes for a good portion of the game, but it's true his night will not set off any Heisman bells. However, he did exactly what he needed to do when called upon. When Skye Dawson was being covered by a LB on the second play of the game, he took advantage of the matchup and hit him wide open for a score, with a major assist from said LB who fell down on the play, another one of those little favors the Cougars did us. When Ed Wesley made a ballsy play on a punt return to set us up with solid field position right before halftime, Pachall dropped a perfect pass into Josh Boyce's hands to officially put the game out of reach.

But perhaps the biggest thing we should take into account about Pachall? For a guy who came into the season with potential character and maturity issues, he's handling this Matt Brown thing pretty well, wouldn't you say? It's pretty clear that, at least for one snap per goal line possession, Matt Brown is going to get a shot to run the read option and pick up an easy TD. We wondered if it would work as effectively against teams not named New Mexico and, at least for one week, it did. After giving Pachall the chance for half a season, it's clear that Matt Brown is more effective on his feet and that putting him in the game in option situations gives the team a better chance for success.

I wouldn't suggest that Pachall HAS to be on board for this to work, but the fact that he is certainly helps. You have to realize, being pulled in deep red zone situations is going to take away more than a few potential TDs from Pachall's stat line. And I don't think he could care any less. He's pumping his fist on the sidelines. He's one of the first to run out and congratulate Brown when he scores. He's talking to him on the sidelines between possessions, presumably discussing in game strategy, and, perhaps just a little, front row hoes. Pachall has quickly become not only a team leader but one of the more team first guys on the entire roster. Don't underestimate his positive outlook on the success of the team the past few weeks.

After the game, some amongst our fanbase suggested that, based on two games, the QB competition will be WIDE open come spring time. Coincidentally based on this information it has come to Spitblood's attention that after the game some in our fanbase said things that suggested they are complete dumbasses. This is a very VERY rough comparison to make, but would you suggest that Luke Shivers should be our starting RB because he scores on most of his possessions? Because, at present, this is what Matt Brown is to our offense: A talented runner who is going to score lots of a TDs because he only touches the ball in situations where the play is designed for him to score. That's by no means a knock on Brown because he is very good at what he does, but if he was the superior passer, he would be starting our games. It's not ironic that he has not attempted one pass in these goal line situations, although I admit it eventually happens to catch a team off guard. In the meantime, let's just be happy with our riches at the QB position rather than try to make something out of nothing.

Now that that's out of the way and I've buried probably the biggest takeaway from this game... uh... Jonathan Anderson, anyone? I wouldn't go so far as to say his performance came out of nowhere; He's a guy the coaching staff LOVES and he's seen snaps already this year. But with Tekerrin Cuba going down early with an injury, Anderson was unexpectedly thrust into the starting lineup in one of the biggest games of the season. With that kind of pressure, it's hard to know what to expect from a young guy without many meaningful snaps. I'd say a team leading SEVENTEEN tackles and one of the prettiest one handed picks you'll ever see made quite the statement, wouldn't you? And, truthfully, it should've been TWO picks. I can't remember with 100% certainty, but I believe it was the possession immediately before his pick that Anderson let a sure INT go right through his hands almost like he didn't see the ball. Apparently whatever Patterson "suggested" to him on the sidelines immediately following the play got through to him, because he was an absolute monster from then on. His 17 tackles were the most for TCU in 7 years, and one more than his career total coming into the game. With Cuba sitting out practice yesterday nursing that ankle and his status being that of the "gametime" variety, at least we know we're in good hands with Anderson should he need to fill in once again.

However, as I alluded to earlier, a big reason why TCU won this game is because BYU was more than willing to let them have it. The Cougars had 2 botched punt snaps and one blocked punt. All three of those screwups led to TCU points. Seriously, look at all 6 TCU scoring drives from Friday:

  • 2 plays, 61 yards, Pachall to Skye Dawson 48 yard TD pass - 7-0. BYU assistance: 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty on first down.
  • 2 plays, 4 yards, Matt Brown 6 yard TD rush -14-0. BYU assistance: Fumbled punt snap.
  • 3 plays, 37 yards, Matt Brown 2 yard rush - 21-10. BYU assistance: blocked punt by Greg Burks.
  • 2 plays, 45 yards , Pachall to Boyce 33 yard TD pass -28-10. BYU assistance: Allowed Ed Wesley to return a low punt that should've been downed for 19 yards.
  • 4 plays, 38 yards, Waymon James 4 yard D rush - 35-10. BYU assistance: Fumbled punt snap.
  • 13 plays, 54 yards, Ross Evans 35 yard FG - 38-20. BYU assistance: Riley Nelson fumble, recovered by Jon Koontz.

Seriously, other than MAYBE the Ed Wesley return because he mostly just made a great, ballsy play, BYU DIRECTLY contributed to all of our points scored on the evening. I don't think I realized it at the time, but it's interesting that the Kenny Cain and Anderson picks did not lead to points. However, as Cain's was a "right place, right time" catch off a deflection in the back of the end zone which only gave TCU the ball at the 20 and the drive following Anderson's was killed by an illegal block, this makes more sense. Regardless, both of those INTs were HUGE for momentum, especially Cain's because BYU was driving to pull within 4 points during the first of TCU's several defensive nap times.

I don't want you to think that I'm using the above figures to disparage the efforts of TCU. In fact, I just wanted to demonstrate that being opportunistic enough to take advantage of these errors is the sign of a team that is figuring things out. But about those defensive nap times... That's a big thing that should concern us going forward. Don't get me wrong - BYU is a good offensive football team and, for one night in Arlington, TCU was simply better. This isn't the case of a good team finding a way to win and a bad team finding a way to lose - both teams played their asses off and TCU just happened to make more plays and take advantage of BYU mistakes. But look at the final numbers. BYU had more TOP, rushing yards, passing yards, total yards, first downs and converted more third downs and had fewer penalties. And some of these weren't even close. Removing sacks, Riley Nelson rushed for 120 yards. For a good part of the night he was everything that Robert Griffin still wishes he was. This wasn't necessarily a case of TCU being more lucky than good because you have to be good to put yourself in a position to create turnovers. But if Nelson has his same game and the BYU punter has his head on straight, this one could've turned into a severe nailbiter. I feel a lot better about November 12th than I did a month ago, but I'm by no means expecting a victory. We can't expect 3 turnovers and 3 special teams disasters to bail us out on the blue turf.

Enough of that negative BS though because, even though BYU had better overall numbers, they weren't THAT great. TCU came into the game giving up 346 yards of offense per game - 223 pass, 123 rush while the Cougars came in averaging 388- 232 and 156. But when the dust settled? BYU had 354 total yards - 215 passing and 139 rushing. The 24 first downs were a bit jarring, but a near 1:1 TD to first down ratio will be taken by most teams every time. And, as mentioned above, TCU had a short field on quite a few of their possessions thanks to the Cougars, so their offensive numbers were more than likely going to look better than ours. Teams will take winning the scoreboard over winning the stat battle every time.

For the evening, BYU really only had 3 "good" drives. The first was in the first quarter when, on third and 9, the Johnny Fobbs of old returned, getting beat by Ross Apo for a 42 yard completion deep in TCU territory. Fortunately the defense clamped down and held the Cougars to a three and out field goal. The second was on BYU's very next drive where they methodically drove the ball down the field on 9 plays for 76 yards and a score. Nelson did most of the work, completing all three of his pass attempts and rushing for 18 yards. Then things got PRETTY quiet until late in the game when BYU went on a 12 play, 78 yard TD drive with 5 minutes left in the game. After completing the 2 point conversion, BYU kicked the onside attempt out of bounds and TCU was able to run the clock out.

A few more scattered thoughts:

  • Jonathan Anderson was the clear cut MVP on defense, but offensively I'm not quite sure who to single out. Ed Wesley and his 59 rushing yards, including a 28 yard scamper to set up TCU's third score? Matt Brown and his 1:1 TD to rush ratio? Pachall for doing his part on and off the field? I'll think outside the box here and give it to Skye Dawson. You have to give Skye credit for keeping his head on straight after a ROUGH start to the year where he lost rank in the WR pecking order as well as his PR duties. Boyce had the better numbers Friday night, but I like Skye for treating each game as a new opportunity to prove himself and removing any past performances for the second week in a row. Besides, I'm pretty sure Boyce will have a few more opportunities win this award winning, yet arbitrary honor.

  • Not winning player of the game? Anyone on special teams coverage. TCU let Cody Hoffman rack up 167 yards in kick returns, including a 52 yarder that would've led to points had Kenny Cain not picked off the subsequent Nelson pass. And then, of course, there was the JD Falslev punt return for a score that made the game closer than it had any right being. Seriously, JD Falslev? Sounds like an Eastern Bloc - the real one - terrorist posing as a surfer in some crappy teenage action flick.

  • Ross Evans and Ryan DeNucci both action on kickoffs and managed to keep the ball inbounds. No touchbacks, though.

  • Major props should also go to Tank Carder and Devin Johnson for having big nights. As for Tank, it wasn't necessarily up to Rose Bowl Tank standards, but 9 tackles will do the trick and it's good to see him back in his element after a shaky first half of the season. And Johnson? In the preview I said the TCU defensive improvement couldn't be so simple as inserting him into the lineup, but maybe it is? 8 tackles, with 2.5 going for a loss and a sack is the kind of backfield disruption we'd been missing out of the safety position for much of the season. It's good to have it back.
And that's about all I have to say about that. A win is a win is a win, and it's nice to finish up the time spent with our cult friends on a 4-0 winning streak. Up next is Wyoming and, unlike the past couple of times we've visited Laramie, it looks like this could be played under those wintry conditions you always fear from such a trip. The Pokes shouldn't be a problem even if we played them in Siberia, but never underestimate that little extra home field bonus. For now, the Frogs are 6-2 with a perfect 3-0 Conference record and sit right on the cusp of being ranked again through 2/3 of the season. It should be a delightful finish.

Morning Dump

Football:
Patterson says BYU took its best shot at TCU
Star-Telegram

TCU far from perfect in beating BYU
Star-Telegram

Bad start at TCU doesn't turn into blowout this time for BYU football
Daily Herald

Golf:
Fort Worth's Killeen, hear recipient Compton earn PGA tour cards
Star-Telegram

TCU atop leaderboard at Alamo Invitational
GoFrogs.com