Based on the way he played and the weather, Garrett Gilbert clearly did something to anger God.
One more time, say it with me: GROSS!
What in the world was that? An 8 point win, despite holding Frog Killer Zach Line to 44 yards and a paltry 2.9 yards per carry? An 8 point win, despite Garrett Gilbert going 15/40? An 8 point win, despite forcing 6 turnovers, including 5 picks? Seriously, Frogs - what gives? Oh, you can blame the weather all you want - and, from what I could tell, the conditions were truly miserable for the pass first offense preferred by both teams - but the weather didn't magically make SMU the NOT worst defense in the country, did it? Didn't think so.
I'm concerned, guys. Very concerned. Nothing makes sense right now. Baylor, despite the lack of Robert Griffin, has suffered virtually no drop off, and might actually be better. Texas Tech has the #1 defense in the country. The Big 12 could possibly be decided in Morgantown, WV in a game not feature Texas or Oklahoma, but instead a midwestern team coached by the Cryptkeeper. TCU, after a couple of years in offense first/defense optional exile, is winning games on D once again, and the award winning offense can't seem to get their act together. Texas won a game on a questionable no call on a fumble and the refs never even batted an eye... ok, so I guess not EVERYTHING has changed.
I didn't get to watch the game. (I was at a wedding, nary paying a lick of attention during the ceremony while glued to my cell phone, then sitting at a table downing vodka drinks at the reception while listening through headphones. Did I ignore the bride and groom when they came to say hello? You're damn right I did. It was the fourth quarter!!). I DID get to skim through it yesterday on DVR when I arrived back home, but with a screaming baby in the house, your "watching a game you already know the outcome to on DVR" situations diminish severely. Women will never understand such matters, but that's their flaw, not mine. So, the point I'm trying to make here is, if this recap is terser and scathing-er than usual, it's due to the conditions with which I took in the game. But just because I wasn't able to see the game doesn't mean it was any less ugly for me. Let's do the rundown.
- The red zone woes aren't entirely cleared up, but that 75% success rate is a lot better than the near-.500 we were batting coming into the game. Pachall threw 2 TDs, one to Ladarius Brown, another to Matthew Tucker and Tucker rushed for the other. The one miss was a Romo'd hold on a chip shot FG that would've all but taken the nail-biting out of the fourth quarter, but as special teams gaffes were a consistent presence throughout the evening, we'll address that later.
- The front seven has really come on nicely, no? Playing in just his fourth game, Devonte Fields was an absolute monster, leading the team with 7 tackles, including 4 for a loss, 2.5 of those being sacks. I think he's going places. Kenny Cain and Joel Hasley have continued their streak of solid play behind the line, combining for 10 tackles. Chucky Hunter - who is HUGE - had a quality over quantity night, recording 3 tackles, but 1.5 were sacks. In the "mixed emotions" category, Stansly Maponga was almost an afterthought compared to his counterparts, recording 1 tackle on the evening. The big boys up front kept Zach Line in check and put enough pressure on Gilbert to force him into some bad throws.
- Matthew Tucker outrushed Zach Line 56 yards to 44. This may not seem like something to celebrate, but considering Line is a guaranteed 100 yard rusher against TCU in most years, holding him under 50 AND forcing a fumble is a pretty big deal. In a game where you would THINK the weather might dictate a grind it out approach for both teams, no one really got the job done that way. TCU "won" the battle 130 yards to 60.
- Remember the Five... the five picks, that is. Elisha Olabode had the first, and most important, one of the evening, nabbing a poor Gilbert pass at midfield and taking it to the SMU 8, which would set up TCU's second TD. Jason Verrett had 2, although one was a last second hail mary heave to end the game following perhaps the most disastrous 2-minute offense execution ever witnessed at the division 1 level. In fact, the night was so rough for Gilbert that even Jon Koontz got one while covering a route in the flat. The final pick was recorded by Chris Hackett, who probably deserves his own bullet after the night he had, which included a pick, a fumble recovery and a broken up pass.
- Skye Dawson giveth... a 64 yard punt return in the second quarter that set up what would be TCU's final TD of the evening.
- Skye Dawson taketh away... He fumbled said return. Alas, it was not called. This would've been ok as TCU jumped on the ball in the end zone, but with our history of red zone turnovers and Skye's fumblitis, I died a little inside watching the replay.
- TCU's Offensive Line is mediocre at best, inoperable at worst. I mean... what the hell? Yes, I understand the inexperience, but did anyone think it'd be THIS bad? The freshmen platoon at right tackle just signed Encino Man's future NFL contract for him. They went from not being able to run block against Kansas, to not being able to pass block against UVA, to not being able to do much of either Saturday. The offensive numbers are unfairly skewed due to deep snapper fail, but the final number of 156 total yards is pretty humbling Seriously, the WORST defense in the nation.
- Fumblez. Frogs had 4 on the night, and lost 2. You can blame the rain, but it's not like they've been holding onto the ball even in the fairest of conditions.
- Special Teams Fail. The missed snap to Ethan Perry was a low roller. The first botched FG attempt was on Cale Patterson. Not entirely sure what happened on the FG where Cale completed his first career pass attempt after throwing into 11 defenders, but, uh, let's not do that again. This is a minor complain, though, as snaps and holds were not an issue in the first 3 games. Mother nature, you win this round.
- Did anyone watch Aundre Dean run? It was... weird. Lots of twisting and stretching for extra yards that is going to comeback to bite us later. Seriously, man, just go down. If we lose another RB, it's 4-8.
- Pass Coverage. So, griping about pass coverage when your D picks 5 balls makes me the WORST kind of pessimistic TCU fan and I know it, but did anyone see how many balls the SMU receivers dropped? YIKES! Apparently whatever illness Griffin contracted between high school and college is pretty contagious. I bring this up, though, because had his receivers been slightly more competent, this game is a lot closer. Fortunately, though, when they weren't dropped passes, Gilbert was throwing them behind, above, in front, or to the Frogs, so it never really became an issue. Frogs had their share of the drops as well, so no one is free of blame. Consider this a moot point.
- Penalties. Two weeks in a row TCU has racked up over 100 yards in penalties; this week the count was 12-140, a handful of which coming on personal foul calls. That's, uh, concerning. SMU was flagged nine times, though, so it appears the replacement refs could've found their way back to the college ranks. Or maybe it was just really that sloppy of a game.
That's about all I have to say about that.