October 19, 2018
At the halfway point in the season, the Frogs are exactly there. Half the way.
Halfway to a bowl bid, halfway to finding an offense and all the way done listening to critics.
This is a football team that endured a hellacious September and is now slaloming its way through injuries. College football is a game of survival and the Frogs are leading the nation in that category.
Survival is being able to hang on, get by and keep believing things will get better.
“Nobody’s panicking here,” Gary Patterson said this week. “It’s not my first rodeo.” Timely words for his team, which has had its share of tough rides lately.
This squad reminds me of a similar TCU team: the 1989 Frogs (and no, I’m not referring to Taylor Swift’s latest album — do they call them albums anymore??).
In ’89, the Frogs were struggling for Coach Jim Wacker. At 3-3, the “Triple Shoot” offense was mostly tripping and shooting itself in the foot. Quarterback Ron Jiles was trying to get the Frogs’ offense in gear, and it wasn’t happening. TCU was averaging 17 points per game and limped into a Homecoming match with No. 19 Air Force and their Heisman candidate quarterback Dee Dowis.
With some strong defense (TCU held Dowis to 28 yards rushing) and a boost from backup quarterback Leon Clay’s two second half touchdown passes to Stephen Shipley, the Frogs rolled to a 27-9 win. And just like that things looked a lot different.
It was a perfect day. A day the Frogs badly needed.
After falling to Texas Tech last week, TCU will try to regain its momentum for the second half of its schedule. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
Twenty-nine years later, a similar recipe would be timely for your Frogs. OU rolls into town as the No. 9 team in the nation with another hotshot quarterback. Kyler Murray has the Sooners rolling at 48 points per game. The Frogs’ challenge is to keep pace, limit Murray’s opportunities with the football and harass him like no other team has this year. Number 5 Marquise Brown leads all Big 12 wideouts with seven touchdown catches in six games. He’s a burner.
Defensively, OU has a new leader in defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil, who replaced recently-departed Mike Stoops. There won’t likely be much change from a scheme standpoint, but what does need to change is the Sooners’ poor tackling, which cost OU the game versus Texas in Dallas two weeks ago. The linebackers are the strength of the group. Be on the lookout for #18 Curtis Bolton, who leads the Big 12 in tackles at 12.5 per game. He gets to the football along with middle linebacker, #9 Kenneth Murray.
Also be on the lookout for a great effort from the Frogs. They’ll get some players back from injury, and that’ll help, especially on the offensive line, where center Kelton Hollins and right tackle Lucas Niang are the only linemen to start all six games so far. The Frogs will have to mix some things up in the secondary as Innis Gaines won’t be available and Niko Small is still on the mend.
The rain is supposed to take the day off tomorrow. Let’s hope.
See you on the radio at 10 a.m. for breakfast with the Frogs!
Kick ‘Em High!
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John Denton has been the color analyst for the TCU Sports Network from IMG since 1988. A former standout for the Horned Frog football team, Denton went from walk-on to a four-year lettermen as a kicker and punter for the Purple and White from 1981-84 and completed his career at the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl. Shown here with his former coach, the late Jim Wacker, Denton currently serves as the Director of Major Gifts for TCU Athletics.
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