Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Other News...

Hi everybody! Since this is the best week to sneak anything across the radar in sports, I figured it was the perfect time to introduce myself to the denizens of this fine site. My name is Melissa, and I'm a Horned Frog. I have begged my way into becoming a contributor, and I hope to bring my own version of snarkiness and SMU Hate to the party. I promise to never refer to the QB from Baylor by his stupid nickname, to do my part to not let the world forget that #CJK5H, and to tweet obsessively about TCU (@CoachMelissaGB).

A little bit about myself; I'm a TCU graduate, spending my formative learning years in Moudy South. I was there when The Greatest Frog of Our Lifetime hit 406 and when our basketball team was actually good. Being a California Native, attending the Rose Bowl and seeing So Cal decked out in Purple was especially gratifying, even more so since I was a student during some pretty lean years. Thankfully, I'm back in the promised land now, living in FW just a couple of miles from campus.

For my first post, The Finch asked me to write up my expectations for the coming season, in light of Big 12 Media Days and our projected 5th place finish. So, without further ado...

*****

The up-coming football season is kind of a big deal. With the pressures of a new conference, a new stadium, and a little "off-season incident" (maybe you're aware?), much has been written nationwide about whether the Frogs will continue to play at the high standard we've come to expect in Fort Worth, or crash and burn as they deal with the depth and talent of the Big 12.


Pachall dialing up another long TD?
I think most of the Frog Faithful are taking a wait and see approach before going all-in with their expectations - while there is certainly reason for skepticism, there's no shortage of optimism either. TCU returns the bulk of their skill position players on offense, including one of the more dynamic duos in the country, QB Casey Pachall and WR Josh Boyce. Add that to a deep backfield- even with the loss of Ed Wesley not many teams outside of Austin can trot out a three deep that matches what Patterson has to play with - an explosive array of receivers that boast both size (LaDarius Brown) and speed (Skye Dawson), and an offensive line anchored by one of the true athletic freaks in CFB (Blaize Foltz), TCU should have no problem fitting in and keeping up on offense in the high flying Big 12. There are of course questions - the offensive line lost two tackles and an all-conference guard, replacing Wesley is a potential issue, and the backup QB position is in a bit of flux as Matt Brown and Trevone Boykin continue to battle - but what all the pundits keep coming back to is the defense.

Stansley Maponga will wreck you.
Oh, the defense. Since that fateful day in Waco almost a year ago, some of the shine has seemed to come off of Patterson's long standing reputation as the best defensive coach in the country, and the once over-powering TCU D has fallen back to earth. Now, heading into what is probably the top offensive conference in the country, can the team that gave up almost 400 yards per game in the MWC slow down the explosive teams they will see week in and week out? It's easy, if you still believe in GMFP (and count me firmly in that camp), to assume that the defense HAS to be better. After getting torched by the Redskin's new QB (I'm pulling a Bobby Knight and refusing to use his name), Jason Verrett and company improved significantly against the pass. There were bumps in the road, certainly, but JV should be a steady and reliable presence on the back end. JC transfer and early-enrollee Keivon Gamble will have much expected from him, but much like Verrett a year ago, don't be surprised if it takes him some time to fully grasp the nuances of GP and Dick Bumpas' D but ultimately performs well. The safeties are a group I think could really surprise - the freshman duo of Jordan Moore and Zach Johnson, aka The Georgia Smash Bros, will have every opportunity to get on the field and could be absolutely dynamic in the 4-2-5. Junior Elisha Olabode will be counted on as the "veteran" of the group, and had a solid 2011 campaign. The defensive line should be disruptive - all conference DE Stansley Maponga returns and looks to build on his impressive sophomore season, Ross Forrest is consistent and should anchor the other end position. Sophomore D tackles David Johnson, Jon Lewis, and Chuck Hunter , who were young and inexperienced a year ago, come back bigger, stronger, and with plenty of playing time to build on. The biggest question mark is at the LB spot, where the loss of Tanner Brock and Deryck Gildon may loom large in the middle of the defense. Kenny Cain returns after a strong 2011 campaign, but the amount of experience after him is severely lacking. There are some talented young prospects more than capable of stepping in and picking up the slack, but certainly a lot of unknowns. It also bears mentioning that TCU will have a new LB Coach, but if rumors are true and the job is Randy Shannon's, the position should be shorn up by the time camp breaks.

So, what's a realistic record for this season's team? A lot will come down to TCU's ability to win the games they should win - Grambling, Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech at home; Kansas, SMU, Baylor on the road. These aren't all gimmies, but you'd imagine the Frogs would be favored in their first seven games. The final five game stretch; at OK State, at WVU, K State at home, at UT, and OU at home; may very well determine the Big 12 champion as well as whether the national media declares TCU's inaugural Big 12 season a success or not. 


Are five conference wins good enough for a first run through the Big 12? Are six overachieving? I certainly have gotten used to 10+ win seasons, but I doubt many people would be disappointed with 8-9 W's in light of everything the team has endured on and off the field this off-season. Ultimately, wins are what matter, but it's also going to be crucial for the program (and the fans) to see the TCU defense bounce back from a down year in 2011 and get back to being one of the top in the country. How quickly the young players, especially the freshmen that will need to have an immediate impact, pick up the system and are able to contribute will be critical. And of course Pachall's continued growth at the QB position and as a leader, plus his ability to put the team on his shoulders and just outscore opponents a la Boise, could make huge difference down the stretch.


There are more questions than answers going into a new, improved conference, but there's no reason not to believe that TCU won't be as well prepared, well coached, or as competitive as any team they face. Thankfully, it's almost time to stop the talking and the speculating, the hand wringing over the drug scandal and the player losses, and let these men do their talking on the field.

20 comments:

SnK said...

Welcome aboard. How bold of you to use a real human name...

Melissa Triebwasser said...

Bold, stupid, uncreative. I try and run the gamut with my lack of funny nicknames.

VikingFrog said...

Welcome Melissa. I for one think the frogs will surprise many with how competitive they are in their first season, but I'm also looking through the most purple shaded glasses in FW.

Melissa Triebwasser said...

I love that we are being doubted, it's been a while since GP has ben able to say that with a semi-straight face. I wouldn't be surprised with anything between 1st and 4th this year, and I don't think anyone walks out of the New AGC with anything easy.

JHale said...

I think our D will be much improved and hold us in some tight games with the "power" teams of the big 12. If our redzone Defense is good then that will be huge (since the big 12 is such a score happy league -- holding opponents to FG's compared to TD's will be huge -- ask OkieLite last year) I almost feel like we may end up being the K-State of last year... maybe a surprise win or two? But then again I'd be pretty happy with 8-9 wins + a bowl win.

Welcome to the club! Glad to Have ya Melissa

BeerfightFrog said...

I just want to say i was ready to write you off based soley on your name, but after reading your write up, I think i'm in love.

Melissa Triebwasser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Triebwasser said...

You can't judge a book by it's cover, you can't judge a girl by her blog "alias". Thanks for the second chance. I'll try to continue to deserve it, haha. Agree with JHale.. RZD could be the difference between competing for a conference title and falling to the middle if the pack.

BuckNasty said...

I will say your formatting of the post, i.e. the placement of pictures, is very nice. Do you play golf? As a contributor, it is mandatory that you participate in the tourny.

Travis said...

Melissa, I knew I would like ya when I saw that big bottle of alcohol you were holding. Congrats, look forward to posts and don't ever leave us cold turkey like that other guy did!

Matt said...

I'm not sure about the secondary optimism. That unit has been roundly mediocre, at best, in just about all of the 10 seasons that I've been a TCU fan. If we can't get a sack, we rely on the opposing QB overthrowing a wide open man. I typically pray we don't fart and fall down...a common scene in the early aughts. I know that's the price we pay for being aggresniff but it raises my blood pressure.

Lyle Lanley said...

Thank you too, Travis, for your own un-paid contributions to the site.

Welcome, Melissa! Looking forward to reading your stuff!

halfmanhalffrog said...

Any word on our new starting Kicker? I'm sure he is much better than Sir chokes a lot (Ross) but just want to make sure I don't have to hold my breath every time the kicking unit goes on the field.

VikingFrog said...

Oh, and Melissa, one more thing. Good luck.... with your bottom.

Melissa Triebwasser said...

I may have missed something, but what luck does my bottom require? And should I be worried? :)

Melissa Triebwasser said...

As far as the kicking situation goes, DeNucci is back as a sophomore - he handled kick-off duty last year and has a pretty decent leg, but his accuracy has yet to be determined. I believe he is currently listed at the top of the depth chart, but true F Jaden Oberkrom is a bigger guy with a big leg (50% touchback rate in high school) and has multiple 50+ yard FG's to his credit. It's nice to have options/competition on special teams after holding our breath for the past four years.

PS: I'm kind of a recruiting nerd.

Kev Nolan said...

Melissa, I have rarely seen such knowledge and wit towards tcu athletics from a female on this campus. this leaves me with only one question.... will you mary me?

HFrog77 said...

Melissa, welcome! I was going to propose marriage as well, as it's not easy being married to a Gator in Gainesville Florida. Great first article.

I think TCU is likely to finish the regular season in the 9-3 range, but if we can minimize injuries, we have a chance to shock the world. With the addition of Shannon to our staff, let's not underestimate the fact that we now have the deepest and most talented defensive coaching staff in the country, bar none.

Sir Wesley Willis said...

Well it looks like Title IX applies to ALL of sports, including the blogosphere! Haha, ABSOLUTELY kidding, Melissa - it's great to have some new blood on this site for the first time in ages, especially when said blood knows what she's talking about. Glad to have you aboard - you're already a better fit than 90% of our other "contributors!"

Kev Nolan said...

I would have asked Lyle to marry me, but I would probably get sick of cold turkey sandwiches