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Oklahoma Proving Grounds

November 22, 2019

Corey Bethley

Defensive tackle Corey Bethley leads the 2019 TCU Football team with 8.5 career sacks. (Photo by Glen E. Ellman)

 

A lot of governments and corporations have proving grounds. They’re a place where products, weapons and theories are tested to see if they hold up. For Goodyear, it’s where tires go to be tested and stretched to the absolute limit. Some end in blowouts; some perform without incident and pass the test on their way to the open market, where they’ll be lauded as the greatest thing since the inner tube.

For the Frogs, the proving ground this weekend is Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, where No. 9 Oklahoma (9-1, 7-0 Big 12) hosts TCU (5-5, 3-4 Big 12). And for TCU, there’s a lot to prove.


The Frogs are ready to prove that they can beat OU — their last win over the Sooners was in 2014.

The Frogs need to prove they can compete with OU — the last three OU victories over TCU have been by an average of 22.3 points.

The Frogs have to prove that the are better than their 5-5 record indicates — in my book, TCU is 13 plays away from being a one-loss team.

But plays have to be made.

I can sit here and tell you all about Jalen Hurts, the juggernaut quarterback who is on his way to being a legend at Alabama and OU. But what don’t you already know about him? I can tell you about the Sooners’ defensive front, which sacked UT’s Sam Ehlinger nine … yes, nine times back in October. I can go on and on about OU — they’re fast, they’re powerful, and they’re a card-carrying Big Boy program in college football. The fact is that this game is about TCU and what it can do to acquit itself as a team that is better than it looks.


OU is beatable. They’ve skated on thin ice much of the last six weeks. Sooner insiders will tell you they don’t know what they’re going to get from one half of football to the next. Like every team in the nation, they spent the week with a can of Bondo, patching up holes and covering blemishes. They’ve had close calls and escaped all but one — Kansas State. Baylor jumped on OU early last week but hit the wall in the second half when the effects of a triple-overtime game with TCU took hold. I think Baylor did TCU a favor. There was a lot of fuel, both emotional and physical, used up by the Sooner Schooner last week in the harried comeback win against Baylor. A hangover effect for OU could be the door of opportunity the Frogs are looking to jump through.

The Frogs need a hot start. It’s hard to play from behind, especially on the road. If Max Duggan and Company can get rolling early, it’d be a huge leg up for TCU. I think the Frogs need to work the edge against OU. Kansas State had great success running and throwing outside. A steady dose of the run will eat the clock and minimize Jalen Hurts’ opportunities with the ball.  Third downs will be huge. I love Jonathan Song, and I hope he wins the Lou Groza Award, but the Frogs need TD’s — not field goals — to beat OU.

The TCU defense will do its regular lunchpail job, but they can’t give up big plays or big pass plays to OU. (The Frogs have been guilty of that over the last several games.) Opponents already have 24 plays of 30 yards or more versus TCU this season, as many as the Horned Frogs allowed in all 13 games last year. The secondary will have to be alert for new playmakers to emerge as one of OU’s best receivers, tight end Grant Calcaterra, retired from football this week due to recurring concussions. All American wideout Cee Dee Lamb is also questionable  — he missed the Baylor game last week.


Chilly weather and a chilly reception from Sooner fans await the Frogs. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s at kickoff at 7:05 p.m. CT.

We’re on the air on the Horned Frog Sports Network at 6 p.m. CT.  Join us as the Frogs shoot to get bowl eligible.

The proving grounds await.

Until then,

 

Kick ‘Em High!

 

Frogs Saddle Up for the Stretch Run

November 15, 2019

It’s the exact middle of November in college football and it’s the Time of the Season (see The Zombies, 1964) when the outcomes of games decide big things — like bowl games and the College Football Playoff.

Such is the situation with your TCU Horned Frogs. For the Purple and White, it’s a three-game season that starts tomorrow at Texas Tech. Time to saddle-up, head to Lubbock and win “The Saddle Trophy.” Lubbock has been good to the Frogs of late as they’ve won the last two matchups with Tech at Clifford B. and Audrey Jones Stadium (that’s what it was called when I was playing at TCU, long before AT&T put their name on it). This is one the Frogs need to get if they hope to go bowling. OU awaits in Norman next week, and West Virginia comes to visit the day after Thanksgiving. Plenty of work to do .

TCU purple chrome football helmet

TCU will wear purple helmets, white jerseys and purple pants on Saturday in Lubbock. Tech and TCU are both 4-5 going into the late-season contest. Courtesy of TCU Athletics


It’s the 62nd meeting between these two teams … and maybe the most urgent in the history of the series for both teams. A pair of 4-5 programs each looking for their third Big 12 win in seven tries. Both teams dealing with injuries roster-wide and on thin ice at the QB spot. Tech expected to be thick where signal callers were concerned with sophomore Alan Bowman  and junior Jett Duffey competing for the job at the start of the year. Bowman emerged as the starter until a shoulder injury suffered against Arizona ended his season. Duffey’s been good, completing 69 percent of his throws for 1,774 yards and 10 TDs, while throwing just two to the other team. Pretty stout. New head coach Matt Wells has changed the look of Tech’s offense — they go fast. And for the first time since Spike Dykes ran the show, there are tight ends on the depth chart, and they are large — watch for #11 Donta Thompson and #15 Travis Koontz. (Jim Carlin is smiling!). By the way, does anyone remember a tight end at Texas Tech in the 70s named Andre Tillman? He was good.

I digress.

Receivers are plentiful, and the best of the bunch is #9 T.J. Vasher.


Defensively, the Red Raiders have gone to a three-man front, much the fashion these days. They are an attacking group with a solid line, and the linebackers are stellar. #1 Jordyn Brooks is the Big 12’s leading tackler, averaging 11 tackles per game. He makes a lot of plays behind the line with 18 tackles for loss on the year. The secondary is another story — the worst in the Big 12, allowing a whopping 309 yards per game through the air. The middle of the field will be wide open. Rumor is they’ll name everything between the hash marks “Jalen Reagor Boulevard.” I hope so.

The Frogs will need to start fast. That’s a must on the road. The weather will be perfect on the fast artificial surface with the forecast calling for cloudy and 55 degrees at kickoff.

The Frogs go for their third straight win on the South Plains. Did you know TCU did not lose in Lubbock from 1979-1983, tying Tech three times? In 1979, a snowstorm was the big winner in a 3-3 tie. In 1981, a sellout homecoming crowd at Tech welcomed the Frogs. TCU, down 24-7 at the half, came back to tie 39-39 in a game that took 4 hours and 30 minutes (a long game at the time).  In 1983, a Thursday sand storm followed by heavy Friday rains left the game to be played in a chocolate milk-like surface. It was a slippery, turnover-plagued game. The game ended in a 10-10 tie.

Here’s to hoping the Frogs make it three-straight wins in the Hub City.

 

We’re on the air at 10 a.m. on the Horned Frog Sports Network. Join us!

 

Until then,

 

Kick ‘Em High!!

Horned Frogs Meet the Undefeated Baylor Bears

November 8, 2019

Into the final 33-1/3 percent of the football season. After eight games, the Frogs are 4-4. Some nice wins. Disappointing losses. Homecoming heroics against Texas. And injuries that have left the Frogs in patch-up mode this week as they prepare for Baylor.

Last week’s loss at Oklahoma State hurt. Literally.

The game against the Cowboys was a physical one that left the Frogs searching for depth when it was all said and done. The game cost the Frogs health at quarterback. Max Duggan hurt a hand, Michael Collins took some big hits on his way to being injured and Alex Delton left the team. The Frogs’ QB cupboard is suddenly bare. Word is that Duggan will give it a go and Georgia transfer Matthew Downing took the express elevator from the scout team end of the practice field to working with the first team. College football is the land of opportunity and that’s never more true than this week at TCU.

Opportunity for young players to step up and make plays. Opportunity to prove that this TCU team really is just 14 plays away from being a one-loss team. Opportunity to flex its defensive muscle and keep a battered offense in the game. Opportunity to take down a Top 10 team in a hated rival.

Baylor.

Last year's victory against Baylor marked four-straight wins. We can do it again this season. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Last year’s victory against Baylor marked four-straight wins. We can do it again this season. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

The Baylor-TCU series is a storied one. Saturday’s tussle will be number 115 between the two schools and the two have shared many-a historic moment through the years. 1899 was the first game: a 0-0 tie. There have been some good, some sad, some silly. TCU owned Baylor from 1964 – 71 when the Frogs rattled off eight straight wins. That 1971 win in Waco, Texas, was also the game in which TCU Head Coach Jim Pittman died of a massive heart attack on the sidelines during the game. Then there’s the game in 1980 when the Frogs were giving the 11th-ranked Bears, led by Mike Singletary a tussle. It was 7-6 in the 3rd quarter when the PA Announcer at Amon G. Carter Stadium decided he would announce that SMU had just defeated Texas in Austin, wounding the Bears’ biggest obstacle to the Southwest Conference crown. Baylor went on to win 21-6. The announcer was fired the next day. In the mid-90s, the Southwest Conference broke up. Baylor had Governor Ann Richards behind it and TCU didn’t. Baylor got in the Big 12 in 1996 and TCU was off to wander through the WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West. The two schools didn’t play football against one another from 1996- 2005. Finally, in 2006, the series was rekindled and the Frogs have gone 8-3 vs. Baylor since.

This year’s edition of the Baylor Bears has been a surprise. Undefeated into this second week of November and on a roll. The defense is solid. A 3-3-5 scheme, adopted last spring, has netted huge results. BU is No. 1 in scoring defense in the Big 12 at 18.5 points per game, No. 2 in Rushing Defense at 122 yards per game and 3 in pass defense and No. 3 in total defense. They do a great job containing offenses and the linebackers are very fast. The secondary may be a little soft as they’ll be missing safety Chris Miller, who’s out for this game thanks to his third targeting violation this year.

Offensively, Baylor is loaded.

QB Charlie Brewer is a tough kid who keeps coming at you. The offensive line is athletic and has protected Brewer to the point that he’s completing 67 percent of his passes. Running backs JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett are working well, having strung together four straight games in which they’ve run for more than 100 yards per game combined.

To win this one, the Frogs have to:

  • Get very creative on the offensive side.
  • Be sound on the defensive side, limiting big plays.
  • Defense and special teams have to be great and one of those units will need to score.
  • Avoid turnovers; the Frogs are +3 in turnover margin in wins, minus-7 in losses.

Look for another storied battle tomorrow. We’re on the air on the Horned Frogs Sports Network at 10 a.m. CT.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

Offensive Balance and Great Tackling are the Keys to a TCU win over Oklahoma State

November 1, 2019

The Frogs (and all of us) got a breath of fresh air last Saturday with that Homecoming win over No. 15 Texas. The Frogs needed it. And they earned it.

They earned it by playing their most complete game of the year. The defense confused and intercepted Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger four times (three in the second half). And the offense, led by Max Duggan, got it done on the ground — and in a big way through the air — as Taye Barber and Jalen Reagor made it hard for Texas’ secondary to keep up. The addition of the complementary deep threat Barber brings may be the key to this offense in the last month of the season. (The regular season ends four weeks from today.)

Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy chat before the TCU vs. Oklahoma State football game on November 24, 2018. The Frogs won, 31-24.

Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy chat before the TCU vs. Oklahoma State football game on November 24, 2018. The Frogs won, 31-24. (Glen E. Ellman photos)

Now it’s on to Oklahoma State and Stillwater, home of Boone Pickens Stadium. It’s one of the toughest, coziest stadiums you’ll ever visit. The  fans are loud, the stadium holds in the noise, and the area between the sideline and the stands is less than 15 feet in some places — the fans are right on top of the field.

Oklahoma State is a team that looks a lot like TCU, except for its defense. Like TCU, OSU features a first-year starter at quarterback in Spencer Sanders. The redshirt freshman from Denton Ryan has thrown for 1,739 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he’s also thrown 10 interceptions (hello, TCU secondary). The Cowboys’ run game is good, and they lean on sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard, who is a sensational player. Hubbard currently leads the nation in rushing  at 173 yards per game and specializes in runs over 50 yards in length. Tackling on first contact will be the key, as Hubbard has amassed 814 of his rushing yards after contact. He has at least one run of 20, 30, 40, 50, 70 and 80 yards this year. He’s a machine that OSU head coach Mike Gundy is concerned is getting over-worked at 30 touches per game.

The Cowboys may have to lean on Hubbard more, however, as major news came down around noon Friday that All-America wide receiver Tylan Wallace (a Fort Worth native from South Hills HS) is out for the season with a knee injury suffered Wednesday in practice. That takes 53 catches and 903 yards — along with a major scoring threat — off the field. Wallace is one of the best in the nation and was on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Trophy as the nation’s best wideout. The injury to Wallace means that #17 Dillon Stoner will be getting more passes thrown his way — he’s pretty good, too. Also, look for #89, giant tight end Jelani Woods, to be a “bailout” target for Sanders.

Defensively, the Cowboys have struggled. Run defense is an area of concern as the Cowboys have given up big numbers in recent games. Baylor averaged over six yards per carry, and Texas clicked off five yards every time they ran it. The linebackers are solid — look for #20 Malcolm Rodriguez and #11 Amen Ogbongbemiga — they can get to the ball if the defensive line helps them. If not, Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua could have a fun day.

Oklahoma State’s secondary is porous. They are in the bottom five in the nation in pass defense, and they’ve given up an average of 372 air yards over the last three games, including a monstrous 424 yards to Texas Tech.

I think balance is the key to this one for the Frog offense — get the run game going and work the clock. Then have fun with some deep shots. Containment is the word of the day for the TCU defense. And great tackling.

This is the 30th meeting between these two schools. They first played in 1915 when Oklahoma State was known as Oklahoma A&M College. Boone Pickens Stadium (formerly know as Lewis Field) runs east-west and is one of the few college stadiums situated on an east-west line. Most outdoor stadiums favor a north-south alignment.

The Saturday weather in Stillwater calls for sunny and 58 degrees.

We’re on the air on the Horned Frog Sports Network at 1:30 p.m. CT. Catch us on WBAP 820 AM, KTCU-FM 88.7, the Riff Ram App, TuneIn App  and on XM389.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

 

Jalen Reagor celebrates a touchdown during TCU Football's 31-24 victory over Oklahoma State on Nov. 24, 2018.

Jalen Reagor celebrates a touchdown during TCU Football’s 31-24 victory over Oklahoma State on Nov. 24, 2018. (Glen E. Ellman photos)

Horned Frogs Need a Win from Texas

October 25, 2019

Happy Homecoming, everyone!

The Frogs and Texas will kick it off for the 90th time Saturday in a storied series that dates back to 1897. While UT holds a 63-25-1 advantage, the Frogs won five of the last seven and dominated the series in TCU’s Big 12 tenure.

From Dana X. Bible to Dutch Meyer to Abe Martin to Darrell Royal, there’s tons of history in this one:

  • Darrell Royal called the Frogs “cockroaches” after TCU’s 6-0 upset win in 1961.
  • TCU’s 1967 win in Austin when Frog Hall-of-Famer Bubba Thornton returned a punt 67 yards for the win in a 24-17 triumph.
  • Then there’s the long streak of dominance by Texas that saw the ‘Horns win every year from 1968 through 1991. It wasn’t pretty. Many Frog fans still bristle at the memory of an 81-16 loss in 1974 when Texas poured it on. Bristle.

The Horned Frogs and their fans need to carry that same rage against UT into Amon G. Carter Stadium Saturday.

It really doesn’t matter who the opponent is – the Frogs need a win. This opportunity just happens to be Texas.

And I like the Frogs’ chances.

TCU defense has given up some big plays at inopportune times, but is capable of throttling and offense. The stats bear that out. Containment is the biggest component this weekend, along with finding a way to generate a pass rush. Head Coach Gary Patterson has been in the laboratory and the test tube is bubbling. Pass the beaker.

Max Duggan is coming into his own and is beginning to blossom. His gutsy performance last week against Kansas State was amazing. And reassuring. When he gets his arm sighted-in, it’ll be open season on secondaries. The run game gives the Frogs two key components for this one: 1. Opportunity to control the line of scrimmage and, thereby, the game and, 2. The ability to control time of possession and limit UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s chances with the football. Kansas ran for 259 yards on UT last week. There are more yards to be yielded. Darius Anderson, Sewo Olonilua and Duggan are all capable of doing great damage and TCU’s offensive line needs to be in sync from the start.

Mac Duggan breaks tackles against Kansas State Oct. 19. So far this season the Frogs are 3-3, but Duggan is improving. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Texas likes to rack up points. The Longhorns post an average of 41 points per game and 481 yards per contest. It’s a run-pass option scheme that loaded with talent. Aside from Ehlinger, keep an eye on #6 Devin Duvernay, a multi-purpose weapon who can take over a game. Duvernay doesn’t get enough credit — he kept Texas in the game with OU for a while. #9 Collin Johnson should be playing WR in the NFL right now but he elected to come back to UT for one more year. The secret weapon on this side of the ball for Texas may be #2 Roschon Johnson who has rushed for 409 yards and has come on of late, swerving for 121 yards against West Virginia and ripping off a 57-yarder against OU on his way to 95 yards.

Defense is where Texas struggles. The team’s last two outings against OU and Kansas exposed some trouble spots. Injuries and underperformance have not helped. The ‘Horns lead the world in missed tackles. Texas’ 3-3-5 scheme features three huge down linemen including nose tackle Keondre Coburn at 340 pounds. The linebackers are led by #46 Joseph Ossai, but it’s a beat-up group. The secondary is athletic, but young. Safety Brandon Jones is the best player in the back half.

This would be a huge, re-railing win for the Frogs but they need to get off to a fast start – the Frogs have shown that they don’t play well when they’re behind. Losses to SMU, Iowa State and Kansas State all saw the Frogs trip coming out of the blocks. Big plays early could light the fire. On defense, it’s about containing Ehlinger and playing field position. TCU has to keep UT out of the Red Zone. (UT is 26-28 in Red Zone scoring opportunities.)

Chilly weather is supposed to give way to a beautiful day on Saturday with highs in the upper 60s at kickoff.

We’re on the air at 1:30 p.m. CT on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Join us on WBAP 820 AMKTCU-FM 88.7, the Riff Ram App (Google PlayApple), TuneIn App, Sirius 111 and XM201.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

October is glorious, but will we get the same from TCU against KSU?

October 18, 2019

My 25th time at the Texas-OU game was also my wife Linda's first. Isn't that Hawaiian shirt in front of us amazing? Courtesy of John Denton

My 25th time at the Texas-OU game was also my wife Linda’s first. Isn’t that Hawaiian shirt in front of us amazing? Courtesy of John Denton

October is the best. The weather has cooled and some of the best weather days of the year happen now. October means college football is in full gear, college basketball is around the corner and the State Fair of Texas is going on — Big Tex, Corny Dogs and Texas-OU. Last Saturday on TCU’s open date, I took my wife, Linda, to the Texas-OU game. She had never been and we had a blast, even got to tailgate. We had some great seats behind an OU fan in a sweet Hawaiian shirt. The whole thing is a spectacle with the fair going on: the crowds, the aroma of corny dogs, funnel cakes and the Cotton Bowl. Cramming ourselves through the narrow concourses and finding our way to our seats reminded me of 70’s era Texas-OU games (for me this was #25) and Dallas Cowboys games from the late ’60s and early ’70s. For me, a kid who grew up in Dallas going to that place, returning there is just plain therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

And please, mustard only on the corny dog!

Now we hit the halfway mark of the TCU football season with a trip to the “Little Apple,” Manhattan, Kansas, to take on the Wildcats of Kansas State. At one time, Kansas State was officially known as Kansas State University of Agriculture and Applied Science. Big diplomas to fit all that in, huh?

Big game Saturday, too. The Frogs and Powercats (that’s their logo) are fighting for their Big 12 lives. Kansas State, 3-2 (0-2) has already suffered two league losses to Okie State and Baylor. The Frogs have had two weeks to marinate in the aftermath of blowout loss at Iowa State to the tune of 49-24, in which the Frogs seemed to leave their energy in the halftime locker room.

At 3-2, we are all waiting, along with Coach P, to find out what this team is and who it is.

Is it the team that throttled Purdue with dominating defense and a road-grader running game against Kansas? Or the slow-starting, get-behind and melt-down-the-stretch team we saw vs. SMU and Iowa State?

I’m hoping for the former and I’ll think we’ll see it at Kansas State, but it will have to be earned.

The Wildcats still love to slow it down. Even though coaching legend Bill Snyder has stepped aside and new head K-State Coach Chris Klieman has come in from North Dakota State, KSU still likes to slow it down. It is second in the nation in time of possession, averaging 35:22 per game. It has almost no passing game – its passing stats look like something from the Darrell Royal Wishbone era at UT. Kansas State has only hit the 200-yard passing mark twice this year. QB Skylar Thompson averages 22 attempts and has yet to pass for more than 220 yards in a game. K-State relies heavily on a clock-sponging running game that features James Gilbert, a transfer from Ball State who cranks out nearly six yards per carry and has found the end zone four times already.

Look for the Wildcats to try to control the clock and the tempo.

Darius Anderson carries the ball during last season's 17-14 win against Iowa State. Look for him to make some moves on Saturday against Kansas State. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Darius Anderson carries the ball during last season’s 17-14 win against Iowa State. Look for him to make some moves on Saturday against Kansas State. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Defensively, Kansas State has been decent, although it has struggled at times against the run. Hello TCU’s Darius Anderson! The defensive line returned all four starters and its best players are #51 DE Reggie Walker, who has 16 career sacks and #91 DT Jordan Mittie (his dad, Jeff, is the former TCU Women’s Basketball coach, now at KSU). The linebackers are decent and the secondary is full of experience and it shows as it leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and it’s ranked #5 in the nation in overall pass defense.

Kansas State, as is tradition, is solid in the kicking game. Kicker Blake Lynch is only 5-5 in height but he has a big leg that’s accurate (20-23 in his career). Punter Devin Anctil can move it with a 44 yard average and a long of 65 (there may be opportunities for TCU in the punt return game). Kansas State’s dangerous return man, Malik Knowles, is injured and is listed as doubtful.

Here’s how the Frogs win in Manhattan:

  • Start fast
  • Create turnovers
  • Give great effort (especially on defense)
  • Get pressure and be great on 3rd downs (the Frogs have to extend drives)
  • And one other thing: test Kansas State’s secondary deep — TCU gets back big speed components this week in WR’s Taye Barber and Mikel Barkley and big plays await.

Unlike our last trip to Manhattan in 2017, when the Frogs had to endure two weather delays in a game that didn’t want to end, the weather forecast for Saturday is perfect. Sunny and 72.

We’re on the air at 12:30 p.m. CT on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Join us on WBAP 820 AMKTCU-FM 88.7, XM 387, the Riff Ram App (Google PlayApple), or TuneIn App.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

ISU Offense is Struggling — Could this Mean a Frog Win?

October 4, 2019

Cooler weather and an agitated bunch of Iowa State Cyclones await the Frogs in their first Big 12 road game of the year. Iowa State, picked to finish as the show horse (3rd place for you non-horse track people) by the Big 12 preseason pundits, has tripped out of the gate on their way to a 2-2 start. Now mind you, two of their losses are by a total of three points. The Cyclones are a team full of talent, but much like the Frogs, they’re still sorting some things out.

ISU head coach Matt Campbell is a good, young leader who has taken Iowa State on an aggressive vertical climb since his arrival.

Now in his fourth season, Campbell has gone from a 1-8 start at Iowa State to now having won 20 of his last 33 games. He’s a hot commodity and many schools have come calling.

Offensively, the Cyclones are struggling. An experienced offensive line has not lived up to expectations and the running game is still looking for “the guy” after the departure for David Montgomery, one of the best-ever at ISU. They’ve tried five different running backs and the QB Brock Purdy is still the best production runner they have. ISU is ninth in the Big 12 in rushing yardage and last in rushing attempts. Gone too are the big wideouts like Allen Lazard, who’s now with the Packers. The passing game centers around big TE Charlie Kolar, who somehow escaped from Norman, Oklahoma. Fifteen of his 19 catches on the year have gone for a first down or a touchdown. Along with WR Tarique Milton, they are the air threats. The Frogs need to get pressure from their front four to make things work defensively against Iowa State. Baylor had a fun day pressuring Brock Purdy last Saturday, getting three sacks.

TCU and Iowa State met at home last year, where the Horned Frogs won 17-14. ISU's #3 JaQuan Bailey (far left) fought hard last meeting, but now he has an injured leg. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU and Iowa State met at home last year, where the Horned Frogs won 17-14. ISU’s #3 JaQuan Bailey (far left) fought hard last meeting, but now he has an injured leg. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Defensively, Iowa State has been stingy, not giving up more than 23 points in regulation in any game this year. They run an interesting scheme that features a lot of 3-Down linemen looks and they frequently drop eight cover men to create a crowded cornfield effect in the secondary. ISU’s best defensive lineman #3 JaQuan Bailey is questionable after hurting a leg late in the loss at Baylor last week. Linebacker O’Rien Vance (a transfer from Washington) is a player — he had nine tackles and two sacks at Baylor last week. In the secondary, the corners are young and still figuring it out.

Given the weather forecast, this is a game where the Frog running game could come in really handy.

A strong start on the ground will force Iowa State to load up on the run and free up space in the secondary. TCU’s offensive line needs to repeat last week’s performance and be aware of delayed blitzes and pressure coming from the linebackers. Blitz pickups will be key.

Did You Know?

Gary Patterson’s first coaching at TCU was at Iowa State to open the 1998 season. The Frogs were a 13-point underdog and came away with a 31-21 win to kickoff that historic 1998 season for the eventual Sun Bowl Champions. At that time a road win was a novelty. Little did we know that was just the beginning of a 20-plus year run. How time flies.

By the way, there were 33,000 in attendance on that hot September day back in ’98. There’ll be a lot more people at Jack Trice Stadium (the Big 12’s third-largest stadium: capacity 61,500) tomorrow morning. It’s a new day for the Cyclones and their fans show up regardless of the weather. Speaking of weather, game day weather looks to be rainy and in the mid-60s for the high.

We’ll talk to you from Ames, Iowa, at 10 a.m. on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Catch us on WBAP 820 AMKTCU-FM 88.7, Sirius 99, XM 207, the Riff Ram App (Google PlayApple), or TuneIn App.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

Les Miles and Kansas: How the Frogs Can Fight

September 27, 2019

Happy Family Weekend!

The campus is jumping as parents and family swarm into Fort Worth to see students and find out what their GPA really is! Have fun this weekend, TCU students, because mid-terms are on the way! (Just a friendly reminder from a guy for whom mid-terms always came too fast!)

The University of Kansas comes to town for the Big 12 lid-lifter (the 36th meeting in the series) and based on the vibe I get around the TCU pigskin plant, they are ready to get back on the field. It’s been a long week of reflection, learning and correcting. And the opponent should get their attention. And yours, too.

Kansas is different this year. Much like SMU, the Jayhawks have installed a new coach and culture. Les Miles (The Mad Hatter) and his national championship ring from LSU have recruits listening and current Rock-Chalkers believing.

Miles and his staff worked hard in the off-season adding depth to the KU attack and designing (and then re-designing) his offense.

TCU's Jalen Reagor, who sports analysts believe will be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, outsmarts a Jayhawk in last season's grid iron meeting. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

TCU’s Jalen Reagor, who sports analysts believe will be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, outsmarts a Jayhawk in last season’s gridiron meeting. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

KU Quarterback Carter Stanley is a senior who has gotten off to a dream start this year, as evidenced by his 72% completion rate. He throws it to #4 WR Andrew Parchment who has 24 catches on the year. Other fighters on the KU Flight Line include #5 Stephon Robinson and #8 Kwamie Lassiter II who had two huge games in the last two weeks. Also keep an eye on Alabama transfer #2 Daylon Charlot who, according to those close to the program, may go off at any moment—he’s overdue. The offensive line is solid and they block for two running backs who are good and give KU balance. #1 Pooka Williams is a speedster and #10 Khalil Herbert leads the team in rushing and his 2-iron like posture is perfect for a low angle of attack (5-9, 205). The Jayhawks are averaging 187 yards per game on the ground and 215 through the air. The offensive coordinator is former TCU assistant Les Koennig, who coached QBs at TCU under Dennis Franchione. The scheme utilizes a lot of I-formation and appears to vary week-to-week as Miles is favoring a more open attack than in his younger days. Lots to defend.

Defensively, KU runs what they call a 3-4 scheme, but it varies and there’s lots of movement. Defensive Coordinator D.J. Eliot came to KU from Colorado, where he spent the last two years building a reputation as a guru of the 3-4. Eliot travels all over the nation running clinics and extolling the principles of the 3-4 defense. The best up-front player for KU is “Jack” Linebacker (hybrid LB/DE) #5 Azur Kamara, who’s a great edge rusher. The linebackers are the soft spot in this group and they’ll likely be without their leading tackler Saturday: Junior LB Dru Prox suffered a bad shoulder injury last week in the loss to West Virginia. The secondary is a veteran group that has played a lot of snaps together and is the strength of the defense. Last year, they led the Big 12 in interceptions with 16. Cornerback Hasan Defense (yes, that’s his real name) is a great cover man who leads this group of three seniors and redshirt junior.

The kicking game is OK. The field goal department is a question as Liam Jones and Jacob Borcila are taking turns swinging at it. Punter Kyle Thompson has a big leg and was a second team All-Big 12 selection last year. In the return game, keep an eye on #88 Jamahl Horne (a 4.3 40 guy who is looking to victimize an undisciplined coverage team).

A Little History

Many have asked me about the story I told yesterday at the Frog Club Luncheon regarding the history between TCU and KU. It’s interesting.

Here it is:

The Frogs and Kansas played against each other every year from 1944 through 1964, until a rift over a player broke up the football romance. As the story goes, Bert Coan, a highly recruited running back from Pasadena, TX, had just completed his freshman season at TCU in 1958. During the offseason, he attended an all-star game, and a KU booster paid for his trip. Coan suddenly abandoned TCU and transferred to Kansas. He was a key element of the Jayhawks’ success in the early ’60s. Needless to say, this did not sit well on Stadium Drive. Once the game contracts between the two schools ran out in 1964, TCU Head Coach Abe Martin looked elsewhere for non-conference opponents. In 1965, TCU opened the season against No. 1 Nebraska. The Frogs and Kansas would not play again until 1982.

It’s an early start tomorrow for the 11 o’clock kickoff. Get there early and enjoy Breakfast at The Carter, then get in for kickoff—the Frogs need you and your noise. We’re on the air at 10 a.m. sharp on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Join us on WBAP 820 AM, KTCU-FM 88.7, the Riff Ram App (Google Play, Apple), TuneIn App and Sirius134/XM 200.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

SMU Took the Iron Skillet, But Frogs Learned Lessons

September 25, 2019

Fear not Frogs, the last two times (2005 and 2011) TCU lost to SMU, TCU went on to win 11 games in both seasons. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Fear not Frogs, the last two times (2005 and 2011) TCU lost to SMU, TCU went on to win 11 games in both seasons. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

I bet most of you had forgotten how long some Saturdays can be in the fall. We all know what we as fans have on the emotional poker table every Saturday, but until something like what happened last Saturday happens, you don’t realize it. It’s tough when you have to fold.

Losing stings. Losing stinks.

College football is a slippery slope and few get to the top of that hill without a muddy tumble.

The Frogs got muddy and now it’s time to clean up and move on.

The famous football coach, the Dalai Lama, has a saying, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

It’s a reminder to face failure head up, be aware of what you did/didn’t do and avoid making the same mistakes again.

Lessons the Frogs learned last Saturday vs SMU:

  • You have to start fast.
  • Lack of a pass rush is a problem, especially against an experienced QB.
  • Turnovers early in the game kill momentum.
  • Freshman quarterbacks all take their turn in the barrel – it’s an axiom of the game.
  • The offense has to figure out a way to get Jalen Reagor the ball (at least 10 times per game).
  • TCU’s tight ends are good and can be helpful weapons for the offense and a young QB.
  • The running game is impressive.
  • LB Garrett Wallow is a force. And the guy the entire defense can measure themselves against.
  • The kicking game will win some games for the Frogs this year.

The best news is the Frogs get back on the field as early as possible Saturday with breakfast at The Carter. I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.

Make sure you are.

Friday, we’ll take a Family Weekend look at the Kansas Jayhawks and their new life with Coach Les Miles.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

The Heat is on as the Frogs Face the Boilermakers

September 13, 2019

Hello from Chicago! Had to stop in here to see some Windy City Frogs on the way to West Lafayette.

Happy Week 3 of the college football season. The open week was nice last week, but I’m ready to get back after it. How about you? I think the Frogs are ready, too.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan accounted for a pair of touchdowns in TCU's 39-7 season-opening win over Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

TCU quarterback Max Duggan accounted for a pair of touchdowns in TCU’s 39-7 season-opening win over Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

It’s the Frogs’ first trip to the state of Indiana since playing Notre Dame in 1972. Interesting that TCU just hasn’t had more matchups with Big 10 teams over the years. There was a stretch in the late ’90s/early 2000s when the Frogs played Northwestern. And then the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl versus Michigan State in 2012… sorry I brought that one up!

It will be interesting to see Ross-Ade Stadium and it’s 57,236 seats. I’ve never been there. There’s plenty of football history. For years, Purdue had quarterbacks boiling-up like beignets. It was “QB U” — Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps, Mark Hermann and don’t forget Drew Brees. Purdue has gone through a lot of coaches, too. Here’s one for you: What former Purdue head coach first led a college program in Texas before taking over in West Lafayette? Read on for the answer.

Purdue has given head coach Jeff Brohm a new, seven-year, $36.8 million contract to keep steering the locomotive. Talk about shoveling on the coal. Brohm flirted with his alma mater Louisville late last year and the powers at PU wanted to keep him. They like the direction of the program, which has been more competitive and has recruited well. Purdue has become a force in Midwest recruiting and the talent level is improving. Injuries, however, are having a say as to how much of that talent can be on the field. The bug has already bitten Purdue hard. Sound familiar?

Biggest question for Saturday is the condition of the Boilmakers’ cannon-armed QB Elijah Sindelar. He suffered a “slight concussion” last week against Vanderbilt and is a game-time decision. His backup is Jack Plummer, a guy with QB pedigree. He’s the son of Arizona State legend Jake Plummer who spent time in the NFL, mostly with the Cardinals. The younger Plummer, a redshirt freshman, is a bit of a mystery as he’s not seen the collegiate field. TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson said it doesn’t matter as the offensive system Purdue runs will likely stay the same. Purdue runs a creative offense that features WR/Waterbug Rondale Moore. He moves around a lot and if he’s not in motion, then he’s not on the field. He’s a weapon and a decoy all at the same time. Picture Jeremy Kerley in a Purdue uniform. Yep, fast and strong and he makes the return game work for the Boilermakers. Tight end #89 Brycen Hopkins is one of the best in the country and he’s a red zone target at 6-5. The Boilermakers haven’t run the ball with much success (averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt) mainly due to the fact that Purdue is trying to straighten the rails along the offensive line, where only one returning starter exists now that right tackle Matt McCann has torn up his ankle. However, Purdue might test the Frogs front, especially if they’re starting a redshirt freshman at QB. Zander Horvath is a 230-pound running back who’s powerful and surprisingly quick.

On defense, Purdue improved in the Brohm era. A creative scheme that employs a “LEO” (part LB/part DE) that #55 Derrick Barnes plays well and adds pressure, which is something Purdue has lacked. The linebackers are solid, but news came down this week that their best LB, Markus Bailey injured a knee and is out for the season, which will prompt some lineup shuffling by defensive coordinator Nick Holt. The secondary is young with five of the eight defensive backs in the rotation being freshmen or sophomores. They’ll have their hands full with TCU’s fleet of wideouts. Free safety #27 Navon Mosely is the best of the bunch and is in charge back there.

Kicker Jonathan Song was a perfect 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts en route to leading the TCU Horned Frogs to a 39-7 season-opening win over Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Kicker Jonathan Song was a perfect 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts en route to leading the TCU Horned Frogs to a 39-7 season-opening win over Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

For the Frogs, I’m looking forward to a more intense Red Zone effort and more physicality from the offensive line. Field goals won’t cut it. The offense needs a fast start on the road and I’m looking forward to peeking deeper into the playbook in this one. The Frogs have lots they haven’t shown. Defensively, this game brings lots of questions but also tons of opportunity for this unit that is chomping at the bit to get back on the field. I also believe TCU can handle Purdue up front and derail the Purdue offense. Redshirt freshman QB = bring the pressure.

Oh, and the former Texas coach? Fred Akers, who coached the Boilermakers from 1987-1990 after he was dismissed by UT. All Fred Akers did at UT was win 83 percent of his games.

The weather in West Lafayette will be spring-game-like. Clear and in the upper 70s at kickoff. We’re on the air on TCU Sports Network at 5:30 p.m. CT. Lend an ear!

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!