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Horned Frogs Face OU Road Warriors

October 23, 2020

The first cold front of the fall moved through Fort Worth Friday morning, bringing rain, high winds and cooler temps.

It also welcomes in a critical four-week stretch for TCU Football.

At 1-2, the Horned Frogs have shown flashes of brilliance to go along with some painful moments along the offensive line and uncharacteristic surrendering of big plays on defense.

  • Frustrated by Iowa State in the opener.
  • Awarded for great effort with a win on the road in Austin, Texas.
  • Shut down by a Kansas State team that played field position and took advantage of Frog miscues.

Now TCU gets ready to play four in a row — a challenge the team hasn’t faced yet this year. Two at home and two on the road. Staying healthy is the key, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Sometimes the home team has the advantage. Other times they play OU. The Sooners have won 24 of their last 26 true road games. Photo by Rodger Mallison

TCU can’t rely on a home team advantage. The Sooners won 24 of its last 26 true road games. Photo by Rodger Mallison

Oklahoma comes to the Metroplex for the second time in three weeks, coming off a hard-fought 4OT win over Texas. Although the Sooners come to The Carter unranked, they’re still OU: a card-carrying big boy of college football. OU is still the only Big 12 team to make it to the College Football Playoff (four times). OU is still the team that likes to rack up huge yardage and big points.

Freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler leads the Sooner offense. When he played well, the Sooners won (Missouri State and Texas). When he played like a freshman and got pressured and knocked around, OU lost (see Kansas State — 3 interceptions — and Iowa State — 1 interception). The Frogs have to figure out a way to get to him and they’ll have to take some chances.

Running back T.J. Pledger leads the ground effort for OU and is coming off a career-high 131 yards and two touchdowns against Texas. When they throw, the Sooners utilize wide receivers #14 Charleston Rambo and TD machine #17 Marvin Mims who has four touchdown catches (three of those on the last two games).

On defensive, OU has gone to what they call “Speed D” and employ three down linemen who are quick and a rush end in #11 Nik Bonitto, who makes a lot of plays in the backfield and gets to the QB. Linebacker #24 Brian Asamoah leads the Sooners in tackles and is great against the run.

The Frogs will have to slow down Oklahoma, especially on the ground. The Sooners have run for at least 200 yards in each of the last six games against TCU and averaged 283.3 in those games. On the offensive, TCU will have to sustain drives and get production to keep the OU offense off the field.

It’s important to be good in the first quarter as OU has a tendency to start fast and run away from teams.

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 62 degrees on campus. Just perfect for football.

We’re on the air with breakfast at 10 a.m. on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Join us on WBAP 820, Sirius 135, XM199, TuneIn and the Riff Ram app.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

A Kansas State of Mind

October 9, 2020

If there’s anything that last weekend’s TCU win over Texas proved, it’s that football fortunes hang by a thread, and the difference between winning and going home heartbroken can be one play, or even half of a play. College football games these days feature somewhere between 130 and 160 total plays between the two teams. Players have to be on every play. Take a play off and you have disaster. For fans, it’s much the same. Blink and you’ve missed it. Focus is a must and Frogs Fans, you better be on point this weekend for Kansas State.

Suddenly, this matchup has the feel of a playoff game. The winner of this one will definitely be in the fast lane for a Big 12 Championship game ticket. Yes, I know it’s early, but…

The momentum from the win over Texas is palpable. The difference it’s made around the program this week is like a new pair of socks or new tires on your car. You just feel better. You feel confident. You feel like going back to work. You feel you can. W’s are wonderful.

That’s important because Kansas State and its hard-hat, lunch-pail program mentality come to Fort Worth Saturday. And they’ve got a toolbox full of ways to beat you. Head Coach Chris Klieman reportedly got a new contract this week, keeping him in the Little Apple through 2026. Someone at KSU got the word that Klieman was on some school’s shopping list and they wanted to make sure he stayed put in the Flint Hills. Good for Kansas State. Much like TCU, K-State has realized that they made a good hire in a guy with the philosophy and system that closely resembles his predecessor Bill Snyder. Kansas State rolls on like the Wabash Cannonball (Google Kansas State Wabash Cannonball).

TCU kicker Griffin Kell hits one of his four successful field goals in TCU's defeat of Texas on Oct. 3, 2020.

Griffin Kell was 4-4 in field goals during TCU Football’s defeat of Texas on Oct. 3, 2020. Kell and author John Denton are part of the program’s storied fraternity of kickers.

Kansas State’s offense still does it the old-fashioned way. They run it 66 percent of the time, and when they do throw, it’s short passes, wheel routes out of the backfield and out routes designed to complement the running game. They don’t thrown downfield very often, but instead use the short passes as “extended handoffs” to  get the ball into space and make the defense miss. Keep an eye on #22 Deuce Vaughn; he’s a true freshman from Round Rock who was under-recruited but has over-delivered here early in his career. Last week in the Wildcats’ win over Texas Technical, he ran the ball 16 times for 113 yards and a TD and added three catches for 81 yards and a TD. His last catch of the game was a short pass on a 3rd-and-7  late in the fourth quarter that he took 70 yards to the house to lock down the game. Dangerous.

Kansas State doesn’t make mistakes either. They’ve yet to have an offensive turnover in their first three games. That’s discipline.

Quarterback is a bit of question this week as Skylar Thompson took a big hit against Tech and left the game, returning to the KSU sideline in a sling. Coach Klieman hinted that he may be available. Thompson is a skilled and experienced quarterback who has become a better pocket passer, but he can run, too. Last year he took off for 61 yards against the Frogs during a drive that decided the game. If he can go, he will.

His backup is another true freshman, Will Howard (6-4, 230), who came in to relieve Thompson last week and led them to the win, going 7-for-12, 173 yds and a TD while becoming the first K-State true FR with a 100-yd passing game since 2006.

Kansas State’s defense is a base 4-2-5, and they like to keep the play in front of them. Their best player is DE Wiley Hubert #56. He’s solid and can get to the passer. The Wildcats are giving up 492.3 yards per game in total offense (328 of that is passing yardage, so the Frogs should have room to work). Kansas State gives up 30 points per game.

Look for Kansas State to try to grind it out and shorten the game. They took their time and last week ran just 64 plays versus Texas Tech — those are 1983 offensive totals.  The Frogs, on the other hand, need to open it up, come out on the attack and test the K-State secondary. The TCU defense will need to keep KSU off the field, as they are good at keeping the ball and they are efficient. Last week, K-State had 10 offensive possessions and scored on every other possession, while keeping Tech’s offense on the bench with three drives of 11 plays or more. Solid tackling and keeping an eye out for a back sneaking out of the backfield will the recipe for a Frog win.

 

The Frogs get a breather after this one.  October 17th is an open date for TCU, then OU comes to the Metroplex on the 24th.

We’re on the air on the Horned Frog Sports Network at 2 p.m. CT.   Join us!!

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!!

 

TCU unis

TCU Football will wear the unconventional purple, black and red color combo against Kansas State during the October 10, 2020 matchup.

Horned Frogs Have Speed and Blocking Power

October 7, 2020

Courtesy of TCU Athletics

I have a big prediction for wide receiver JD Spielman. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Takeaways from last weekend’s most enjoyable trip to Austin, Texas, (aside from the fact that the Frogs made plays when they had to and won) —

  • Max Duggan is back at full speed. It’s time to turn him loose with this offense. His reads were spot-on and the recognition on the play that resulted in his 26-yard run will be watched with interest by the Longhorns’ upcoming opponents. OU is studying closely for this Saturday’s game at the Cotton Bowl.
  • TCU has speed and lots of it on defense. There were many plays made, but La’Kendrick Van Zandt’s rundown of Keaontay Ingram from behind was a game saver. It reminded me of Daryl Washington running down Clemson’s C.J. Spiller in the rain when Washington had no angle, just another gear in 2009.
  • Griffin Kell is kicking the ball with authority and is in gear — a beautiful thing.
  • TCU’s red zone offense needs to produce more touchdowns. I liked the way they produced when it counted.
  • JD Spielman is seeing the field more — that’s a very good thing.
  • Speaking of Spielman, it won’t be long until he breaks a punt return for a TD. You watch.
  • The offensive line had its best game of the year and did a nice job run blocking against a large and fast UT defensive front.
  • The Frogs’ defensive stand that won the game proved that you have to keep playing. They didn’t quit and it paid off, albeit 3 feet away from the goal line!

Speaking of taking care of the ball, Kansas State comes to town on Saturday and they’ve yet to commit a turnover in 2020. We’ll take a close look at the Wildcats on Friday.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!!!

Preview: Horned Frogs at Texas

October 2, 2020

Greetings from the Capital City!

Game 2 has gotten here quickly and the story lines are stacked for the Frogs’ trip to DKR-Memorial Stadium.

The Frogs have plenty to prove against a team that TCU has had success against since joining the Big 12, going 6-2 against the ‘Horns (and five out of the last six). Austin media has been reminding Texas of that record this week. They’re tired of hearing it.

For TCU, shoring up the defense and turning the offensive weapons loose through solid execution will be the goal.

Big plays plagued the Frogs last week against Iowa State, but those are correctable.

There’s big talent on that D and I’m looking for huge improvement, especially against the run. Texas will try to establish the run game with a solid running back in #26 Keaontay Ingram and running quarterback #11 Sam Ehlinger. The Frogs’ front seven has to be good.

Keep an eye on Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger — he has a lot in common with TCU's quarterback Max Duggan. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Keep an eye on Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger — he has a lot in common with TCU’s quarterback Max Duggan. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Texas is 2-0 with wins over UTEP and on the road last week in overtime in Lubbock. The Texas offense is averaging 61 points per game so far. The Longhorns had to score 63 last week and they did it. I mentioned QB Sam Ehlinger, who the Frogs confused into four interceptions last year. Ehlinger is a true dual-threat quarterback and he and Max Duggan are very similar — this should be a fun QB matchup. Texas coach Tom Herman hired a new offensive coordinator in the off-season and he’s a familiar face. Mike Yurcich was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2013 to 2018. Yurcich was 3-3 vs TCU, losing the last two. Yurcich is an aggressive play caller who wants to run the football and sling it into the flat to make the defense work, then he’ll take long shots down field to some of Texas’ fleet of receivers, among them #6 Joshua Moore and #14 Oregon/Arizona transfer Brenden Schooler. The offensive line for Texas has been reworked since struggling at times against Tech. In the third quarter last week in Lubbock, UT’s offense went dead, allowing Tech opportunities that the Red Raiders cashed in for 21 points.

In the defense, the Horns have a new boss, too. Tom Herman cleaned house on both sides of the ball and brought in a defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, the former head coach at Rutgers. Herman and Ash worked together at Ohio State. It’s a 4-2-5 scheme that masks linebacker problems. The best player on the field for Texas defensively is #46 Joseph Ossai, who TCU’s offensive line will have to figure out.

Another O-Line performance like the one TCU had against Iowa State, and it will be a long day for the Frogs.

The Frogs have to be solid up front.

Tech had success throwing to underneath crossing routes and was able to make physical plays against the Texas secondary. The Red Raiders amassed 441 yards, 59 points as the Texas defense melted in the fourth quarter. The TCU offense looked good in spots last week and with Max Duggan at the helm. There’s a lot of speed on this side of the ball and I’m looking for Nebraska transfer JD Spielman to get more touches on Saturday. At least fifteen sound good to me.

There’s room for the Frogs to work here. Make the most of it.

I like the early start for TCU in this situation. They can get up, eat breakfast, get taped and go play. DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium will not be the same with just 25,000 fans spread out all over the stadium. The Frogs will be able to communicate and hear each other and they’ll need to for the full 60 minutes.

Physicality will rule the day in this one, which will be a shootout.

A great matchup of two very good quarterbacks, defenses with a lot to prove and a chess match between Gary Patterson, a defensive mastermind, and Tom Herman, who has been described as an offensive genius.

We’re on the air for breakfast on the Horned Frogs Sports Network at 10 a.m. CDT on WBAP 820 AM, KTCU 88.7 FM, XM392, TuneIn and the Riff Ram app. Get your coffee, cinnamon roll and tune in. You can even stay in you PJs!

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

Experience is the Best Teacher

September 30, 2020

As September comes to a close, it’s strange to think that opening weekend of the 2020 college football season was just last weekend.

Last Saturday’s lid-lifter was the latest start date for TCU Football since 1943, when the Frogs opened the season on October 2nd.

To me, it’s a sign, a reminder of just how different this year has been. COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives and college football is not immune. All the processes and changes teams have had to made to their operations, schedules and practices have made “normal operating procedures” obsolete.

It’s different and the impact is showing. If you look at all the results in the early part of the season from the games that were played, not postponed, you can see it.

Lots of upsets, unusual plays and strange outcomes have taken over college football early.

TCU-Southern football 9/1/18. TCU wins at home 55-7. (Glen E. Ellman photos)

The energy the fans bring to game day can fuel athletes. The Frogs will have to adjust without it. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

I believe there’s one other factor that’s affecting teams in a large way, especially those in their first games — the game day environment. It’s something that players have to adjust to and, until you go through it and experience it (like the Frogs did last weekend), it’s hard to prepare for. Game day for players is the payoff: a stadium full of fans and energy, and a wave of emotion that’s fueled by teammates making plays and the fans reacting with deafening noise. It’s not there this year and I think it affects teams. The change in the game environment is different for fans, TV networks, everyone, but especially the players. We have to adjust to it.

Look at Iowa State in their first game: They had no fans in the stands in the loss to Louisiana. What normally is a really tough place to play for a visiting team in Jack Trice Stadium was benign. Lack of noise, lack of energy and Iowa State played down to the quiet. LSU, same thing. This is the year to challenge tough road venues like Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, LSU — all now strangely welcoming environments where the visiting teams can hear themselves think.

This need for adjustment also adds to the value of getting one game under your belt. The old adage is that you get the most improvement as a football team from Game 1 to Game 2. Saturday, the Frogs looked like a team playing their first game of the year, adjusting. Iowa State looked like a team that was playing Game 2.

The Cyclones had been through the “quiet game environment” and had gotten kicked in the teeth at home, gave up big plays and lost to Louisiana. They responded and improved against TCU and won on the road.

Another old saying is, “Experience is the best teacher.” I believe that’s more true in 2020 than maybe ever before. What’s going on in our world is something that none of us have ever dealt with. You have to live through it, go through it — and adjust. Same for the Frogs.

TCU’s experience from last Saturday will pay dividends.

The Frogs had their first dose of the season and the difference. They can now settle in and adjust. They’ll have to bring their own energy to game day, no matter where they play. The ISU game was a very important exercise and the good news is that the big plays surrendered, the missed opportunities and mistakes can all be corrected. The Frogs now get to go on the road to Austin, Texas, where it will be much quieter than normal at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium with 75,000 fans missing.

Friday, we’ll focus on the Longhorns. Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

Horned Frogs Kick off Season Against Iowa State

September 25, 2020

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that…

Oh, wait, that’s still three months away — exactly three months — but it feels like that, doesn’t it?

Saturday, finally, we all get to open gifts from Coach P and TCU Football and it’s been slower than Christmas coming.

Cal, no wait, Prairie View A&M, no wait. OK, Tennessee Tech, no wait. OK, SMU. Nope.

Finally we get to see what the 2020 version of TCU Football looks like under game conditions against Iowa State, albeit it’s different.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, and tomorrow the environment at Amon G. Carter Stadium will show the effects.

It will be a different-type game day, but it will be game day. So be ready.

Michael Downing in his football uniform standing on the sidelines. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Matthew Downing, a sophomore quarterback, will be leading the Horned Frogs on Saturday against Iowa State. Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Here are some things to look for:

  • TCU’s starting quarterback will be Matthew Downing, a transfer from Georgia, whose brother Michael played on the Frogs’ Alamo Bowl team. He’s good.
  • TCU’s rebuilt offensive line will have to be ready to take a on a very good front six from Iowa State. ISU plays a 3-3-5 scheme that morphs into a 4-3 look at times. Their front is good, led by defensive ends #3 JaQuan Bailey and #55 Zach Petersen.
  • You may see as many as five different running backs for the Frogs tomorrow. #3 Emari Demercado, a junior, is the old guy in the group, accompanied by redshirt freshmen #24 Darwin Barlow and #21 Daimarqua Foster. Add to the group two talented true freshmen #33 Kendre Miller and #6 Zach Evans, the first 5-star signee in TCU Football history and you’ve got a load of speed and options.
  • The TCU receiving corps is deep with speed and size throughout. Watch for #4 Taye Barber, the Frogs’ leading returning receiver and big #81 Pro Wells, who splits out at 6-4 250. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the ball after the catch.
  • Defensively, Gary Patterson rolls out another speedy group that should have no problem getting to the ball. Defensive tackle #94 Corey Bethley is one of my favorites and #30 Garret Wallow is the best linebacker in the nation.
  • The secondary is deep water and will be dangerous for Frogs’ opponents. A pair of stellar safeties in #7 Trevon Moehrig and #20 La’Kendrick Van Zandt are among the best anywhere and are ball hawks. They get Nook Bradford back and Noah Daniels returns at one cornerback spot to add experience to an already sticky group.

Sure, Iowa State is coming off of a loss to Louisiana (kicking game meltdowns), but the Cyclones are talented.

Head Coach Matt Campbell has turned a once Big 8 doormat program into a contender by recruiting speed, big linemen and huge tight ends. (When Matt Campbell arrived in Ames, Iowa, there wasn’t a tight end on campus!) Watch out for #88 Charlie Kolar, who’s a top rated tight end and should go high in next spring’s NFL draft. He’s 6-6 260 and he’s a handful.

Quarterback Brock Purdy is as good as they get in the Big 12 – coming into 2020. He’s No. 1 in school history in 300-yard passing games (9), 2nd in completion percentage (66 percent), No. 3 in passing yards (6232) and No. 3 in touchdown passes in a career (43). Last year he set just about every single-season record at Iowa State. When he’s not throwing it, he’s handing it to 215-pound pile driver, #28 Breece Hall, who will stomp his way through defenses — he ran for nearly 900 yards last year and did it in eight games!

Things I need to see from the Frogs this year:

  • Be bigger and tougher in the red zone on offense — last year, the Frogs were 1-6 in one-score games. Just eight more touchdowns would have meant five more wins.
  • Get solid quarterback play — they don’t have to be great, they just have to be solid. Distribute the ball to play-makers and protect the football.
  • The offensive line has to develop and stay healthy.
  • Be great tacklers — no missed tackles, especially in the open field.
  • Secondary has to create turnovers and takeaways. This group has the speed and the talent to match the Rose Bowl team’s production in the back half. (2010 saw the Frogs get five pick-6’s.)
  • Turn JD Spielman loose in the return game. He’s an extreme talent with the ability to score from anywhere on the field.

We’re on the air on the Horned Frogs Sports Network at 11:30 a.m. I’ll talk to you then.

And don’t forget to hang your stocking…

Kick ‘Em High!

I’m Ready for TCU Football

September 23, 2020

What else is there to say about the year 2020 that hasn’t been said or expressed already?

The words that come to mind when I think about all that has taken place (or hasn’t taken place) since March are those penned by the great Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead:

What Long Strange Trip It’s Been.

The last time Brian Estridge and I were on the air was March 11th in Kansas City at the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship, calling the Frogs’ loss to Kansas State.

It was the last game of the season for the Frogs and, as it turned out, the last game of the season for everybody. Everywhere.

The next day, conference tournaments, NBA games, major sporting events and cultural events started pulling the plug.

Everybody go home and wait there for instructions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do everything and there’s no masking the impact that it’s had on our lives. 

We’re all learning just how flexible we can be. And what we can do without.

One thing I’m not willing to do without is college football. I’m ready. And if you’re reading this, I bet you are, too.

TCU vs Southern football at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on September 1, 2018. (Photo by Ellman Photography)

We’re ready to get back into Amon G. Carter Stadium. I imagine we will all look this excited. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

If all goes well over the next two and a half days, the Frogs will kick off the 2020 season in almost October.

You have to go back all the way to 1943, in the midst of WWII, to find a TCU season start date that’s later. That year, the Frogs hosted Arkansas in the season opener on October 2nd! A 13-0 win.

Other opening day gems in Frogs history include:

  • 1958 – a 42-0 win at Kansas
  • 1972 – a 42-0 win over UTA
  • 1984 – a 62-18 win at Utah State
  • 1991 – a 60-7 win over New Mexico in Jim Wacker’s last opener at TCU
  • 1998 – a 31-21 upset win at Iowa State in the first game of the “new” era
  • 2004 – a 48-45, 2OT win over Northwestern
  • 2010 – a 30-21 hard-fought win over Oregon State that started the run to the Roses

But back to this week’s business.

This altered 2020 season presents a challenge that head coaches dread: a season opener that’s a conference game.

No time to work out the kinks and the twists that go with first games. Just tee it up and go right into conference play.

They all count, but conference games “weigh” more.

The Frogs have to be ready. As a former player, I feel sorry for them in that fall camp has gone on forever.

Iowa State will be chomping at the bit to make things right after a dismal performance against Louisiana in which the Cyclones gave up a punt return, kickoff return and a long pass — all for touchdowns.

Friday, we’ll take a close look at Iowa State and the rebuilt Cyclones.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

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!