Saturday, December 6, 2014

One win to get in!

The old saying goes:  “One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to Get Ready and Four to go."

For the Frogs, it’s One for the Show, if you ask me.

Here we are on the eve of the season finale and, for a moment, just kick back with me and reflect.

Here we have a team that was unranked at the beginning of the season and didn’t hit a poll until the last week of September. The Frogs rang in October with a huge win over Oklahoma and then the season was on.

Lunch-pail game control against Okie State, offensive explosion versus Texas Tech, gutsy, no-panic win at West Virginia. Then came a statement of dominance over a very good Kansas State team that still sits at No. 9 and lurking like the hunting cats that they are.

Finally a just-win-baby game at Kansas and a barrage in all three phases at Texas. Even turkey, dressing and tryptophan couldn’t stop the Frogs Thanksgiving night in Austin.

All of this happened for the Frogs to climb from no ranking to ORV (Others Receiving Votes) to No. 3 in the CFP.

Now, one to Go.

And this one is a beat-up, but pesky bunch of Iowa State Cyclones, whose injury-riddled year could be made with an upset of the Frogs. Coach Paul Rhoads is a good coach and a good man. His teams have given the Frogs fits the last two years, going 1-1 against TCU.

Yes, this year is different, but here at the end of the season, there are lots of distractions.   But these Frogs have come too far to peak ahead.

Speaking of reflecting, look for your 1984 TCUnbeleeevable Bluebonnet Bowl team at halftime today at The Carter. They’ll be there in force. Has it really been 30 years???

See you tomorrow morning. Enjoy the day. I will.

Kick ‘Em High!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The eyes of ...

The Eyes of…..the college football world will be on the Frogs tonight as they try to make a huge statement about who they are with a win over Texas. The Frogs held firm at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, and the stage is set for a big night in Austin.
The Frogs need to play their best game and they’re due after surviving scary road trips to West Virginia and Kansas.

But this is not the same Texas team that started the year slowly, suffering injuries at almost the same rate as defeats. They’re better and they’ve won three in a row.

How’d  they do it?
They went back the stuff that would make Darrell Royal smile: running the football and playing double-tough defense.

Texas has rebuilt their O-line, and they’re running the ball with authority. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray both have more than 600 rushing on the year, and the Horns put up 241 on the ground against Texas Tech and 227 against a tough West Virginia defense.

Defensively, Texas has the best scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing 21 points per game. The defensive line, led by another guy named Malcom Brown and defensive end Cedric Reed are big and fast. This game will match the two best defensive line groups in the Big 12.

That being said, it all comes down to how well the offensive lines play and execute.

Trevone Boykin will need to use his speed to stay out of trouble.

By the way, congrats to Trevone for being named one of the three finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, handed out annually to the best quarterback in the country.

See you in Austin.

We’re on the air at 5:30 p.m. with the pregame show on the TCU Sports Network. You can hear our broadcast of TCU-Texas on:
  • our flagship station, WBAP 820 AM
  • KTCU-FM 88.7
  • In-Stadium you can listen to our feed on 87.7FM
  • Sirius XM 91
  • Tunein radio app

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

This week, one of my favorite radio stations switched over to all Christmas music all the time, which made me think of all the things I’ll need to do for Christmas. It also made me think of Christmas things like lights and snow globes.

It occurs to me that the Frogs will play in a snow globe today at Kansas. In a likely snow storm that’s to arrive with breakfast on Mount Oread (the hill on which KU is located) with every fan on the college football globe taking copious notes. Shake it up and watch the Frogs go.

The Frogs will need to warm up the running game today. They can try throwing it, but the weatherman is the 12th Man today, so the Air Raid offense may need to go with boots on the ground. The KU defense gave up 699 total offense to Baylor (oops, I had to bring them up, didn’t’ I?)

The key will be to strike early and keep pouring it on as Kansas is coming off of a win over Iowa State. They think they can win – and that may be the most dangerous thing about Kansas.

Offensively, the Jayhawks are improving. New quarterback Michael Cummings (from Killeen) has thrown for 200 or more yards in each of the last four games.
(By the way ,KU has 25 Texans on its roster.) Wide receivers Nick Harwell and Nigel King are dangerous and can put up huge yards.

Kansas would prefer to run the ball and take some time off the clock. Dual threat running back Tony Pierson is the best all-around player for Kansas, and TCU’s linebackers will need know where he is before each snap.

Let it snow. Only 39 shopping days!

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Long way from The Bottom Ten

Happy Game Day! Time to black out “The Carter” tonight.

When I was a kid growing up in Dallas, I always looked forward to Fridays in the fall. The Dallas Morning News had a cartoonist named Bill McClanahan, who predicted the outcome of that weekend’s games with his artistry. They were great. I’ve attached one so you can see his fine work.

The Morning News also published the Associated Press’s “Bottom Ten,” ranking the 10 worst college football teams. In the mid-1970’s you could pretty much count on Northwestern, Rice, Miami (Fla.), Washington State, Florida State being there each week ... along with Kansas State and TCU. The rankings would show teams Nos. 1 to 10, with the No. 1 team being honored as the worst in the nation. I used to feel sorry for those teams and I found myself pulling for them each week.

Looking at the list, you can see that many of those teams have changed their football fortunes in the modern day. But none more than TCU and Kansas State. No programs have come farther. Now they’re Nos. 6 and 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings and today’s game in Amon G. Carter is, effectively, the first playoff game of the year. Loser is out. Winner advances and stays alive in the hunt for one of the coveted four playoff spots.

Things to K-now about K-State:
They are the antithesis of the Big 12. On offense, they are in no hurry. The take their time and they execute plays with the precision of a Rolex watch.
They don’t have turnovers. They just don’t.
They’re the best third down team in the nation, mainly because most of their third downs are 3rd and 3 or 3rd and 1.

The Frogs will have to be super-efficient on offense as Kansas State will try to limit possessions by slowing down the game. Both units have to play great on third down and the Frogs defense has to be great on first down while not getting lulled to sleep by the Wildcats ground game. They will take their shots deep. Hello, secondary!

It will be the highest ranked pairing at AGCS since they started ranking teams. A long way from The Bottom Ten.

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nobody saw this coming

There are a lot of questions and predictions swirling around today's TCU-WVU game, but one thing's for sure: Nobody saw this coming.

Experts and know-it-alls in the Big 12 media corps (yours truly included) voted the Mountaineers and the Frogs in the bottom half of the league in the preseason media polls.   Not a soul had this one circled as a pivotal contest that would have an impact on the Big 12 championship.

Things to know about this one:
  • Both quarterbacks have come light years and are having great years. 
  • WVUs Kevin White is an elite receiver.
The Mountaineer defense is playing very well. After being bulldozed by Oklahoma, they've figured it out. The last two games against Baylor and Oklahoma State, WVU allowed offenses to convert just five of 31 on third downs. That's awesome

They like to blitz too.

The Frogs will need a fast start to take the crowd out of it and a running game to control things. I believe the Frogs can run it on WVU.

We're on the air tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. CT on the TCU Sports Network. Talk to you then from Morgantown!

Kick 'Em High!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TCU, WVU back where they belong

When TCU and West Virginia entered the Big 12 in 2012, the pundits said the Frogs and Mountaineers didn't belong or they couldn't play in the "big boy" sandbox, especially the Frogs.

And while the first two years in the new league were not a cakewalk for either program, both Gary Patterson and Dana Holgersen took copious notes, assessed where their respective squads were short and made changes to make their teams in order to win, not just be competitive.

Size on the defensive line, depth in the secondary and additional difference-makers at wide receivers were the recipe. A good QB would help, too.

All are now in place for both teams as they prep for their "Showdown in Morgantown" this Saturday.

From 4-8 last year to this week's College Football Playoff initial unveiling, both teams have the right to say, "How do you like me now?"

Even ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is saying the Frogs can be in his Final 4, and West Virginia is on his list of Top 25 teams. My how things have changed for these teams!

Or returned to where they were.

Many were quick to forget that TCU and West Virginia were among the most successful programs much of the last decade. These schools are back where they belong — on the big stage and banner-carriers for their conference.

Saturday will be fun.

On Another Note

My heart breaks for Brandon Finnegan and the Royals after last night's Game 7. Finny had a great year, becoming the only player to play in the College World Series and Major League Baseball World Series in the same year. He made a name for himself and represented TCU with tremendous pride. Thanks, Finny!

Kick 'Em High!

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's your turn now, Frog fans

Whether you’re a 24/7 fan or just a casual observer, there’s no doubt that TCU Football has gained your attention this season.

It’s the WOW factor.

The new “Air Raid” offense, which I prefer to call the “Meacham Field” offense, has zoomed its way to a spot in the Top 10 in the nation in three important categories: No. 9 in passing offense (340.2 yards per game), No. 7 in total offense (537.7 ypg) and No. 5 in scoring offense (45.2 ppg). The Frogs are putting up huge numbers.

Now it’s your turn.

Home games mean home field advantage. The advantage is based on numbers and noise. The TCU student section should be Exhibit A in how to do it. They’re a non-stop noise-making machine, and the visitors bench area is not a fun place to be. Follow their lead.

TCU is now ranked No. 10 in the nation. This is the best team TCU has had in four seasons and is the best team in Texas right now. Game times reflect the Frogs’ performance, poll ranking and demand by the TV networks. The 11 o’clock kickoff excuse is gone. Get to the stadium.

Opposing teams’ fans are leaving tickets on the table, gobble them up and get your Purple on.

Texas Tech comes to visit with a sputtering offense and a defense that statistically is last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense. That's three key categories. Regardless, as they say, you still have to play them and beat them.

That means putting up big numbers for everybody. The Frogs and their fans. That means you.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Get over it

After the last five days of emails, phone calls, voicemails and texts from Frog Fans out on the ledge, I have one suggestion to offer.

Get Over it.

Sure, the Frogs had a 21-point lead in Waco, and it seemed TCU was on its way to 5 and Oh, my.  But it didn’t pan out that way for a number of reasons. So move on. And learn.

There’s an old saying: “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

My guess is that Coach P’s lesson pad is full of reminders from last Saturday that will be used to Purple benefit on upcoming Saturdays.

If I had told you over a cold one last July 4th that in mid-October the Frogs would be ranked No. 12 with a 4-1 record, including a split with Oklahoma and Baylor, you’d have jumped on that deal and told me to get you another beer to celebrate.

Well, here we are.

And Oklahoma State is coming. You and the Frogs best turn your attention to the Pokes. Don’t let one loss turn into two because of Baylor.

There’s everything to play for, and we’re not even halfway done.

Trevone Boykin and Paul Dawson have been unreal. The new offense has been efficient, riveting and highly productive. Points are no long a problem.

OSU rolls into Fort Worth with speed and big wide receivers and a quarterback named Daxx, who has a big arm.

(Wanna guess with the first “Don’t” on the list in Denton’s Do’s & Don’ts will be on Saturday? Something about deep.)

OSU’s defense is young but gritty, and they create turnovers at the best times. Their sole loss is to Florida State.

Look ahead, Frog fans. There are more wins in store, but they are all located in front of you.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Something Old ... A Lot New

I’ve had to correct myself several times this week as I’ve thought about this week’s game at Baylor.

In my mind’s eye, I’ve been picturing the old Baylor Stadium — Floyd Casey Stadium to those born after 1990 — and I caught myself. We’re not going back there, we’re going to some place new — in more ways than one.

We’re going to the brand new McLane Stadium and things are different. Much.

The Frogs and the Bears are going to celebrate the Big 12’s first conference game in the new football palace on the Brazos. New.

The Frogs and Bears meet for the 110th time, but for the first time ever as Top 10-ranked teams. (In fact, in all the meetings between the Frogs and Bears, this year is the first time both teams enter the game ranked.) What’s old is new.

For the first time in my life, Baylor-TCU has taken top-billing over Texas-OU or any other game in this part of the country. Grandpa, are you sure??? New.

The Frogs-Bears matchup features the top two scoring offenses in the Big 12 and the top two scoring defenses in the Big 12. No wonder ESPN's College Football bus visited both campuses in the last 24 hours. Are there any SWC old-timers believing this day has come? NEW.

One thing that’s not new is that the winner of “The Holy War,” “Battle on the Brazos,” “McBattle of McClennan County at McLane,” or whatever you want to call it, will be the team that is most physical and plays the best defense.

Baylor has suddenly become a run-first team, staying on the ground 58 percent of the time through five games. Now, Art Briles may have magic pass plays stashed aside just for the Frogs, but I think there’s something to it.

Baylor’s been a ground team — but why? Bryce Petty has one of the best arms in the country and a fleet of wideouts that have been hand-picked. What am I missing?

Nonetheless, the Frogs front six will definitely be tested and Baylor has a variety of backs to do just that.

But I still harken back to that 2011 game when Baylor came out bombing TCU, and, after watching the OU video of TCU’s early struggles covering Sooner WR Sterling Shepard, who could blame the Bears if Baylor comes out flinging?

One thing’s for sure: The Frogs have to be good from the opening verse as Baylor has scored at least 31 points in the first half in four of their five games. The Frogs need stops early.

And a continuation of the hot offensive output that has seen the Frogs score on their opening possession in all four games.

It’s only 89 miles between campuses. Don’t be surprised if there are 89 points between these two teams Saturday.

And watch out for the DPS Troopers on I-35W in Itasca.

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wait ‘Til the Frogs Play Great

On the way out of the radio booth last Saturday, two thoughts occurred to me: Wow, what a statement-making win, and What will happen when the Frogs play really well?

No doubt that Saturday's win over No. 4 Oklahoma was the biggest victory since the Rose Bowl. It had a big crowd with huge noise, Bob Stoops versus Gary Patterson, and all the history that the OU program brings with it. It was a perfect day to make a statement, especially when half the Top 10 went down.

The Frogs made plays when they had to and kept OU guessing all game long. The defensive effort in the fourth quarter was stellar with OU having to punt twice, throwing two interceptions and turning it over on downs at the TCU 23 after the Frogs held on fourth and one. What a play!

And then, they defended the Hail Mary on the game’s last play.

TCU 37, Oklahoma 33.

The Frogs were richly rewarded with a Notre Dame-like jump in the polls all the way from No. 25 to No. 9.

But if you put Saturday's performance under the microscope, there's work to do. And that's the great news!

Consider that the Frogs had:

  • 12 penalties (including one that wiped out a touchdown)
  • A missed field goal
  • A blocked point after touchdown attempt, which was Oberkrom's first career missed PAT (He'd made 100 in a row for a school record)
  • Got beat deep on pass plays numerous times
  • Scored a touchdown and then ran the next play so fast it couldn't be reviewed

And yet they still got the W.

So it begs the question: What will it look like when the Frogs play really well?  

I can’t wait to see.

Kick ‘Em High

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Frogs, Sooners have back-and-forth history

If you want to know what to expect from today’s TCU-OU matchup, you don’t have to look too far back in this series. Four games in the recent past tell me all I need to know.

As my buddy Rod Serling would say on "The Twilight Zone," "Submitted for your approval.”

1. Consider the surprising 1996 game in Norman, when TCU went into Soonerland and ruined the coronation of new OU head coach John Blake. The Frogs screen-played the Sooners out of the stadium on their way to a 20-7 win. And it really wasn’t that close.

2. Fast forward to 1998, when the Sooners came to Fort Worth and came away with a 10-9 victory in a heart-stopper. Fans may recall the OU pass that Joseph Phipps intercepted, seemingly icing the Frog win, only to be stripped by a Sooner tight end. Oklahoma recovered, continued the drive and kicked a field goal. Looking back, the Frogs could have been a 9-win team that year.

3. Then there’s the epic 2005 work of art by the TCU defense, quarterback Ty Gunn and a Frog team that showed that it clearly had more speed than OU. The defense bottled up Adrian Peterson, and the Frogs dealt OU its second home loss in the Stoops era, 17-10.

4. Last year in Norman, the Frogs hung tough, trailing 7-0 at the half with ZERO first downs in the 1st half! No team in the nation played OU as tight as the Frogs….nobody.

Now comes tomorrow’s game, with OU running the ball again and being physical on defense. (Sounds like the good old days!) Meanwhile, the Frogs have jumped into the polls with commanding wins of their own.

FACT: Neither team has faced what they are going to face today at Amon G. Carter Stadium. How good is OU’s defense? What will the new TCU offense be able to do against a slashing, attacking Sooner unit that some say is Stoops’ best-ever? I think that’s where this game is decided.

Add to it that this is one of the few times in the series that BOTH teams are ranked. I believe we have recipe for a great game.

What do you think?

Oh, and look for a few new wrinkles from both teams. They’ve been storing them up for a day just like today. It’s conference play. It’s for real now.

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beware, Frogs! Ponies with nothing to lose

For those of us who live to wake up on Saturday morning and get our game faces on, things are about to get really good.

The Frogs are about to kick it off with SMU for the 94th time, which also equates to the 3rd start to this TCU Football season. After a “Win-take a week off, WIN-take a week off” stutter start to the season, we’re about to begin my prescription for a successful season: TAKE ONE OPPONENT EVERY SEVEN DAYS, AND AVOID INJURY.

Here we go.

And it all starts with the Mustangs, who are looking for answers in all corners of Ford Stadium. That’s what makes them dangerous.

Starting with red chrome helmets, the Mustangs will likely pull out all stops on the Frogs. Once a throwing team, SMU is now a team that now wants to run the ball – and they did a decent job of it last week against Texas A&M.

Yes, I know – I’ve looked at all the stats, facts, figures, etc. but let me pass this along: Remember earlier in the week when I recounted the old SWC battles between the Frogs and the Ponies in the early 80’s? Well, TCU was the underdog back then and , frankly, had no business staying on the field with the Pony Express. Fast forward 30 years and turn the tables. That’s what TCU faces….SMU’s best shot.

The Frogs need to be good early and often on offense. Defensively, they need to bring the heat, targeting QB Garrett Krstich (pronounced Kris-STICH).

A full 60 minute effort is required. No looking ahead – Stay in the moment.

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recalling TCU-SMU games of yore

A student reporter at TCU 360 called me this week and wanted to know, “What was it like playing against SMU?”

It made me think, and two things came to mind about SMU — the rivalry and playing against the “Pony Express” in the early 80’s:

1.       SMU was loaded and they were good. Really good.

2.       Anybody 25 years old or younger has no idea.

I played against SMU four times from 1981-1984. The Ponies were in high-gear when I arrived at TCU. They had hired a hot shot coach named Ron Meyer from UNLV in 1976 and he was about to put his “Mustang” into high gear.

1980 was when SMU started to make a move, they had running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James (and called them the Pony Express), an offensive line full of future NFL stars and a defense that in one year saw nine of the 11 starters go in the NFL Draft.

Nose Tackle Michael Carter was a dominant player and an Olympic shot-putter. In the back half, SMU had an All-American safety named Russell Carter (no relation to Michael). A Carter would punish you up front and in the secondary.

When they inserted freshman QB Lance McIlhenny as the starter in mid-October 1980, the Mustangs beat Texas in Austin and the run was on. SMU claimed part of National Championships in 1981, which was the best team I played against,
by the National Championship Foundation, and again in 1982, by the Helms Athletic Foundation. They beat Dan Marino and Pitt, 7-3, in the 1983 Cotton Bowl to complete the program’s return to prominence.

TCU-SMU in those days was the real deal. Although the programs were at different places, TCU had talent and the late September date was always on your mind as the season neared. Things got heated. I recall in 1982 when our nose tackle Garland Short called out Craig James in an interview with local TV!

Those four games I played in were intense, hard-hitting, fun. And painful to lose. I’d love to play in any one of them again today. For some reason, the games played at the old Texas Stadium in Irving were especially good. In 1984, when the Frogs and SMU were both good, 60,000 crammed into Texas Stadium to watch — and weren’t cheated.

Here’s the scores of the four I had the privilege to play in:

Sept. 26, 1981
Amon G. Carter Stadium
SMU, 20 -9

Sept. 25, 1982
Texas Stadium
SMU, 16-13

Sept. 24, 1983
Amon G. Carter Stadium
SMU, 21-17

Sept. 29, 1984
Texas Stadium
SMU, 26-17

We didn’t play for the Iron Skillet back then. It was lost and hadn’t been found yet.

But the memories and the impact over time on me and anyone who played in TCU-SMU are real. That’s what makes a rivalry.

Ask Dan Jenkins about the 1935 heart-breaker or about Lindy Berry vs. Doak Walker in 1948  or  Don Meredith vs Bob Lilly in the 1950s. Those are great memories and that’s what rivalries are built on.

Let’s see what great memories the Frogs make on Saturday.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Off Week To-Do List

Off weeks are not really “off weeks.” Just like the Frogs, it’s an opportunity for our broadcast crew and Frog fans to sharpen their game, study up on upcoming opponents and get ready for a long stretch of games. So here’s my check list:

1. Re-watch Kansas State-Auburn game. It was a tough loss for the Wildcats, but they represented well. Red zone woes and a kicking game that melted-down — which was painful for me to watch — kept KSU from pulling the upset. Takeway: KSU can play defense, and they’re fast.

2. Check out SMU-A&M game. This will be interesting. SMU is hard to figure. They’re likely to come with everything and why not? A&M is rolling and can’t afford a stumble. Frogs need to be super sharp in a week.

3. Record OU-WVU. The Mountaineers have showed some toughness in the early season, and they hung with ‘Bama. Morgantown is a tough place to play. An OU win would make for a fun weekend at “The Carter” in two weeks IF the Frogs take care of business in Dallas next week. And if they’re both undefeated, does that warrant TCU a visit from ESPN Gameday? I would think so. Stand by.

4. Study up on SMU and OU.

5. Wash the back windows and replace the broken screens. (See it’s not all football.) Glamorous, huh?

Enjoy your last open week for a while, Frog fans! Here comes the college football buffet beginning next week with “breakfastball” in Dallas.

Kick ‘Em High!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

No. 1 - The program and who runs it

Less than 10 hours till the ball goes in the air, and let me tell you, I'm pumped.

Before we dive into Reason No. 1 on this game day, let me pay homage to some great TCU No. 1's:

No. 1  Phillip Epps - speed on top of speed. Truly a great who was a threat to take it all the way any time he touched the ball;
No. 1 Billy Jones - a tough free safety from Baytown who knew his way around the pile. If he didn't get to a play, his voice did. An underrated cover man on the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl team who'd suit up tomorrow if they'd let him.

And finally ... Reason No. 1.
This final reason was tough to come up with, and, at the same time, so apparent. What TCU Football is and what it represents now is so different from what it was 10 years ago and really different from 20 years ago.  

TCU wins. Period. That's the expectation, and there's no substitute.  

Digest the fact that there are now students entering TCU that don't know anything in their lives but TCU winning. We're going on 16 years of winning and the head man wants to keep it that way.

And he will.

Coach P is the driving force. His personality oozes through every wall, crack and person in the program. 

And it means something to him. The Frogs have only been bowl-less on his watch one other time aside from 2013, and that was 2004.

In 2005, Coach P shifted gears, made adjustments and the Frogs began a run that resulted in back-to-back BCS bowls and a Rose Bowl win.

I believe 2013 set the stage for what will be another run that begins tomorrow at 6 p.m. 

Coach P figures it out. The Frogs win. That's the way it is. Just watch.

See you in a few hours at "The Carter.".

Did I say a few hours? Isn't that great?!

Frog Walk starts at 3:30 p.m. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

Kick 'Em High!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No. 2 - A deep stable of running backs

 We’re down to Reason No. 2. And here’s today’s list of great 2’s:

No. 2 - Reggie Hunt – a hard-hitting safety;
No. 2 - Trevone Boykin – you know all about him;
No. 2 - Jason Verrett – no introduction needed; 
(and here’s one I bet you didn’t know)
No. 2 - Kyle Clifton – you’ll remember him as a force at linebacker for the Frogs and the Jets, but what you might not know is that he came to TCU as a quarterback and wore No. 2 early in his career before switching to No. 89.

This deep stable of running backs is flying under the radar.

Not a lot is being said about this group now that the “Meacham Field” Offense has come to town. But this is a group that will make the difference in some games this year.

Returning yardage leader B.J. Catalon (above) has led the Frogs in rushing two years in a row, and Aaron Green is stronger than ever at just over 200 pounds.

Green started to show what he is capable of late last season.   He took over the Iowa State game late in the contest. Add to the mix the very quick Kyle Hicks and fellow redshirt freshman power plant Travorris Johnson at 220, and there’s a wide range of styles and choices when it comes to the run game.

From finesse to ferocious, the Frogs can dial it up and Doug Meacham has said when the space is there, TCU will run the ball.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Tomorrow, it’s Reason No. 1.

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No. 3 - Sonny Cumbie and the QB’s

We're three days from kickoff, so a tip of the cap to three of my favorite TCU 3s:
  • No. 3 QB/FB Kevin Haney (the Decatur Flash – see TCU vs Tulsa 1979 for a 77-yard touchdown run);
  • No. 3 Kicker Ken Ozee from Amarillo (who never kicked my hand in three years of holding for him);
  • No. 3 WR John Washington, who helped the Frogs to a share of the 1994 SWC Championship.

By the way, that ’94 team will be honored at halftime this Saturday. Their coach? Current Samford head coach Pat Sullivan.

There’s much discussion and guessing over who will be the starter Saturday, but one thing’s for sure. No matter who it is, Joeckel or Boykin, they have been coached and prepared by a guy who knows the position, co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie.

Know it? He’s lived it! Under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Cumbie once hung 70 on the Frogs in 2004 – the longest day of my broadcasting career.

Sonny brings an approach not unlike that of former TCU quarterbacks coach Justin Fuente,
who once tutored Andy Dalton and now is the head man at Memphis.

With a keen eye for fundamentals and an emphasis on footwork and accuracy, Cumbie will have Joeckel and Boykin well prepared for this week’s game. Cumbie also brings an element of “been there/done that” and “I understand” that only a former quarterback can possess.

It’s a higher level of communication and an appreciation for the most difficult position in football. And it could be a huge difference-maker as Cumbie and Doug Meacham launch this new TCU offense on Saturday.

Joeckel has a complete knowledge of this offense, and Boykin has worked hard to slim down, improve his mechanics and prepare under Cumbie’s tutelage.

Sure, there’s a new, bigger offensive line and a fleet of wideouts that should provide ample targets on every play. But a higher level of understanding and communication between the QBs and their mentor mean more production by the offense.

I liken it to a Major League baseball team. You have to have a pitching coach. It’s an ultra-specialized position that demands it. And TCU has it.

Tomorrow, Reason No. 2.

Kick ‘Em High!

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs  
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
 No. 9 - The defensive line

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No. 4 - A huge offensive line

It’s Tuesday and time to zero in on Samford as the Frogs return to the practice field today.

Just four days away, and here’s reason No. 4 in my countdown to the season to be fired-up about these Frogs: the offensive line.

The “Beef,” “Big Guys,” “Hogs,” “Wall.” Whatever you want to call them, they’re BIG. And not just their weight. This bunch is tall! The two-deep for the O-line checks in with 10 guys at 6-foot-4 or taller, with six of them 6-6 or 6-7.

“They’re a long group,” said offensive coordinator Doug Meacham. “I’ve been a lot of places, and I don’t recall having a group like this that can pass block and zone block with those long arms. They’re an impressive group.”

From left to right, this is what the starting O-line looks like: Tayo Fabuluje, Jamelle Naff, Joey Hunt, Brady Foltz and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Big V). They average 6-5 and 320 pounds! And it doesn’t drop off much from there.

The Frogs needed to add size, and they did it. Hats off to the coaching staff and Donnie Sommer’s strength and conditioning team. This offensive line worked hard in the off-season to get in shape and put TCU in position to push and shove with anybody.

The backup O-line is (again, from L to R): Aviante Collins, Patrick Morris, Austin Schlottman, Frank Kee/Bobby Thompson, Joseph Noteboom/Matt Pryor.

When the Frogs want to muscle up, they can throw tight end Cliff Murphy in there for help at 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds!

No doubt about it. This group is BIG!

Kick ‘Em High!

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs  
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
 No. 9 - The defensive line

Aug. 22: No. 8 - The kicking game
Aug. 23: No. 7 - The secondary

Aug. 24: No. 6 - A new offense

Aug. 25: No. 5 - The wide receivers

Monday, August 25, 2014

No. 5 - The wide receivers

Happy Game Week everybody! New Year's Day is just five days away.

As a follow up to yesterday's entry featuring the new offense, it's only fitting that we take a look at Reason No. 5 to be excited: the wide receivers.

A great mix of size, speed and hands, this group should have no trouble being happy in the Frogs' new offense. Four of them should be on the field all the time, and there will be plenty of spirals to go around.

Josh Doctson and JuJuan Story, both 6-foot-4, are big targets. Ty Slanina (above) and David Porter are guys who dig after they catch the ball. Good luck stopping Porter. Just ask Baylor from 2012.

Deep threats include Jordan Moore and Kolby Listenbee. And don't forget Cameron Echols-Luper and Deante Gray.

More size comes with Charlie Reid, Griffin Gilbert and tight ends Buck Jones (great name), Dominic Merka and Cliff Murphy.

Had enough? True Freshmen Emanuel Porter and Keaton Duhon sneak in to this group.

Just be glad you don't have to cover these guys.

Tomorrow, No. 4!

Kick 'Em High!

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs  
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
 No. 9 - The defensive line

Aug. 22: No. 8 - The kicking game
Aug. 23: No. 7 - The secondary

Aug. 24: No. 6 - A new offense

Sunday, August 24, 2014

No. 6 - A new offense

I know you were waiting for me to get to this ... the NEW TCU offense. It didn’t arrive here without a lot of soul-searching and deep thought on the part of Coach P.

This offense is a departure from the old ball-control, play-defense, control-the-clock days during the Horned Frogs’ time in the Mountain West Conference. Coach P decided a change was needed, and new Offensive Coordinator Doug Meacham came up Interstate 45 from University of Houston to answer the call.

By the time Meacham got here, he had talked Sonny Cumbie into coming from Texas Tech, where he played QB for Mike Leach. He's became co-coordinator, and the transformation was on.

It’s a fun offense and you’re going to like it….but DON’T BLINK.

It’s a fast, four-wide, one-back setup, mostly, but there are wrinkles and twists for any defense to fall into.

Meacham has thrown out “80 plays per game” as number, although it's not mandatory. He wants to keep the defense guessing (and behind) with a fast pace and a loads of formations and personnel groups.

One play it will be four wideouts. The next: two tight ends. Then an empty set (no backs). Then three backs. Then one tight end. Good luck trying to guess.

It’s a body in motion that will stay in motion as long as the quarterback makes the right reads and is accurate with his throws. Coach Meacham told me before fall camp began, “I don’t think there’s a time when we’ll ever slow down.”

A fast-moving offense needs lots of fresh skill position people, and the Frogs will go two-deep at all wide receiver positions during games. According to Meacham, a backup wide receiver might play as many as 20 snaps a game.

Running backs will get a good workout, too, and not just taking handoffs. Anyone on the field had better be able to catch the ball. They’re all receivers.

I personally can’t wait to see this offense on Saturday. That’s right, SATURDAY! It’s game week. Get ready!

Tomorrow, No. 5

Kick ‘Em High! 

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs  
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
 No. 9 - The defensive line

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No. 7 – The secondary

Happy Saturday, Frog Fans!   I’m just back from “Meet the Frogs” and what a great crowd.   We’re just seven days away, so here’s No. 7 in my countdown of reasons that you’re going to love the Frogs.

The secondary has always been a huge part of the TCU defense since Gary Patterson showed up in 1998. This group has to be smart, fast and versatile. Jamming the run and covering deep, seemingly all at the same time.

Good news for you is that this year’s group has all that going for it and then some – especially on the experience side.

Sure All-American Jason Verrett is gone, but what he left behind is a level of play that current Frogs understand and covet. At the corners, Kevin White and Ranthony Texada lead the way while Trevosky Garrett brings size and physicality to the edge. A new face in the mix is Corry O’Meally, a transfer from Ellsworth Community College, who can throw a blanket on a receiver.

The safeties are like three buzzards, circling and pinning down their targets. I like this group a lot.

At strong safety is our man Sam Carter (above) and Travin Howard, a true freshman from Longview. The top two free safeties are Derrick Kindred, who has had a great camp, and the gnarly Geoff Hooker, who seems to always be around the ball.

The weak safety spot is where you’ll find physicality in starter Chris Hackett, who has range, and two big hitters in transfer Kenny Iloka, whose brother George played at Boise State, and the speedy Ridwan Issahaku, a true freshman from Norcross, Ga.

My summary on this bunch: fast, physical and covers lots of ground. Great against the run and solid in coverage, with speed at corner and hammers waiting for receivers at the safeties spots.

Kick 'em high!

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs  
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
 No. 9 - The defensive line
Aug. 22: No. 8 - The kicking game

Friday, August 22, 2014

No. 8 – The kicking game

Eight days to go until the umpire hands TCU place kicker Jaden Oberkrom the ball to start the game and says, “Now, son, don’t kick it ‘til I tell ya tew, ya undahstand?” And since we’re 8 days away, a tip of the cap to our favorite No. 8 Davey O’Brien.

Now this gets my motor running. Let’s talk kicking!The return game and key terms: hang time, get-off times, spinning the laces and hitting spirals. There’s a ton of detail in the kicking game. It’s part art and part execution.

Luckily, the Frogs have two of the biggest legs in the country in Oberkrom and punter Ethan Perry.While Oberkrom has struggled a little in fall camp, I think he’ll be alright as the games approach. The one thing I like about Jaden is the way he goes after it, attacking and driving the ball. That’s the way to kick it.Meanwhile, Perry has been great in fall camp with more tight spirals than I’ve ever seen him kick. Tight spirals mean hang time and distance, both of which are critical elements to a punter and the 10 guys running down the field to cover it.Speaking of coverage teams, just sit back and watch as these speed-laden waves of purple seek out kick returner prey. They’re fast! The biggest thing about these two specialists is that they can dictate and control the opponent’s starting field position with each kickoff or punt, making them a key part of the defense.

On the bounceback side (the return game), you may see quarterback Trevone Boykin in special situations, but not a lot as a punt returner. He'll return some kickoffs. I look for wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper to continue to improve in the punt return game.
Remember, the Frogs also have wide receiver Deante Gray, who took a punt to the house on his first collegiate touch two years ago against Grambling.

Kickoff return should be a lot of fun, too, as running back Kyle Hicks will join running back B.J. Catalon as the primary kickoff return men. Catalon has the ability to go all the way every time he touches one. Remember I told you so!

Tomorrow, it’s No. 7

Kick ‘Em High!

Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs 
Aug. 20: No. 10 - The schedule
Aug. 21:
No. 9 - The defensive line

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No. 9 - The defensive line

While a lot of attention and talk has been about who’s not here to play on the defensive line, I want to give props to this group that I’ve enjoyed watching during fall camp at TCU.

Coach Dick Bumpas has been around a long time, and he knows D-Line play. He has his gritty group playing fast and a little angry.

I think you’re going to like what this group brings to the line of scrimmage when they dig in for real next week against Samford.

Chucky Hunter (above) is the leader, and I think he’s primed for a season in which he’ll finally be recognized on a national basis for the dominant player he is.

Next door defensive tackle Davion Pierson is lighter and faster at a svelte 305. Mike Tuaua never stops at defensive end. Josh Carraway at the other end knows his way around a block – he’s quick.

The guys who’ll make news this year include defensive tackle Tevin Lawson and defensive end Terrell Lathan. But keep an ear open for the names Bryson Henderson and inside guys L.J. Collier and Chris Bradley – both true freshmen who add depth.

They’ll all get a good test in the first two games as both Samford and Minnesota are power teams who like to feature physical running attacks.

We’re nine days away!


Kick ‘Em High!
Ten reasons you're going to love these Frogs 
Aug. 20:
No. 10 - The schedule

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

10 Reasons You’re Going to Like These Frogs

No. 10
THE SCHEDULE – I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s just well-arranged.

The Frogs play seven home games this year and don’t leave the state of Texas until Nov. 1, when they travel to West Virginia.

The Frogs host both Oklahoma schools, K-State, Texas Tech, non-conference foes Samford and Minnesota and finish up with Iowa State.

Oh, and there are two open dates sprinkled in early on Sept. 6 and 20 to help the Frogs tune up some more for the Big 12 run which starts Oct. 4 when the Sooners come to visit.

Tomorrow, No. 9.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Focused on Omaha

Frog Fans, like you, I’ve been thinking about Omaha a lot lately. This weekend at Lupton Stadium is already historic and could be an epic one for Coach Schloss and his crew. 

Go get ‘Em!

But take a moment with me on this June 6th. And remember.


I woke up early this morning, went out in the front yard and took down my TCU flag that flies there most every day and put up the American flag to honor all those Allied soldiers who landed on the coast of France 70 years ago this morning. Their efforts, sacrifice and the surprise attack were the beginning of the end of World War II.

Operation Overlord was the official name of the largest amphibious invasion to ever take place. The target was a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast that was well-protected by Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.

It began in the early morning with landings on five beaches named Juno, Gold, Utah, Sword …and Omaha. And onto the beaches they went, into a man-made hell with German gun emplacements above the beaches. 

Along the shore, mines, wooden stakes, metal tripods, barbed wire all had to be dodged while bullets rained down from above. Many were mowed down before they ever made it to the beach. 

And they kept coming. 

By afternoon, the Allies owned the beachheads and the invasion was in high gear.

It was no doubt the big play of World War II, and it’s my father’s generation that made it happen. Tech Sergeant Joe D. Denton of the U.S. Army Air Corps was based California on D-Day, working on the XP-59 fighter project - the first American jet fighter.

He is now 89.

I’m going to see him today in Dallas and tell him thanks.

Stats show that World War II vets are dying at the rate of about 1,000 a day. Find one that you know today and thank them. They saved the world.


On this day it has two meanings.

Kick ‘Em High!