Friday, October 26, 2012

TCU Predictions vs Okie State

I'm still recovering emotionally from Saturday, but neither blown offensive PI calls, nor triple overtime, nor fourth string players will keep me from putting back on my purple colored glasses and making a prediction sure to go wrong for SpitBlood's faithful following this Friday.

The Frogs, coming off an ESPN Instant Classic triple OT battle at The Carter, have to regroup and head on the road to play in front of a massive crowd in Stillwater tomorrow. Like TCU, the Pokes are playing with their backup QB, but the difference is Wes Lunt, a true freshman, came into the season as the starter, before getting hurt and losing his role to J.W. Walsh, who is now hurt and has been replaced by half a Lunt.

Despite the flux behind center, OK State is still a potent offensive team, averaging over 45 points per game. They get it done on the ground and through the air, to the tune of over 600 yards a game. Joseph Randle, the returning star at tailback has been outstanding, and though the receiving corp has been decimated by injuries, they have enough depth and playmakers to get the job done. This is another in a string of tough tasks for the TCU D, and quite possibly the most efficient and balanced squad the Frogs have faced this year.

The onus is going to fall on the secondary, which had a rough outing on Saturday, who struggled to make stops in the passing game and didn't ball hawk the way we've seen in victories against Baylor or Virginia. Jason Verrett, who continues to be the best cover guy we have, will need to take his game to the next level and look to get deflections and force some turnovers. Either Kevin White or Chris Hackett are going to have to make plays, and Olabode, Carter, and Anderson (where has he been?) need to probably play out of their minds against the pass. I predict that TCU gets back to making big plays, and pick off two Lunt throws, as experience pulls through.

Outside of two great sacks by Devonte Fields to start the second half last Saturday, the pass rush was non existant and Doege had basically all day to throw. That's going to have to change tomorrow if TCU wants to have a chance. Hopefully we see Maponga back on the field - I haven't seen a status update regarding that. It's nice to know Fields can still make plays when all the focus is on him, but we clearly need Big Stansley on the other edge to get continuous pressure on opposing QB's. Kenny Cain, who has been outstanding, also seemed to be hurt by Maponga's absence, and the lack of depth was evident late in the game and in OT as the D was gassed. With a true freshman at QB, the opportunity to throw different looks at him and have Lunt playing on his heels is there, and I think the pressure notch is dialed way up. Multiple sacks and a sack fumble seem possible.

If the TCU D can hold OK State under 400 total yards, turn them over a couple times, and prevent the big play, they will do enough to put the offense in a position to win.

The TCU offense, led by emerging star Trevone Boykin, had it's ups and downs verses Tech, and I don't think anyone that watched that game doesn't think TCU is in GREAT shape for the future. But the only future I'm worried about is 24 hours from now, and how Boykin and co can fair against  the Cowboy's D. State gives up 25 points a game and almost 400 yards, so this is no defensive stalwart, but not Baylor either. Clearly, the Frogs can have some success on the scoreboard, and while it might not take 50, it's going to take 30+.

Boykin threw two picks on Saturday, but neither were terrible decisions. The long TD he threw to get TCU back into striking distance was about as perfect a pass as you will see - or so I heard as I'm pretty sure my eyes were closed at that point as I was praying for Divine Intervention (you're welcome). He continues to be more and more effective and his football IQ is rising by the series. This kid is on his way to becoming a legit star in the Big 12. Boykin will account for over 300 yards of offense on his own, and continue to spread the ball around to his bevy of targets. Brandon Carter was almost the forgotten man last week, and I think he comes back for a big game, to the tune of 5-7 receptions and a score. After Skye Dawson being the leading receiver against Tech (who would have thunk it?), Josh Boyce and LaDarius Brown will be the big stars once again, and Brown catches yet another long touchdown pass. The ground game has improved with Boykin in the backfield, and BJ Catalon, who finally got his first collegiate score, will get back in the endzone Saturday.

The special teams was insane last week... Jaden Oberkrom is quite possibly the best kicker in the country. But, as much as I love the kid, I hope to not see him putting points on the board tomorrow unless they're singles. Too often the offense settled for three, and that was the difference in the game. They have to get in the endzone if they want to have a chance. Look for Dawson to build off his solid game and break a long return or two - OK State has a great special teams, but they have given up a few big returns, so maybe Skye can finally break one all the way.

As much as I hate to do it, and even though I can't hardly remember TCU's last three game losing streak, I just don't know if the D has enough gas in the tank to slow down the Cowboy attack at home and give the O a chance. OSU 38, TCU 35.

Let's hear your predictions in the comments: Who comes up with the big play on D? How many times does Boykin get in the endzone? Will we get a Gundy "I'm a man rant" if they end up on their 12th string QB by the end of this game? Here's to hoping I'm wrong... Go Frogs.

Okie State Preview

Much like last week, Crazy Gundy will just never be not funny.

In light of Tech trying to kill spitblood last week, clearly things have been toned down a bit here this week.  Congrats Red Raiders.  Not so much on the game, but more on your ability to kill a little bit of internet fun.  You win this round, although I survived the weekend so maybe you didn't get EXACTLY what you wanted out of it.  Now quit calling.   Also, don't worry spitblood faithful- I promise, I will never die. I've noticed we still have some Tech hangers-on which is fun.  Stick around guys, and I hope you continue to enjoy the site because clearly if you didn't like it, you wouldn't still be here.  Hell, we even have an SMU fan who still hangs around and comments occasionally, although I'm pretty certain he's got Stockholm Syndrome and is now a Frog fan.  Maybe the same will happen to all of the Raiders who can't stop checkin' us out.  As for now, it's officially time to put the Tech thing to bed and move forward with what's left on our schedule.  Might I suggest y'all do the same.  Big game with K State this weekend, so go bug that awesome K State mask guy.  As for TCU, we've got what I believe is our most winnable remaining game on the schedule.  Don't get me wrong though, because I don't think one more win is all we have in us.  I just think given the current situation that this is our game for the taking and we need to make it happen.  Let's take a look at a few factors that could make all the difference on Saturday afternoon.

Something's gotta give:  Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle averages 127.5 yards per game on the ground, which tops the Big 12 and ranks 8th nationally.  TCU has the #7 rushing defense in the country, allowing just 92 yards per game.  Yes, Tech scored on us, but with the exception of one run where every defender within arms reach was trying to strip the ball, they didn't muster up much on the ground at all, totaling just 71 yards.  Admittedly TCU hasn't faced a back like Randle all year (no, Zach Line in a monsoon doesn't count), so the task will be much tougher than it has been all season.  Randle went for 151 against the only decent defense he's played this season in Iowa State, but it should be tough sledding against a stout front 6 (7?) for TCU.  I think we hold him well under his season average, but I don't expect it to be as easy as it has been for the Frog's D.

Who plays QB for OSU?:  It appeared as if J.W. Walsh had stolen the job he lost in the offseason from true freshman Wes Lunt, who went down early in the season with a knee injury, but Walsh was lost for the season last week.  Now the biggest question in Stillwater this week is whether or not Wes Lunt is healthy and ready to go again with Walsh no longer in the picture.  If Lunt can't go or is limited, the duties fall into the hands of Junior Clint Chelf who began the season as the 3rd stringer for the Cowboys.  You never root for injury, but honestly it's a bit refreshing to see we aren't the only team dealing with major personnel issues.  I feel for ya, Okie State.  That being said, if Chelf does have to play I really, REALLY like the Frogs chances, because his mobility is questionable at best.  Many of you have seen him before and just didn't know it.  He's usually eating pancakes, cereal, driving hot rods, or riding around with Uncle Hank trying to catch bad guys...

photo - Clint Chelf speaks to the media during the OSU spring football press conference at Boone Pickens Stadium on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, March 12, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman  

See?  Dead ringer.

Will the defenses show up?:  TCU and OSU are numbers 1 and 2 in the nation respectively in consecutive games scoring over 20 points.  TCU has done it 33 straight times to Okie State's 32.  In today's college football world though, scoring 20 points is hardly a feat.  If either one of these teams winds up with anywhere from 21-24 points then I think you're looking at a loss.  Clearly both of these teams can score, but will personnel issues on the offensive side of the ball be able to derail either one of these well oiled machines?  I don't think we're looking at 56-53 again, but I don't expect to see 23-17 either.  Both teams have an abundance of playmakers which is why they've both been consistently getting the job done on offense.  The Cowboys have barely missed a beat offensively despite losing The Geriatric and The Drunk to the NFL draft.  TCU has been doing it despite losing players left and right in such obscure ways that even the writer of the 1993 classic The Program thinks what's been happening in Fort Worth is unbelievable.  To answer the question though, I think the defenses show up, but as has been the case in most Big 12 games, offenses will still shine.

Turnover battle:  For TCU and most teams it's pretty simple:  win the turnover battle, win the game.  TCU is 2-2 in Big 12 play and has won the turnover battle in just one of those games.  Care to guess which one? You got it- Baylor.  They lost the turnover battle against Kansas, but all you need to do to beat Kansas is show up.  The Baylor game has been the most dominant performance on our schedule and not giving the ball up was a major reason why.  The other major reason was that Nick Florence really loved to give the ball to us as well.  Hopefully Lunt or Chelf/Walter White Jr./Flynn does the same and we create some turnovers.  Win the turnover battle, win the game.  Plain and simple.

Can Fields keep it up?:  If I were a betting man, which I am, I'd bet against Maponga playing Saturday again.  So with the attention starting to shift towards freshMan-Child Devonte Fields, can he continue at his torrid sack/TFL pace?  He added another 1 1/2 sacks last weekend against Tech, but outside of him there wasn't much pressure applied all game.  In order to force the turnovers mentioned above, pressure is key.  Florence was intercepted 4 times, and most of that had to do with the fact that we had a defender breathing down his neck every time he dropped back to throw.  That wasn't the case last week, as for the most part Seth Doege had time to drop back, knit a sweater, and then connect with an open receiver.  So if Fields starts drawing all the attention like he should, somebody else has to step up and get pressure.  It's hard to cover receivers.  It's even harder to cover receivers when the QB has all day.

Will Boykin continue to progress?:  Although his numbers were his best against Baylor, I'd say Boykin played his best game last week all things considered.  Baylor's defense is about the equivalent of the defense played at The Pro Bowl except with much less talent, and Tech actually has a formidable squad.  Oklahoma State's defense is not as terrible as Baylor's. Literally nobody in FBS has a defense as bad as Baylor's, but it's not anywhere near as good as Tech's D.  One key for Boykin and the offense will be his health and his ability to run the zone read.  If he is hobbled and isn't a threat in the running game then that severely limits the offense (see Pachall, Casey).  If he's able to keep the defensive line honest and freeze linebackers/safeties on the zone read and/or play action, then that opens up the field entirely for us.  As for the missed deep balls last week- I expect those to improve every week from here on out since he'll be working with the 1's every day and getting used to their speed and route running.  Let's not forget he was throwing to White/Listenbee/Porter/Bush for weeks in practice, so he's still getting acclimated to Boyce/Brown/Carter/Dawson.  I expect to see a lot more that look like the bomb to LaDarius Brown down the stretch last game in the future and a lot less to look like the missed seem routes to Skye Dawson.

What will happen:  For some reason I think this team plays better on the road and has for the past several years.  Oh wait, I know the reason.  They're in front of a full stadium actively engaged in the game for 4 quarters.  Weird concept, right?  We should try it out here too!  I seriously believe there's something to that.  Yes, the goal on the road is to rattle your opponents and make them uncomfortable, but part of me is starting to believe when our guys (and our coaches) see a stadium full of people they get more focused.  Sure, some aspects of the road will be tougher and there will be hiccups in every road game, but we haven't come out flat for a big time road game in years.  I don't think we do it here either.  Randle and Okie State will have their successes running the ball, but I think whichever QB plays will be forced to make throws to beat us.  Does a gimpy Wes Lunt or an incredibly inexperienced 3rd string junior who moonlights as a disabled actor on Breaking Bad have enough firepower to beat our defense?  Can the Okie State defense force a still very young, inexperienced Trevone Boykin into enough bad decisions and mistakes to rattle his cage?  I say the answer to both questions is no.  Our offensive and defensive balance are enough to keep the Frogs in this game late, and we all know what the hidden key is in most close games...SPECIAL TEAMS!  A long Skye Dawson punt return sets up a Jaden Oberkrom (get this kid a nickname already) game winning field goal as time expires.

The Pick:  TCU 34 - OSU 31.

We all will miss Sir Wesley in his usual role of the preview and recap guy, but bear with me as I try to take this thing over Trevone Boykin style while Sir Wesley tries to find himself in blogger-rehab.  There will be growing pains and lumps, and I'm pretty sure my vocabulary, reading level, and nerdy Sci-Fi references cannot match that of Sir Wesley's, but I'll give it my best.  Constructive criticism accepted, and please let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see written about and one of us will try to make time.  Now that hate has been taken out my life, I've got some time on my hands. All work and no hate makes SNK a dull boy.

Morning Dump: 10/26

TCU Trying to Avoid Deep Burns - Daily Oklahoman
Cowboys must improve in the red zone - Daily Oklahoman
Beat writers take on TCU vs. OSU -
Upset Bait -
TCU vs. OSU: what you need to know -
Boykin becoming more comfortable -
Hey Big 12, where's the D? -

Freak Out Watch:
Long wants an employed coach for Hogs, we're told it's Patterson -

Women's Basketball:
Baylor's dominance makes big 12 a race for second -
Big 12 teams familiar to TCU -