Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LOL Tetch

Just because it's never NOT funny.

When I first read the news that Tommy Tuberville was being sued in Federal "Pound me in the ass" court for defrauding investors, my initial thought, "Can fans really sue their coach for defrauding their win/loss record?" Alas, this was not the case, but if the charges hold, Tech could be 2/2 in employing coaches who love legal trouble.

To be honest, white collar charges don't particularly interest me, so if you want the nitty gritty you may want to ask an SMU alum considering most of their dads have probably dabbled in the same activities as Tuberville. But, the "for dummies" version of the charges is basically that Tuberville lied about a lucrative investment opportunity to some potential investors, said investors, no doubt distracted by Tuberville's Dumbo ears, were foolish enough to give him money, the investment went belly up and now they understandably want their dollars back. And while we live in a country where everyone is supposedly innocent until proven guilty, considering it involves an employee of Texas Tech University, I'm not clearing Tuberville of any charges just yet. Let's just hope his defense attorneys do a better job than his defensive staff (sorry, Chad, but you kinda deserve it for stooping to their level, if only for a year).

More than likely this will be the last you hear of this case as it will be settled quietly out of court, but there's a very interesting karmic situation in play here. Could Tech finally be getting their comeuppance for the whole Leach situation? Think about it - Tech fired Leach in December 2009 despite him being by far the most successful Coach in Texas Tech history. Tech fans will toe the company line and suggest that Spike Dykes is actually the greatest in history, but they are all liars. Imagine what Gary Patterson has done at TCU. Now imagine what Gary Patterson has done at TCU, but in a scenario where Dutch Meyer never existed. That's what Leach meant to Tech, and he was fired pretty much for being different and hurting the feelings of the school administration because he wasn't always nice to them. But you all know that, so why am I rehashing?

So like I said - Tech fired Leach in December 2009. Since then, here's a pretty good timeline of what has happened to the Raiders in all of the major sports

  • Football. Leach's DC Ruffin McNeill takes over to coaching duties for the Alamo Bowl, a game that Tech wins. Despite McNeill's popularity with the players, Tech selects the more "proven" commodity in Tuberville to lead the team and McNeill becomes the head man at East Carolina, a state that may or may not exist. Tech fans celebrate the "Tuberville Era" and immediately expect the football gods to reward them for hiring the coach of one of the more wronged Teams in NCAA History, the 2004 Auburn Tigers. The fact that Tuberville managed to become the only SEC Coach in the BCS era to lead his team to an undefeated season yet still get left out of the title game apparently didn't raise any red flags. In his first year, Tech went 8-5 and won something called the "Ticketcity Bowl," which probably won't even exist in two years. For his efforts, Tuberville was given a raise and contract extension. After bringing in the highest rated recruiting class in Texas Tech history, expectations were extremely high for the Raiders this past year. After dispatching then-third ranked Oklahoma mid-season and slipping into the Top 25, the expectations sky rocketed and Tech fans were even heard muttering about making their first BCS game appearance in school history. Naturally, the Raiders would get raped to near death the next week at home against Iowa State and drop their last five overall to miss the post-season entirely. From there Leach would get the gig at Washington State - Pullman, WA may be viewed as the most remote outpost in Division 1, but the folks that say that clearly have never been to Lubbock - where he will be paid as much as he ever made at Tech, has pretty iron-clad job security and incredible expectations of his own. Meanwhile, back in the desert, Tuberville would be forced to turn over his defensive staff for the second year in a row and Craig James is now rumoredly being released from his job at ESPN following a collapsing Senate campaign curiously run on the newly formed Anti-Gay ballot. Oh yeah, and apparently Leach is getting a movie made out of his story if the rumors of a big screen adaptation of Friday Night Lights the TV Series are true. When you put Tuberville's pending lawsuit as the bow on top of it all, I'd say things have been somewhat worse for Tech since they sent the Pirate off to sea.
  • Basketball. You could certainly argue that by allowing noted dickhead Bobby Knight to appoint his even bigger dickhead son -last seen doing THIS - as his successor, Tech made their bed before any of the Leach stuff went down. But the results are very curious. In Knight's first season in 2007-2008, the Raiders went 16-15 and 7-9 in Conference play, highlighted by a take down of #5 ranked UT before losing in the first round of the Conference tournament, about the best you could hope for a first year HC in his first job. In his second year, however, there was drop off as the Raiders only managed to win 3 Big 12 games and were once against bounced in the first round of the Conference tourney. 2009 would only bring 4 Conference wins, although the Raiders would reach the NIT, so Knight was given a little more rope. But any good will generated from that post season berth was done the next year when the Raiders would revert to their sub-500 ways, lose in the first round of Conference tourney for the third time in Knight's four seasons and he would be dismissed. Knight would likely point out that he improved his Conference win total each of those final three seasons, but when said win total has only moved from 3 to 4 to 5, that's not impressing anyone. Tech would then go on to hire recent Kentucky flameout and known drunk Billy Gillespie to return the basketball team to the promised land. I'll admit, despite Gillespie's history, I thought this was pretty much a slam dunk hire by the Raiders given his success coaching UTEP and aggy. The reality of the situation, though? Not so much. The Red Raiders currently sit at 8-21 and 1-16 in Big 12 play. Considering they close their season this weekend against top ten ranked Mizzou, I think we can go ahead and chalk up loss #17 in Conference, something even TCU has never achieved. So for those counting at home, during Leach's first 8 years on campus, Tech went to the post season five times. Since then? Once, and they have clearly bottomed out this year while Leach is rising from the ashes. Eerie.
  • Baseball. To be fair, Tech hasn't been very good at baseball in about 15 years, so it's hard to tie this one directly to Leach. But, since Leach was fired, Head Coach Dan Spencer only sports a .465 winning percentage and has never led the Raiders to the post season. Food for thought.
  • Women's Basketball. I'm hesitant to include "womens sports" in this discussion, but as Tech's wikipedia page decries the women's team as having had the "greatest success of all of its varsity sports," I figured I'd oblige them. Under previous Coach Marsha Sharp, a cursory glance suggests that Tech womens basketball was very good. She has buildings and roads in Lubbock named after her and everything. Current Head Coach Kristy Curry has had success, but in her five years on the sidelines the Raiders haven't gotten anywhere close to the highs they reached under Sharp. And while you're probably thinking, "Why do I give even the tiniest of shits about Tech's womens basketball," those of you who followed the Leach situation closely might recall that Sharp was one of his biggest supporters on campus and they often fought the man together. It could be coincidental, but karma is the harshest of mistresses.
If you've made it this far, you're probably wondering to yourself, "Wait, I thought this was a post about Tommy Tuberville's transgressions. Was that lead-in just an excuse to bash the current state of Tech athletics across the board?" And if you even have to ask yourself that sort of question, clearly you're unfamiliar with the operations manual around these parts. I don't necessarily believe in curses and karma and all that hoodoo voodoo bullshit, but Tech is a VERY interesting case study in such things nonetheless.

But if you're still not convinced, think of this -perhaps the BIGGEST development to come about post-Leach, and the one most detrimental to Tech's athletic success going forward? Why, TCU's invitation to the Big 12, of course! Think of it - other than the West Texas kids who want to stay local and the kids too dumb to get into other Texas schools, the only recruiting tool Tech had at their fingertips to hold over TCU was their BCS status. Having lost that, when going to head to head on future recruits, what's their pitch? "Why go to a school with an overwhelmingly lop sided in your favor ratio of beautiful women sitting in one of the most livable cities in America that also features easy access to Dallas, brand spanking new facilities and funding out the wazzoo when you COULD come to the barren wasteland that is Lubbock where your first thought every morning when waking up hungover and looking at the 3 next to you is whether or not today is the day you die of syphillis?"

Convinced of the Curse of the Leach yet?

I Hate Sports

My commute to work this morning was a lot more musical than normal. That's because when I have a grumpy-face sports experience like I did last night, I tend to shy away from my usual sports-talk companions for my drive. Compounding this was the fact that 91.7 is in the middle of their fundraising drive, so I couldn't even listen to good music on the radio. You know what's more annoying than commercials? Being repeatedly asked to donate to your station. I'm too embarrassed to admit what sorry excuses for radio stations I tuned into today.

Not that The Ticket or 103.3 or whatever that other sports station is would even talk about TCU unless, you know, there was some kind of overblown negative story in which they could attempt to take their pound of purple flesh. So my evasive radio maneuvering may have been for nothing because they weren't going to mention TCU's 1-0 baseball loss to Texas State or their 71-59 basketball loss to Wyoming. But they were sure going to be talking about the cherry on my shit sports sundae, the Mavs' 93-92 loss to their future point guard, Deron Williams, and the dreadful New Jersey Nets. I know there are plenty of Spit Blood readers (and about half of our contributors) that find pleasure in the Mavs' suffering, though, so I'll focus more on the crotch-kick that last night was for the purple & white.

The most frustrating thing about the 1-0 loss to Texas State is that the slew of newcomer pitchers Schloss put on the mound last night pitched well enough for the Frogs to win. Brandon Finnegan struck out 8 in his 5 innings of work, while fellow freshman Preston Morrison and JUCO transfers Justin Scharf and Kevin Allen combined for four scoreless innings of relief work in which they showed the ability to work out of jams and keep TCU in the game. The offense simply didn't show up for this one, managing to reach base a grand total of just 6 times all night while striking out 13 times as a team. It should be noted that the Frogs committed 3 errors, and really 4 if you count the stolen base Morrison allowed in the 7th when he failed to monitor the runner at second after surrendering a walk. Those miscues didn't lead to any additional runs, but they are the same kind of problems that faced this team all last season. I'm hopeful to see them come to an end soon.

If you don't believe that our own Sir Wesley Willis is some kind of mad basketball genius and didn't pay attention to his three keys to last night's game in his preview, maybe you should reconsider. Key #1: get Amric Fields involved. When the on-again/off-again superstar in the making plays well, the Frogs win. But he scored just 6 points on just 7 field goal attempts last night in Laramie. Sure, that's somewhat efficient- but it's also the mark of someone who was fairly absent. Key #2: three-point shooting. The Frogs have lived on the three ball in many of their big wins, but they died by it last night by shooting just 6 of 22 (27%) from beyond the arc. Key #3: pressure defense. Like long-range shooting, TCU's tenacity on defense has been a big reason why they've turned things around this year. But last night, they allowed Wyoming to shoot a blistering 53% from the field and forced just one turnover the entire game. Going 0 for 3 in those key areas hurt, as did not having a single player record more than 4 rebounds and shooting 57% from the free-throw stripe as a team.

But you know me, I'm not enough of a pessimist to stay down in the dumps over these losses for too long. Both teams have a chance to turn things around quite quickly, with Oklahoma State coming to Lupton for a three-game set this weekend and Jim Christian's squad having a chance for a third consecutive win over a Top 25 team when San Diego State visits on Saturday night. Hopefully some big wins in those games will re-ignite my appetite for sports. Until then, I'm thinking about going home sick for the rest of today to watch the cable marathon of "Leap Dave Williams" and turn my sports tears into candy.

Morning Dump

Basketball:

TCU men follow major upset with deflating loss Star-Telegram

Frogs fall at Wyoming in MWC road finale gofrogs.com

Defense helps TCU women wrap up #4 seed for MWC Tournament
Star-Telegram

Lady Frogs close out regular season by beat Wyoming, 58-48 gofrogs.com


Baseball:

TCU falls to 2-5 after coming up empty Tuesday night
Star-Telegram

Frogs stymied in 1-0 loss to Texas State gofrogs.com


Football:

Ed Wesley briefly considered NFL, but decided to stay for senior year Star-Telegram


The University:



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Last Trip to Doo Doo Brown Town.

This video is actually called "Doo Doo Brown"

Before we get into the preview of tonight's suddenly pivotal Basketball game, a reflection is in order. Barring a chance meeting in the Conference tournament or NIT, this is the last meaningful game a TCU team will play against the Doo Doo Browns as Conference foes. You see, it's apparently too cold to play baseball in those parts and all of the other relevant sports have completed their seasons, so, Frog fans, this is it. We'll never get to see another Wyoming player leaving a poo poo tee tee colored skid mark on the court or field against TCU. And for that, we're at least a little sad. Guess we'll have to dump our digestive tract themed insults on Texas and their viciously diarrheal choice of a school color. Sigh...

But enough of that particularly 8th grade themed trip down memory lane because there's a pretty major game going on tonight in Laramie. To refresh, TCU currently sits at 17-11 and at 7-5 in Conference play which is good enough for second place in the MWC behind co-leaders UNLV, SDSU and UNM. Wyoming is 19-9 overall, but only 5-7 in the Conference which places them 4th. Neither team is getting much NCAA love, and they shouldn't, but both are VASTLY improved from last season and doing the unthinkable by competing for a post-season berth of any kind. Christian should be the MWC Coach of the year, but unless CSU makes the dance, Wyoming's Larry Shyatt is the only other choice.

So, you're probably thinking, "Wyoming? They have basketball there? I thought that state was only good for fishing and naked-men-in-barreling?" Valid points, but as mentioned above, Wyoming has put together a very solid season in what is considered one of the toughest Conferences in all of college basketball, and they've scored a few upsets along the way. After barreling their way through non-con play with a 14-2 record, the Cowboys have cooled off a bit in Conference, going 1-4 against the "Big Three" to this point. However, the one win came against a then hot UNLV team and while they were swept by UNM and SDSU, they forced the Aztecs into overtime in one game and were never blown out, something TCU can't necessarily say. And, as teased earlier, they have protected their home court all year. They currently sport a 13-3 record in what I presume is also the highest elevation for a basketball court in the nation. Two of those losses were to SDSU and UNM with the third being their only "bad" loss, to AF. That Air Force loss was also their most recent. With tonight being Senior night in Laramie, they have multiple reasons for wanting to pull out a W.

As for TCU, we're all well familiar with their road woes. The Frogs are 3-7 in true road games this season and would be in the middle of a 7 game losing streak were it not for the come from behind win at Air Force last week. However, ignoring the blip at Boise, the Frogs are playing with a confidence not seen around these parts in quite some time and Saturday's dominant win over UNM showed a side to this team that no one knew existed. As TCU has weathered a mediocre start to finish the season strong, Wyoming is going to opposite direction, losing four straight after their upset of UNLV before Saturday's win against a bad yet annoying Boise team. Could the difference in the trajectories of their momentum be the difference maker to get TCU over their road slump?

Comparing apples to apples, TCU beat Wyoming way back on the first day of the month at Amon G by a score of 58-52 despite a big night from the Pokes Leonard Washington. On that night no one from TCU did anything too special - Craig Williams dropped 13 and Amric Fields tossed in his make or break 10, but the Frogs only made 6 three pointers and Garlon Green was held scoreless from the field. They also shot a miserable 58% from the line. The biggest thing that helped the Frogs win was Wyoming missing 14 threes and getting no contributions from their bench - every single point was scored by a Cowboys starter. It's hard to win when your backups don't get off the bus.

Three Keys to the Game:
  1. Get Amric Fields involved. I've said it before, but I'll go ahead and say it again. When Amric Fields gets into double digits, chances are the Frogs will win. For the season they are 12-5 when he hits that milestone. Ok, so those aren't the BEST odds, but if you've even watched the most minute amount of TCU basketball you'll understand where I'm coming from. With his size and ability, Fields is capable of becoming a game changer every night out. He doesn't have to come up huge, but if he plays to his averages we should be fine.
  2. Threes. At present, TCU is the most potent three point shooting team in the Conference, so its no coincidence that in the two most recent upsets, a barrage of threes has played a major role. Hopefully it won't take getting into double digits there as it has in the past, but a healthy dose from long range has seemed to do the trick this year. Hopefully that train keeps rolling against a Wyoming team that is only allowing opponents to shoot 36% from long range.
  3. Pressure Defense. There are three things Wyoming does not do all that well - score points, rebound and distribute assists. They've won most of their games with a high pressure defense that ranks 4th in the country in points allowed and their offense only has to do JUST enough to win. This is pretty much the opposite of what TCU does - the Frogs score a lot of points, but they have to because they give up a lot as well. Seriously, look how even it is - 70.5 points for per game/70.7 against. That's a pretty dangerous situation to be in. TCU isn't going to turn into the 1980 Detroit Pistons in an afternoon, but they're going to have to keep Wyoming's scoring below their average in order to pull this one out because I don't see the Frogs having any sort of pointsplosion, especially at their place. If the Frogs can beat Wyoming at their own game, they should win this one.
To be frank, I'm pretty concerned about tonight. For one, look at what has happened after TCU's other two "marquee" wins this season. Following a win over a then-hot UVA squad, the Frogs were pummeled by the MEAC's Norfolk State. After the huge comeback against UNLV came the blown shot at Boise. For another, based on their 260th ranked defense, TCU typically needs to score a a few dozen points to win, something Wyoming is not excited about giving up. Plus TCU's road situation has left a LOT to be desired. On a neutral court the Frogs win this one; at Home, they win running away. They're the better team, but as we all know the better team doesn't always win. I see this one being tightly contested going down to the final possessions, but in the end the Cowboys notch win number 20.

reverse jinx reverse jinx reverse jinx

TCU vs. Texas State preview

Freshman Brandon Finnegan takes the hill at Lupton tonight

It's a big night for Horned Frog athletics this evening as the basketball and baseball teams are both in action. Jim Christian and his Basketfrogs take their postseason hopes to Laramie for their final regular-season match up against Doo-Doo Brown in the MWC, but Sir Wesley will have more on that game later. I'm here to talk about Jim Schlossnagle and his TCU baseball team being back in action at home tonight, trying to right the ship following their 2-4 start to the season when they host Texas State at 6:30pm.

True freshman Brandon Finnegan is slated to start for the Frogs. The former ace at Southwest High School and Rangers' draft pick is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three appearances so far this year. His last appearance was on Saturday against Cal State-Fullerton, when he allowed two base runners (one walk and one single) in a scoreless inning and a third. In a radio interview, Schlossnagle stated that he expects big things from Finnegan once he starts to trust his off-speed pitches as much as he relies on his fastball.

Opposing Finnegan for Texas State will be semi-local senior Mitchell Pitts. A former all-district selection at Flower Mound Marcus, Pitts has compiled a 10-5 record in his three plus seasons in San Marcos. He was the Bobcats' #2 weekend starter last year, but so far in 2011 has only made one start- last Wednesday against Baylor, in which he was roughed up by the Bears for five runs and six hits in just four and two-thirds innings.

At the plate, Texas State is paced by three guys who have enjoyed a hot start to the 2012 season. Second baseman Tyler Sibley, shortstop Nick Smelser and outfielder Jeff McVaney are all batting above .320 and all have on-base percentages of above .340. Also keep an eye on catcher/first baseman Casey Kalenkosky, who provides the most power in the Bobcat lineup. He leads the team in home runs (3), runs batted in (7) and slugging percentage (.679). Overall, they are batting .261 as a team, compared with the Frogs' .262 collective average.

Like the Frogs, Texas State has had some issues on defense. While some of our fans are concerned over the 8 errors that the Frogs have committed so far, the Bobcats have committed 11 already as a team. I hope TCU doesn't need Texas State's poor defense to be able to beat them for the 9th consecutive time and climb back toward .500 for the season.

Morning Dump

Baseball:

Three strikes: week two Baseball America

Basketball:



Golf:

Tennis:

Alumni:

Radio:

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's Next for the BasketFrogs?

naaaaaaah.

Surely by now everyone here is familiar with TCU's stunning upset of 18th ranked New Mexico this past Saturday at the DMC. You're also all probably pretty aware that the most shocking thing about it wasn't the tic mark in the win column - it was the final score of 83-64. Now is where you would typically slip in the usual, "AND IT WASN'T EVEN THAT CLOSE" type jargon, but when you beat a top 20 team by 19 points - one that had drummed you by 17 not long before - I think it's fair to say that the final margin looks almost generous. And, not to toot my own horn - ok, to toot my own horn - I pretty much called it earlier in the week, albeit while at the same time suggesting we would lose to Air Force.

Still - I don't think anyone expected the goings on of Saturday, and you're a liar if you say you did. With the score tied at halftime and UNM shooting a comfortable percentage from the field, the Frogs absolutely clamped down after the half, holding the Lobos to 40% shooting at a dreadful 4/17 night from long range. The game was back and forth to begin the half, but a brief episode of the Amric Fields Show broke and the game was never in doubt. Fields didn't have a huge night - just 11 points on a rough 3/12 night from the field - but it's WHEN he scored that put the game away. Consider - with 11.5 minutes to go in the second half the Frogs led 50-48 off of a Connell Crossland put back dunk. At the time, Fields had scored 0 points and it looked like he was going to be a complete non-factor in the outcome of the game. ONE MINUTE later, TCU led 58-48 after 8 consecutive points by Fields. You see what happens, Larry? You see what happens when Amric Fields plays to his potential? From there, the Frogs would slowly pull away as New Mexico was apparently overwhelmed by the intimidating atmosphere of the cavernous DMC.

The Frogs have now beaten three Top 25 caliber teams this year, and two in a row for the second time in school history. True, TCU pretty much has to hit double digit 3-pointers to win either game, but statistically they are the best at that in the Conference, so a cold night would be unexpected. At 17-11, TCU guarantees themselves a winning record for the first time since the Santee era and sit alone in second place in the MWC. With wins over Wyoming and San Diego State to close things out, they would have a genuine shot at tying for the Conference title with second place being a worse case scenario.

Let that last sentence sink in for a little while.

Ok, ok, so I'm still not ready to buy in completely. I've said enough negative things about the basketball team to date that it'd be beyond fairweather and hypocritical of me to all of a sudden sing their praises. That said, if Jim Christian isn't a shoo-in as MWC Coach of the Year, then they should probably do away with the award. We all know the bare bones situation he inherited when he came in, so there's no need to rehash. But it seems like we all, myself included, completely disregarded the rebuilding situation he had to deal with by suggesting that he wasn't the guy. I'd say taking a 1-15 MWC team from last season and turning them into the most dangerous team in the Conference at present turned those tables a bit.

About that post season stuff though... at present, there isn't any late breaking information and you won't find our name in any of Bracketology predictions. However, I think we're a LOCK for the NIT barring a three game losing streak to end the season/tournament. TCU is currently sitting at 83 in the RPI rankings, up about a dozen spots from earlier in the week. Thanks to the narrow losses at Colorado State, SMU and Boise, TCU is very, very much on the outside looking in for an NCAA berth; Win those and, based on the recent resume, the Frogs are on the bubble at the very least. If we're being realistic, the NCAA's will more than likely require getting in via a Conference Tourney Championship. But considering that this time last year the Frogs were in the midst of a 13 game slide, it's nothing short of amazing that we're having any sort of post-season discussion in the first place.

So what can we expect from TCU going forward these last two games and into the Conference tournament to boost that resume? According to Teamrankings.com, not too much. TCU currently projects as having a 0% chance of winning the Conference regular season crown and only a 1% chance of winning the tournament. Considering the Frogs would have to make up two games with two to go to win the Conference outright, and that the tourney isn't at Amon G, these are probably fair assessments. But still... who wants to play TCU right now?

I earlier suggested that TCU would likely win Saturday and a week later against San Diego State with a loss at Wyoming sandwiched in between, and I'm not yet ready to waver from that. Wyoming may only be 5-7 in MWC play but they are an impressive 13-3 at home including a win over UNLV, although all three losses have been in Conference play. We plan on having a more comprehensive preview the day of the game though, so that's all we'll discuss here. As for San Diego State, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it as well. For now, let's just enjoy the ride the best TCU Basketball team of the past near-decade is taking us on.

TCU-Fullerton recap

Alright, fair-weather TCU fans. It's time to jump off the baseball bandwagon. At 2-4, this year's squad is obviously not going anywhere- so why waste your time with them? For the rest of us that realize there is going to be a significant learning curve for such a young (and injury-riddled) team, though, it's nice to see some gritty performances by freshmen and sophomores in this tough opening stretch of the season- even if the downs have the ups out-numbered so far.

Nobody filled the role of a young player stepping up in a big moment this weekend more than Jerrick Suiter. The 6'4" 235lb true freshman from Indiana, made his debut at the plate on Friday (although he did pitch 2/3rds of an inning last week against Baylor) with two outs in the top of the 8th, two runners on and the Frogs trailing 1-0. The first pitch he saw turned into a triple, and he later scored himself to provide the difference in the 3-2 win.

But Suiter wasn't alone in illustrating the good things that are still to come for this green squad. Freshman shortstop Derek O'Dell had a hit in all three games, including his first career home run on Saturday. Braden Mattson had two timely hits and drew two walks on the weekend, while showing that he can catch as well as play first if needed. Reliever Preston Morrison had another great outing, working a very efficient three scoreless innings to help preserve Friday's victory.

Of the veterans on the squad, it was good to see the bats of outfielders Jason Coats and Kyle Von Tungeln come alive this weekend. Coats spread seven hits over the weekend, including a 4-5 performance on Sunday that fueled the near-comeback. Von Tungeln had five hits in the series, including his first career home run. On the mound, Andrew Mitchell played the role of staff ace well on Friday when he struck out 12 batters in his five innings of work. Closer Kaleb Merck struck out four in his three scoreless innings of work, and sophomore righty Nick Frey worked three gutsy innings of relief on Sunday- keeping the Titans at bay while the Frogs nearly rallied to win the game.

The next eight games are at home, and all against teams that the younger players on the roster will see a lot of over the next few years (Texas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Tech). Hopefully a few more of the vets can get back to normal (or in a lot of cases, healthy) and a few more of the new guys can start to make their own contributions as this team begins to erase the memory of this sub-.500 first part of the season.

Morning Dump

Baseball:



Basketball:

Rifle:

Alumni:


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frogs lose one LB, but gain two

The TCU linebacking corps has lost another upperclassman, as the rumor that has been making the rounds for a while now about Greg Burks' career being over has been confirmed. At the same time, though, the Frogs have received their first commitment for the 2013 recruiting class from a linebacker and have also moved a promising sophomore to the position.

Losing Burks obviously hurts on two fronts. He's been one of the top special teams performers on the team for years, where he always seemed to be a part of the action and made a couple of highlight-reel hits. Buried on the depth chart for years because of the glut of talent on the team, he was going to be a key part of the linebacker depth as a senior. We here at Spit Blood wish him the best of luck in finishing his degree and whatever other endeavors he takes on in his life after football.

Taking his place, though, is another athlete that started to make his mark on special teams as a redshirt freshman last year. Antonio Graves is a former high school quarterback turned safety turned wide receiver now turned linebacker. He'll now try to follow in the footsteps of guys like Chase Ortiz, Maurice Bouldwin, Jason Phillips and Ryan Christian who thrived after changing positions during their time at TCU. No word yet on whether or not he'll keep jersey #19, but I think it'd be pretty tight* to see a linebacker with that number.

There's another new addition to the Horned Frog linebacker stable, but this one still has a year to go in his high school career. GP got his first commitment in the 2013 recruiting class this weekend when Arlington High's Sammy Douglas made his pledge to TCU. As a junior this past fall, Douglas racked up 148 tackles (including a high of 18 in one game), 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Check out his video right here:



*-The dream of the '90s is alive on Spit Blood. And if you appreciate the reference, I've got some more good news- you can pickle that.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Schadenfraude

Will work* for food

I'm not sure my weekend could've started out any better. Our days of watching Craig James' inferior broadcasting ability on ESPN are apparently over, according to a recent post on Deadspin. An unnamed spokesman for the network, in a conversation with a Sports Illustrated reporter, said that they have no intention of bringing James back after his campaign for Texas' vacant U.S. Senate seat.

That's double bad news for ol' Craigy, because his trainwreck of a campaign appears to be drawing closer and closer to its inevitable dismal conclusion. In a recent debate, James affixed himself to the outdated notion that being gay is a choice, and that they would "have to answer to the Lord for their actions". Whoa! You know who makes claims like that about homosexuality? Closeted homosexuals who are ashamed of who they really are....just sayin'. I generally hate politics, but watching this dumbass go down in flames is going to be more fun than watching A-Rod strike out looking to end the 2010 ALCS.

*- skills include killing hookers, cheating at college football, producing offspring as obnoxiously cocky and entitled as himself, and being a helicopter dad.

Spit Blood Predictions: TCU/New Mexico Hoops

As each recent winter has turned to spring and every level-headed sports fan in America turned into a raving, lunatic basketball junkie, much of the fervor took place without the Frogs playing much of a part. The handful of hardcore TCU basketball fans, myself included, have a wish list scaled down significantly from that of fans at schools like Kansas, Kentucky or UConn. We don't demand national titles, Final 4 appearances or All-America honors for our players. We don't expect Sweet 16 runs or conference titles like many other fanbases do. We just want, at the very least, to get to experience a big-game atmosphere 1 or 2 times a year.

Here's our chance, folks. Let's make it happen.

With 16 wins to their name this season, the 2011-2012 Frogs are already the most successful team TCU has had in recent memory. They've taken down two teams currently ranked in the Top 25 (Virginia and UNLV), and have a chance for a third when #18 New Mexico visits Fort Worth tomorrow night. While Sir Wesley Willis has lamented their road woes, this is a completely different team at home. Thus far, their 12-2 record in the friendly confines of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum has been accomplished without the benefit of a proper (insane) home crowd.

Other than trying to rally the troops for the biggest home game in quite some time, the purpose of this post is to test the Spit Blood readers with their skills at predicting the future. It's time for you to log your predictions for the weekend in TCU sports. In the comments section, let us us know your answer to the following:

-What will be the final score of the TCU-UNM basketball game?

-What will the attendance be? How electric can Frog fans make our cozy home arena?

-Who will be the high scorer for TCU?

-How will the baseball Frogs fare in their tough road series against Cal State-Fullerton?

-Who will shine for Schlossnagle's squad at the plate, on the mound and in the field?

-How many total combined seconds will you watch of the Oscars and the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday?

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #1

Will James Dunbar finally live up to his enormous potential this spring?

One of the major reasons for optimism heading into TCU's first season in the Big 12 is the offensive firepower that the Frogs will bring with them to the new league. Record-breaking quarterback Casey Pachall, potential All-American wide receiver Josh Boyce and a stable full of NFL-caliber running backs will grab a lot of headlines this fall if they lead the Frogs to as many wins as expected. But the foundation of a productive offense is a dominant offensive line, and TCU's need to replace three departed starters makes this unit the top question facing the program entering spring practice.

The two full-time starters returning from last year's squad are center James Fry and right guard Blaize Foltz. Both seniors, Fry and Foltz will need to step up into leadership roles the way Eddie Williamson-coached seniors have done year after year at TCU.

Coming into spring as favorites to fill the starting jobs on the outside of the line are junior James Dunbar at left tackle and sophomore Tayo Fabuluje at right tackle. Dunbar was in a similar situation last year, but failed to capitalize before missing all but five games last season due to academic issues. Fabuluje, who started his college career at BYU, sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules. Pushing them for starting duties this spring will be sophomore Nykiren Wellington as well as redshirt freshmen Carter Wall and Bobby Thompson. None of the three have played a snap at TCU.

Before his dismissal from the team last week, Ty Horn was the likely starter at left guard. Instead, John Wooldridge comes into spring as the leading candidate to start in that slot. A junior from Houston, Wooldridge has played in 12 games over the past two seasons. Gunning for his job will be sophomore Michael Thompson, who was impressive in six games last year before hurting a knee, and redshirt freshman Brady Foltz- Blaize's younger brother. Senior Trevius Jones, who has played in 8 games in his time at TCU, and redshirt freshman Jamelle Naff will provide depth behind the elder Foltz on the right side.

Junior Eric Tausch, a Dallas Jesuit product who has appeared in 14 games over the past two seasons including a start against Portland State last year, is currently listed as Fry's understudy at center.

Like at safety, I wouldn't be surprised to see some mixing and matching all along the offensive line. The coaching staff will want the best five guys in the starting lineup, so you may see players not only moving up and down on the depth chart but perhaps even switching positions along the line. Eric Tausch and Michael Thompson, for instance, among others, could probably slide a slot or two down the line if depth necessitated it.

How do you see the offensive line shaping up this spring? Who will the starters be, and which younger players do you think will open some eyes with their surprising performances? Or are you one of those people who, sans stats, can't tell whether or not an O-lineman is even playing well?

Fratastic Friday


IF YOU'RE AT WORK - YOU MAY WANT TO WATCH THIS LATER.
I send you out into the weekend with this. Be smart, don't deal drugs, and lock up any blow torches that might be laying around the house. Follow these three rules guys, and we might just be able to avoid the headlines for a week.

Morning Dump

Football:



Baseball:



Swimming:

Big 12:



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spitblood Discussion Question: Change.

Chris Del Conte

As vikingfrog pointed out to me in a non-spitblood setting earlier today, it's kind of interesting how little attention the whole Texas Cartel University situation received when compared to the onslaught of opinions from commenters old and new regarding the proposed mascot reconfiguration. Your school and football team being dragged through the mud by over zealous police officers with questionable agendas in a manner so hasty that they misidentified a key suspect so eager were they to bring the "accusations" to light? Meh, what're you gonna do? But Phil Knight's crew trying to take an already weak representation of your mascot and make it slightly more threatening all in the name of recruiting and shitton of new uniform combinations intended to paint the blank canvases of high school recruits minds purple? OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!! I'm not sure what that says about everyone's priorities, but we probably shouldn't think too hard about it if we want to keep our collective sense of self worth high.

Fortunately for you guys, though, it appears TCU heard your cries of "help! police! murder!" regarding the proposed mascoticide as CDC directly addressed the situation in his Notes on a Scorecard. Copy/Paste ENGAGE:

TCU is fulfilling its ambitious vision for the future through our long-term relationship with the world's most innovative brand, Nike. We have enlisted their branding, product and design talent to help us achieve our goals to continue to transform TCU into a world-class institution. One piece of this is powerful and unique branding that's consistent across all athletics and allows us to respect the past and represent the bright future of TCU. Much like we saw a few weeks ago when a "leaked" version of our football schedule made the rounds and wound up being different than our actual slate, we are in ongoing discussions with Nike and nothing has been finalized in regards to a new logo.

So, at least for now, it would appear you can put the torches and pitchforks away and return to your regularly scheduled afternoon lack of doing real, actual work. But before you do so, re-read that last sentence again.

I'm not using this post as a vehicle to suggest that Spitblood as a singularly entity is important or widespread enough to warrant change regarding anything on campus. In fact, I HIGHLY doubt any TCU administrators visit the site regularly, if at all; CDC once stated he had heard of SB but had never visited, an assertion I would deem to be true. We can all agree that if the powers that be paid attention to what was written on the message boards and heeded the advice contained therein, AGC would never be undergoing a facelift that would cause re-seating for, heaven forbid, the sake of progress. Not to mention Casey Pachall would be kicked off the team for running the largest drug smuggling ring this side of the border and every single Coach in the University system would've been fired at one point or another. The University has plenty of properly informed decision makers controlling the purse strings and wielding an ax when it comes to big time, University rebranding scenarios such as this one.

But... it can't be a coincidence that he addressed the issue and denied anything being final ONE DAY AFTER Spitblood created an uproar, right?
Spitblood isn't the most heavily trafficked of the major TCU fan sites, but we are the ones who published the "leaked" schedule first. Sure, it turned out to be incorrect, but at the time we had no reason to believe that, and it at least generated some fun, harmless discussion. We're also the ones who generated the most pageviews for the "leaked" mascot, an image which most of us had seen over a week ago but one that we chose to keep under wraps until receiving enough assurances that it was accurate so as not to jump the gun again. Clearly we may have done so, but, again, we had no reason to believe that we were receiving false information. We may not have well connected golf course sources, but the few we do have proven reliable in the past. And who can forget the Rose Bowl uniform fiasco?

Personally, I believe the schedule leak was speculation on the part of someone in the know and, in the age of instant information, a private email was circulated to an entire fanbase, causing no harm except for the permanent damage my circulatory system received at the proposed SMU/Tech/Baylor circuit. And rectifying the Rose Bowl uniform situation more than likely had everything to do with the coaching staff, the team and the major players in the athletic department. The average fan such as ourselves may have agreed with the decision, but we're kidding ourselves if we think we had anything to do with it.

But I find I find it EXTREMELY convenient that SB posts a rumored change, the readership revolts, and TCU makes a swift announcement that "nothing has been finalized" and "discussions with Nike are ongoing." It's just too perfect. Again, I don't genuinely think that major decisions are made based solely on message board chatter, but with the vast majority of your fanbase having the ability to give their opinions instantaneously in a public forum, I'd be stunned if our kind didn't at least have SOME influence.

Could we have been the force driving the head honchos back to the table? Is SB finally relevant in the real world? All I know is, if CDC is secretly using the Spitblood comment section as a secret focus group, at least he goes with an award winning group such as yourselves. And if the final version of the new mascot comes back as a disembodied head with blood shooting from its eyes? We certainly have a case for copyrighting that sucker. So give yourselves a big ole pat on the back, Spitblood, and have a drink to celebrate a job well done.

Now that I've properly buried the discussion question - Since we are now activists for University change, how else can we use our power for good? Make the band stop jingling their keys in blowout games? Enact a, "If you can physically stand and cheer but won't, not even in game-altering situations where the crowd noise could legitimately swing the outcome in TCU's favor, get the hell out!!" policy for season ticket holders? Petition the football team to train a horse to kick field goals next year because they have strong legs and can be locked in pens without fear of retribution, or at least put ankle monitors on our real life human kickers to assure legal compliance? The sky is seriously the limit, guys. Get to it!

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #2

One of the most difficult- and most beautiful- things about the TCU defense is that, in the 4-2-5 scheme, the linebackers and safeties are each asked to essentially perform the duties of a player and a half. When things are going right, it can seem at times like there are 12 or 13 players on the field because of how swiftly the Frog defenders close the open spaces that opposing offenses seek. When things are going as well, the intricacies of the scheme can seem to overwhelm inexperienced defenders, delaying reaction time and resulting in extra yardage gained and points scored by opponents. That's why, with such a young group of safeties, this position is second my list of questions facing the Frogs heading into spring practice.

Coming into spring as tentative starters are junior Elisha Olabode at free, sophomore Sam Carter at strong and sophomore Jonathan Anderson at weak safety. Olabode, who played well at corner as a true freshman out of Cedar Hill in 2010, totaled 15 tackles as well as 2 pass break-ups and a fumble recovery last year while playing in all 13 games as Johnny Fobbs' backup at free safety. Carter, a converted quarterback, had 8 tackles in 11 games last year to go along with a pass break-up. Anderson, seen as many by the safety with the most star potential, had 49 tackles a year ago while making one start. He opened many eyes with his performance in the win over BYU, when he had 11 tackles (6 of them solo) and an interception.

The only other safeties on the roster with game experience are junior Trent Thomas and sophomore Geoff Hooker. Thomas started four games early in the season, and ended the year with 18 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. He opens spring as the third-team weak safety. Hooker, a walk-on from Sherman, earned himself some special teams playing time late in the 2011 season and registered 3 tackles. He is the third team option at free safety.

A trio of redshirt freshmen open the spring as second-stringers at each of the safety positions. Chris Hackett, out of Tyler, will be gunning for Olabode's job at free. James Bailey, a speedster from Everman, will be working to unseat Carter at strong and Quincy Aldridge, out of Whitehouse (the same high school as Luke Shivers) will be chasing Anderson's role as starting weak safety. A fourth redshirt freshman, the hard-hitting Florida native Jamie Byrd, comes into spring as the third option at strong safety.

If there is one position at which Patterson isn't hesitant to make a quick switch, it is safety. He will change his depth chart multiple times while he figures out which combination of athletes will make the most plays, and that is especially true now that Chad Glasgow is back to coach the safeties after spending one year in the barren wasteland they call "Lubbock". If starting and second-team positions are not set in stone by the end of spring drills, look for a talented trio of true freshman (the Georgia duo of Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore as well as Derrick Kindred out of San Antonio) to be given their own chance to break into the rotation.

Who do you predict will step up this spring to claim starting roles at each of the three safety positions? Which of the redshirt freshman will impress the most? The posts about the rumored new logo showed that you guys are wanting to have your voice heard in the comments section, so let's hear your opinions!

Chris Del Conte live chat

AD Chris Del Conte will be hosting another of his live web chats today at 3:30 CT. We'll put a little something special together for anyone who can get SpitBlood some airtime.

Reverse Jinxes are Cool.

TCU is Bob Wiley and the Postseason is Dr. Leo Marvin.

Yeah, so about that whole, "TCU is totally losing to Air Force" thing... GOTCHA, SUCKERS!!! A BRILLIANTLY orchestrated reverse jinx by THIS guy was clearly the impetus behind TCU's come from behind, three point win over the Air Forces last night. Right, Bill Simmons? (wanking motion). The win by no means washes off the stigma of the recent road losses to SMU and Boise, but it certainly allows the team to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they have Conference road win #1 under their belts.

(Ignores the sadness in the fact the win didn't come until the second to last roadie)

However, the biggest takeaway from this game comes in the oh-so-important RPI boost it gave the Frogs. Heading into last night's game, TCU was ranked 106th and in danger of slipping outside of lyle's carefully measured 129 spot window for the postseason with a loss. But as of this morning the Frogs have clambered up to 95th and, with a few well placed wins to close out the season, could threaten a coveted - at least around these parts - NIT bid. Falling short of that, though, you'd have to think that TCU has become a big enough name nationally to at least gain an invite to one of the ever-increasing shit tournament littering the month of March, a milestone for a program as destitute as ours.

But, to play homer for a second, the NCAA Tournament isn't ENTIRELY out of the picture. Of course, it would likely take the Frogs running the table to close out the season and a deep run in the post-season tournament, likely to the Championship game, which is a pretty unfathomable situation. But, consider this - the Frogs close out Conference play against late-blooming favorite UNM and season-long front runner SDSU at home where they are riding a 7 game win streak, with their road game coming against a fading Wyoming team. Those two home games give TCU what is likely one of the toughest season ending stretches in the country, not to mention the biggest chance to make a last minute statement which is incredibly important to the selection committee. Lose both of them and the Frogs drop spots, but it wouldn't be fatal to their post season hopes. Split them, and the Frogs probably gain ground but are still NIT bound at best. Win both? The NCAA is not in focus and a deep tourney run would still be in order, but having those two pelts alongside those from tourney bound UNLV and Virginia isn't exactly a bad resume. It still might not be enough, but nevertheless it would make for the most anticipated Conference tourney of the Jim Christian era and would leave no team wanting to face the suddenly dangerous Frogs.

Of course, the Frogs would probably sandwich those wins with a loss at Wyoming in between cancelling out all goodwill, so yeah, the NCAA Tournament is out of the picture. But a fan can enjoy the ride and have his delusional dreams anyway, right?

(reverse jinx, reverse jinx, reverse jinx).

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #3

The area that needed the most improvement at the beginning of the 2011 season, pass defense, ended up indeed being the area that the Frogs improved upon the most by the end of the fall. They never did get all the way to where TCU defense of the past have been, though, and this fall the secondary will face a whole new wave of challenges in the pass-happy Big 12. That's why, along with graduation and out-going transfers, cornerback registers as the #3 question facing the Frogs heading into spring practice- and (SPOILER ALERT!) why safety registers in the next slot at #2.

Despite his recurring ability to be beaten by the long play, Greg McCoy was a mostly reliable corner whose speed will be sorely missed now that he's graduated. Travaras Battle was seen as an up & comer at the cornerback position, who had paid his dues in the special teams realm (remember his fantastic play downing a punt near the goal line in the Rose Bowl?) and was looking to transfer his talents to the defense. His departure from the program after the 2011 season has depleted the depth at bit at a position where the Frogs have historically had trouble finding quality backups.

Jason Verrett, who perhaps personified the Frogs' defensive improvement last year more than anyone as he ended up with 58 tackles, and interception and 4 other passes deflected, is likely to hold on to his starting job as a junior this fall. Coming into the spring, sophomore Kevin White is the leading candidate to start opposite Verrett. White played in 12 games last fall, and had 18 tackles.

Pressing White for that other starting job (and really, even pressing Verrett for his- I wouldn't consider him a lock) will be three guys we haven't seen on the field yet. Keivon Gamble, who transferred in this semester after a stellar two years at Trinity Valley CC, is probably the most likely to crash the starting lineup. Travoskey Garrett, a 6'1" redshirt freshman from Lufkin who many felt would make an impact last year before being injured in fall camp, may have something to say about that, though. Fellow redshirt freshman Kolby Griffin was also highly regarded coming out of high school in the Houston area, so he is another candidate. Rounding out the pre-spring depth chart is senior walk-on Brian Alexis, who hasn't played much over the years but did perform admirably in an emergency fill-in role in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State as a redshirt freshman.

Unlike at many other positions, there isn't the looming threat of an uber-talented true freshman that will arrive in the fall, threatening to take incumbents' hard-earned jobs. While there are a few members of the incoming recruiting class that could play corner, none of them have been specifically tabbed as a future CB. That's why it will be up the to the guys listed above to find, amongst themselves, two suitable starters and a couple of sufficient backups.

What are your thoughts on the Frog CBs heading into the spring? Who do you will think end up starting, and who do you look for to have a strong showing in the weeks ahead?

Morning Dump

Basketball:




Football:

Rifle:
Taking aim at an old debate Wall Street Journal

Athletic Department:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cut Off The Head Of The Horned Frog Logo?

First of all, holy shit.  84 comments and counting on the new logo thread.  I mean I knew what you wore at TCU was pretty important, but holy spaghetti batman.  We've got commentors coming out of the woodwork that I never knew existed to profess their hatred for this proposed logo (I'm one of them).  But I've personally come to the conclusion that it's not what you wear, it's how you wear it, so I'll be fine with whatever in the long run.

Fellow reader (The Showstopper) made a point in the comments on how the proposed logo might look better with just the head. I was having trouble imagining it, so I used my limited art skills to crop it down and see what it would look like.

After doing this I at least feel like this could grow on me, more than the fully body tumor tail/3rd leg.  I do think the purple would need to be thinned out a bit, but I at least felt that this frog was a little more fierce.


Also in the process I just put the horned frog outline against a purple background to see what it would look like.  Turned out looking more like a psychologist's inkblot card.  Maybe we could really get inside the other team's head with this one?


And beware, once you see this old long-nosed bearded man he can never be unseen.  Your welcome.

I'm Just Gonna Come Out and Say It...

Just picture them like this, Frogs...

The Frogs are totally losing to the Air Forces tonight.

How do I know this? Because TCU plays to their level of competition more blatantly than just about any other team in college basketball. More specifically, TCU plays DOWN to their competition on the road more blatantly than just about any other team in college basketball. It's baffling. Seriously, check the schedule. The Frogs are a ghastly 2-7 in true road games, including outright rapings courtesy of an historically bad USC team (seriously, on pace to be the worst team in school history) by 24 points, MWC Leader New Mexico (who TCU will inexplicably beat this weekend. You watch) by 17 and UNLV (a team the Frogs overcame an 18 point deficit to beat just last weekend) by 23. That stretch also includes a giveaway against a Colorado State (a team the Frogs beat at home a month later), a loss to SMU (a team that put together three straight sub-20 point halves this past week, which I believe was an NCAA first) and the abortion that was the Boise State game this past weekend. Just in case you missed it, the Frogs led by double digits immediately, then gave the game away by playing shoddy defense and missing key free throws down the stretch to a team made up almost entirely of freshmen.

Sure, to the naked eye, TCU should beat Air Force; after all, they already have. The Falcons are 13-11, but are 3-7 in Conference play and sit in the cellar with Boise... you know, the team TCU just lost to on the road. They're highly averse to scoring and rebounding and, with that record, really have nothing going for them except for pride. HOWEVER, look at the schedule. Despite a 1-7 start to Conference play, the Falcons are currently riding a two game win streak, including a stunning upset of San Diego State this past weekend. AF also took UNLV to overtime and only lost by two, which holds merit because UNLV hadn't started their current slide -they followed up the TCU loss by getting drilled by UNM - quite yet. They also beat Boise on the road, something we proved beyond our capabilities.

Furthermore, since the Frogs 59-55 win in Fort Worth back in January, the Falcons have fired their coach and seen an emerging floor leader in Guard Michael Lyons who is averaging 25 points during the current streak. Lyons, who averages 16 points on the season, only had 6 against the Frogs the first go around... if he even gets half his average, combined with the road factor, TCU will lose by double digits.

I suppose having a team labeled as "good at home, unable to win on the road" is better than the team's usual "bad at home, bad on the road" philosophy, but these road losses have completely offset the positive momentum we've been riding from the wins over UVA and UNLV. Another one tonight might be the death knell for post season hopes of any kind. The Frogs have a big chance to wash off that miserable loss in Idaho over the weekend and shake the "road win: DOES NOT COMPUTE" label they've earned throughout the season. I'm not getting my hopes up.

Signed,
Every pessimistic TCU fan ever.

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #4

For as long as I can remember, Gary Patterson's TCU teams have had one team strength in common through the years: linebacker. From guys like Chad Bayer and LaMarcus McDonald in the early days all the way through a number of NFL tackling machines to Tank Carder, the Frogs have always been able to rely on the "2" in the 4-2-5 to lead the way. In recent years especially, depth at linebacker has never been an issue. But the graduation of Tank and Kris Gardner coupled with the dismissal of Tanner Brock, the middle layer of the TCU defensive scheme has rocketed toward the top of the questions facing this team heading into spring drills.

The good news is that the team's leading tackler from 2011, Kenny Cain, is back to start again this year. A senior originally from the New Orleans area, Cain racked up 72 stops last year- 3 of them for a loss- as well as one sack and one interception. As the oldest and most experience backer on the corps, he'll be looked to for leadership this fall...a role he'll need to start to take over this spring if he hasn't already.

Leading the list of candidates to start alongside Cain is sophomore Deryck Gildon. One of the bright spots of last year's spring practices (he enrolled last January after graduating from Arlington Martin a semester early), he totaled 21 tackles as a true freshman last fall in spot duty on defense and as a special teams star. He is certainly capable of joining the parade of star linebackers at TCU under Patterson, but the role of staring middle backer is a big step up from special teams. Keep your eye on #36 this spring, because big things are expected from him.

Behind Cain & Gildon, though, is the real issue. Directly below the projected starters on the depth chart are walk-ons Danny Heiss, Joel Hasley and David Stoltzman. Now don't get me wrong- I'm not saying these guys can't play. Just the opposite- they've all shown off their abilities on special teams and all came to TCU after stellar careers at powerhouse area high school programs. But when walk-ons are beating out your scholarship recruits on the depth chart, it does raise a few eye-brows about the depth of that particular unit.

The three other guys that will be looked at to step up and provide quality depth this spring are senior Greg Burks, sophomore Marcus Mallet and redshirt freshman Laderice Sanders. Burks has been a star on special teams for years now, but will finally have the chance to prove himself on defense. Mallet played sparingly as a redshirt freshman last fall, and the hard-hitting Sanders should be chomping at the bit to get back into the swing of things after his redshirt season. Two talented true freshmen- AJ Hilliard and James McFarland- join the fold this fall so it behooves all of the current linebackers to sew up their spot in the rotation sooner than later.

What are your thoughts on the linebacker depth? Do you think Gildon has what it takes to step up into a starting job? Who will end up providing the quality depth so needed by this unit, and will any of them fill the role of "third starter" that guys like Robert Henson, Daryl Washington and Cain himself performed so brilliantly in over the years?

Morning Dump

Baseball:

Basketball:


Golf:

Football:
Spring depth chart

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Frog I'd Vote For

If I had a vote, which I don't, but If I did...
Designed by Philip Cheaney

This one was apparently submitted to the school as a proposed new logo.
If it were between the two and you made the call, which one would you choose?