Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: Deante' Gray

The last week or so in the TCU recruiting world hasn't necessarily been a fantastic place. Stars like Ed Pope and Daje Johnson that were committed to TCU were plucked away, leaving some pessimistic fans (wait- we have those???) talking about how the sky is falling. Not only do the Frogs still have a great class without those guys- they actually went out and did some thievery of their own. Deante' Gray, a 5'10" 180lb wide receiver from the Houston area, decided that TCU would be a better place to play football and go to college than Stanford when he switched his commitment on Sunday.

Gray is the second player in this class from Houston's Westside High (you'll notice that's BJ Catalon blocking for Gray in the picture above) and fourth in the past decade or so- you'll remember that Marcus Jackson and Alonzo Adams also came from that school. And with scholarship offers from Stanford, Vanderbilt and Rice (amongst MANY others), you know he's a very smart kid. But I'm guessing you're more interested in what he can do on the field.

Prior to last season, Dave Campbell's Texas Football named Gray one of the Top 20 wide receivers in Texas and Rivals named him one of the Top 100 receivers in the nation. In his final two years at Westside, he was a bit of a do-everything player- playing offense, defense and returning both punts and kicks. All together, he totaled over 1,800 yards in those two seasons. If that number isn't all that eye-popping, remember that Catalon ran for over 2,200 yards and 30 TDs last year- so it's not like the rest of their offense even had much of a chance to rack up stats!

I couldn't find a free highlight tape of Gray's on youtube, but the main thing to remember about him is S-P-E-E-D. Various recruiting sources have him listed as either a 4.4 or a 4.5 forty guy- and according to my hasty research, he's run as fast as 10.46 in the 100m. I know most of you aren't track guys, but let me translate that for you: get this kid the ball with some space, and he'll give you six.

Meet the Future Frogs: Halapoulivaati Vaitai


Two years ago, the Frogs went into Haltom City to recruit a highly-touted lineman but ended up losing out when defensive end Reggie Wilson chose Texas. This year they appeared to lose out again, when offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai chose Texas Tech instead of the Frogs. Just before Christmas, though, Vaitai had a change of heart and became the second offensive lineman to join the Frogs' recruiting class of 2012.

"Big V" as he's known, goes about 6'6" 265lb currently. When you see his frame, though, you'll realize that he has the potential to put on a whole lot more weight. The folks at Dave Campbell's Texas Football saw this, too, and listed him as a 2nd Team Super Team offensive lineman in their summer 2011 magazine. He's also been named by Rivals as the 40th-best offensive tackle prospect in the country and the 46th-best overall recruit in Texas. Besides TCU and Tech, he had scholarship offers from plenty of schools in the Pac 12, Big 12, SEC, Big Ten and Big East.

As much fun as it is to see TCU go into the San Antonio or Houston areas, other parts of Texas, or states as far away as Georgia for recruits, it's great to see them grabbing a top-notch prospect like Vaitai right here in Tarrant County. As the fanbase continues to grow, it will be in places like Haltom City, Euless, Arlington and Mansfield where local high school stars have gone on to do well at TCU. We're looking forward to seeing Big V in purple, but for the time being here's a free preview of the skills he offers:

Morning Dump

Football:




Basketball:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: Chad Childs

Since it began forming about this time last year, TCU's 2012 recruiting class has been shaping up as one of the school's finest ever. One key area was lacking for a while, though- through the first 14 commitments in the class, not one of them was an offensive linemen. That changed on December 8th, however, when the Frogs received a commitment from La Grange offensive tackle Chad Childs.

At 6'5" 280lbs, Childs is certainly already big enough for the college game. But he's also quite a versatile athlete, having played both ways during his entire four years starting on La Grange's varsity. He was a tight end for the first two years, and still runs a 4.9 forty. As a senior this past fall, he was named 3A All-State by TheOldCoach.com.

Rivals gave Childs three stars, but they also don't have a highlight tape for him so I'm not sure how they evaluated him. He was offered a scholarship by a number of schools- including Texas Tech, Missouri and Oregon State. But following in the footsteps of other Leopards-turned-Horned Frogs Tye Gunn and Maurice Bouldwin proved to be too much to turn down.

Morning Dump

Volatile Recruiting Weekend:

Gray switches commitment to TCU
ESPN (No, not that Gray)

TCU commit Pope switches pledge to A&M ESPN

Johnson switches commitment from TCU to UT Austin American-Statesmeh


Riflery:

TCU improves to 8-0 on the year after beating West Virginia gofrogs.com

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Long Sunday Afternoon Dump

Men's Basketball:

Frogs crumble late under turnovers, missed free throws
Star-Telegram

TCU drops 71-54 decision to New Mexico
gofrogs.com

The headline from the Star-Telegram says it all, really. Winning a conference game on the road is tough, but it's damn near impossible when you turn the ball over 17 times and miss 9 free throws. I don't know if any of us expected the Frogs to go into The Pit and win, but it only adds to the frustration when they clearly lost this game way more so than the Lobos won it. While Wednesday is a big day for the football program with the letters of intent coming through GP's fax machine, it's also a big day for the basketball team- a very winnable measuring-stick game against Wyoming takes place that night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.


Women's Basketball:

Improving TCU women win third straight in conference Star-Telegram

Lady Frogs take down New Mexico, 63-56 gofrogs.com

It's been a tough year for the TCU women's basketball team, as a nasty injury bug led to a lackluster start out of the gate . The young squad seems to be finding their stride, though, and are now 4-2 in conference play riding this three-game winning streak. Three of their next four games are on the road, though, which will provide a whole new slew of tests.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: Gerren Ballard

One of the more intriguing prospects in TCU's recruiting class of 2012 is Gerren Ballard, a massive tight end from tiny Whitewright, Texas. Part of that mystery is because of the uncertainty that always surrounds a top-level athlete from the lower levels of Texas high school football, and part because of what TCU's presence in Whitewright may mean in the near future.

What we do know about Ballard is that he's big- real big. And fast- real fast for his size. Anytime you've got a kid who ran run a 4.6 forty in a 6'6" 250lb frame, you've got to be excited about his potential. Ballard starred at tight end for Whitewright, and is listed at that position in just about any recruiting publication you can find- but you have to wonder if defensive end or even offensive tackle will be his true calling once he's in Fort Worth. I couldn't find a free highlight tape of his on youtube, but those of you that have watched his video through your purplemenace subscriptions know that he moves extremely well for his size. He's not all that hyped (although he did get three stars from Rivals), but I could see a number of positional coaches at TCU waging a passionate bout of tug of war with him once he's on campus.

The other intriguing part of Ballard's commitment is his relationship to one of TCU's (and likely every other school in the nation) top targets for next year's class- Tyrone Swoopes. The 6'5" 220lb quarterback from Whitewright (and Sheryl Swoopes' nephew) has already been awarded five stars from Rivals, and is the leading candidate to be the most sought-after recruit in all of Texas for next year. The internet rumor mill maintains that the kid loves TCU, which is substantiated to some degree by the fact that his facebook profile photo is of him wearing a Frogs jersey during a visit to Amon G. Carter Stadium. You'd have to think that having one of his high school teammates already on campus would be enticing for him.

Who ever would've thought that a town of less than 2,000 in Fannin County would be such a major talent pipeline for TCU? If you're looking to thank someone for creating a legacy that would produce interest in the program from such talented athletes as Ballard and Swoopes, look no further than William Jackson, a 2003 graduate of Whitewright that went on to become a four-year starter at fullback for the Frogs.

Daily Discussion: Big 12 Expansion

The inevitable part about jumping into an unstable conference, as the Frogs have now done for about the 1,000th time, is that expansion rumors are never really going to go away. While the biggest questions about the Big 12 might currently be about when West Virginia will actually join (we hear this year) and when the 2012 football schedule will come out (very soon, supposedly), you still have to wonder if, when and how the league will get back to as many members as it's name would indicate.

A report from our very own Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this week indicated that Louisville and BYU may very well be targets for the 11th and 12th spots. What would you think about adding the Cardinals and Cougars- good move, bad move?

Let's say you're the Big 12 commissioner. What schools would you go after? What schools do you think are reasonable targets? Or do you think the league should even expand at all?

Morning Dump

Football:




Tennis:

Athletic Department:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: AJ Hilliard

Once the 2011 squad hit the practice field at the end of the summer, the TCU coaching staff took a break from recruiting. That's actually probably not true at all, but they did take a few months off from procuring any commitments from future Horned Frogs. That hiatus ended in late November, when AJ Hilliard became the 15th member of TCU's 2012 recruiting class.

Hilliard is a 6'2" 215lb linebacker from Klein Oak, which is just north of Houston for those of you not familiar with the area. He totaled 101 tackles along with 4 sacks and 2 interceptions his junior year, which was good enough to earn him three stars from Rivals. They also listed him as the 21st-best outside linebacker in the country and the 72nd-best overall recruit in Texas.

A player with Hilliard's size, speed (he runs a 4.6 forty) and versatility (he has a 30-inch vertical leap) is going to garner a lot of attention from college recruiters. He received scholarship offers from coast to coast, deciding at first to commit to the University of Arizona. But he always had TCU in his mind as his college destination, so when he was offered he accepted almost immediately back in November.

I couldn't find his highlight film on youtube, so those of you that don't have a subscription to purplemenace will just have to trust me: this kid is a prototypical TCU linebacker. He's fast, hits hard and has a great knack for getting to the ball carrier. He also wore #46 in high school, so you know he's ready to fit right into the somewhat unorthodox numbering system that Horned Frog linebackers have adhered to under Patterson.

Live Chat w/ Del Conte @ 3:00pm

He once caught a fish THIS big

TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte is hosting a live chat on gofrogs.com at 3:00pm today. He's usually answers most of the questions fairly evasively, but there are always still a few informative nuggets to take out of the whole thing. As usual, you'll win some sort of super-special prize if you can get him to mention Spitbloodtcu.com. Use the link below to enter the live chat at 3:00pm, or you can submit your questions right now:

Chris Del Conte Live Chat


Basketball Team Tounament Bound!

Men's basketball TCU vs. Air Force
Adrick McKinney bein' all basketball lookin'.

Well, at least Mountain West Tournament bound, but last night was one step closer to finishing in the upper tier of the Conference and sneaking into one of the various post-season tournaments.

In a performance similar to the comeback win over Boise this past weekend, the Frogs fell behind early, fought back and held on by the skin of their teeth/defense and pulled out 59-56 win over Air Force. As a friendly reminder, the members of the Air Force team play basketball as a secondary endeavor, so I'm not sure what we should make of this exactly. Also in the, "not sure what to make of it" category, the game was essentially over with 2:58 remaining, as neither team scored over the remainder of the game from that point. On the one hand, yaaaaay defense! On the other hands, sad face offense! But, with this team, you finish the job however you can, and a win will always be considered a win.

Leading the charge for the Frogs was the once dominant, more recently quiet, JR Cadot with an all around performance. He was second on the team with 13 points and first with 7 board, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocked shots. Not a bad day at the office. Cadot opened up the season with a string of strong performances and quickly earned the reputation of being, if not our best, at least our most aggressive player, and he showed what he's capable of last night. Also showing what he's capable of was Hank Thorns who tossed in 22 points to go along with that measly 1 assist. I used to argue that Thorns should work more on being a distributor at the point, but the recent results suggest otherwise. As a team, the Frogs out rebounded, out-assisted, out-blocked, out-stole and pretty much out-everything'd the Falcons.

And now, some humbling facts.

With the W, TCU doubled their Conference win total from last year with 2, eclipsed their overall win total with 12 and won Consecutive Conference games for the first time in THREE seasons. The year was 2009, the future was brighter after the Dark Days and Zvonko Buljan was being given free college tuition, room and board to play college basketball. The Frogs would go 14-17 that year and get knocked out in the first round of the Conference Tourney. Call me crazy, but I think they do a little bit better this year, at least record wise. Seriously, you can call me crazy, I don't mind.

Next up for TCU is a date with the New Mexico Lobos this Saturday in Methbuquerque. The Lobos have an identical 2-2 Conference record, so you could frame this as a PIVOTAL Conference placing matchup, but you'd be kind of a dumbass if you did so. Besides that, New Mexico has only lost to San Diego State and UNLV, two teams that are not only the class of the MWC, but of college basketball overall. Their resume is a just a tad bit more impressive. Regardless, if you're dicking around Saturday at 5:00 in the afternoon, turn on the Mountain and give it a look.

Maybe it's a Big Ten thing?

A sexual deviant with THAT facial hair? You don't say...

More than a year removed from the Rose Bowl victory, you might think that it's a little excessive to still be piling on Wisconsin. Then again, those people were just TERRIBLE. Up until now, I thought the only thing Big Ten folks all had in common was their horrifically-overrated football teams and the fact that even their women could probably make a decent living as a shopping mall Santa. Turns out that at Wisconsin, much like Penn State, employees of the athletic department like to use their position of power to put their hands on younger males' junk.

The guy you see above in John Chadima, who until very recently was a Senior Associate Athletic Director at Wisconsin. The night before this year's Rose Bowl (which you'll remember, the Badgers lost to Oregon when overly-angry coach Brett Bielema forgot how long a second was), Chadima hosted a party at his Los Angeles hotel. At the party, Chadima used university funds to buy alcohol- including for under-aged kids. As everyone was leaving, he asked one male UW student-worker to stay behind and have a drink with him. He then proceeded to stick his hands down the kids' pants and, after being told not to do so, told the kid he could have him fired from his job.

You do have to give credit to the Wisconsin administration for at least swiftly acting on this, forcing Chadima out of his job very quickly after the incident. But after all of the bullshit we received from Badger fans before and after our little ol' private school beat their big, bad Big Ten champs, they deserve to have their athletic department dragged through the mud over this a little bit.

Morning Dump

Basketball:

Tennis:

Athletic Department:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TCU Baseball 2012: What should we expect?


TCU baseball has been pretty rewarding for us over the past few years. We win every conference championship, we've hosted Regionals, we've bitch-slapped Texas in Austin then dogpiled on their longhorn, and of course, we went to Omaha and made a pretty deep run before running into 2 top-5 MLB draft pick pitchers.

And then last year happened...

Now let's not act like last year was a complete disaster. We still won the conference (a feat that will obviously become much tougher entering the Big 12 for the 2013 campaign) and we hosted a regional, but it seemed like last year wasn't meant to be from the get go despite our incredibly lofty preseason rankings. I tried to hold onto hope for as long as I could, but the writing was on the wall early on with the loss of stud closer Kaleb Merck to Tommy John surgery before the season even began. Then seeing Matt Purke's opening night start last only 4 innings (I think) with a fastball in the mid-80's was a concern- a concern that went from being a blister to a dead arm over the course of the next few months. Then there were a rash of injuries during the season as well, from CF Aaron Schultz, to Steven Maxwell, a #3 starter who would've been an ace at 95% of the teams across the country. Kyle Winkler carried the pitching staff, along with a slew of young, talented arms, but I think we all finally knew the season was more or less officially over when Wink pulled himself in the first inning of his start in the Fort Worth Regional.

So coming off an injury-riddled, error filled baseball season in 2011, what can we expect from our preseason #15 squad this year? I think there are more unanswered questions about this group than any I can remember in recent memory for the Frogs, so let's just get right into them (keep in mind, these opinions are my own and could be wayyyy far off from what really happens):

At #15, are we overrated or underrated?

It's hard to tell, honestly. We certainly have the talent on this roster to be considered underrated, but will that talent perform up to expectations? I think Matt Purke and the 2010 squad proved that experience might not matter as much in football or even basketball, so maybe having a young team won't be a negative. There's still plenty of veteran leadership, especially offensively, with a loaded front end of the lineup consisting of Jason Coats, Brance Rivera, Josh Elander, and Jantzen Witte (more on him later). The question is whether talented youngsters like freshman Kevin Cron and sophomore Brett Johnson can produce, and will junior Kyle Von Tungeln finally emerge into the player we've expected him to be after ending last year on a hot streak?

The pitching staff is young as well, but they gained a lot of valuable innings with all the injuries last year. Hopefully some more young arms emerge this season to do the kind of great work that freshmen Andrew Mitchell, Stefan Crichton, and Nick Frey did last year. Getting Kaleb Merck back to secure the back end of the bullpen should be a major boon to the staff as well, because as we all know, that was a major cause for concern last season, at least until Crichton stepped admirably into that role. Which brings me to my next point...

With Merck back as closer, what do we do with Stefan Crichton?

I think we move Crichton back into a starting role. He made a few starts there before becoming the closer at the end of the year last year, so maybe he becomes our Saturday starter with Mitchell going Friday nights. A lot of this depends on how the talented freshmen arms we have coming in look leading up to the season. I hear rumblings that RS Freshman Trey Teakell has looked sharp, and Nick Frey, who saw a lot of innings towards then end of last season, also has to be a candidate for a weekend spot. I won't speculate too much on the freshmen arms that we have due to lack of knowledge and having not seen them pitch yet, but I'm sure some will emerge. However, I think for this team to be successful deep into the 2012 season, Crichton and his filthy low-90's sinker have to be in the starting rotation somewhere. I'll save my breath and not even try to speculate any further on who emerges from this freshmen heavy staff as players, but I'm sure there will be a few.

Is Andrew Mitchell a legit #1 starter?

Look at last year for your answer- 6-1, 2.84 era, 73 K's in 76 innings with a .197 opponents batting average. I'd say with pretty good certainty on this one that your answer is yes. Is he Matt Purke from 2010? Most likely not, and we might never see that again, but he does have a mid-90's fastball with some pretty knee-buckling offspeed pitches. I'm pretty excited to see what kind of season this talented sophomore can put together as the focal point of our pitching staff.

Will Kaleb Merck be 100% and return to 2010 form?

I'm not sure the exact date, but I believe Merck had Tommy John surgery sometime around September, 2010, so that means when the season gets going towards the end of February it will have been almost 18 months since his surgery. I'm sure we will ease him back into things to start the season, but hopefully by the time conference rolls around he will be back in full swing and as effective as before. Of course, asking him to duplicate his 2010 numbers (1.47 era, 30.2 IP, 23 K's) will probably be asking too much, but if we get anywhere near that kind of production from his freshly built arm I'd say the back end of our bullpen is certainly secure. Steven Maxwell had Tommy John surgery a few years back and he came back better than ever. I don't see any reason why Merck can't do the same.

Who replaces third baseman Jantzen Witte while he recovers from hip surgery?

Witte, who has been our starting 3b for us for pretty much 2 full years now, will miss 8-10 weeks after having surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. While I thought hip surgery was strictly reserved for old men, this is certainly bad news. He is expected to miss the first 16-20 games of the season. His .331 average was third on the team, and he also led the team with 84 hits and 21 doubles. His 45 RBI were good for second on the team as well, so I don't have to tell you how big of a bat we are missing from the lineup. Third base is arguably the hardest position on the field to play defensively as well, and losing a mainstay at that spot for a good chunk of the season scares me.

Honestly, I don't have a good answer for you here just like I can't go in depth on what freshmen will emerge in the pitching rotation. There are so many unknowns with so many young players. Some candidates are veteran utility man Davey Wright, who I've seen fill in around the middle infield, but I don't recall him playing much at third. Can baseball ginger Brett Johnson, who played a lot of 1b last year, slide into the hot corner for a while and play 3rd and let our star recruit Kevin Cron (who is a ridiculously massive 6'5, 260, so I don't see him at 3rd)? Can one of the newcomers like JUCO transfer Josh Gonzales or freshmen Michael Resnick, Trevin Sonnier, Keaton Jones, or Derek O'Dell fill in there? Honestly, I have no clue. Or could we move senior OF and leadoff hitter Brance Rivera back to that spot? Pretty sure he's seen some time there during his career at TCU.

Who replaces Taylor Featherston at Shortstop and Jerome Pena at Second?

Taylor Featherston, while a great hitter for TCU for 3 years, had his struggles in the field. Jerome Pena didn't duplicate the great offensive season he had during our CWS run, but I think he might have been another Frog battling injuries throughout last season. Just like the question about Witte, I don't have a good answer for you, but let's assume that two of the above listed players move into the 2 open middle infield spots. I'd say Josh Gonzales finds a spot somewhere for sure, because why else would you bring in a JUCO transfer? I doubt he sits. I think you can rule out Johnson, Rivera, and of course Cron for middle infield, so that leaves freshmen Resnick, Sonnier, Jones, and O'Dell to fill the other open spot. For what it's worth, O'Dell was 2 time All-State as well as a Max Preps All-American and was drafted in the 42nd round by the Red Sox, so he comes in pretty highly touted, so maybe he has a leg up on the competition?

So those are my own questions about the upcoming 2012 baseball season, and I obviously did this post in part to try and answer my own questions. If anyone out there has any better information than me please feel free to share, as most TCU baseball fans are pretty in the dark at this point in time since baseball news isn't that easily accessible. Also, if you have any other questions, the comments section is a great spot for those too.

Hey, at least I've turned attention away from "Daje's of Our Lives"...


An Alternate Reason for Daje Johnson's Visit to Austin.

This pic would work a lot better if I could photoshop...

When it comes to Daje Johnson continuing his flirtations with UT despite reaffirming his commitment to TCU, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: BIG FUCKING DEAL!!!! Remember Jonathan Gray? He's the best running back in the country. He chose UT over TCU. And there was NOWHERE near the amount of "the sky is falling!" "run for your lives!" "everybody's gonna die!" talk that we've seen about this particular situation. I realize that was mostly because we never expected to land him in the first place, but still, he might be the piece that gets UT back to being a Conference contender. And we let it slide without much hand-wringing. Ah, to be young and naive again... Let's be honest with ourselves. Daje is going to be good at college football. Daje is probably going to be VERY good at college football. But if Daje ultimately chooses to go to Austin, we're not going to turn into SMU, which you'd think is a legitimate threat considering how rough some of you are taking the news.

I know it has been said by various others in the commentary and postings, but seriously team, let's put things in perspective. I hate UT as much as any of you and probably moreso than most, but holy hell! If I was good at sports when I was 18 and ole butterteeth invited me down for a weekend to sell me on 6th street and a stadjium with 105,000 screaming fans and girls and national exposure... all hate aside, I'm taking him up on the offer. And I wasn't even from the Austin area. So we should pull the kid's scholarship as a power move on account of him exhibiting the behavior of any 18 year old in the same situation? Girl PLEASE. The notion that we should pull it because, "We don't want kids that want to go to UT," is the most ludicrous thing I have ever had to put in writing in my life, and I one time wrote a sonnet based on ordering a McRib for a creative writing class. First of all, I'd take literally ANY recruit in UT's wheelhouse, as would most every other school in the country. And second, if we stop recruiting kids because they have UT on their list, then you'd have to kick probably 75% of the kids off of our team and field a squad entirely composed of intramural players. Is that what you want? You all sound like the same entitled asshole UT fans you're simultaneously abhorring. If that's your game, fine, but go do it at Killerfrogs. We don't need that bullshit here.

But beyond that, I think everyone is missing three KEY issues here. One is that UT has yet to offer him a scholarship. True, if Daje makes his scheduled visit this weekend, it's LIKELY UT does offer, and if they do it is also likely he will accept because those cats aren't exactly in the business of getting left at the altar. Another thing is that Patterson is going to personally sit across from Daje tomorrow afternoon sometime and put the final touches on his sales pitch. Looking folksy, back-slappin' Mack Brown in the eye and telling him thanks but no thanks is one thing, but doing the same to Patterson? With him putting the full-on hard sell with a quivering smile that is barely concealing the rage you know lies beneath? I'm sometimes nervous to even be in the same room as GP when he's in a good mood, and he has no clue who I am. I would hate to see the alternative. Good luck with that.

But the third, and perhaps the most important factor of all is this: Daje has now verbally committed to TCU twice, once months ago, and another this week. Now, I'm the first to say that soft verbal commitments are complete bullshit and should be done away with, but for the sake of this post, let's go against the grain and take him at his word. Isn't it entirely possible that, after practically bending over, spreading his cheeks and telling UT to take him now or lose him forever, he's kind of soured on the Horns a bit for ignoring him? Perhaps he views the fact that they aren't offering him a visit until the very last second before signing day as the slap in the face it is? Surely he understands that, by withholding a scholarship offer until the 11th hour, the Longhorns were exhausting all options for a more desirable recruit before doling out an offer to him. So what if going to Austin this weekend is just a ploy by Daje, an act of revenge? What if knowing that, presuming he makes it to campus this weekend, UT is going to make him an offer, Daje wants to turn them down face to face? See that shit eating grin slide off Mack's face? Watch Bryan Harsin's expression turn from smug glee to, "Holy shit, I thought once I left Boise this would never happen again?" Watch Manny Diaz' hair gel melt from his perfectly manicured coif and cover his head like candlewax? Perhaps give Mack's furniture the, "fuck yo couch!" treatment popularized by the Murphy brother who didn't wear a fat suit, dress like a woman and become responsible for Tyler Perry's success?

Eh, who am I kidding? He's totally going to UT. EVERYBODY PANIC!

Morning Dump

Football:

Basketball:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baseball Frogs open at #15

The preseason Top 25 poll from Baseball America came out today, and TCU opens up as the #15 team in the country. Taking a quick glance at the schedule, and you realize that the Frogs' first two weekend series are against fellow Top 25 teams: they host #22 Ole Miss on February 17-19 and travel out west to play #25 Cal State Fullerton on February 24-26.

If you're the kind of fan that likes to get ahead of themselves, the Frogs are one of three teams ranked currently that'll be in the Big 12 next year- along with #13 Texas and #18 Oklahoma. And if you're the nostalgic type, they are one of five Southwest Conference teams ranked- beyond Texas and TCU, the SWC would have Arkansas at #4, Rice at #6 and Texas A&M at #7.

With the season opener just a little more than three weeks away, you can expect to see more and more baseball posts here on Spit Blood as we get you ready for what is hopefully a redemption season for the Frogs. If you're in the mood for some more baseball content right now, check out these photos from the teams' promotional video shoot.

Meet the Future Frogs: Ricky Collins

Moving on with our profiling of all of the incoming recruits, today we take a look at wide receiver Ricky Collins. At 6'0" and 185lbs, Collins boasts 4.4 speed that has made him a feared threat both in the passing game and as a possible kick- and punt-returner. He's one of two JUCO recruits in this year's class- and much like Keivon Gamble, he's a guy that was originally committed to SMU out of high school.

As a senior at Tyler John Tyler in 2009, Collins caught 43 passes for 1,059 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging about 20 yards on kickoff returns. He earned All-District honors in District 11-5A and All-East Texas honors from piney woods guru David Smoak. Frogs' co-offensive coordinator took a long look at him, but TCU never offered and Collins eventually signed with SMU. He's later admitted that if TCU had offered him then, he would've signed with them instead of the Mustangs. Here's June Jones talking about Collins on Signing Day 2010:



Collins never made it to SMU's campus, though, and enrolled at Kilgore Junior College to play for two years while getting his academics in order. After catching 24 passes for 492 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2010, the TCU coaching staff had seen enough and finally offered him a scholarship- which he accepted in late July of last year.

As a sophomore at Kilgore this fall, Collins hauled in 46 passes for 574 yards and six touchdowns, leading Rivals to award him three stars and rank him as the 33rd-best overall JUCO recruit in the country. He will enroll at TCU in May to take classes and work out with the team over the summer.

Daily Discussion: Daje Johnson

I didn't think there would ever be a recruit that would stir up casual fans quite like Johnathan Gray. When the record-setting tailback from Aledo put the Frogs in his top three before publicly choosing Texas, he became the center of attention to the extent that girls were talking about recruiting. GIRLS!

But over the past week, I've been getting countless texts and emails from folks that I never really knew had a vested interest in this area of the college football world. The topic: Daje Johnson. While he doesn't quite have the numbers or the Dave Campbell's Texas Football cover story like Gray, he does have the explosive athleticism and similar sky-high upside that have caused an increasingly-public tug of war between fans and coaching staffs in Fort Worth and Austin.

After committing to TCU last March, Daje has been the subject of rumors that he'd switch his commitment to a number of different schools. To his credit, he's squashed most of those rumors. The one that has stuck around, though, has been the burnt-orange team in his backyard....Texas. There were a lot of whispers of him switching his commitment on a scheduled visit to the Austin campus this weekend, but a tweet from the Pflugerville Hendrickson star last night seemed to negate that with a simple & direct "STAYING WITH TCU".

Obviously, that rubbed UT the wrong way. And why wouldn't it? When you're used to getting everything you want, you're going to act a little petulant when the little bitty school up the way in Fort Worth gets something you covet. Longhorn offensive coaches Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite have apparently told Daje that he'd be making a big mistake to go to TCU, and the new rumor out this morning is that he's been persuaded to still make his official visit to UT this weekend after all.

Clearly, no one is going to know where Daje is going for sure until his signature is on a national letter of intent on Signing Day. That's just the nature of how college football recruiting goes sometimes, but it also sets up today's daily discussion...

If he ends up succumbing to the last-minute effort by Texas to get him to switch, how bitter would you be? And how much of that negativity would be directed toward him specifically, as opposed to just being pissed that your UT friends would once again have a bit of recruiting scoreboard on you? While it's certainly frustrating for us as fans to be uncertain of a future watching and cheering for an athlete as dynamic as Daje, how much can you really blame an 18 year-old kid for having a tough time making such an important decision?

Morning Dump

Football:



Baseball:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: James McFarland

The second of the two future Horned Frogs to give TCU their verbal commitment this weekend was actually a re-commitment. James McFarland, a high school teammate of Chucky Hunter's from West Monroe, Louisiana, had actually committed to TCU last spring. But he eventually backed off of it, opening his recruiting process back up and taking a hard look at Arkansas and Boise State before confirming his initial decision this weekend.

At 6'3" 240lbs and with a 4.6 forty time, McFarland looks like either a linebacker or a defensive end at the next level. He's certainly bigger than most of the linebackers that TCU has had in the past decade, but many people think a few extra lbs on the Frogs' LBs might not be such a bad thing once Big 12 play starts this fall. I'm just some blogger- but when I watch his video, I see a defensive end.

Rivals has McFarland as a three-star linebacker, ranking him as the 36th-best outside linebacker recruit in the nation and the 16th-best overall recruit coming out of Louisiana. He doesn't have a free highlight tape on youtube, at least that I can find- so those of you that are too cheap for a subscription to purplemenace will just have to trust me on this one.

Meet the Future Frogs: Zach Jackson

I was completely away from the internet this weekend, so I noticed when I got back and checked in on Spit Blood that there was some trepidation about the Frogs losing momentum in recruiting with just over a week left until National Signing Day. The TCU staff got two impressive commitments over the weekend, though- the first of which was Zach Jackson, 6'0" 185 lb safety from Snellville, Georgia.

Jackson played a little bit of everything at Snellville's Brookwood High School, helping them win a Georgia state championship his junior season. He has stated in interviews, though, that he feels his strengths are in pass coverage and hitting ability- so he'd like to use his 4.4 speed to play safety in college. Knowing how the TCU coaching staff loves to stockpile athleticism in the defensive secondary, I'm sure they were glad to hear that.

Despite multiple offers from SEC and ACC schools much closer to home, Jackson originally committed to Illinois. If you follow Big Ten football closely, as I'm sure most of you do not, you would know that the Illini have had quite of bit of coaching turnover lately. That's why, when Jackson was offered a scholarship by Patterson himself on his official visit to TCU's campus this weekend, he didn't hesitate to make the switch.

Sometimes these out of state kids can be a bit of a mystery- just because we here (or at least myself) don't have the same knowledge about individual programs outside of Texas and haven't had a chance to see the kid play or read much about them. Watch his highlight tape, though, and you'll get the sense that he can play:

Morning Dump

Dalton headed to Pro Bowl GoFrogs.com


Friday, January 20, 2012

Shock Linwood to Baylor...


Per his twitter feed. I guess he fell in love with the Waco scenery and plethora of pale, chubby virgins patrolling the campus. Mark this under who gives a shit. If we lose Daje I'll be bummed, but I'm not gonna get too butt-hurt about losing the next Donald Massey.

Okay, so maybe I'm in a little bit of a sour mood...

Meet the Future Frogs: Jaden Oberkram

I don't think I have to tell you that the place-kicking job at TCU is open now that a certain #37 has exhausted his eligibility. The TCU coaching staff addressed this anticipated opening and went out to recruit a kicker. They held a special camp for kickers and punters last June, and a week later had a commitment from Arlington Martin's Jaden Oberkram.

Like Ethan Perry, the incoming Frog punter, Oberkram is not a small guy. At 6'3", he's one of the taller place-kickers you'll see. He's got a big leg, too- having once hit a 54-yard field goal in a playoff game and having connected from 60+ on occasion in practice. That leg strength will pay off on kick offs, an area of the game that TCU has struggled at for years.

I had a hard time tracking down Oberkrom's official stats, and there were some whispers of him being benched for part of this last fall because of a disagreement with his coaches. I don't want to speculate any further on that issue, but wanted to acknowledge that it is out there. Either way, judge for yourself by watching him in action:

Daily Discussion: Super Bowl Possibilities

Most of our readers are Cowboys, Texans, Bengals or Saints fans- with probably another good chunk of folks that don't care for the NFL at all. So there aren't a whole lot of us with a dog still in the NFL playoff hunt. But since there are just three meaningful football games left until September, I think it's worth a daily discussion to try to decide which two teams we'd like to see facing each other in Indianapolis in two weeks. Let's take a look at the possible match ups:

Patriots vs. Giants: Classic Super Bowl rematch
-I'm not sure which of these teams I dislike more. If the East Coast of the United States is good for one thing, it's annoying sports fans. And shitty weather. And stupid-sounding accents. And faux-intellectuals. All that being said, the last time these two teams squared off in the Super Bowl, it was one of the most exciting games I've ever watched.

Ravens vs. Giants: Meh Super Bowl rematch
-Casual football fans probably don't remember that the Ravens have won a Super Bowl, and even some die-hards probably don't remember their boring 34-7 win over the Kerry Collins-led Giants back in January of 2001. It's one of those very random-feeling championship match ups that you'd never expect to repeat itself- you know, like Mavs vs. Heat. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily rooting for this scenario, but I might like to make some Brother Mouzone references it if does end up being Bodymore vs. New York.

Patriots vs. 49ers: Guaranteed Ring for a Frog
-The national media will play this game up as the Team of the '80s vs. the Team of the '00s, but that'll be a different story from how it's played up amongst TCU fans. Last year, former Frog Marshall Newhouse won a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season when the Packers defeated the Steelers at Jerruh World. It'll happen again if the Super Bowl ends up being New England against San Francisco, as Marcus Cannon and Malcolm Williams are Patriots rookies and Colin Jones is in his first year as a pro with the 49ers.

Ravens vs. 49ers: The Harbaugh Bowl
-Those of you that are only children probably aren't rooting for this match up, but the rest of us have to be at least a little bit intrigued at the prospect of two siblings facing each other on the biggest stage in all of sports. And you know with two guys as intense and competitive as head coaches John and Jim Harbaugh, they will pull out all the stops to beat each other. Then again, with Tim Tebow out of the playoffs, Sportscenter needs another story to beat us over the head with and fill 85% of their air time with. By the time this one kicked off, we might be so tired of the brother vs. brother angle that we'd want both teams to lose.

Since it's Friday and you're not doing any real work at the office today, you ought to have plenty of time to share your thoughts in the comments section. Which of these do you want to see, and why?

Morning Dump

Football:
Big 12 recruiting capsules San Antonio Express

Basketball:

Baseball:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: Rashodrick Linwood

After a brief quiet period this past spring in which they received no commitments, the TCU coaching staff got back to adding to the recruiting class of 2012 in June when they received the pledge from Rashodrick Linwood, a 5'9" 180 lb running back from East Texas.

"Shock" Linwood was a bit of a do-everything player for quite a while at 2A Linden-Kildare, having amassed over 1,000 total yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore in 2009. As a junior, he eclipsed the 1,500-total yard plateau and scored 20 TDs. That was enough to earn him a place in Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300, a three-star evaluation from Rivals and a scholarship offer from TCU and Baylor amongst others.

As a senior last fall, Linwood rushed for 2,103 yards and 25 TDs while lining up mostly at quarterback for the Tigers- also throwing for 729 yards and 5 TDs. His efforts were rewarded with 2nd Team 2A All-State honors from the Associated Press. It's not entirely clear what position he'll play once he gets to Fort Worth, but as you can see from his junior year highlights, he's got plenty of athleticism to go around:

Morning Dump

Football:


Basketball:


Athletic Department:

Stay Positive: A TCU Basketball Saga.


Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, so about that whole "staying positive about every loss" posts thing... I forgot to mention it doesn't really apply to 23 point losses. No one expected TCU to win. Heck, no one expected TCU to keep it all that close. But covering a gaping 19 point spread would've been an accomplishment, right? And there's just something about the 100 point barrier that makes a loss feel that much heavier. PERSONAL ANECDOTE TIME! I can remember, back in my glory days of JV Basketball, a game in which my team inexplicably navigated our way to the Championship game of some tournament and got blasted 97 to something that wasn't anywhere close to 97, like maybe 40. The team in question hit the 97 point mark with probably 2-3 minutes to go, then spent the rest of the game firing off 3's in hopes of hitting triple digits. When the clock hit 0:0 and they didn't, even though we got our asses absolutely handed to us, there was some sort of small victory we all felt with not giving up 100. Guess TCU can't claim that one. And when you start talking about your NCAA Division 1 team in terms of your JV Basketball team getting beat by 60 points nearly 15 years ago, you officially have no hope of post season success and it's time to end your post. Let's just forget this game and post ever happened.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meet the Future Frogs: (maybe?) Daje Johnson

Just about every year, TCU will lose one of their prized recruits who change their mind about spending their college years in Fort Worth. Some of them do it quietly, others after publicly flirting with other schools for months. Then there are kids who like the attention other schools heap on them after they make a commitment and continue to visit other schools and hear their sales pitches without any real intention of switching. Right now, the folks that follow TCU recruiting are trying to decide into which of these categories Daje Johnson fits.

Johnson, a 5'10" 185lb athlete from Pflugerville's Hendrickson High, isn't one of those kids who is listed as an "athlete" because he doesn't have a true position. Instead, he's listed as such because he runs a 4.34 forty and appears to be moving in fast-forward compared to his teammates and opponents. At the beginning of his recruiting process, he was thought of mostly as a prospect to play cornerback in college. Dave Campbell's Texas Football listed him as a 3rd Team Super Team defensive back prior to his senior season.

But then he exploded this past fall- rushing for 2,178 yards and 26 TDs and catching 28 passes for 496 yards and 6 more scores. Oh, and he returned a punt for a touchdown too. On one hand, that's a lot of potential offensive production to leave on the table. On the other, that's the kind of athletic ability that just screams 1st round money if it's lined up on defense. Either way, the folks at Rivals love him- they gave him four stars and ranked him as the 29th-best overall recruit in Texas.

Back to the point I was trying to get to in the first paragraph, though- if there is one kid I'm afraid may decommit from TCU before Signing Day, it's Johnson. He took an official visit to Cal in December, and has been rumored to be in talks with just about every school in the Big 12. Now comes word, via the twitter feed of Orangebloods.com's Jason Suchomel that Johnson will be taking an official visit to Texas. Texas generally doesn't invite kids for a visit unless they plan on offering, and they don't usually offer a scholarship until they know that it'll be accepted.

If he does end up opting for the stomach-acid orange instead of purple, I've got no hard feelings for him. For a kid who grew up in the Austin area, I could understand if he had dreamed of playing for the Longhorns and I'd wish him the best in his time at UT. Sure, I'd boo him lustily when he was on the field against the Frogs, but I think TCU would be just fine without him.

All that being said, I sure hope he sees the light and decides that playing for TCU is his top priority:

Reminder: Basketball in Action Tonight.


Just a reminder that the Frogs are in action tonight against UNLV at 9:30PM on the mtn. Typically in this space we'll have at least a moderately lucid preview, but since the Frogs enter the game as a 19 point underdog, I didn't really want to waste the keystrokes. Regardless, I like Hank Thorns' attitude, via the S-T.

"We just need to buckle down on defense and keep guys out of the paint," TCU guard Hank Thorns said. "I think we need a [late 1980s] Detroit Pistons-type attitude; we can't come out with smiles. We need to come out with a chip on our shoulder and take everything personal."

Uhh, THIS, anyone:



Rough Start for the Hooker Killer

Our old friend and Jack the Ripper impersonator Craig James isn't off to a very good start in his campaign to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the US Senate. According to the Houston Chronicle, the former SMU employee is polling at just 4%. Four percent? That's almost an entire point for every prostitute he murdered during his college days!

I'm joking, of course. I don't think the fact* that CRAIG JAMES KILLED FIVE HOOKERS WHILE AT SMU has anything to do with his polling numbers. According to the Chronicle, he is struggling because "he's largely unknown and unpopular amongst those that do know him." Then again, perhaps they were unusually popular hookers who held an inordinate amount of political sway? Nah, it's probably just because he's a douche bag.

If you're like me and want to get Craig to sign your copy of Swing Your Sword, you might want to become acquainted with the events page on his campaign website. He's got an event in Plano on February 4th, and is only charging $100/head to attend.



*- I use the term "fact" here fairly liberally as there has been, to this point, no evidential proof that CRAIG JAMES KILLED FIVE HOOKERS WHILE AT SMU. It may be beneficial to open up a line of dialogue in the comments section to state our thoughts on whether or not is is true that CRAIG JAMES KILLED FIVE HOOKERS WHILE AT SMU.

Daily Discussion: WVU in 2012?

It's been funny to hear fans of our new-found Big 12 rivals complain that it's late January and the football schedule hasn't come out yet. After all, in the MWC we were used to having to wait until March or even early April for the football schedule every year.

We're pretty sure now that TCU will be taking aggy's spot in the home/away rotation, meaning the Frogs will face Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech at home while traveling to Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas. The hold up in making any of this official is the precarious situation of West Virginia, who still does not know whether or not they'll be allowed to join the Big 12 next year. Read more about their scenario here and here. If they do end up joining at the same time as TCU, the prevailing thought is that the Frogs would venture up to Morgantown this fall.

So what do you think? Will the Mountaineers be able to muscle their way past the Big East lawyers in time to join the Big 12 this year? Or will rising senior Geno Smith torch that league for one more year before they make the switch?

Oh, and as a completely-unrelated bonus item for this post- I know you all hate Wisconsin, so here's a funny video of some drunk female Packers fan crying about their loss to the Giants.

Morning Dump

Basketball:

Frogs head to Vegas with chip on their shoulder Star-Telegram

TCU faces #14 UNLV on the road tonight gofrogs.com

TCU at UNLV preview CBS Sports

UNLV's Marshall uses negative tweets as motivation Las Vegas Sun

TCU women look to continue offensive outburst vs. UNLV Star-Telegram

Lady Frogs host UNLV tonight at 6:30pm gofrogs.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maybe Dallas Isn't So Bad After All?


The Dallas Morning News has taken its lumps over the years, from this site and others, and deservedly so. Besides being the only local newspaper to charge for their content, they still hang their hat glorified hockey columnist Tim Cowlishaw's insight and employed Jean Jacques Taylor for many, many years before ESPNDallas was stupid enough to pluck him away. They're also RAVENOUS sack riders of UT and the Big 12 and, until recently, you'd never have known that a perennial Top 25 program resided within their readership. So when I saw that they had published their BOLD predictions for TCU's 2012 season, I got ready to do some serious eye-rollin'. However, perhaps due to our newly minted status into the Big 12 boys club, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

You can flip through the full thing HERE, but so we aren't foolish enough to give them the pageviews, here is the list:

  • TCU will beat OU next season. I like this prediction, although I think it depends strongly on where in the schedule that game happens to fall. Having it at Amon G guarantees a rollicking crowd, but I like our chances if it falls in late October/early November rather than September-early October. The Sooners will be returning QB Landry Jones, as well bring Mike Stoops back into the fold at DC to shore up those issues, and will likely be the pre-season favorite to win the league. I think we should all temper our Conference Champions in Year One aspirations a bit, but if that is to happen, this game will be uber important in that fight.
  • Gary Patterson will be the Big 12 Coach of the Year. If Patterson can come in and have a double digit win year the award is his to lose simply because the Big 12 elitists don't think he can keep the train rolling in year one. His main competition will likely be WVU Coach Dana Holgerson, as the Mountaineers expect to have a breakout year, as well as Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder who returns QB/Superflous letter enthusiast Collin Klein. OSU Coach Mike Gundy won the award this year.
  • Casey Pachall will rewrite the TCU record book. Well, he almost did it this year, so that's not exactly a CrAzY prediction or anything. Plus, having Josh Boyce, Brandon Carter, David Porter, Cam White and the still unseen LaDarius Brown to run under his passes, Pachall is surely due more than a few "BOMBS AWAY!" type days. Say what you will about the defenses he faced in the MWC, but have you watched Big 12 football lately? Pachall piled up the numbers he did despite more or less being a game manager post-Boise as the OC shifted the focus to our ground game. He won't have many of those types of games next year.
  • TCU will set a single season attendance record. Well, duh.
  • Stansly Maponga will lead the Big 12 in sacks. The least generic prediction of all, this one could very well happen. Last year, Sean Porter of aggy led the Conference with 9.5; Maponga had 9. Of the top 3 sack leaders in the Conference last year, two played for aggy and will therefore be out of the running, and the third was a Senior from Oklahoma. It would appear the closest competition will come from fellow Junior Jackson Jeffcoat from UT who had 8. This will certainly be a fun race to follow along with.
  • TCU will win a share of the Big 12 title. See? They really aren't so bad, are they?
So has the DMN really trimmed the fat - or had the fat trimmed for them by ESPNDallas - to the point that they actually have good, level headed writers? Or is it just that the sports guys are so relieved they have a Big 12 program in their own backyard, and therefore can stop pretending that SMU is in any way relevant, they feel the need to over compensate? I don't know, but at least I won't have to cringe every single time I see Cowlishaw's face on Around the Horn.


Meet the Future Frogs: Griffin Gilbert

The first weekend of March 2011 was pretty eventful for TCU. While the baseball team was busy sweeping past Texas Tech out in Lubbock, the football team was busy adding future offensive firepower with commitments from running back LaDarius Anthony, quarterback Austin Aune and finally wide receiver/tight end Griffin Gilbert.

Casual fans might recognize Gilbert, the massive 6'5" target out of the Austin area, as the younger brother of Garrett Gilbert, former UT and soon-to-be SMU quarterback. But other than the fact that they both wore jersey #7 (Griffin switched to that number for his senior year) while contributing to Lake Travis' unprecedented five consecutive state championships and that both were named to the Dave Campbell's Texas Football Super Team in their respective senior seasons, they really don't have a whole lot more in common as far as football is concerned.

Griffin has been a pass-catcher since the beginning of his varsity career, hauling in more than 160 passes for over 2,600 yards and totaling 35 touchdowns over three years. As he's gotten older, he's learned how to use his 6'5" frame and his elite ability to adapt to the ball while it's in the air to become a living head ache for opposing defensive coordinators. As dangerous of a threat as he was as a pass-catching option, he was equally (if not more) dangerous because of the attention heaped on him that allowed teammates to get open.

Rivals has Gilbert scored as a four-star tight end, and lists him as 10th-best at that position in the country and the 36th-best overall recruit coming out of the Lone Star State. Despite a scholarship offer from the Longhorns (as well as one from Clemson, where former LT head coach Chad Morris is the offensive coordinator), Gilbert stuck to his initial commitment to TCU. He was recruited by Trey Haverty, who will now be the wide receivers coach- leading to more speculation that he may end up lining up out wide. Watch his highlights and judge for yourself:

Daily Discussion: Daniel-Meyer Coliseum

Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram had an article this morning that drew attention to the disparity between Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and the basketball facilities of the Big 12. You can read the whole thing by clicking here. There's nothing earth-shattering in the article: if you've been inside the DMC any time in the last couple of decades, you already knew it was below par for the MWC...much less our new conference home.

With the renovations to Amon G. Carter within months of completion and already entirely paid for, the next massive project has to be Daniel-Meyer. But (at least to my knowledge) plans for an upgrade of the 50 year-old facility have not taken shape as of yet, which leads us to today's daily discussion questions.

If you were in charge of bringing TCU's basketball home into the 21st century, what would those plans look like? Would you renovate the facility and add seats and luxury suites? Would you tear it down and build a completely new arena in its place? Or would you look for another site?

PS- if you're wondering what that baseball diamond is doing in the picture above where the football and basketball practice facilities are now, that is actually the old TCU Baseball Diamond- which predated Lupton Stadium. And I use the term "old" loosely, because believe or not our baseball program used that as their home field until 2001.

Morning Dump

Daniel-Meyer puts TCU at a disadvantage in Big 12 Star-Telegram

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stay Positive: A TCU Basketball Saga.


To bridge the gap between the month long completed football season and the dawning of what will hopefully be a more rewarding year on the diamond, we're going to introduce a new segment to SpitBlood. We're going to call it "Stay Positive: A TCU Basketball Saga" and it will go as such: TCU Basketball is going to lose games. TCU Basketball is going to lose quite a few games. But, based on Saturday's moderately gritty performance, other than against the top of the MWC, they shouldn't be absolutely run off the floor in any game this season. I say "shouldn't" because I lack the confidence required to say with any certainty that they won't, but it's a start. So after each loss - and with a game against a pissed off UNLV team coming up on Wednesday, expect another one of these suckers first thing Thursday - I want to take a brief look at the positive takeaways even though the final score wasn't in the Frogs favor. The idea is to generate hope and build fan support as the season rolls on. And if they manage to win a game or two? Well, I'm not exactly used to writing about THOSE types of games, so it'll be back to the drawing board!

Today's Episode: Colorado State 95, TCU 89 (2OT).

Despite an heroic rally- coming back from 12 points down late in the second half to force OT on two CLUTCH free throws from Amric Fields- the Frogs fell by six to the Rams to open the final year of MWC play. It was the team's 12th consecutive road loss in Conferece, a streak that looks to continue Tuesday in Las Vegas. After forcing double OT on a driving lay in by Fields, the TCU D got a teency bit slappy in the last five, surrendering nine free throws that made up the difference. It wasn't the prettiest performance by TCU - they shot WAY too many threes, going 12-31 on the night, turned the ball over 18 times for 27 points, were out rebounded 42-32 by one of the few teams in the country worse than they are in that category and allowed the Rams to shoot 55% from the floor- but it wasn't all bad.

For one, the play of Amric Fields - my no brainer bright spot of the first half season, for the 4 of you who read it - surely turned the heads of even the most detached of TCU fans who may have followed along on their iPhones. Despite coming off the bench, he finished with 36 minutes, scored 20 points on 67% combined shooting, and iced all five of his free throws. But it was his clutch play to keep the Frogs alive that really stood out. As mentioned, he was the reason the Frogs had a chance in either extra period in the first place, and his layup at the end of OT #1 was one of the biggest shots of the season.

However, I'd argue that his free throws to end the fourth were bigger. TCU has never been a great free throw shooting team, and only ranks 102nd in the category right now at 71.4%. This is an increase from the roughly 67% mark they shot last year, but still probably doesn't strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Saturday should make opposing teams think twice before simply hacking away and making TCU win that way, if it comes down to it. As a team, TCU shot 85% (17-20) for the evening, a pace no team in the country can hope to replicate, let along TCU, but a positive development considering past struggles. I honestly believe TCU will be involved in close games like this one more often than the alternative this season. A high free throw shooting percentage can be the difference between a win and loss in those types of games. This will definitely be an area to keep an eye on.

A tough mindset also played a key role Saturday as, without it, TCU doesn't fight back as a team to score the final 11 points and give Fields a chance to extend the game in the first place. This is part of the reason why they were run off the floor so often in years past. Hank Thorns came up huge when it mattered, tossing in 10 of his team high 21 points during the last 6 minutes of the second half. Garlon Green grabbed a couple of clutch rebounds, and was the only other Frog in double figures with 14 points. Still, TCU is going to need a lot more from him going forward if they hope to win some games. Same goes for JR Cadot, who only scored 8 points and played limited minutes due to foul trouble. I suppose you can get your "glass half full" on here and look at it from the perspective that the Frogs led in double OT despite a lack of significant contributions from two key players, but I'm not sure I'm THAT much of a homer.

Regardless, it was a hard fought game and gives me at least a semblance of hope for the future. Not necessarily "pilot episode of Homeland" style hope, but maybe "Angry Boys totally sucks but I'll give Chris Lilley rope to hang himself with because I owe him for Summer Heights High and what else am I gonna do at 9PM on Sunday night?" hope. A victory Wednesday would be among the more shocking in recent TCU Basketball history, but if the Frogs can at least make it moderately competitive, we all owe it to them to come back for at least a few more helpings.


Meet the Future Frogs: Austin Aune

One of the most under-the-radar members of TCU's 2012 recruiting class is Austin Aune, a 6'2" 185lb quarterback from just up the road in Argyle. He turned a solid junior campaign (2,484 yards passing, 24 TDs to just 9 INTs) into an early scholarship offer from TCU, which he accepted back on March 4th of last year.

The folks at Rivals do not seem to be all that impressed with Aune, giving him just three stars and not included him in any of their QB or state of Texas rankings. Maybe they should take a look at his senior season. He threw for 3,411 yards as a senior this fall, leading the Eagles all the way to the state championship game. He tossed 33 touchdowns and had just 9 interceptions again. He also ran for 538 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. He played valiantly in the title game at Cowboys Stadium, nearly leading a last-minute, game-winning drive despite playing with a temperature of 104.

An all-around athlete, Aune is also expected to play baseball at TCU. Because of this, he's drawn numerous comparisons to Chad Huffman. While it's got to be quite an honor to be compared to Huffman, it seems as if some people are overlooking Aune as a candidate to be the "quarterback of the future" at TCU. Those people conveniently forget that Huffman, had he not left to pursue pro baseball, would've been the starting QB in 2007. Aune will have quite a bit of competition for the job once Pachall departs the program, but I think he has just as good a chance as any of the others. Check out his highlight video:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long Sunday Afternoon Dump

Men's Basketball:

TCU men can't cash in on late rally in double OT
Star-Telegram

Frogs fall to CSU in double overtime, 95-89
gofrogs.com

I really hate that the current state of TCU basketball allows us to celebrate moral victories, but that's really how I'd describe last night's loss in Fort Collins. The Frogs were behind for most of the second half, but were able to come back to force not one but TWO overtimes, all the while showing they were better conditioned to the altitude than the Rams. Amric Fields had a season-high 20 points to continue his strong play of late, and Garlon Green brought down 12 rebounds. I'm glad to see someone hitting the boards, as 6'8" post men Craig Williams (3) and Adrick McKinney (0) were not getting the job done in that department.


Women's Basketball:

Shots fall for TCU women against Colorado State Star-Telegram

Lady Frogs take down CSU, 79-71 gofrogs.com

It's been a rough start to 2012 for Coach Mittie's squad, so it was nice to see them break into the win column for the first time since New Year's Eve and for the first time in the MWC slate. At 8-9 overall, it doesn't look like the Lady Frogs will be making another run to the NCAA Tournament this year. But it's also good to see them not just folding up shop because of a few key injuries. Senior Antoinette Thompson and true freshman Natalie Ventress combined for six three-pointers and 40 of the team's 79 total points.


Football:

TCU football will soon find answer for Big 12 question Star Telegram (Randy Galloway)

Why TCU bet big on football D Magazine

It's pretty refreshing to see the Frogs garnering attention from the Metroplex media outside of the completely mailed-in game stories that made up the entirety of their press coverage for so long. Galloway and the rest of the snarky columnists at the Star-Telegram used to turn their noses up at TCU, but he and Gil Lebreton have really come around on the Frogs...leaving only the talent-challenged Engels in the "I'll write about TCU if my editors tell me to, but I'll be sure to do it in a way to let the readers know that I feel like I'm above covering college sports" department. If you haven't read that D Magazine article yet, it's a good look at how the TCU administration has done such an outstanding job of putting the Frogs' athletic programs- and the university as a whole- in a position to succeed.


Football Alumni:

49ers special teamers comes through with big plays Sacramento Bee

Cowboys miss on TCU safety Colin Jones ESPN Dallas

Imagine Andy Dalton after a real offseason Cincinnati Enquirer

I'm not so sure it was as much the Cowboys "missing" on Jones as much as it was the Bridgeport product dodging a bullet by not being drafted by the complete trainwreck of an NFL franchise currently wearing stars on their helmets. Jones' fumble recovery helped the 49ers extend their second-half lead over the Saints on the way to victory yesterday. Coupled with the Patriots (and former Frogs Marcus Cannon and Malcolm Williams) completely dismantling the Broncos, there are already three TCU alums that will be playing in the conference championship round next weekend. That number could grow to five if the Packers (with Marshall Newhouse and Herb Taylor) beat the Giants later this afternoon.


Other:

TCU student Kendall Morris to compete for Miss America title
Daily Skiff

I don't have any commentary, but I do have a photo: