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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!

Biding Time on Bye Week

September 6, 2019

Happy Friday, Frog Fans!

It’s the second week of the college football season and what are you going to do with yourself this weekend? The Frogs are off, but there’s plenty to watch. I’m getting a head start on game prep for Purdue — more on them in a minute.

You’ll have no problem scratching your CFB itch this weekend. ESPN’s College GameDay is in Austin, so you can see Matthew McConaughey with his playbook and his Haggar double-knit-burnt-orange-suit-making predictions. Alright, Alright, Alright. Geez.

A pretty-good Cincinnati team visits Ohio State at 11 a.m. on ABC. Your Fightin’ Texas Aggies are at No. 1 Clemson at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. (Cheer for the Aggies — their move got the Frogs into the Big 12, don’t forget that.) Texas hosts LSU at 6:30 p.m. on ABC, and then for you night owls, you can finish with Minnesota at Fresno State at 7:30, and then Oregon State at Hawaii at midnight. There you go. You’re all set!

I’ll be watching Purdue. They play Vanderbilt at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network. Head coach Jeff Brohm likes to run a wide-open offense, and he loves to sprinkle in trick plays to spark drives. He did that with regularity and success at Western Kentucky.

Watch for wide receiver Rondale Moore. He’s a weapon — an elite player as a wideout, runner and returner. Last year, he was an All-American as a freshman. All he did was win the Paul Hornung Award, given to college football’s most versatile player. Purdue will move Moore all over the field pre-snap to test reactions and keep the defense’s eyes moving.

This time next week we’ll be headed to the Midwest and West Lafayette, Indiana.

Can you name famous Purdue alums?

Enjoy your weekend off, Frog fans.  Until next week,

 

Kick ‘Em High!

Patterson Leads a Seasoned Team with Depth

August 30, 2019

There’s a buzz around campus on this Friday that’s unmistakable. Opening weekend in college football carries its own flavor, its own feeling. Fans are ready. The players are very ready and, after a month in fall camp, it’s frankly a relief for all “inside the room” at TCU to get it going.

Be sure to cheer on the defense — the group is sure to make TCU's opponents miserable. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Be sure to cheer on the defense — the group is sure to make TCU’s opponents miserable. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Now comes the steady stream of opponents every seven days or so. The season waits for no one. Once you’re on the Big 12 rollercoaster, you’re on for the long haul. Win or not, injured or not, you have to be ready to go each week. That goes for the fans as well as the players. Make sure to keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. And Frog fans, make sure you show up — no matter who the team on the other side is.

TCU Football Head Coach Gary Patterson named K-State transfer Alex Delton the starter quarterback for Saturday’s game and quickly mentioned that freshman Max Duggan will see the field early in the game against UAPB. This combo gives the Frogs a tandem of experience and extreme potential at the QB spot. Delton, the elder statesmen with years of tutelage under coaching legend Bill Snyder, who performed CPR on the KSU Football program not once, but twice. The way Snyder did it was by asking his QBs to: 1. Take care of the football, 2. Sustain clock-eating drives and 3. Don’t try to do too much in the way of play-making. A similar recipe will work for Patterson, however Delton’s assortment of offensive weapons is a little more extensive that his toolbox at KSU. Duggan has a command of the offense and his arm will make him fun to watch, especially when he throws the ball deep.

TCU defense is positioned to make opponents miserable this year.

Ross Blacklock is back and depth along the defensive line is there. The play of defensive ends Ochaun Mathis and South Carolina transfer Shamiek Blackshear (who replace Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier) will be key. The good news is they look like the next big thing in a long line of stellar DE’s at TCU.

Jonathan Song closed last season with a game-winning 27-yard field goal in overtime to give TCU a 10-7 victory against Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl. TCU is relying on him again this season. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Jonathan Song closed last season with a game-winning 27-yard field goal in overtime to give TCU a 10-7 victory against Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl. TCU is relying on him again this season. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

The kicking game needs settling. Jonathan Song needs to have a great senior year or else freshman Griffin Kell will hear his name announced a lot in stadiums around the Big 12. Punter Jordy Sandy had a big-league leg and might be the Frogs’ biggest defensive weapon.

Arkansas Pine Bluff is looking to take another step in 2019 in rebuilding its football program. The SWAC Champs in 2012, UAPB struggled in recent years. Last year, the team brought in Golden Lions alumnus Cedric Thomas to turn the Titanic. UAPB went 2-9 last year and ranked third in total offense at 423.5 yards and 25 pointes per game. The team features a solid running back in first team All-SWAC selection Taeyler Porter, who ran for 1,220 yards and had seven 100-yard rushing performances. He’s paired with Missouri transfer, wide receiver Harry Ballard, who’s a large wideout at 6-3 and 205 pounds. For the quarterback position, the battle is on between last year’s starter Shannon Patrick, who was injured mid season and sophomore Skyler Perry who, as a freshman, replaced Patrick for the last eight games and threw for 1,748 yards and eight touchdowns. You’ll likely see both.

Defensively, the Golden Lions run the 4-2-5 scheme similar to the Frogs. They move well to the ball, but I’ll be watching to see how they handle the Frogs’ fleet of wide receivers. The pressure is definitely on the UAPB secondary.

It’s a 7 p.m. kickoff, but get there early. You’ll want to take it all in. It’s time. Happy New Year!

We’re on the air at 6 p.m. CT on the TCU Sports Network.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High

Reagor and Delton to Lead 2019 Frogs

August 28, 2019

TCU Spirit leads fans in cheers at a home football game. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU Spirit leads fans in cheers at a home football game. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

For some folks I talked to, it seemed like the Frogs were finishing off Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl just last week. For others, the off-season seemed like a trip to Shawshank. Regardless of where you stand in the time warp, you’re about to get a healthy dose of college football. I’m ready.

At the start of the season, everyone in college football is undefeated. From Pullman to Poughkeepsie, hopes are high. Teams are healthy, the fields are green and the wear and tear of the season is far away.

Speaking of wear and tear, I think the Frogs had enough injuries last year to make them good for 4 years. That was unreal. The volume of injuries (many season-ending) were coming in waves. In 38 years of being around TCU Football, I’d never seen anything like it. Not even in Coach FA Dry’s tenure — when we often never saw a practice in pads after October 1 — could a team afford to get hurt. The 2018 season was full of challenges. To think that the Frogs reached a bowl and won it makes it my nominee for the best coaching job that Gary Patterson & Company have ever done. They took what they had each week and, especially the last five games, figured out a way. Never gave up. Got it done. Now it’s time to “Earn the Chip,” as the Frogs’ motto for this season commands.

Jalen Reagor led the Big 12 in percentage of receptions at TCU with 30.1 percent, the highest mark by a Horned Frog in the 18-season tenure of Head Coach Gary Patterson. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Jalen Reagor led the Big 12 in percentage of receptions at TCU with 30.1 percent, the highest mark by a Horned Frog in the 18-season tenure of Head Coach Gary Patterson. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Now the 2019 season stares at us, fresh and new. Here’s what you’re going to like about these Frogs:

  • The speed. From what I’ve seen, this is Gary Patterson’s fastest TCU team EVER. Wall-to-wall, this team can run.
  • The ability to play field position. This healthy defense (along with new punter Jordy Sandy, who can flip the field with a big leg — and directional punt) will be a combination that will keep many opponents imprisoned in their own end of the field.
  • Maturity. Even though this is still a very young team, it’s a group that went through a ton of adversity last year and fought through to ultimate success. That experience can’t be duplicated with a speech in a team meeting. You have to live it, survive it and the Frogs who return from last year will play much older than their years. Experience = wins.
  • Jalen Reagor. Don’t miss a play when he touches the ball.
  • Alex Delton. The graduate transfer from Kansas State came in and won over teammates with his work ethic and attitude. He also comes from a place that put a premium on taking care of the football. After last season’s 29 fumbles (11 lost) and 15 interceptions, this quarterback job is about what a QB won’t do as much as it is about what he can do.
  • Chemistry. This team has been through a lot together and many players are happy to be back from injury and are hungry for a great year. This group is tightly-knit. Same as the other great teams in the Patterson era.

There are many more things to like about this team and several will bubble up in front of your eyes on Saturday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. We’ll take a close look at the Golden Lions on Friday.

Until then, get your game day gear ready, stay out of the heat and,

Kick ‘Em High!

41

December 5, 2018

As I sat watching the numerous memorials and tributes to President George H. W. Bush over the past days, and the memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. today, I realized how lucky I am.

TCU Chancellor William E. Tucker with Vice President George H. W. Bush and TCU Chair of the Board of Trustees Bayard Friedman on campus in 1983. Courtesy of TCU Archives.

TCU Chancellor William E. Tucker with Vice President George H. W. Bush and TCU Chair of the Board of Trustees Bayard Friedman on campus in 1983. Courtesy of TCU Archives

Lucky because I was at fall convocation at TCU’s Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Oct. 27, 1983, to hear then-Vice President George Bush deliver a speech in front of a packed house. My teammates and I were all there — Coach Jim Wacker made us go. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Wacker said. “And I better see all of you there. It’s the vice president, for cryin’ out loud.”

I was lucky to have a coach who “coached” us to be there.

It was a critical time. The U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, had just been destroyed by suicide bombers four days prior to convocation, killing 307. So soon after the terrorist attack, international tensions were high and Bush didn’t mince words. He spoke of the tragedy and the loss. He also spent a long time talking about what the U.S. response should be and not just militarily. He spoke of America’s place of leadership in the world and how we must change our approach to meet these “new challenges.” He rattled off deep knowledge of the international scene at the time and he quoted details and names with aplomb. He was strong in tone, but gentle in the message. Bush was reassuring in his address. He also spoke of how happy we was to be back in Texas. It was impressive. I remember leaving the Coliseum thinking “that’s our next president when Reagan finishes up.”

My other memory of that day came around 2:45 p.m. when it was time to go out to practice in the stadium. It was a Thursday, so we had a light day ahead. The Houston Cougars were coming to visit on Saturday. Final tune-ups and special teams work. I went out early to get a few kicks in. Stopped by the equipment window and got a bag of footballs from our equipment manager Mark Valdez ’75 and headed down the tunnel. To my surprise when I got out of the tunnel, I heard a voice from above yell, “Hey!”

I looked up and it was a sniper (Secret Service, I assume) in the southwest corner of the upper deck — he was looking toward the TCU Tennis Center when he spotted me on the field.

It was then I remembered Bush was over at the Tennis Center getting in a few sets with a group that included TCU’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Bayard Friedman (for whom the Tennis Center is now named). I immediately put my hands up and emptied out the bag of balls so he could see I was no threat. “OK!” he yelled and I went about my business working on kickoffs. With a raised heart beat.

I thought, “How cool is that — the Vice President is getting in some tennis.”

What a cool day. And a vivid memory.

Salute, sir!

Basketball Gains Momentum, Soccer Advances in NCAA Tournament

November 14, 2018

As we get over the hump this week, our attention turns to a short week and Thanksgiving. For TCU students, the semester is winding down quickly, but there’s still lots to do before Turkey Day and that tryptophan-driven nap on the couch. By the way, I love cornbread dressing with oysters in it – the best!

Alex Robinson led TCU against Oral Roberts, finishing with 23 points marking his fifth 20-point game. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Alex Robinson led TCU against Oral Roberts on Sunday, finishing with 23 points marking his fifth 20-point game. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

TCU Men’s Basketball gets back on the floor tomorrow night against Fresno State. The Frogs haven’t played the Bulldogs since the first round of the 2017 NIT when the Frogs took their first step toward the NIT crown. It was also the game in which Jaylen Fisher broke his wrist, ending his 2017 season. He’s been through some other injury issues and I’m looking forward to seeing him back on the floor soon for the Frogs. After Fresno State, the Frogs host Lipscomb Tuesday night before shutting it down for the holiday.

Women’s Basketball is off to a 2-0 start and they take on SMU at 2 p.m. Sunday at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. Congrats to Jordan Moore on becoming just the 18th player in TCU history to reach 1,000 points in a career. She had 18 in the blowout win over Mississippi Valley State.

Fall baseball is over but the season is less than 100 days away. I talked to Coach Jim Schlossnagle last night at length about his team and he said he’s looking forward to a great season with several new faces. It all kicks off on Friday, February 15 when the Frogs take on Cal-State Fullerton in Scottsdale. Our first Jim Schlossnagle Radio Show is February 12th at The Railhead.

Yazmeen Ryan, left, sealed the game for TCU's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

Yazmeen Ryan, left, sealed the game for TCU’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory Friday. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Ellman Photography

And good luck to TCU Women’s Soccer as the team goes for a second-round NCAA Tournament win over Texas A&M on Friday. The game is at 1 p.m. in Knoxville, TN. Eric Bell and his team have made history this year. Let’s hope they keep the story going with a win over the Aggies (those are always sweet).

TCU Football is getting ready to make the 83 mile trek down I-35 to Waco Saturday to take on the Bears. Baylor is playing better and head coach Matt Ruhle seems to be pulling that program out of its dive. It’ll be a huge task for this beat-up bunch of Frogs who are trying to win their last two to get bowl eligible. If they can do it, rumor has it the Frogs would end up in the Texas Bowl against an SEC team.

The Bears have several weapons on offense and we’ll get a closer look at them on Friday.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

TCU Needs Tight Coverage to Beat West Virginia

November 9, 2018

Wow, it really felt like fall this morning didn’t it? Put another log on the fire, it’s going to be a chilly weekend.

It’s also going to be chilly where the Frogs are headed. Destination: Morgantown, WV.

It’s raining there right now and tomorrow it’s going to be cloudy at Milan Puskar Stadium. A balmy high of 38.

Coolest game of the year for TCU, but it won’t be nearly as chilly as the reception that Mountaineer fans will give the Frogs on their way down the tunnel. Picture Arkansas with muskets. Mountaineer fans bring it and the Frogs better as well.

The No. 9 Mountaineers are on a roll. WVU’s offense is a machine and defense matches in strength.

The recipe for TCU's success is to go after quarterback Will Grier and keep tight coverage on Mountaineer wide receivers. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

The recipe for TCU’s success is to go after quarterback Will Grier and keep tight coverage on Mountaineer wide receivers. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Will Grier is a Heisman-level talent at quarterback. The only team that he’s lost to is Iowa State, who blitzed and blitzed and blitzed. The Cyclones were in his face so much you would’ve thought Bob Huggins was calling the defense for ISU. That’s the recipe for TCU – get after him. While you’re coming from all angles, make sure to keep an eye on the running backs for WVU.  They’re good. #6 Kennedy McKoy is speedy and catches the ball out of backfield as well. Master Blaster Martell Pettaway #32 is what the Mountaineers use to knock down the door. Then there’s the receiving corps: All-American David Sills is a former QB turned uncoverable wide receiver at 6-4. He’s a scoring machine, especially near the goal line. Marcus Simms and last week’s last-minute hero Gary Jennings, Jr. give the Frogs plenty to cover.

One of the most improved parts of the WVU team is the defense — in the top four of all Big 12 defensive stat categories that count: rushing defense, pass defense, total defense and what they allow opponents to tack on the scoreboard. The Mountaineers run an interesting 3-3-5 scheme that’s designed to confuse, combat and confound. And they do it well. Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson had to rebuild in the offseason and his personnel decisions have been spot-on. They’ve also stayed healthy through the first eight games. That helps.

The Frogs need a fast start as WVU loves to jump on opponents and run away. West Virginia averages 27.7 FIRST HALF points at home this year. Again, a fast start for the Frogs is a must. Sustain drives, eat the clock, play keep-away. Throw in a trick play.

I’m looking for the usual slobber-knocker that we always see when the Frogs and Mountaineers tee it up. It seems there’s a healthy rivalry between these two junior members of the Big 12, who both joined in 2012.

Joe D. Denton was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Courtesy of John Denton

Joe D. Denton was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Courtesy of John Denton

Also, before I run, a shout-out to all our veterans on this Veterans Day weekend. Veterans are different. Special. They’ve been places and done things that most of us haven’t done. More than anything, they are there for us and the U.S. I have several family members who served, including my dad, Joe Denton, U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1940s. I love this photo of him — it says so much about him and that time when nothing was guaranteed in the 1940s. Thanks, Dad, for the guarantee. He’s 94 now and part of that special group that served proudly without second thought.

Salute!

We’re on the air Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. Join Brian, a chilly Landry Burdine on the field and me on the TCU Sports Network.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!