Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Ed K Saga - GOAT - Part I - Defensive Tackle

Here is Part I of the Ed K masterpiece. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments. Remember, you can't possibly hurt his feelings since he doesn't read Spitblood anymore...or you can applaud his list, but he won't feel the joy of accomplishment or credibility, since he doesn't read Spitblood anymore.


Let’s start with the D. Many people may think that TCU has only had outstanding defenses after Gary Patterson arrived. WRONG. TCU has primarily been a defense-first team throughout its history. Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien? Great defenders. Think the Frogs had lousy players when they were losing a lot in the ‘70s and ‘80s? Actually, they had some great players, especially on defense. They just didn’t have enough of them.


TCU may not be as noted for its defensive tackles as it is for sacking ends, tackle-machine linebackers and hard-hitting safeties, but having perhaps the greatest defensive tackle of all time among your ranks ain’t bad.

1 – Bob Lilly (’61): It’s appropriate to start with TCU’s greatest defensive player -- the ferocious, bear-pawed College Football Hall-of-Famer from Throckmorton. The 1960 All-American was the heart and soul of Coach Abe Martin’s two Southwest Conference championship teams in 1958 and 1959. Twice All-SWC and the 1960 Rogers Trophy winner as TCU MVP, he was known for “mayhem in the trenches,” as Dan Jenkins once put it. He went on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys as their first-ever draft choice.

2 – Don Floyd (’60): One of the last great two-way players for TCU (he was also an outstanding offensive tackle), Floyd was a wiry, two-time All-American – consensus in 1959 -- and team captain, crouching side-by-side with Lilly on two of the best defensive fronts in Southwest Conference history (1958 and 1959). With the 1959 conference title on the line, Floyd and Lilly smothered QB Don Meredith and No. 8 SMU’s vaunted spread offense in a 19-0 whitewashing. Nice, huh? Floyd then went on to play defensive end for eight seasons for the old Houston Oilers and is in the AFL Hall of Fame.

3 – I.B. Hale (’39): Insall Bailey Hale teamed with LB Ki Aldrich to form the backbone of TCU’s stingy defense – the original “Purple People Eaters” -- during its national championship season of 1938. At 6-2, 245 (HUGE by today’s standards), the two-time All-American from Dallas was, oh yeah, considered one of the best offensive tackles of his era too.

4 – Darrell Palmer (’43): Big No. 71 was a standout two-way player -- he is also remembered as one of the best offensive linemen of his generation. A 1942 All-American and two-time, All-Southwest Conference selection, the Frogs were 14-6-1 during those two seasons, finishing second in the SWC in ’41 and third in ’42. But they included two of the great upsets in TCU history – a 14-7 stunner over top-ranked Texas in 1941 and a 7-6 victory over Rose Bowl-bound No. 13 UCLA in ‘42. Palmer was the defensive star in both.

5 – Norman Hamilton (’57): Known as “The Animal” by teammates, for obvious reasons, he was an All-American in 1956. Not big by defensive lineman standards but quick as a cat side-to-side, he is best known for his outstanding Cotton Bowl in 1957, when he relentlessly bullied the legendary Jim Brown (who still had a great game) all afternoon – “The Animal” had nine tackles that day -- in a dramatic 28-27 victory over Syracuse. He was also All-SWC in ’55 and ’56.

6 – Shawn Worthen (‘01): Defensive coordinator Gary Patterson’s first standout DT, he was a two-time, All-WAC selection and a third-team All-American as a senior. He starred on two TCU co-conference champs, including the 2000 squad, which led the nation in total defense for the first time in school history. He totaled 132 tackles and 7.5 sacks in his career. And, man oh man, he was hard to move out of the middle.

7 – Clyde Flowers (’45): TCU’s star during the war years, he was a 1944 All-American and two-time All-SWC pick at right tackle (playing both ways, of course) for Leo “Dutch” Meyer, despite being blind in one eye from a childhood accident. He was also a two-year team captain and team MVP in 1943. In 1944, the war-depleted Frogs started seven freshmen and two seniors, including Flowers. They won the SWC.

8 – Chad Pugh (’04): Three-times All-Conference USA (‘01, ’02 and ’03) at nose tackle, he was a massive, yet quick tackler (he finished with 126 and 11 sacks) and an astounding block swallower, paving the way for LB LaMarcus McDonald and DE Bo Schobel to finish off ballcarrier after ballcarrier.

9 – Royal West (’95): Besides having one of the coolest names among TCU lettermen, the Winona native was All-SWC for Pat Sullivan in ’93 and again ’94 – the last time the Frogs grabbed a piece of an SWC title. The 275-pounder won the 1993 Rogers Trophy as TCU MVP. His 22 career sacks (he held the school record when he was done) are fifth all time – the only defensive tackle in the top ten.

10 – John McClean (’82): Abilene’s McClean was an Academic All-American in 1980 (one of just 13 in TCU history) and one of the few defensive bright spots during the Dry Period. In his three seasons as a starter, the Horned Frogs were OMG 5-25-3, but he was the defensive star in one of TCU’s biggest victories ever – the Frogs’ come-from-behind 28-24 upset of Lou Holtz and unbeaten No. 19 Arkansas in 1981.

Honorable Mention – Marshall Harris (’54), Charlie Davis (’74), Kent Trammel (’88), Cody Moore (’09), Mitchell Benson (’89), Johnny Vaught (’33), Cory Grant (’11)

You killed this logo, Spit Blood readers

All of your "meh'ing" and emphatic thumbs down have been heard, Spit Blood readers. Sports Merch News is reporting that plans for the new logo have been scrapped, citing a memo put out by CLC (the Collegiate Licensing Company) on behalf of TCU. While the school denies that this logo was the planned new one, Sports Merch News indicates that the leak by Spit Blood on February 21st was close enough to the real thing to make the negative feedback halt their plans.

We certainly don't want to be a fly in the ointment of the TCU athletic department. We are, after all, their biggest fans and supporters. It is flattering to know, though, that they value the opinions of the readers of this humble little blog enough to make the image above be something to fascinate sports nerds like myself in the future- much like the new helmet design the 49ers unveiled before the 1991 season but never wore on the field:

TCU-Baylor Preview

Finnegan vs. Baylor: Take 2

The Frogs continue their seven-game preview of life in the Big 12 tonight when Baylor saunters up I-35 for the second and final scheduled meeting of the two schools this season. First pitch at Lupton Stadium is 6:30pm.

Tonight's game marks the 305th meeting (or 247th if you believe Baylor's SID...but we'll take Mark Cohen's word for it) of the Bears and Frogs, and comes just two weeks after the 304th- a 7-1 Baylor home victory in which a trio of Bear pitchers held the Frogs to just two base hits all night. Tonight it will be sophomore Dillon Newman on the mound for Baylor. The sophomore righty from Belton will be making his first start of the season after accumulating a 6.43 ERA in 4 relief appearances. Opposing hitters are hitting .286 against Newman, but he has recorded 11 strikeouts in just 7 innings pitched.

True freshman and Fort Worth native Brandon Finnegan will make his third career start tonight, and will look to continue the progress he made (albeit in a losing effort) last Tuesday against Texas State. In that game, Finnegan shook off an early run scored by the Bobcats and ended up allowing just 5 total base runners in his 5 innings of work while striking out 8 batters. If his effort tonight looks more like that rather than his first career start (against these same Baylor Bears two weeks ago in Waco: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 runs and just 1 K), he could make a strong argument for being moved into the weekend rotation.

The middle of the order that Finnegan will be facing tonight is anchored by three Bears hitting above .340: sophomore second baseman Lawton Langford, junior first baseman Max Muncy and senior catcher Josh Ludy. Langford went 3-3 in the previous game between these two, but it was really more of a collective effort (9 different Baylor players had base hits) that did in the Frogs.

The Frogs will be without leadoff hitter and early season MVP Kyle Von Tungeln tonight, which means you may see some more of the interesting defensive alignments (such as catcher Josh Elander playing right field and Jason Coats playing in center) that you did in TCU's Sunday afternoon win over Oklahoma State.

Frogs can play spoiler in Vegas

Yesterday's bracketology put out by ESPN's Joe Lunardi showed that a number of familiar foes- both present and future- will be dancing come next week. There's early-season TCU victim Virginia, projected as a #9 seed. There are five teams- led by #1 seed Kansas- that will be in the Big 12 with the Frogs next year. There are the top three teams in the Mountain West- #5 seed UNLV along with #7 seeds San Diego State and New Mexico- securely in the field of 68.

And then there is Colorado State, at 19-10, currently one of the bubbliest of the bubble teams and TCU's opening-round opponent in the MWC Tournament, projected as a #12 seed.

I don't think the Frogs really need any extra motivation going into Thursday afternoon's rubber match with the Rams. Led by a group of gritty and determined seniors, this year's squad is hell-bent on reversing the public opinion of TCU men's basketball. I'm sure they'd like to settle the score with any of the five MWC teams with which they split the season series this year. But reading between the lines in ESPN's Bubble Watch, it would appear that the Frogs have a chance not only to erase the memory of their 95-89 double-overtime loss in Fort Collins in which three of them fouled out, but also to keep the Rams out of the NCAA Tournament.

What I've loved about this team all year is that there absolutely no quit in them. And we've seen how dangerous Hank Thorns can be when you give him the extra incentive of showing up his hometown- so maybe, just maybe, deflating CSU's season will only be the beginning of his (& the team's) heroics in Vegas this week.

Morning Dump