Friday, November 30, 2012

New Varsity Swag for OU Game.



There are a lot of negative things about preparing yourself for an 11AM kickoff, perhaps the biggest of which is casting aside your demons from the evening before and cracking a beer before Corso begins stuttering for 2 solid hours because ESPN won't put him out of his misery and seriously ESPN the man had a stroke and his crew mates can barely tolerate him anymore and it's making Herbstreit visibly age by the week and seriously what are you going to do when your goldenboy is solid grey with crows feet?  Fortunately, our friends at the Varsity have branded koozies specific to tomorrow's game that, while they may not make that hooch slide down your gullet and stay there, will at least cause you to chuckle at the apex of each 12 oz curl.  Go get your very own today before its too late!

Daily Discussion Question: El Retorno De La Manga.



Gary Patterson has said all along that, should he get his act together, Casey Pachall would be welcome back in the spring and given every opportunity to reclaim his role as QB1.  Patterson's intentions were unquestionably honorable:  If you truly care about Casey Pachall beyond his role on the team, you have to give him hope and a reason to correct his myriad issues.  Straight up turning your back on him, while the popular opinion of the Mac Engel's of the world, would solve the issue of removing him as your own problem but would do very little towards putting him on the path to a better life. Making your problem someone else's problem does not eliminate said problem, kind of like how shaving your head doesn't make you a better sportswriter.

But still... did anyone 100% think we'd ever see CP4 suit up in purple again once he hit the trail back in October?  I know I was by no means sure.  But, according to the latest message board chatter, it seems that Casey has completed rehab, gotten rid of the poor influences he used to surround himself with, and fully intends to re-enroll this spring.

The question is, as a fan, do you even WANT him back?  The problem with Casey is that answering that question isn't as simple as yes or no.

I can see both sides.  On the one hand, GP promised the guy he could come back and what good is he as a Coach if he can't be trusted?  On the other, what guarantee do we have that he's on the straight and narrow?    With all of his receivers returning, an older, presumably better offensive line and a healthy Waymon James, ifPachall returns to form, you absolutely have a better shot at winning a Big 12 Title and beyond with him under center.  Trevone Boykin has performed admirably this season and has actually been a better QB option for this team considering our offensive line, or lack thereof, but Pachall is in a different stratosphere when it comes to throwing the ball.  True, Andy Dalton wasn't exactly a passer that put fear into defenses when he first came to TCU, but Boykin's combination of height and delivery will make it tough for him to ever be a dominate gunslinger.  Just ask Vince Young, and he's got 6 inches on TB.

However Boykin, until Tyler Matthews or some newcomer says otherwise, is the future of TCU Football at the position.  TCU has lost 4 games this year, but outside of Iowa State - a game in which Boykin was drastically underprepared - can you blame him for any of the losses?  Oklahoma State was a major defensive fail, Kansas State beat us into submission and I'm not sure where the blame should be placed for Tech, but it certainly isn't at Trevone's fleet feet.  All things equal, no way Casey scrambles to make the play TB did to hit Boyce against West Virginia, nor does he keep UT's defense off balance with his scrambling ability.  Considering what Baylor just did to Kansas State, the fact that TB put 49 on them certainly holds more merit than it did at the time as well.  All I'm saying is, since that Iowa State game, Boykin has come along much faster than just about anyone could've hoped and gotten a team that everyone gave up on to 7 wins.  Do you stunt that development in hopes that Casey really has cleaned up his act?  I think we can all agree that the team seems to be playing harder for Boykin than they did for Casey, probably because they know they can trust him to be around.  With all the second chances given to Casey by this coaching staff, will he ever be able to earn back the trust of his team, and will they even want to give it to him?  I'm not so sure.

Of course, Boykin could render this conversation moot by beating out Pachall in the spring, but I suppose the fact that he should even have to is the real issue here.

What do you guys think?

OU Preview



First off, I'd like to apologize for my absence this week from the Spitblood.  Sometimes grown up stuff takes precedent.  Second of all, I'd like everyone to please take note of the greatest fan of all time in the photo above.  I tried for a while to come up with a clever caption for that picture, but sometimes actions speak louder than words.  This guy's actions consist of tube socks, mesh shorts, a sleeveless T-shirt, and what appears to be some sort of old school helmet, although judging by the rest of his attire he might be legally required to wear that.  Thank you sir for going out in public.  This has to be the kind of guy that makes other OU fans cringe.  Let's hope for the sake of humanity that this creature has never procreated.  This guy deserved an entire paragraph to himself.  Now I'll try to regain focus and actually draft up some sort of preview.

As hard as it may be to take Superfan up there seriously, the same can't be said about their football team.  I'd gladly argue anyone that wants to that the OU team we will play tomorrow will be the best team we play to date.  Yes, K State was ranked #2 and beat OU, but that was not the same K State team that took down the Sooners a couple months ago, and this is far from the same OU team.  Not to mention Klein was hurt, and I don't care what you think.  OU is firing on all cylinders right now...offensively.  Defensively, not so much.  However, is it their defense that has really struggled or is it that they went against the best offenses in the Big 12 and don't deal well with the up tempo play that most of our conference foes employ?  I guess we will have to wait and see bright and early on Saturday.

There's plenty of reason for everyone to get off their asses and head over to the stadium (and stay in there) Saturday morning, so please no more empty seats.  We don't have a ton of seniors, but this will be the last time many of us get to see the likes of Matthew Tucker, Kenny Cain, and yes, Skye Dawson, in person.  Consider what they and all the other Seniors have accomplished at TCU, it behooves you to show them the respect and support they've earned over the years.  So get to your seats early and cheer these guys on when they are announced one by one and take the field at The Carter for the final time.

Also, we haven't won a home Big 12 game yet this year, and I'll say a good part of the reason why is because the home-field advantage has been abysmal.  Do you really want our team to not win a single conference game at home in their inaugural season?  Think of how great this season could have been if we had made our brand new, state of the art stadium a semi-tough venue to play in.  Let's at least try to make it happen once this year.  I'm tired of wasting my breath pleading to the fans to show much needed and deserved support, so I'll get off my high horse now and try to break down a little football instead.

Offense

We've seen some great QB play this year in the Big 12 (Klein, Smith, Doege, Florence), and we've seen some miserable QB play as well (The University of Texas).  Landry Jones is playing better right now than any we have seen.  The addition of Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders has provided quite a security blanket in the slot for Jones, and he's the main reason I think the OU offense is on fire right now.  Even in the loss to Notre Dame, Saunders hauled in 15 catches for 181 yards.  Not too shabby for a guy who was playing in his 2nd game ever in an OU uniform.  Since that Notre Dame loss, OU has put up 35 points or more in their last 4 games, including topping 50 in the last 2.  The fear in Norman all offseason was that they had no receivers other than Kenny Stills, but the emergence of transfers Saunders and Justin Brown from Penn State, as well as the emergence of Sterling Shephard have really eased the tension and made life easier for Landry Jones.  While Stills is the big name in the receiving corps, he likes to cross-dress and Jason Verrett has gone on record saying he will cover him all day, so I don't fear Stills much on Saturday.  The same can't be said about Saunders.

Similar to TCU, OU doesn't lean heavily on 1 or 2 backs, but they have an abundance of guys who will carry the ball.  Damien Williams leads the way with 790 yards, but carries will also go to Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Trey Millard.  However, everyone knows that when it's a short yardage or red zone situation that OU will call on Blake Bell a/k/a The Belldozer.  Bell, the 6'6, 255 lb. backup QB, has scored 11 rushing TD's this year and is the only person in the nation who can claim a rushing TD against the vaunted Notre Dame defense.  Spoiler alert:  he's not going to throw it, and he's still hard as shit to stop.  At 6'6 254, he's basically bigger than anyone we play on defense that isn't a DT, so that's not gonna be fun.  Hit him low and pray I guess.

I won't spend too much time addressing the TCU offense, since after reading about 5 of these from me now and seeing every game we've played, you guys know what our offense has to offer.  If Boykin is healthy enough to throw and keep the OU defense off balance then we have a chance.  We may not have thrown much at all last week against Texas, but the first play was about a 40 yard play-action that kept Texas's secondary honest the whole game.  Hopefully the additional rest has given TB and the others some time to get healthy, because the game plan from UT won't beat OU.  Matthew Tucker appears to be back to full strength which is a huge plus in the run game, because now we have the thunder to Catalon's lightning that I was hoping for in last week's preview.  Last week, Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter combined for 2 offensive touches, and one of those was an incomplete pass.  That will not get it done this week.  Those are probably our 2 biggest playmakers, so let's figure out a way to get them the ball more.  I've said it once and I'll say it again- screen passes please, especially if TB is too banged up to throw downfield.

Edge:  Oklahoma by a wide margin.

Defense

Remember when OU's defense was destroying David Ash and UT to the tune of 36-2 in the first half of the Red River Rivalry and everyone thought the Sooner defense was amazing?  Well, what they didn't take into consideration was the horrendous offensive product that UT puts on the field.  In the last 3 games, OU has surrendered almost 1,700 yards of offense while allowing Baylor to score 34, WVU to score 49 (and completely gash them on the ground with Tavon Austin, a WR), and 48 to Oklahoma State (and their 3rd string QB).  I know the Big 12 has some phenomenal offenses and those are 3 of the best I just mentioned, but OU has shown the ability to stop nobody in about a month.  The good thing for OU is that we clearly don't possess a high powered offense like that and we are far from up-tempo like the previous 3 opponents are.  The bad news for OU is that their weakness over the course of the season (especially recently) has been their inability to stop the run, which is obviously our strength.  Baylor and WVU are air raid offenses that put up 252 and 458 yards rushing  on them respectively.  Not a great matchup defensively for the Sooners.

For TCU, you know what we get defensively.  When we are good TCU, we are getting constant pressure with our DL and not having to dial up many blitzes.  Jason Verrett and Kevin White lock down the outside receivers while our talented safeties and LB's cover the slots and backs.  We create turnovers based on pressure and ball hawking defensive backs.  When we are bad TCU, we can get any push, are forced to bring pressure from elsewhere which creates matchup problems with our LB's and teams are able to find WR's running free in space.  Tech would be the best example of this.  Lots of open targets for Doege.  Fortunately for TCU, we haven't seen that defense in quite a while.  Unfortunately as I mentioned earlier, Landry Jones is pretty damn good and he's on an incredible hot streak right now.  Defensively I see two keys for us:  1) Get pressure with the front 4.  the new found health of Maponga to bookend Fields has been a godsend, but so has the ability of Chucky Hunter to get push up the middle and get right in the face of QB's.  It's a bitch to throw when a 300 pounder is shoving your own lineman into your face.  2) Find someone to lock down Jalen Saunders in the slot.  I'd suggest Olabode, but I love him having the ability to roam the middle and make instinctual plays.  Sam Carter or Derrick Kindred are going to have to be that guy.  If we see a LB covering him at any time, consider us fucked on that play.

Edge:  TCU, by a pretty good margin.

Special Teams

OU has had both Jalen Saunders and Justin Brown take a punt return back for a touchdown.  Roy Finch has taken a kickoff return back for a TD as well.  Frankly, their 27.5 ypr on kickoffs and 16.5 ypr on punts is downright frightening, so they've got us there.  Also, we tend to have the shakiest hands ever on punts no matter who returns them.  I am loving the duo of Boyce and Carter on kickoff returns now, and we almost had Boyce house one for an early dagger against UT.  We are more than capable of making something happen in the return game, but OU has already done so a few times.  OU's kicker, Mike Hunnicutt, is 14-17 on the year with a long of 45, so he's consistent but not necessarily a bomber.  Jaden Oberkrom is 18-25 with a long of 50, but is a much better kicker at home than he is on the road.  Tres Way averages 42.6 per punt with 17 of his 41 punts going inside of the 20, however he has had 1 blocked.  Ethan Perry averages 44.5 per punt with 14 of his 48 going inside of the 20.  I'll quit boring everyone with special teams stats now.

Edge:  OU, barely.

Coaching

Big Game Bob isn't exactly Big Game Bob anymore, but he's still one of the best coaches in the country.  Gary Patterson is the greatest coach in the history of sports.  Ghosts of Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant and John Wooden would probably all attend a coaching clinic put on by GMFP.

Edge:  TCU, barely. 

The Pick:  On paper, it looks to me like OU is an overwhelming favorite.  Vegas thinks they are a 6 point favorite.  I have a hard time seeing this Senior class going out without a single home conference win in the Big 12, and we all know what GP can do with a few extra days to prepare.  I think he's able to neutralize the potent Oklahoma offensive attack, and I think the extra rest gave our offensive players some much needed time to heal.  Not to mention the confidence gained by winning on the road in Austin.  We finish the regular season with a W.  TCU 27 - Oklahoma 23.


Morning Dump: 11/30


Football:
Sooners must contain TCU's backs to keep Big 12 title within reach - The Oklahoma Daily
Humbling start leads TCU's Verrett into spotlight - San Antonio Express-News
TCU Neighborhoods grapple over parking cars in yards during football games - Star-Telegram
Writers break down TCU-OU game - Star-Telegram
TCU won't surprise OU this time - Star-Telegram Gil Lebreton
Keys to the game - Frogs O' War
Did TCU's Johnny Crouch really give back a touchdown in 1954? - Daily Oklahoman
Leach vs. Anti-Leach on the line - College Confidential

Men's Basketball:
Short-handed frogs step up against southern utah - Star-Telegram

Swimming:
TCU's Rasch shines on first day of swimming - Star-Telegram

Volleyball:
Young Girls flock to TCU games to admire players - TCU360.com