Friday, September 7, 2012

Game 1 Preview.

Soon we can see it in real life.

Before we begin, a few notes about Saturday's game.

  • With an overall W/L of 109-30, Gary Patterson has the opportunity to break Dutch Meyer's record for wins at TCU, a feat he can accomplish in 6 fewer seasons.  Might have to name a hamburger restaurant near campus after this guy, I think he's going places.
  • TCU currently sports the longest win streak in the country at 8 games.  Let's hope it lives on for another week.
  • Tortured fan fact of the week: This is the first time TCU has opened the season at home since 2007, and only the third time since Patterson has been coach.  When you add in the off weeks we've had to start the season this year and in 2009 - when we had an off week AND started the season away - it's a wonder we don't all go mad with the lack of real, live footbaw to start off the season.  However, if we can repeat the results of that year by rolling off 12 straight, I think we'll all take the tradeoff.
  • TCU is 10-1 in home opener under Patterson, with the lone loss coming in year one against Northwestern State.  I feel pretty confident that one will go to 11 tomorrow.
  • Oh yeah, and something about the stadium.  Renovations, maybe?
It's finally here - real damned gameday, unlike the saccharine version we had this past weekend.  On the one hand, having the first weekend of the year off allowed us to keep hate levels at bay and enjoy the holiday weekend without our nerves getting frazzled.  On the other, seriously?!?!? An off week in week one AGAIN!?!  AAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  Who can I blame?!?!  


Ok, I'm better.  Still a little bitter, but better.

So to start off the inaugural Big 12 campaign, TCU gets a bit of a warm up against the Grambling State Tigers, they of the SWAC membership and 0-1 record.  Personally, I've enjoyed what we've done the past few years, starting off with a semi-meaningful game - Virginia, Oregon State, Baylor - before easing into the Portland States of the schedule for week two.  However, I think we can all agree that, despite how terrible Kansas is, we wouldn't swap that one next week for this one in a million years.  For one, home football is always better than away football.  For another, never underestimate a fat HC in Lawrence.  But mostly because, my goodness does this team need to see the field against an inferior foe to see where they stand.  

Do you want Kevin White's immediate second shot at becoming a starter - he lost it in the Baylor game last year.  You may have heard that our defensive secondary wasn't so hot back then - to come in TCU's first Big 12 game ever, no matter the opponent?  Do you want us to still be scrambling offensive linemen and safeties with the distraction of a football stadium with a track around it in the background?  If you had your choice, wouldn't you rather have Skye Dawson eligible for the Jayhawks because we're clearly sunk without him?  Well, ok, perhaps that last one is a little overplayed, but you see where I'm going.  If there was ever a year for a TCU team to need a game to ease into the season, this is it.  So rather than a comprehensive preview, here is a list of things to watch for this weekend that will hopefully work themselves out for the future.
  • Will our starting #2 CB please stand up?  Right now it's Kevin White.  I want to believe in him.  I have to believe in him.  But let's say he doesn't live up to what we need or, heaven forbid, he gets injured.  Fortunately he has a capable backup listed on the depth chart in Jason Verrett who improved considerably last year after a rough sta... what?  what's that?  Jason Verrett is listed as Kevin White's backup AND a starter on the outside?  Well hell, hope you guys have faith in true freshman Deante' Gray and Brian Alexis, a senior who has never played a meaningful snap and who also weighs less than some dogs at 160 pounds.  I feel like this has not been talked about enough, probably because you're all far less masochistic than I am.  I'm afraid, but you know who isn't?  Every opposing Big 12 QB.  I have a feeling this will be talked about more as the season wears on.
  • Will Aundre Dean finally start focusing on his pre-rapper/actor/model career so we don't have to burn BJ Catalon's redshirt?  If you're like me, you follow a lot of the TCU football players on twitter.  This can sometimes be good for humor, but oftentimes makes you more concerned for the sanity of our coaching staff than you should be for having to deal with those guys.  Also if you're like me, you quit following Aundre Dean's twitter once it became aware he was using it solely as a self promotional tool and rarely mentioned football, let alone practice or desire to be a starter.  I have a feeling Catalon better be prepared.  
  • Who will fill the third and fourth receiver slots in Skye's absence?  Admittedly, receiver depth should not be one of our major concerns, even with Dawson out, but who do you REALLY trust outside of Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter?  Skye Dawson is a cheetah in the sense that he is fast and that he does not possess opposable thumbs with which to catch footballs.  David Porter, despite being a TD machine in the loosest sense possible, apparently took some steps back this off-season and is barely listed on the depth chart.  Ladarius Brown, for all his accolades, has 0 completions as a collegiate athlete; Cam White only has 6 more than Brown.  Then there's Matt Brown who has never played WR in his life as well as a smattering of others with no experience.   Perhaps I'm being contrarian for the sake of it, but I'm just saying it's not all peaches and cream where the position is concerned if you're basing it off of experience.  That is your OFFICIAL SWW UNNECESSARY WET BLANKET OF THE WEEK.
  • Will our offensive line, like, function properly and stuff?  The Dallas Cowboys won a game against the defending Super Bowl champions last night.  Tony Romo played perhaps the game of his career and RB Demarco Murray went over the 100 mark with ease.  The Cowboys did all this despite sporting the most patchwork offensive line in all of football, losing their starting Center on the first series, and committing 1000 false starts.  I'm pointing this out to suggest that anything is possible, even winning Big 12 games regularly with 2 centers and a true freshman occupying 3/5 of your offensive front.  
  • Does Kenny Cain have ANY friends in the "2" part of the "4-2-5?"  The short answer?  No.  The long answer. NOt really, no.  The depth chart reads, "Paul Dawson," but, again, he is not a known quantity.  But let's say he winds up holding down the job.  Then who becomes the Gary Patterson Brand "Back up Murderbacker that eventually becomes an NFL Draft pick" in the vein of Daryl Washington, Robert Henson and Tank Carder?  On a lot of days, that player has been the most important player on our defense.  When the season began it was widely expected that Deryck Gildon would fill the slot opposite Kenny Cain and that Dawson and mayhaps Marcus Mallett would contend for that spot.  Since then, Gildon has left the team, Dawson has become a starter, Mallett has fallen so far off of the depth chart that Antonio Graves had to move over from safety to fill the hole and two walk ons named Joel and Danny were starters at one point.  All that said, though, with Gary Patterson and new LB Coach Randy Shannon running that unit, I'm not nearly as terrified about it as I am some other areas.  For the time being I'm downgrading it from DEFCON 2 to DEFCON 4.  
  • Who will elicit more cheers from their own fans, the Grambling Football team or their band?  I'll just say that if it's not the latter, we're having problems.  Some of you may ask, "Man, how can I really take a team seriously that has more fans show up to watch the band than the football?"  To those I say, "Clearly you have never witnessed the Grambling Marching Band live and in person."  They played during halftime of one of my high school games when I was a Senior.  They danced.  They had canes.  They wore their hats strapped under their noses.  They ground humped.  They played, "Hoody Hoo" when No Limit Records was still a successful entity and didn't have to recruit Snoop Dogg to gain publicity.  This was all very appealing to the demographics of my high school.  I suggest bringing a sneak treat in and staying for halftime.
With all that out there, here is how each team can win the game should they choose that as their destiny.

TCU wins if... HOPEFULLY TCU wins just by showing up.  More specifically, though, TCU wins if the offensive line holds together long enough for Pachall to allow Boyce to get open deep a few times and gives the bowling ball a few lanes to run through, because if we're going to win games with our offense as the Big 12 does, then we should for sure be able to do so this week.    Last week Tigers QB DJ Williams only threw the ball 19 times, completing 10 passes for 66 yards.  However, TCU is going to have to play the run defense of old against the tandem of Dawrence Roberts - 11 carries, 121 yards - and Jeremy Runner - 13 carrier, 166 yards, 1 TD - if they want to win by a comfortable margin.  I know what you're thinking, "Holy crap, The Bourne Legacy plays for Grambling?  We are TOAST."  RUNNER, not Renner, guys.  But still, having a Running back with the last name Runner should certainly generate some good juju for Grambling.  However, let's be honest - the Tigers should pose no threat for a team that has ambitions beyond playing in the Alamo Bowl.   Grambling shouldn't be entirely overlooked, but fortunately their style of play shouldn't expose our weaknesses in the defensive secondary.

Grambling wins if... The NCAA decides to throw out the score and deems that the outcome hinge on a Battle of the Bands because, yeesh, our band is terrible.  However, should the game be played as scheduled, the Tigers' best hope is probably for everyone to get injured.  I don't just mean the starters, I mean EVERYONE.  Like, Texas Tech having to sign a player from the halftime entertainment to fill their roster everyone.  That's really the only way.  

We're all undoubtedly overjoyed about Gameday having finally arrived, but I'd be lying if I said that seeing the new digs wasn't the primary source of my excitement.  It should be a glorious afternoon.  See you all there.

The Pick - TCU 45, Grambling 10.

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