Thursday, February 16, 2012

TCU-Ole Miss Preview

As has been the case for years now, the TCU baseball team is not slowly wading into the season- they are jumping right in to a heavily front-loaded non-conference schedule that will test this young team right from the get-go. This weekend, the #15 Horned Frogs play host to the #22 Rebels from Ole Miss in what should be a fun series over at Lupton.

The pitching match up for tomorrow night's opener between two highly-regarded sophomores is garnering some national attention from Baseball America. Andrew Mitchell, who went 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 22 appearances last year before impressing scouts during his turn with Team USA this summer, takes the hill for the Frogs. Opposing him will be Bobby Wahl, who had a 4.80 ERA for the Rebels last year in 18 appearances- mostly out of the bullpen. Don't let that ERA or his 0-2 collegiate record fool you, though- he really got going in the Cape Cod league last summer when his fastball was reaching 97 and he streamlined his off-speed repertoire.

Mother Nature may have other plans for Friday, though- weather.com is currently listing a 70% chance of rain that evening. That could mess with the planned-upon pitching rotations, which would call for sophomore Stefan Crichton for TCU on Saturday against Ole Miss senior R.J. Hively and freshman Brandon Finnegan (a Fort Worth native) for the Frogs on Sunday against Rebel sophomore Mike Mayers.

The Frogs' batting order will likely rely on the remaining Omaha holdovers, at least in the early part of the season. Corner outfielders Jason Coats and Brance Rivera both returned for their senior seasons and will make up the meat of the order along with junior catcher Josh Elander. On again/off again phenom Kyle Von Tungeln will start in center field this year, and fellow junior Davy Wright is expected to start at third base until Jantzen Witte returns from his off-season injury.

Three newcomers will be in the lineup, headlined by the power-hitting, 6'5" 260lb freshman first baseman Kevin Cron. Keaton Jones, a freshman from Laguna Beach, California, will start at short and hopefully combine on a lot of double plays with San Jacinto JC transfer Josh Gonzales (originally from Pearland), who will be playing second. Senior Zac Jordan and sophomore lefty Brett Johnson are the most likely candidates to DH.

Likewise, the Rebels will be working in some freshmen- mostly in the outfield- into their lineup. They do return their leading hitter from last year, though- junior shortstop Alex Yarbrough, originally from just up the road in Allen, who hit .350 last year with 7 home runs and 38 RBIs. The other main guy to keep an eye on is senior first baseman Matt Snyder, who led the Rebels with 9 home runs last year while batting .301 and driving in 39 runs.

If you can't make it out to Lupton this weekend, there are- as usual- plenty of other options for you to keep up with this series. Chuck Lamendola returns as the underrated play-by-play announcer, and you can hear his call of the game either on 88.7 FM locally or via www.ktcu.net worldwide. In a pinch, you could even call 682-233-6382 to listen to KTCU live on your phone. If you're into the twitter thing, you can usually get good updates from Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram by following @FollowtheFrogs or the offical TCU baseball feed by following @TCU_Baseball. There's also apparently a live video stream on gofrogs.com.

Thanks to our readers for pointing out that there's an awesome new TCU Baseball video for the 2012 season. As always, a great job by our friends at Red Productions:

Slight overreaction?

The TCU football player's daily diet, if you believe most of what the media said yesterday

I know I said I wasn't going to post on this anymore, but I just can't resist this. A day after the media portrayed the TCU football program as Hamsterdam and Gary Patterson as Bunny Colvin, the results of the surprise drug test they dropped on the players on February 1st have been released.

How many do you think failed it? 82 was the popular number on twitter, facebook, message boards and that "reputable" media outlets were purporting to be fact. Some out there even speculated that it was even higher than that, and with substances running the gamut from harmless weed all the way up to cocaine and LSD.

What was the final tally, you ask?

5.

Five.

1,2,3,4 FIVE.

Out of 91. And those five (who you would have to assume would include the four arrested) only tested positive for marijuana. So 5.5% of the TCU football program, which was dragged through the mud yesterday as a lawless renegade program where drugs ran rampant, has a rate of marijuana use about 1/6th the national average for college students and 1/4th the national average for college athletes.

It was nice of news outlets like the Dallas Morning News and WFAA to actually pay attention to TCU yesterday. I wonder if they'll pounce on this story like a bunch of rapid wolves, too?

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #8

Obviously, the events of yesterday morning threw a bit of a wrench into the wheels of my mostly pre-written Top 10 questions for the team heading into spring practice. Spoiler alert: linebacker is a bit higher than it was 24 hours ago.

Today, though, we are focused on the program's newcomers- namely the three early high school graduates and the one JUCO transfer from the 2012 recruiting class that are already enrolled at TCU and will be part of spring practice. The two newcomers held in the highest regard may be the least likely to play as true freshmen next fall...if only because they play positions at which the Frogs are already fairly deep. Tyler Matthews is a 6'3" 205lb, 4-star, U.S. Army All-America quarterback from Kansas that many would compare to a non-ginger Andy Dalton. Many see him as the heir apparent to Casey Pachall as the starting QB, although Matt Brown and Trevone Boykin may have something to say about that. B.J. Catalon is a Waymon James-clone running back who some people have said is faster than #32. He rushed for over 2,200 yards as a senior at Houston Westside to go along with 32 touchdowns, but even better news is all of the anecdotal evidence I've heard confirming that he's got his head screwed on straight and has enormous potential to be a strong leader in his time at TCU.

Kolby Listenbee had the shortest distance to move to TCU this semester in lieu of his last few months of high school. The former quarterback from Arlington Bowie comes in listed as an athlete, though many feel his 6'0" 170lb frame and 4.5 speed are best suited to play wide receiver. You never know with a Patterson recruit, though, so I wouldn't be shocked to see Listenbee line up anywhere.

Perhaps the newcomer that will have the greatest immediate impact is Keivon Gamble. The former SMU recruit from Dallas' Lincoln High has played the past two years at Trinity Valley CC in Athens, and has honed his coverage skills enough that he'll be competing for a starting spot this spring. Rivals lists his 40 time at 4.38, but hopefully he won't have to employ that closing speed quite as much as some former speedy Frog corners.

What do you think about this freshest crop of Horned Frogs? Do you think any of them will grab the spotlight like Deryck Gildon did in last year's spring practice and spring game? Which of them do you think will play this fall, and which do you think will have the biggest success long-term?

Morning Dump

"That whole thing":

15 TCU students among 18 arrested in drug bust
Star-Telegram

On TCU campus, week of joy turns to shock and dismay Star-Telegram

Galloway: Frogs' pristine image stained Star-Telegram

FWPD issued arrest warrant for wrong man in TCU drug case Star-Telegram

TCU takes swift action ESPN

If you're expecting to come to Spit Blood over the coming days and weeks to find us dwelling on this thing, you're going to be disappointed. Barring any new developments, we'll leave that to the rest of the Metroplex media that barely acknowledges positive news regarding TCU yet can't get enough of this case. Not that we're hiding from it, but what's done is done and it's time for the team to deal with this...in-house. We trust the leadership and integrity of the TCU administration and especially Coach Patterson and his football staff to deal with this in the correct manner.


Basketball:

Ventress' 25 not enough for TCU women Star-Telegram

Lady Frogs drop nail-biter to UNLV, 55-54 gofrogs.com


Other Sports:

Chris Del Conte's Notes on a Scorecard gofrogs.com

TCU men's swimming team breaks multiple school records
gofrogs.com