December 2, 2016
John Denton '85 Photos by Leo Wesson
Here we are, suddenly at the last weekend of the 2016 regular season in college football. Championship Saturday, they call it. The hopes and dreams of a lot of teams ride on tomorrow’s outcomes. Then the College Football Playoff committee will sort it out. Here are my picks:
Frog fans, your job is to get your rain gear out, bundle up and be at “The Carter” early to show your support for this senior class and a team that fought through a lot this year.
Meanwhile in Fort Worth, it’s senior day for the Frogs, featuring a game with all kinds of story lines. The weather, for one, may shorten the game as the ground attack may take center stage for both teams. TCU and Kansas State are playing to figure out who goes where in the bowl scenario. Rumor has it that the winner goes to the Texas Bowl in Houston. Loser goes Walkin’ in Memphis (I love that song). Regardless of location, the Southeastern Conference will provide the opposition.
Kansas State comes in at 7-4 on the season. The difference between the Power Cats and the Frogs is that KSU beat Texas Tech. Their four losses are by a total of 41 points, most of them coming from a 21-point loss to OU, the only game they’ve been out of.
Kansas State’s offense spotlights the running game and a big running quarterback in #16 Jesse Ertz. He’s taken a beating this year but refuses to come out of games. He has a sore shoulder, among other ailments. Ertz hands it off to #24 Charles Jones, who has 2,154 all-purpose yards in his career, and Justin Silmon, a former walk-on tough guy. Watch out, too, for redshirt freshman #34 Alex Barnes, who has five rushing touchdowns in the last two games, including a big day in Waco, where he wiped his cleats on Baylor for four touchdowns.
When the cat paw rears back and puts it in the air, watch out for deep threat #9 Byron Pringle, the receiving weapon that KSU has been missing for a couple of years. K State runs an old fashioned offense, utilizing a fullback and tight end on EVERY play. I love that. They’ll sprinkle in some spread looks and four wide receiver sets to modernize things, but it’s mostly to create space for the running game. Remember, Bill Snyder is calling the plays, so there will be magic in the huddle.
The Frogs will line up across the neutral zone from a KSU defense that is No. 1 in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing just 110 yards per game. They are also No. 1 in total defense, yielding 391.5 yards per game. They play a 4-2-5, and they love to blitz and bring pressure. Their best player on defense is #22 Dante Barnett, the free safety. TCU will have to work hard to get the running game going like it did last week in Austin (wasn’t that great?), and they’ll have to utilize the short-passing game if the weather’s as nasty as predicted.
Frog fans, your job is to get your rain gear out, bundle up and be at “The Carter” early to show your support for this senior class and a team that fought through a lot this year. They’ve gotten to a bowl. Now, let’s see them put the cherry on top with a seventh win.
Speaking of a seventh win, did you know that in 1991, Jim Wacker’s last year as head coach at TCU, the Frogs beat Houston, 49-45, with a last-minute touchdown pass to Stephen Shipley? It was an exciting game, but in the aftermath, the 7-4 Frogs did not receive a bowl bid. Imagine that.
Times have changed.
See you Saturday morning.
Kick ‘Em High
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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