Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"I'd Like to Take His Face... Off:" The Devonte Fields Conundrum & Other Assorted Issues.

Fields/McFarland.  Come on, Science!

First off, I’d like to start this post out my saying how great it is to not only have football back, but to have Spitblood rising cautiously from the ashes of the Great Texas Tech Hacker Crap of 2012.  Life changes caused me to walk away from the site last year, and while my output will never be nearly as prolific as it once was – I got mouths to feed, after all – it’s good to know I’ll still be able to drop back in from time to time and indulge my inner fan-nerd.  Truth be told, since I quit you, Spitblood, my level of obsession with TCU Football has decreased dramatically, and while some might argue that with a wife, child and mortgage payment that’s a good thing, I say nay! 

But seriously, guys – FOOTBALLBALL!  It’s Back!  Can you believe it?  That sad night in the desert when the season died?  Eight months ago.  EIGHT!  I think we all thought that with a new basketball direction and a highly ranked baseball team we might be able to bridge that gap a little more smoothly, but… well, we all know how that turned out.  I really think that, with all of the good juju TCU generated which culminated in the Big 12 invite, we might’ve flown a little too close to the sun and the universe is just attempting to reset our batteries.  With the most promising basketball  team we’ve had since the Santee Era losing 2 starters just last week, apparently God is still a little furious at the crimes against sport TCU Basketball has committed over the past couple of decades, so, yeah.  But I think after taking their lumps in B12 year 1, the football team is ready to take a big step towards challenging for the B12 title, if not beyond. 

However, as with any season opener there are questions, questions that will be answered pretty harshly Saturday night against LSU.  Let’s a take look:

Who Starts at QB?  Despite GP’s apparent averseness to naming a starter prior to game time, I think he’s maybe attempting to outsmart everyone here when it’s wholly unnecessary.  Casey Pachall is going to play the majority of the reps, and you can bet LSU has wholly prepared for him.  However, I think Boykin could be a factor; in fact – HSO alert – I think he should start.  You may, and probably should, disagree with me, but hear me out.  Throughout the spring, at least externally, GP has made it known that the QB competition is ongoing.  No matter what the team knows behind closed doors, we have to take that at face value.  Pachall, for all of his immense talents and despite the fact that he’s the clear future of the 2013 season for this team, screwed up.  He screwed up big time and, despite what our revisionist history tells us, Boykin came in and was a lot better than we all want to admit.  He deserves to be the guy to lead TCU onto the field.  Tyler Matthews may be the first backup-backup QB with no reps in history to possibly be more popular than the two guys in front of him, but Boykin is the future of the position and you hate to risk alienating him and driving him away from the program for a guy who MIGHT play in all 12 of your games this season.  GP has already said both guys will be captains, which is a fantastic gesture on his part.  Assuming he earned it, give Pachall the majority of the reps, but let Boykin takes the first snap.

·       Will Our O-Line Work?  Another year, another bundle of headaches for O Line Coach Eddie Williamson.  Here are your current starters:  Aviante Collins (a year of experience under his belt, but he’s gonna have to clean up all of those yellow flags at his feet from last year), James Dunbar (Academically suspended last season and learning a new position), Joey Hunt (0 starts, but has been garnering tons of praise), Eric Tausch (Moving from the left side to the right, but lots of experience) and Vaitai (Played last year as a freshman, but was second on the 2-deep until Scientology McScientologist went back to Provo despite escaping 2 years ago).  Who there, outside of Tausch and maybe Hunt, inspires genuine confidence?  I’m not saying it’s impossible – in fact, I’m sure that, with at least SOME experience for all 5 starters, they’ll be fine- but what terrifies me is depth.  If we get 70 starts out of those guys, it will be a season to remember.  If not?  Curtains for ole Treebeard wearing #4. 

·      Will Devonte play?  Aaaah, the big question on everyone’s mind, and one the staff has been notoriously tight lipped about in recent days.  We all know the deal – suspended the first two games for an undisclosed violation of school policy.  But who did the suspending?  Was it GP?  Was it the school?  Did he win his appeal?  If he had lain with a 14 year old girl and sucker punched a fellow student, would he be starting?  Les, you can answer that one.  The latest is that he will be suiting up and be on the sidelines, but not playing… or will he?  Much like the QB situation, this seems like it’ll be one that won’t be answered until 8:00PM Saturday evening.  There were rumors circulating earlier this week that Fields had won his appeal with the school – rumors that were squashed by GP, from what I understand – but it could just be a mind game from one of the most enthusiastically secretive men in all of college football.  And, like Vince Gilligan with Breaking Bad, I have no clue what GP is going to do from here, I think there’s a question that needs to be raised…
o   Why Can’t Devonte Just Wear a Different Uniform on Saturday?  Devonte Fields stands 6’4”, 240 pounds and is a sophomore defensive end for the TCU Horned Frogs.  James McFarland stands 6’3”, 248 pounds and is a sophomore defensive end for the TCU Horned Frogs.  Since they’re both suiting up, why can’t Fields wear #40, McFarland toss on the #95 and both wear dark visors?  Who would know?  The officials don’t know faces, and they couldn’t see them anyway!  It’s PERFECT!  Before you go point, “RAYCESS!!” fingers at me, of course I’m saying this all in jest.  But seriously – has this ever been tried?  A quick google search came up empty, and I’m sure the punishment of having to at the very least forfeit every game said player played in is enough to deter a coach from trying the old switcheroo, but surely some desperate coach has tried it.  Yours in the comments. 
      How Good is Ty Slanina?  Obviously with GP closing practices to the media, the old crack cocaine practice reports from Horned Frog Blitz are gone, now entirely dependent on milquetoast commentary from the head man himself.  However, one of the depth chart surprises that could have been surmised is the ascension of East Bernard HS’s finest, Ty Slanina, who is listed as one of four starting WRs.  Heading into the Spring it was pretty much assumed that DooDoo Story and/or Josh Doctson would nab a starting spot, if not two, yet Story is currently listened behind Cam White and Doctson is listed at third.  Heck, Slanina wasn’t even the frosh WR hype beast as that honor went Cam Echols-Luper, who is behind Bran-don-Car-Ter.  That is by no means a knock on any of those guys as they are all legit and they will all see time; it just shows you how uber legit Slanina apparently is.  Whereas last year, what with our 16 freshman starters, having a guy like Slaning starting would’ve just been seen as the cost of doing business, it’s clear he earned the role this year.  Keep your eyes pinned on #13 Saturday night. 
·         Will Jonathan Anderson Realize His Potential as a LB?  For whatever reason when he came in, Jonathan Anderson struck me as a guy who was going to be REAL good.  After the BYU game of yesterday when he made all of the tackles, I thought that was the coming out party for the next TCU Gator.  Unfortunately, he’s fallen off a bit since then, and hardly made an impact last year, totaling 28 tackles (He had 18 against BYU the year before).  Once Joel Hasley bailed on the team, it was widely presumed that Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet would be the guys to step in and fill that void, so it was obviously a bit of a surprise to see JA getting moved to the middle of the field.  We all know he’s capable of making the big hit and getting stops, but will he have what it takes to play GP’s favorite position?  I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll all be pleasantly surprised and, on the bright side, dude played pretty well last time he suited up in Jerrahworld…

There are obviously more questions to be answered – will Ranthony Texada and his 160 lb frame survive as a returnman?  With his injury history, is it worth playing Waymon James at the same position?  Remember when Travoskey Garrett was supposed to be what Jason Verrett has become?  When he plays in a turf stadjium, does less bring his own supply of fresh fescue?  LSU lost a gaggle of starters to the NFL and, although LSU, Bama and the like are basically just an assembly line of starting NFL defensive talent, shouldn’t there at least be SOMEWHAT of a breaking in period in game 1 against a quality opponent?  Right?  RIIIIGHT?  Oh god I’m so scared.   How on earth do you get “Avion” out of “Aviante?”- but my time here is limited.  Besides, I’m trying to break myself back in.  Cut me some slack!  I’m not sure how the innerworkings of Spitblood are comprised at present, so I presume there will be a more specific preview for the game Saturday.  But, seeing as how we have temporarily reverted to, hopefully this will generate a little discussion.  Godspeed.

Morning Dump: 08/28

ESPN "Experts" Pick the TCU-LSU game - (Video)
Fields to Dress for LSU game -
TCU, old-school Gary Patterson not afraid to evolve - USA Today
TCU 66-1 to win BCS, 15-4 to win Big 12 title - Dallas Morning News
5 Takeaways from the Tuesday presser - Dallas Morning News
Press Conference Breakdown - The Daily Skiff
Special Teams Breakdown: TCU & LSU - The Daily Skiff