Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things to know about BYU

Friday is game day this week. Did you know that the Frogs play on Friday for the second time this year and the third time in the last two seasons? The Baylor game this year and the SMU game in Dallas in 2010 are the other two games.

More on things to know about BYU:

  • The series with BYU is tied 5-5.
  • Even though it feels like a MWC game, this is the first non-conference game between TCU and BYU since 1988.
  • This is the first game between TCU and BYU played on artificial turf since BYU’s trip to Amon G. Carter Stadium in 1987, which the Frogs won 33-12. A fast track favors the Frogs!
  • BYU is much improved and more physical on both sides of the ball than in past years. They are most improved at linebacker, where USC transfer, No. 4 Uona Kaveinga, and No. 44 Brandon Ogletree anchor the 3-4 defense for BYU. They’ll throw a lot of five-man fronts at the Frogs trying to stop the run.
  • BYU has some great wide receivers – big surprise! They are bigger than in the past with No. 2 Cody Hoffman at 6-foot-4 and No. 11 Ross Apo (who originally signed with Texas) at 6-foot-3. Don’t forget Southlake Carroll’s McKay Jacobson, who had a big day against TCU in 2006. He can run, too.
  • Not the expected starter at quarterback for the Cougars. Riley Nelson came off the bench against Utah State and never looked back – throwing for 11 touchdowns so far in 3-plus games. He’s a dangerous dual-threat QB who can make plays with his feet. He has added a new dimension to BYU’s offense, while leaving original starter Jake Heaps in the dust.
  • The Frogs catch a BYU team looking for its sixth-straight win.
  • The Frogs' defense will need to continue the roll it’s been on harassing quarterbacks with pressure and covering tight in the secondary.
  • It’s going to be a beautiful night for football, and word is that the roof at Cowboys Stadium will be open.
  • This will be a physical, physical football game won by the team that takes care of the football and wins in the kicking game. Special teams have to be special in this one!

Kick ‘Em High! And Go Rangers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mid-week memo

As we wish the Rangers good luck in bringing home the World Series Championship (remember, I said Rangers in 6), here are a few things to knock around the ball yard:

  • The last five – The Horned Frogs enter a critical stretch with the last five games headlined by a collision with BYU on Friday. This will be a physical, physical game. They always are, but this one is different. BYU is much improved and they're more physical on both sides of the ball. Then it’s off to Laramie, Wyo., where it’s likely to be in the 20s and snowing. Then a quick turnaround for a trip to Boise, you know, that game you’ve had circled on your calendar. That Boise St. game is huge for MWC title hopes, but the Frogs have to take care of business twice before they try to win their Own Private Idaho. (Any B-52’s fans out there?)
  • QB Matt Brown – I like the change of pace he provides and you have to look for him. He sneaks into the game like James Bond (Anyone remember Robert Redford in "Brubaker"?) Look for more of “Sneaky Matt.”
  • Frog legs are live – Coach Gary Patterson says the Frogs got their legs back during they off week and I agree. The defensive line, especially, has looked like it has hit another gear in the last two outings.
  • Speaking of the defense -- Have you noticed how this young bunch is starting to fly around. No more hesitation. They fly to the ball. They’ll need to continue that trend this Friday.
  • No QB controversy – OK, you contraversists (is that a word), meaning those who like to stir it up. No, Casey Pachall’s job is not in jeopardy after last weekend’s open-field antics by the Frogs' No. 15 Rick Settle. Settle had a much-deserved moment in the sun against New Mexico in a tough situation. He wasn’t supposed to score on that 9-yard run, but there was no one to stop him so he had to put points 63-68 on the board. Congrats to a guy who contributes much under the radar everyday. And he wears a cool jersey number!
  • Big 12 news – If you like mountains and Mountaineers, looks like you’re in luck. Word is the mountaineer will fire his muzzle-loader signaling the move sometime this week. (Or maybe Louisville tags along too.)

More on BYU tomorrow. And go Rangers.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sympathy for New Mexico on Homecoming

Well, it’s Homecoming Friday on University Drive and that brings back a lot of alums and even more memories. Whether you went to TCU six years ago or 60, there’s something special about this weekend. Enjoy it, Frogs!

Gary Patterson calls the visiting New Mexico Lobos a “dangerous” football team. He’s right, but they may be more dangerous to themselves than anyone else. The Lobos come into Saturday’s game as one of two teams in the nation who don’t have a win. I’m talkin’ O-Fer 2011. Can you name the other? (Florida Atlantic)

New Mexico recently fired head coach Mike Locksley. It wasn’t his fault. He should have never been hired. New Mexico vice president Paul Krebs has admitted that very fact, and the Lobos are trying to recover from a tailspin that’s become a nightmare, believe me. I went through a similar situation when TCU fired then-head coach F.A. Dry with one game to go in the 1982 season. It was a sad week, with players leaving, assistant coaches bolting for the USFL and other jobs and the team left with Coach Dry and 4 assistants to go to College Station and play the one game and finish out the Dry era at TCU. It was the worst week of my college career and for many reasons. It was bad enough for one week. I can’t imagine having to go through that for eight games as the New Mexico Lobos are right now. They’re changing schemes, they have massive injury issues, especially along the defensive line. They’re trying the wildcat formation and, most of all, they’re trying to forget the Locksley era, in which UNM posted two wins versus 26 losses.

This won’t be much of a game tomorrow, folks. Consider that New Mexico is giving up an average of 44 points per game to opponents and have registered just five sacks in six games. Look for a 3-2-6 alignment on defense tomorrow and a gambling style that will blitz from all angles in a “damn the torpedoes” strategy. Note to fans: the torpedoes have already hit the USS UNM.

By the way, while you’re at the game tomorrow, look for the 1951 Southwest Conference Champions this weekend. They’re celebrating their 60th anniversary and they’ll be on the field at the end of the 1st quarter. Now that was a team!

Enjoy Homecoming!

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 W’s on a Wednesday

Questions are circling in my mind as we begin the second half of football season with the Frogs and New Mexico this weekend:

WHO is going to win the World Series? I’m going with the Rangers. I love looking at their lineup that’s full of speed, power and depth. There’s no way to pitch around them and, if you do, you’ll pay. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy as St. Louis has been really hot over the last 2 months (and the Rangers’ starting pitching was iffy in the ALCS), but I still think it’s the Rangers’ time. Besides, I want to see the Rangers raise that world championship pennant next April on Opening Day 2012, which will be almost exactly 40 years since I attended the Rangers’ first-ever game at the old Arlington Stadium in April 1972. By the way, the Rangers won that game over the Angels, 7-6.

Rangers in 6.

WHAT is Missouri thinking? The SEC is no place for a program that will replace Arkansas as the “Neptune” of that league. No, Arkansas is not going anywhere. By that I mean that Mizzou will be way out on the edge of a league whose fans still barely recognize Arkansas as a member, even after 20 years. And if Truman the Tiger does bolt for what I call the “Super Elite Conference”, does that open the Big 12 door for BYU or Louisville? Word is the SEC is out to get to 14 teams. Stay tuned.

WHEN will the NBA figure out that the last thing it needs is a lockout/strike? That league is on its way to being the next NHL if the owners and the players don’t wake up and realize that the NFL and Major League Baseball are leaving it behind. Sure, the NBA is hot in North Texas but that’s because of the Mavs’ recent championship. How would you like to be a sales rep for the New Jersey Nets (24-58 last year) right about now?

WHERE will all those visiting Big 12 fans park their RVs when they come to TCU for football games next year? Believe me, it’s being worked on.

WHY should the Frogs be concerned about the 0-6 New Mexico Lobos? Well, besides percentages working in the Lobos’ favor (sooner or later they’ll win a game), New Mexico has some really good receivers and they’re playing better since they rid themselves of former head coach Mike Locksley, who won 2 games in 2+ seasons in Albuquerque and was in trouble from the start. Add to it that the Frogs must get their motors running again after a much-needed off week. More on this one later in the week.

Kick ‘Em High!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Madness & Midseason Report

Well, here we are, fresh off a trip to San Diego and a win over the Aztecs. Now the Frogs get a much-needed week off.

Just so you don’t get bored over the off week, here are a few things to spark conversation with friends:

  • Although the sting of the Baylor loss is still with us, can you believe we’re at the halfway point of the season? Six gone and six to go, and it should be an interesting stretch drive to the finish.
  • At 4-2, the Frogs are just outside the Associated Press Top 25. They’ll be back.
  • Oh, by the way, the Frogs are 2-0 in Mountain West Conference play – still on course for a conference championship. Just making sure that’s not lost on Frog fans.
  • Ed Wesley is an extreme talent at running back and his return and continued health is a huge key to the rest of the season. Matthew Tucker is stomping on defenders and Waymon James runs too low to tackle, but “EW” is a difference-maker.
  • Did you see Antoine Hicks Saturday night? He needs to stay on that roll.
  • The offensive line is an amazing story of a group of interchangeable parts that continue to baffle opponents and so-called experts who said this group was the weak link of the offense. Not.
  • TCU’s young secondary showed sparks Saturday night. They continue to improve and the interceptions by Johnny Fobbs and Jason Verrett were healthy signs that this unit is starting to play with confidence and instinct.
  • Linebacker Kris Gardner had the best game of his career against San Diego State. He’ll be important the rest of the season as linebackers continue to get beat up.
  • Defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey is a beast. Had a big sack against San Diego State and made a bone-jarring hit on the goal line on Aztec ruunning back Walter Kazee. Ouch.
  • Punter Anson Kelton just needs to kick the ball. Forget everything else and unload on it.
  • Ross Evans is hitting the ball better than at any time in his TCU career. His 46-yarder against the Aztecs would have been good from 60 or more.

The Big XII

TCU Trustees and officials will begin reviewing the details of the invitation to the Big XII today. Look for an announcement quickly – maybe even tonight. It will be a great day for TCU and the future of TCU Athletics.

Change of address cards are on order.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three “thank you” notes to write

Wow, where to start on another great Friday during football season??

We as Americans love our national holidays, and the Frog Nation now has two additional dates to commemorate and on which to “Fly Your Flag:"

  • January 1, 2011
  • October 6, 2011

What a year it has been!

It’s easy to make an argument that yesterday was one of the all-time historic days in TCU Athletics. TCU, your TCU, the prodigal son of college football for the last 17 years, came home. Grab the fatted calf, it’s time for a party. And while you’re lifting a purple margarita, grab your “thank you” notes. We have people to thank.

Note No. 1 needs to go to the Big East Conference — a league that had the foresight and the good will to invite TCU and gave the Frogs validation as a worthy member of an “Automatic Qualifier” conference. Without ever playing a game in the Big East,TCU gained a whole new respect nationwide and, more importantly, started some other league to thinking.

Note No. 2 goes west. Not sure if you address it to the Pac-10 or the Pac-12, but you know where to send it. It’s the league that told the University of Texas to stay back in their Big XII corner. "Take your Longhorn Network and go home." The Pac-12’s rejection of Bevo put the Big XII back on firm footing and made TCU look like a viable option. This is when things turned TCU’s way.

Note No. 3. Lick a stamp (oops, you don’t have to lick stamps anymore, do you?) and send this note to “Dollar Bill” Byrne and the brain trust at Texas A&M. The Aggies are so worried about what UT is doing that it finally drove them crazy. Crazy enough to join the SEC. Their vacated spot in the Big XII turned from maroon to purple. Thanks! And Gig ‘em!

And here’s another thing to anticipate and get goose bumps about: it looks like the Frogs will pick up the Aggies’ Big XII football schedule for 2012. No promises, but how about TCU-UT on Thanksgiving? Pass the cranberry sauce!

In other business, don’t forget that the 3-2 Frogs are on their way today to San Diego to take on an Aztecs team that has more offensive weapons than SMU. This is a big game, and you’ll not want to miss it. Kickoff’s at 9:30 p.m. CT, so make sure to get a nap Saturday afternoon. Some keys to ponder while you refocus from Big XII to SDSU:

  • Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley is one of the best in the nation, rated by many pro scouts as a better pro prospect than Boise State’s Kellen Moore.
  • Aztec running back Ronnie Hillman has six straight 100-plus-yard games, including a 191 yard, 4 touchdown game against Washington State back on Sept. 17.
  • Former New Mexico coach Rocky Long is now the head man at SDSU, and he can coach some defense. He runs the 3-3-5. This will be a great chess match between two great defensive coaches.
  • Pass rush? Frogs have to bring pressure against an SDSU offensive line that has given up just 2 sacks since the Utah game last year.
  • Special Teams will play a role in this one. SDSU features punter Brian Stahovich, one of the best in the nation --- big leg.
  • SDSU has never beaten the Frogs, 0-6 all time.

Meanwhile, the Volleyball lost for the first time in MWC action last night, falling to San Diego State. The Horned Frogs fall to 16-2 on the season and 3-1 in league play. TCU returns to action Saturday afternoon when it hosts UNLV. First serve is set for 1 p.m. at the University Recreation Center. Get out there and support the Lady Frogs before you watch the football team.

Make it a great weekend and don’t forget to write!

Kick ‘Em High!