Thursday, November 14, 2013

Can One Guy Make That Much Difference? - Exhibit B

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the question, “Can one guy make that much difference?”

The answer is yes.

If it pleases the court, I’d like to offer Exhibit B in the form of Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. At the ripe young age of 73, Snyder is in his second tour of duty at the helm at K-State.

In his first stint, he took Kansas State University of Agriculture and Applied Science from being the laughing stock of college football to a feared power.

Sidebar on Kansas State: K-State used to appear in the AP’s Bottom 10 rankings every week back in the 1970s with Rice, TCU and Northwestern. They were a joke. In 1984, I played against KSU, and we beat them in the home opener 42-10 and it wasn’t THAT close.

After winning just one game in 1989, Snyder got the PowerCats to 11 wins in 1997 and again in ’98, ’99 and 2000. He retired a Kansas State legend in 2005.

Then Kansas State Football suffered.

So they talked him in to coming back in 2009 and the Wildcats showed life at 6-6. They’ve improved every year since Snyder came back, with win totals the last three years of 7, 10 and 11.

Today, I say they’re the hottest team in the Big 12 right now, having won three in a row and rolling up 49 on Texas Tech last week.

Yes, one guy can make that much difference.

BUT, I like the Frogs chances in The Little Apple on Saturday.  Why?
  • Kansas State wants to run the football and grind it out. TCU rolls into Aggieville with the best rushing defense in the Big 12.
  • The Frogs found a way to win last week for the first time in a month when they weren’t their best. I see a spark.
  • TCU can sell out, play loose and they have two weeks to heal up for Baylor. K-State, on the other hand, has Oklahoma next week.

Here’s to a big Frog road win Saturday and the perfect setup for a big game with Baylor at the end of the month.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Can One Guy Make That Much Difference?

College football is a team game.  One hundred guys sticking together as a group, playing for each other.   You’ve heard it 1,000 times from Gary Patterson:  Each player doing his 1/11th.

As we say hello to the 11th month of the year and Thanksgiving looms just 27 days away, we get into the wheelhouse of college football.  Players lost for the year to injury and some coming back from injury. Some teams up, some teams down. Surprise teams and a few team buses with flat tires along the side of the college football road looking for help.

Speaking of help, I ask the question, “Can one guy make THAT much difference?” The answer is yes. One example is Texas new Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson. Nowhere mentioned in relation to UTex football at the beginning of the year. Mack Brown when to the bullpen phone and brought Robinson out of the shadows to revamp Bevo’s defense and fix the leaks, while standing in waist deep water, extension cords dangerously close to the surface. Robinson grabbed a wrench and fixed the leaks, went back to the basics.  He has done more than fix the defense at UT. He has reinstalled attitude and swagger throughout the UT program. And saved Mack Brown.
The Texas defense I saw last Saturday night has come light years since BYU made hamburger out of them earlier in the year.

Here’s another guy. Casey Pachall. With a presence and an arm to go with it, Pachall is now the difference maker for this TCU team. What a story if he can lead the Frogs to three more wins, get them to a bowl and leave TCU on the upswing. Pachall adds another gear to the TCU offense and gets rid of the ball in a hurry. His arm is strong and accurate. So strong, in fact, that TCU’s wideouts didn’t look ready for the delivery velocity that No. 4 gave them last week. Casey also delivered a heartfelt assessment of the offense in the wee hours postgame media session, basically saying that the offense needs to look inside and get it fixed. Casey Pachall can make THE DIFFERENCE. I’m pulling for him and you should be, too.

West Virginia comes to town with the same record as the Frogs — 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12. Look for a lot of motion and screens from the Mountaineers. They are last in the Big 12 in total defense, so the Frog offense should have some room to work. Both teams are missing their big offensive weapons from 2012, WVU's Tavon Austin and TCU’s Josh Boyce. Both of those guys put on a show last year in TCU’s 39-38 overtime win. Each team needs someone to step up as a playmaker. It’s time.

Brian and I are on the air tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. on the TCU Sports Network. It’s Frogs For The Cure Day at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

And, Trent Johnson’s new, young Frogs open their season tonight with an exhibition game with Arkansas-Fort Smith at 7 p.m. at DMC.  This is an athletic and talented group that features some of the best scoring talent that TCU has put on the floor in a while. Catch them in action tonight and next week at the AAC in Dallas against SMU.

Kick Em High!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Longhorns return to Fort Worth

Today, Texas makes its first visit to Fort Worth since 1994 for a matchup of the "revamps."

Texas and its revamped defense versus TCU and its offense that features a different play-caller and maybe even Casey Pachall.

In addition, to those plot elements, keep these in mind:
  • The TCU defense vs. the UT running game
  • Case McCoy vs. the TCU front four - Frogs gotta bring the pressure!
  • TCU's running game vs. UT's defense. Did you see the BYU game? Sure an updated defensive scheme but still the same players.
  • Weather - It could be wet!
Kick Em High!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Needing wins, speaking of losses

As we hit the halfway pole of the season and head to Stillwater for a return engagement of Pickin’ & Grinnin’ at Boone Pickens Stadium, here are some things to grind on:
  • The Frogs’ next two opponents — Okie State and Texas — both have open dates before they play the Frogs. Welcome to the Big 12.
  • This Frogs-Cowboys matchup features two very mobile quarterbacks who’ll be tracked copiously throughout the game. Job 1 for the defenses will be containing them.
  • These two defenses are tough against the run.
  • Key matchup: OSU’s wide receivers vs. the TCU secondary. This could be fun.
  • The Frogs need to run the ball in this one. Waymon James and B.J. Catalon need a minimum of 15 touches each. Load up and pound it.
  • Big wide receivers for big plays – TCU has four big wide receivers: LaDarius Brown, Cam White, Josh Doctson and Ja'Juan Story. A mix of them on the field at the same time will help Trevone Boykin. To hit a receiver, a quarterback must first find them. So make it easy.
  • Did you know that back in the day, Oklahoma State was actually called Oklahoma A&M?
Finally, I want to mention that we lost a great Horned Frog in the last week: Herb Zimmerman, Class of 1952. A two-time All SWC performer for the Frogs in the early 1950’s, Herb went on to a great coaching career before launching a second career as a real estate developer and rancher. Herb coach in Texas high schools at Weatherford and Mount Pleasant and then went on to become one of the best defensive coordinators in college football, working for John Bridgers at Baylor and under Hayden Fry at SMU. Herb was laid to rest earlier this week in his hometown of Mount Vernon. He as 83 and he will be missed.

Make is a great weekend.

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Six things the Frogs must do to beat Tech

Howdy from the South Plains, where temperatures at game time will be in the mid-80s with low humidity.

As you prepare for tonight’s Big 12 conference opener, keep these things in mind as keys to a Frog win. Call it our Thursday Texas Tech To-Do List: 
  • Contain the Texas Tech Offense – Sure they’ll get their completions but keeping Tech from turning a 3 yard completion into an 80 yards score is critical.
  • Be Physical in coverage – Last year, Tech’s receivers were very physical and, at times, yanked TCU’s defensive backs out of the way to make a catch.
  • Stuff the Run – Kliff Kingsbury’s offense utilizes play action and the run game to keep defenses honest.  Hello, my name is Chucky Hunter!
  • Start Fast on Offense – Trevone Boykin’s first start of the year needs to be a fast one.
  • Receivers Step Up – A vertical passing game could be an issue for the Red Raiders.
  • Cash in on Red-Zone Opportunities – Scoring on the road consistently gives you a chance to win and takes the crowd out of the game – a win-win.

We’re on the air tonight with Inside TCU Football on the TCU Sports Network at 5:30 p.m. CT .  We’ll be on 570AM KLIF at 6 p.m. and on WBAP 820AM/96.7FM at 6:30 p.m.
If you’re traveling, you can hear us on Sirius 93 and XM190.

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tidbits on the Frogs and Red Raiders

As the Frogs get ready to take on Texas Tech in Lubbock tomorrow night, here’s a few interesting tidbits:
  • Texas Tech will be looking to snap a three-game losing skid in home Big 12 openers.
  • Tech Defensive Coordinator Matt Wallerstedt is the Red Raiders’ fifth DC in as many years.   
  • TCU Safeties Coach Chad Glasgow was the Red Raiders’ Defensive Coordinator in 2011.
  • Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury was a member of the Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots in 2003 and has a Super Bowl ring that he supposedly has never worn.
  • Texas Tech Safeties Coach Trey Haverty was an assistant coach at TCU in 2011 and 2012.
  • The Frogs make their first visit to Lubbock since 2004.
  • The Frogs and Red Raiders played to a tie three straight times in Lubbock: 3-3 in 1979 in the snow, 39-39 in 1981 and 10-10 in 1983
  • Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells was on the coaching staff at Texas Tech in the early 1970’s.
  • The Frogs are looking for their first win in Lubbock since 1991 under head coach Jim Wacker, a 30-16 victory over the Red Raiders, coached by Spike Dykes.
  • The 50 Yard Line Steakhouse is a legendary restaurant in Lubbock.   If you go, be sure to get some blueberry muffins!
  • The first game I ever played in for TCU was at Texas Tech in 1981 – the wild 39-39 tie.   TCU Linebacker Mike Dry blocked a punt by Tech’s Maury Buford out of the back of the south end zone for a safety that tied the game late in the 4th quarter.

Tomorrow, a scouting report on the Red Raiders.

Kick Em High!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Scouting report on Southeastern Louisiana

Fridays come quickly during football season and that means game day is nigh.

Things I can tell you about the Southeastern Louisiana Lions:
  • If you want a lesson in football formations and variations on a theme, then be in Amon G. Carter Stadium tomorrow at 11:07 a.m. USL employs just about every formation known and then some, intertwining motion and misdirection to add to the intrigue.   Wideouts will motion back into the backfield and, at the snap, become the trailing back on an option play. You’ll see two-tight end formations, one-tight end, five wides, one back, split backs, diamond/inverted wishbone. Get the idea? Oh, and they do like to throw it, too.
  • Quarterback Bryan Bennett (No. 3) is a transfer from Oregon, who played in 18 games in Eugene before leaving the Duck dynasty for a new lease on life at USL. And he can play.
  • Bennett is just one of a handful of FBS transfers, joining linebacker Cqulin Hubert from Texas Tech, runningback Kody Sutton from Wyoming and wide receiver Jarrell Bennett, who used to be an Arizona Wildcat.
  • Defensively, the Lions feature a 3-3-5 scheme. No. 5 John Graves, who plays the “LION” position (a linebacker/safety hybrid), knows how to get to the ball. He had 70 tackles last year. No. 23 Tyler Stoddard is an All-Southland Conference free safety.

Parking lots open at 6 a.m., and the Walk of the Frogs, where the team walks by the new horned frog statue and rubs its nose for good luck, takes place at 8:30 a.m. on the east plaza of Amon G. Carter Stadium.

It’s Breakfast at The Carter!  See you there.

Kick ‘Em High!

(Photo courtesy The Advocate)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

JD's Thursday three-fer

As the wake of the LSU game starts to fade into the backwater, here’s a few things help steady your boat:

1.   LSU is much better than people think. The pollsters are still trying to catch up with that one. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has made a tremendous impact on the Tigers’ offense already and the air attack they have to match with a power running game will make them contenders deep into the season. TCU will benefit from this game throughout the season. My dad always said that when things don’t turn out the way you want, you still net a good learning experience. That’s what happened last Saturday. Watch the good eke out of the LSU “experience” throughout this season.

2.   I really like our defensive line. As the front porch of the defense, they are the guard dogs, and I like the way they get after it. The defensive tackles were solid in the LSU game. Sure, you know Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter, but there are more of them, including No. 98 Jon Lewis. When Big Jon gets mad, I don’t want to be around.

3.   Southeastern Louisiana is a team packed with transfers from FBS schools. More tomorrow on them, but be sure to keep an eye on quarterback Bryan Bennett. He wears No. 3. The transfer from Oregon played 18 games for the Ducks before landing at USL last January. He rushed for 106 yards and 3 TDs in the Lions’ win last week.

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pregame Jitters

It’s always fun and exciting when the college football season finally gets here. And thankfully, it is!

A few things to know before the Frogs and LSU tee it up?
  • Frog Fans, you better be ready to bring it in the noise department tonight because LSU fans know how, and they’ll be there in force. Remember the Fiesta Bowl, when Boise State fans took you to school?? Don’t let that happen again.
  • 85,000 – that's what they’re expecting at kickoff. Make sure you get there early as the Rangers complicate the game plan with a 7 p.m. game at The Ballpark.
  • Bag it – Don’t forget the new bag rules at AT&T Stadium – and don’t test the security people. They’ll just send you back to the car with your BIG TEX-sized backpack.
  • Interesting matchups and things to ponder for this early season bowl game: 
    • Both secondaries trying to keep up with the wide receivers both teams are loaded at wideout. 
    • TCU’s offensive line vs. a reloaded LSU defensive front. 
    • Who breaks down in the kicking game first? Always happens in openers. I have Jaden Oberkrom playing a big part in this one. 
    • Surprise attacks – Don’t turn away for a single play in this one, especially if it’s close late. 
    • Can the Frogs be physical enough early on defense? They’ll be tested. LSU likes to roll out 500 pounds of backfield and say, “Here we come, we’re going right there.  See if you can stop us." (For reference, watch the 2011 Rose Bowl.) 
    • The first 10 minutes of the game are very important. Which team can get up to game speed first and deal with it throughout?
  • Win or lose, the Frogs need to come out of this LSU game healthy. It’s a long way to November 30th.
 Enjoy this first weekend of college football! 

 Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Some friendly reminder before kick-off

Before we jump into the business at hand, let’s take a moment to remember “The King,” Elvis, on that anniversary of his passing.  I’m still amazed that someone who is dead can still be making that much money.  Viva Las Vegas!

Two weeks from tonight, you’ll be getting tuned up for the lid lifter on another TCU Football season. You’ll be seeing LSU Tigers in your sleep. That’s all a part of the anticipation of a season opener. 

While there’s still time, here are some things to tend to:
  • If you’re among those lucky enough to have tickets for the Cowboys Classic, better check the new bag policy at AT&T Stadium (the stadium formerly known at Cowboys Stadium). Here’s the link to the info:  And no, they don’t care that you just bought that Coach bag, just for the game.
  • Don’t forget that TCU Volleyball and TCU Women’s Soccer are both about to start their seasons. Both coaches will greet the approximately 1,950 incoming freshman in the Class of 2017 (can that year really be right?) tomorrow at the Frogs First Pep Rally.
  • If you don’t have TCU-Texas tickets, the 3-Game Pack is a good way to get them.  Hook ‘Em, Horned Frogs!
  • Finally, TCU lost a great supporter this week when James Rainbolt passed away. The founder of Tarrant Concrete was a former UNT basketball star, who claimed the Frogs as his own and was an asset and blessing to all he knew. Look around campus, and you’ll see the impact of Mr. Rainbolt’s company all over the place.

Next week, we start to dial-in on the TCU-LSU matchup.

Kick Em High!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My mind is already at midfield

Here’s hoping that all of you had a great summer and you’re ready for another year of Horned Frog Athletics. The LSU game may still be three weeks away, but know this:  it’s football season. The Frogs are busy going through fall camp and getting ready for a collision with the “Bayou Bengals.” I’m headed to practice this afternoon.

Speaking of TCU vs. LSU, here’s some late-breaking news for you regarding the Cowboys Classic game day at AT&T Stadium:

2 p.m. – AT&T Stadium parking lots open
6 p.m. – AT&T Stadium plazas and gates open
8 p.m. – Kickoff

Other thoughts as my mind turns toward midfield for the coin toss:
  1. Frogs roll out at No. 20 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll. That’s a little low in my book, but it's a good launch pad.
  2. The good news for Texas A&M is they have Johnny Football. That’s also the bad news. I’ve said all along that, for a number of reasons, J-Football would have a hard time getting to the fifth week of the season. Now that looks like I was being generous.    
  3. Who’d would have imagined that TAMU pre-season talk would center around a possible quarterback controversy that features Matt Joeckel from Arlington (who has thrown exactly 11 passes in his career) and true freshman Kenny Hill from Southlake Carroll?
  4. Keep an eye on the Targeting Rule in college football this year. It’s been expanded beyond being a 15-yard personal foul. Now, when a player is called for targeting, he’s immediately ejected from the game. However, the ejection can be turned over by the replay official, but the 15-yard mark-off stands no matter what.
  5. KEY FACT you need to know: If a player gets ejected during the first half, they’re out for the remainder of that game. If they get ejected during the second half, they’re gone for the rest of the current game AND they’re out for the first half of the next game.
  6. TCU lost a valuable piece of its football history last month when former TCU head football coach Fred Taylor passed away at 93. He was the last of a breed from a bygone era. He was a guy who played for his alma mater and eventually became head coach – that seldom happens anymore. Coach Taylor had lots of foresight, but in the world of college football, even in the late-1960s, it wasn’t enough the please everyone.   As Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, “You’re never totally appreciated. I’ve never been totally appreciated, even in 2000 [when the Sooners won the National Championship.]” Count Fred Taylor as appreciated in my book.

Finally, the logo at the top of this post will be at mid-field during the TCU-LSU game.  

Kick ‘Em High!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Frightened Irish – The Day After

I’m not saying anybody can play with Alabama (except for Johnny Football), but I was certainly looking for more out of Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game last night.

I missed the first seven minutes of the game and, thanks to DVR technology, had a chance to rerun the early part of the game during the commercial break that followed another ‘Bama TD that made it 21-0. And I’m upset that I’ve missed basically the whole game, and there’s still five minutes left in the first quarter!  The Elephants ran over, through and by ND in what was more of speed mismatch than a physical one.

Then I thought about my friends who were in Miami, made the effort to get to the game, bought the three-night hotel package, game tickets, etc. and what do they have to show for it?   A T-shirt from Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach.

What a BLOWOUT! – maybe that’s what the “B” in BCS now should stand for. No way the best two teams in the country were there last night. One, but not two.  The ND aura got into the BCS machine again. I saw Alabama’s offensive line in person at Cowboys Stadium back in August. They were impressive then against Michigan, and they were still bulldozing people through the back of the end zone last night.
Maybe ‘Bama should seek membership in the NFC South.

In other news and notes:
  • By the way, the Crimson Tide made the Aggies look EVEN better last night. When you’re hot, you’re hot! And speaking of offensive lines, the Ags had a pretty good one.
  • Anybody notice that the NHL is back in business and trying to start the season within a week? Now there’s a league that’s in trouble.
  • Mark Cuban’s mad at NBA game officials again. Bonuses should be going out to the refs from the NBA office any day now.
  • Frogs are on their way to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. OSU is the only team in the Big 12 Conference that has four players ranked among the league’s top 20 in scoring.   We’re on the air at 6:30 p.m. on the TCU Sport Network. One note:  Our radio home for men’s basketball Big 12 games is 570 AM KLIF and KTCU-FM 88.7 and, of course, via the All Access pass.
  • TCU’s J.J. Henry was in Maui at the Tournament of Champions this past weekend where the wind was so strong in Kapalua that players could barely stand, and golf balls were being blown off the green before players could get up there to mark their ball. Putts were being blown two feet offline! Some of the craziest TV golf I’ve ever watched.
  • Finally, the line of week already is what ND head coach Brian Kelly said in his walk-off interview at halftime when asked what will help his team in the 2nd half:  “I don’t know, maybe Alabama won’t come back out, that would help.” Gotta give Coach Kelly props for being a straight-up guy!

More tomorrow from Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater.

Kick ‘Em High!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some new year thoughts

Happy New Year, Everybody!

People are asking me, which team do I like tonight in the National Championship Game???? The answer is WHAT do I like — and that's defense on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame doesn't like to give up touchdowns on the ground, just two all year. And Alabama's D has kept them in every game, except for when they were trying to corral Johnny Football. We'll see how good ND's defense is tonight after three quarters of getting pounded on by that ‘Bama O-Line that impressed me when I saw them in person the first week of the season against Michigan.  Alabama 20 Notre Dame 13.

Random New Year Thoughts:
TCU Football weathered the Storm of 2012 and is well-positioned to compete for the Big 12 title and beyond in 2013. Ten out of 11 starters returning on defense sunnies up the outlook, don’t you think?
  • Those bemoaning TCU’s bowl loss to Michigan State might want to stop and think about how many times the Frogs have won one-point games, and for that matter, really close games the last several years. You can’t win ‘em all. But it was really fun at Boise in 2011!
  • TCU Basketball tipped off their Big 12 gauntlet at home last Saturday against Texas Tech. Although things didn’t go the way the Frogs wanted, they will surprise a few teams before we get to the middle of March. You watch.
  • Look out, here comes the TCU Baseball Season! The first home game is February 22nd against Cal-State Fullerton. Be prepared for a fun first year in the Big 12.
  • Cowboys missed the playoffs again.  Are you really surprised?
  • Texas A&M’s Johnny Football surely impressed this year and changed the way people look at Aggie Football. Now, let’s see a repeat performance with a rebuilt offensive line next year. It only gets tougher from here and the Heisman adds an extra bull’s eye to No. 2’s uniform.
  • By the way, the Aggies went back to an early-1970s look with the two stripes on the shoulder in a tip of the cap to former head coach Emory Bellard, Bubba Bean and Ed Simonini. Like it.

    Kick ‘Em High!