September 15, 2017
When it’s all said and done tomorrow at Amon G. Carter Stadium, that’s how many times TCU and SMU will have played football against each other. For SMU, there’s no other school they’ve played more than TCU. And no other team they’d love to beat more. This is SMU’s most talented and weapon-laden team since the death penalty put the Ponies out of business in 1987 and ’88. More on them later.
It is fun to think back on this series and ponder the history. They’ve been playing since 1915. In 1918, heavy rains in Fort Worth and Dallas left the roads impassable. TCU had to forfeit because the team’s bus got stuck in the mud before reaching Dallas. TCU’s own Dan Jenkins ’53 is still not over the heartbreak of that 20-14 SMU victory in the 1935 “Game of the Century,” as it was known. Facing fourth and seven, SMU punter Bobby Finely dropped back as if to punt, but threw a long pass to running back Bobby Wilson between two Horned Frogs at the goal line. The “$85,000 Pass” as it became known, sent the Mustangs to the Rose Bowl. Frog fans were stunned. SMU’s Doak Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 – he’s the reason they put upper decks on the Cotton Bowl stadium. Then there’s “Mustang Mania” (the brain child of marketing guru Brad Thomas) from the late 1970s and early ’80s, when SMU moved to Texas Stadium in Irving to give the program some “splash.” Head coach Ron Meyer built a power house that featured Craig James and Eric Dickerson in the backfield. SMU nearly won the national championship before the wheels came off in the mid-’80s
Then there’s the 1997 TCU-SMU game. A 21-18 TCU win that didn’t decide anything other than SMU wouldn’t be going to a bowl and the Frogs wouldn’t end the season without a win. Freshman running back LaDainian Tomlinson ’05 popped onto the scene in that game. I point to that game because it was a pivotal point in the divergent paths that these programs would take over the next 20 years. The next year, Dennis Franchione showed up at TCU and brought a defensive coordinator named Gary Patterson with him. The Frogs beat the University of Southern California in the 1998 Sun Bowl. TCU was launched on a trajectory that, years later, landed the Frogs in the Big 12. SMU went 5-7 and won just 14 games over the next five years, including 0-12 in 2003.
Chad Morris is SMU’s fifth head coach since that 1997 game and his third edition looks like the best SMU squad in quite some time. They’ve scored 112 points in their first two wins.
On SMU’s offense, the one guy you need to keep an eye on is wide receiver #16 Courtland Sutton. He’s a tall, rangy wideout who is SMU’s version of Josh Doctson ’15. And a projected first-rounder in next year’s National Football League draft. Last week, Sutton passed SMU legend Jerry Levias on the all-time SMU receiving touchdown list. SMU’s other weapons include wideouts #15 Alex Honey (another 6-4 receiver) and #3 James Proche. Running backs #6 Braeden West and #5 Xavier Jones are capable, but the offensive line has not opened holes consistently for them in the first two games.
Defensively, SMU leads with its defensive line. Ends #40 Dimarya Mixon and #99 Jason Lawler anchor the defense and give SMU a pressure component. The linebackers are led by #11 Kyran Mitchell who plays the STAR position (hybrid linebacker/safety) in SMU’s 4-3 scheme. The secondary is young with just two upperclassmen in the depth chart.
Quarterback Kenny Hill prepares for another play in the season opener against Jackson State. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
The Frogs will need to control SMU’s defensive line and allow Kenny Hill to get off to another good start. Hill settled in last week at Arkansas and the Frog offense took over the game in the second quarter, allowing Arkansas to run just six plays in the quarter. Six! A continuation of the power running game will offset the SMU edge rush.
On defense, the Frogs need to pressure Ponies’ quarterback Ben Hicks and make him uncomfortable early. Courtland Sutton is a great wide receiver who can take over a game. Rest assured he will have a lot of passes aimed his way. He’s strong with the ball. Great coverage will be key as Hicks will work to get rid of the ball in a hurry to counter the Frogs’ pressure. Sacks will have to come as a result of great coverage in the back half that forces Hicks to hold the ball. I remind you that SMU has multiple playmakers that bear watching as well.
Did You Know:
See you at “The Carter.” Don’t forget to wear white.
More in: football
September 13, 2017
The Horned Frogs treated us all to a delicious afternoon last Saturday in Fayetteville with a 28-7 win. TCU controlled the game throughout and did what they had to do to win on the road: they got off to a hot start, played great on third down on both sides of the ball, dominated time of possession and were more physical than their opponent. The running game was especially impressive. The Frogs wore down Arkansas and finished them off in the fourth quarter. Textbook road win.
I loved CBS’ Brad Nessler’s comment about Sewo Olonilua’s touchdown run at the end of the game: “That’s 13 yards of carnage right there.” I wish I’d said it.
What I left Arkansas thinking:
Travin Howard and Coach Gary Patterson discuss a play on the sidelines during TCU’s season opener against Jackson State.Photo by Glen E. Ellman
Games come quickly and this week it’s the Iron Skillet. SMU-TCU will play for the 97th time. There’s a lot of history in this series and this is probably the most intriguing match-up in quite some time. SMU is improved and can score points. It’s the first time since 1985 that the Frogs and Mustangs meet as undefeated teams.
Coach Gary Patterson confirmed that he has told the Frogs the story of the 2005 game, a 21-10 SMU upset of a TCU team that has just beaten Oklahoma the week before. It was the Frogs’ only loss in that 11-1 season.
This is game three of what Coach Patterson calls the “Four Game Season” which is how he describes this first segment of the schedule. An in-depth look at SMU is coming Friday.
September 8, 2017
Hello, Horned Frogs fans…..It’s FRIDAY! That’s what the great Paul Harvey used to sign on with every Friday – I sure miss him.
In TCU’s season opener versus Jackson State, helmets donned a special message for Houston after the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Category Four Hurricane Irma has now ripped through the Bahamas and Cuba on its way to Florida.Photo by Glen E. Ellman
Head for the Hills seems to be the theme for the week. Folks in Florida are heading for higher ground as Hurricane Irma approaches and the Frogs are headed to the Ozarks to take on the Razorbacks of Arkansas.
The Frogs haven’t played in Fayetteville since 1988 and TCU’s last win at Razorback Stadium came in 1984. The 32-31 upset by the ’84 Frogs set TCU on its way to that “UN-BELEEEVABLE” year and an 8-3 record. It was my senior year at TCU and many of us on the team hadn’t experienced a lot of road wins; Two, count ‘em, in four plus seasons up to that day. The win at Arkansas was one for the ages. Current TCU defensive line coach Dan Sharp caught a touchdown pass. Down 31-17, the Frogs drove into the wind for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to draw within 31-30 with 11 seconds left in the game. Coach Jim Wacker decided to go for the win. Frogs quarterback Anthony Gulley took the snap, avoided a sack and rolled to his right on the 2-point conversion. He found wide receiver James Maness in the back right corner of the south end zone to make it 32-31 TCU. And the whiskey bottles began flying. The Frogs had made a statement.
I’m looking for another great day in Fayetteville on Saturday. Razorback Stadium will be rocking and the environment will be full-on college football. The players will have no problem getting motivated for this one. It’s a big-time atmosphere and a perfect stage for the Frogs to impress a national audience on CBS.
Arkansas is still the same as you remember. They’re still big and they like to line up on offense and run it right at you. You’ll never see the Hogs without a tight end in the formation. They like to utilize a fullback and run a lot of lead draws and straight-ahead running plays. The offensive line averages 309 and quarterback Austin Allen has a command of the offense. He should – he’s a coach’s kid and he’s the best passer in the Southeast Conference. Tailback #2 Chase Hayden is the best of the running backs and he’s a big play weapon, both running and catching the ball. (WATCH ALERT: Arkansas loves to run old-fashioned screens to the running backs – look for that). The receivers are solid with no standouts but watch out for #6 T.J. Hammonds, he’s Arkansas’s Shawn Nixon – very versatile.
On Defense, the Hogs have a new coordinator in Paul Rhoads. You’ll remember him as the former head coach at Iowa State from 2009-2015. He has changed the Hogs from a 4-3 scheme to a new 3-4 scheme designed to put pressure on the quarterback and defend against spread attacks. This scheme is a “Bend, Don’t Break” scheme that will blitz when threatened. They’re big up front, averaging 309 pounds. Missing from the lineup will be the Hogs’ best corner, Ryan Pulley, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury suffered last week in the 49-7 win over Florida A&M.
Razorback Stadium has changed from natural grass to an artificial surface so it will be a fast track. The stadium, which opened in 1938, has been enlarged since Southwest Conference days when it held 44,000. It now seats over 70,000 and features 134 suites. And it’s loud.
The temperature should be around 80 at kickoff with clear skies.
If you’re going to Fayetteville, make sure to stop at Herman’s Ribhouse on College Street. There’s no sign – they don’t need one. Just look for the crowds.
See you there!
September 6, 2017
The Frogs are over the first big hill on the college football roller coaster with their win over Jackson State. Now things get rolling really fast. Hold on tight!
And just like that – Arkansas and a trip to Fayetteville are three days away. I love Fayetteville – it’s a good town and the stadium along Razorback Road is a great setting. Much like at TCU, the stadium still sits on the same site. The main difference is it now seats 70,000+ instead of the 44,000 it used to seat back in the old Southwest Conference days.
Last weekend was a wild one around the state of Texas with the season in full bloom. Interesting outcomes in Austin and Waco and a heart-breaking loss by West Virginia mean that Big 12 teams need to get going in the win column, especially against early season non-conference foes.
After the Frogs defeated Jackson State, I was on my way to the Rose Bowl to see the Aggies take on UCLA in the most talked-about game of the week. And, yes, I was cheering for the Aggies – they’re from Texas. You should pull for them, too. Remember, their move to the Southeast Conference opened up a seat at the Big 12 table. Without the Aggies’ move and Chris Del Conte’s swiftness, where might TCU be today?
The game reminded me of the Alamo Bowl as the Aggies controlled the game for 35 minutes, then it started to rain and the Bruins had new life and all the luck. Leaving the Rose Bowl, I still wasn’t sure what just happened. My advice for the Aggies: RUN the football. They have three talented backs who can take over games and help keep the A&M defense off the field.
Of course, no visit to the Rose Bowl would be complete without a visit to the Rose Bowl’s Court of Champions which features the winners of every Rose Bowl. It’s special to see all that history and even more moving to see TCU’s plaque on the wall. Believe me, I showed all my Aggie friends!
Photo by John Denton
Ironically, the same two head coaches from that 2011 Rose Bowl square off Saturday in Fayetteville. Friday, I’ll preview the Frogs & Hogs.
September 1, 2017
Before we kickoff this year of Extra Points, let me send out encouragement to all along the Gulf Coast who are trying to make it in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Our prayers are with all of you for strength. Let me also say that LaDainian Tomlinson’s suggestion of all of us becoming “Team America” in his NFL Hall of Fame Induction speech has indeed been on display. And it’s a powerful thing to see. Makes one proud to be an American and a Texan. Too bad it takes a disaster to get us all on the same page.
Ty Summers, Kenny Hill and Montrel Wilson pose at the 2017 Big 12 Media Days in August. Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics.
The long wait is almost over! TCU Football is a mere handful of hours away. Last December 3o, the date of the Liberty Bowl, seems like year ago, doesn’t it?
It’s all new, and as I begin my 38th year around Horned Frog Football, the anticipation of a new season of big plays and elevated heart rates begs a few questions for which we will soon have answers:
The Jackson State Tigers come in off of a 3-8 record last year. The Tigers lost five games that were decided by one possession.
Defense is the calling card for the Tigers, with two great defensive linemen leading the way. Jackson State runs a 4-3 set, and there’s speed aplenty. Look for defensive end #14 Keontre Anderson, who led the FCS with 26 tackles for loss. His line mate is recent Mississippi State transfer, #55 Deion Pope. Linebacker #9 Andre Lloyd is a playmaker.
The Tigers run a multiple offense that relies on lots of formations and a stable of running backs led by #17 Jordan Johnson. He averaged 6.4 yards-per-carry last year as a freshman.
Quarterback is still a bit of a question for Jackson State, and the Frogs will see two quarterbacks tomorrow. Sophomore Brent Lyles will start, but Jackson State coach Tony Hughes is waiting to discover a long-term answer at the position.
Hughes told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Wednesday that the game plan is for junior college transfer Jarrad Hayes to see some playing time as well.
Did You Know?
Jackson State is home to three NFL Hall of Famers? Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, Jackie Slater of the Los Angeles Rams and Lem Barney (Detroit Lions) all honed their skills at JSU.
It’s the season opener. Feels like Christmas Eve, doesn’t it! Get there early and be loud as Coach P goes for win number 150.
Kick ‘Em High!
March 30, 2017
Today is March 30, and I wake up in Manhattan on a historic day for TCU Basketball. It’s also the latest date that TCU Basketball has ever played a game. Heck, the Masters is next week!!
Junior guard Kenrich Williams leaps over UCF’s 7-6 center Tacko Fall in the Frogs’ 68-53 win in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Tonight’s NIT Championship final vs. Georgia Tech is the last game in a “Season of Firsts” under new head coach Jamie Dixon.
Jamie Dixon’s 2016-17 Horned Frog basketball team is competing for a NIT championship.
Consider these tidbits, submitted for your perusal:
TCU guard Alex Robinson maneuvers around UCF’s Tacko Fall.
And tonight the Frogs can win a post-season tournament for the first time in school history … Not to mention ending a season with a win for the first time in the “tournament era” (45 years).
Brian Estridge and I will be there for Game No. 39, just as we have been all year. It’s been quite a ride. You can find us on KTCU and on ESPN 103.3 FM at 6:30 CT.
TCU freshman Desmond Bane blocks a UCF shot in the second half of the Horned Frogs’ NIT semifinal victory.
More in: basketball
February 24, 2017
When I was a kid, there were two Saturday afternoon television shows that used to draw my attention because of the variety of topics they would cover: The CBS Sports Spectacular and ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I wonder if today’s kids and millennials know of the guy spiraling off the ski jump in the Wide World of Sports opener just as Jim McKay says, “The thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat.” Classic stuff.
9 a.m. – Beach Volleyball Purple-White Scrimmage (bring your jacket)
1 p.m. – Men’s Tennis hosts the University of Central Florida
1 p.m. – Men’s Basketball hosts No. 12 West Virginia in the biggest game of the year. (Win and they’re in the NCAA Tournament – my opinion.)
4 p.m. – TCU Baseball goes after win number five vs. a historic Arizona State program. Freshman Nick Lodolo with pitch.
7 p.m. – You can finish your TCU Athletics pentathlon with dessert at Schollmaier Arena as TCU Women’s Basketball hosts Oklahoma.
TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon ’87. Dixon was hired in March 2016, becoming the 22nd coach in the program’s history. Photo by Leo Wesson
Because I usually focus on the sport at its most critical point of the season, I’ll focus on Men’s Basketball.
Jamie Dixon and the Frogs need you at Schollmaier Arena tomorrow. A win over No. 12 WVU would be the signature win the Frogs need — a boulder falling into the NCAA pond that would ripple across the projections and land TCU on the tournament shore.
Bring your loud voice, slick back your hair like Coach Dixon and be there for the team that has broken through barriers all year – some of them 30 years old. The Frogs are looking for conference win number seven tomorrow. Help them get that lucky number. Then they face Kansas State at home and Oklahoma on the road a week from tomorrow; both are winnable. Then it’s off to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament.
Twenty wins is within reach, but it starts with everyone all in for the 18th win tomorrow.
No scouting report for you on Press Virginia – this one is about you and the Frogs. Fans, all 6,700 of you, and Jamie’s five on the floor.
See you there at noon. For the thrill of victory.
Kick Em High!
December 24, 2016
Merry Christmas, Frog Fans! Here’s my gift to you as we count our blessings at Christmas and turn our attention to the Liberty Bowl. Make the trip, if you can. The Frogs need your support! See you on the radio in Memphis!
For your listening pleasure:
Twas the night before Memphis, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The Frogs’ jerseys were hung in each locker with care,
In hopes that a Liberty Bowl win soon would happen there.
The Horned Frogs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of bowl rings danced in their heads.
And Coach P in his visor, and the rest of the staff
Had just settled in for a long pregame nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the water of the Mighty Mississip’
Gave the luster of midday, I was glad I made the trip.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a big Cadillac, and Rock ‘n Roll I could hear.
With a drive-up so cool, and a shake of his pelvis
I knew in a moment it had to be Elvis!
He was a Frog fan, this singer of fame
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now, Turpin! Now, Schlottman! Now, Summers and Austin!
On, Howard! On, Hill! On, Hicks and Johnson!
To the top of the scoreboard! To the snap of the ball!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
He was dressed all in white, a jumpsuit quite bold,
And his clothes sparkled with sequins and a necklace of gold .
A bundle of game plans he had flung on his back,
And he looked around the team room and opened his pack.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the lockers, then turned with a jerk.
And trying on a jersey, he didn’t know what to do
Pointed skyward and yelled…. “Riff Ram Bah Zoo!!!!”
He sprang to his Caddy, to his entourage gave a whistle,
And away they all ran like the down of a thistle.
And Elvis exclaimed, as he drove out of view,
“Happy Memphis you Frogs, Give ‘em Hell, TCU!”
Kick ’em High!!
December 16, 2016
Here’s part two of our tour through the bowls:
Part one is here.
Thursday, December 29
South Florida vs. South Carolina
Gamecocks rock Legion Field.
Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente has answers.
Colorado vs. Oklahoma State
Cowboys eek out a close one.
Friday, December 30
TCU vs. Georgia
Frogs get another bowl win over a SEC team.
Stanford vs. North Carolina
UNC always plays well in El Paso.
Music City Bowl:
Nebraska vs. Tennessee
Huskers strum a tune on the Vols.
South Alabama vs. Air Force
Falcons back on target.
Michigan vs. Florida State
Coach Harbaugh is still mad. His Wolverines are too.
Saturday, December 31
LSU vs. Louisville
Mike the Tiger doesn’t care who won the Heisman.
Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
Ramblin’ Wreck’s option game too taxing for Wildcats.
PLAYOFF SEMI-FINAL GAMES:
Washington vs. Alabama
Tide still too strong, no matter how husky Washington tries to get.
Ohio State vs. Clemson
Football gods right a wrong and Clemson gets another shot at Bama.
Monday, January 2
Florida vs. Iowa
Hawkeyes excited, Gators bored.
Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan
Badgers love MAC & cheese.
USC vs. Penn State
Nittany Lions are an angry bunch. (See TCU in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl).
Oklahoma vs. Auburn
Sooners’ Boom rattles the Tigers, er … Eagles … that still confuses me.
Monday, January 9
College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Tampa Bay:
Alabama vs. Clemson
Tigers’ hunger, plus a few ill-timed turnovers do ‘Bama in.
Thanks for reading Extra Points throughout 2016. I hope you get something out of the entries, and I’m looking forward to a great 2017. Until then….
Merry Christmas to All.
And to All,
December 15, 2016
There are 40 bowl games in all, not counting the National Championship game. Let’s take a look at the first half today and pick winners. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the other half.
Winners are in BOLD.
Saturday, December 17:
New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico vs. UTSA
New Mexico is tough at home. Bob Davie has done a nice job.
Las Vegas Bowl
Houston vs. San Diego State
Tough draw for Houston, especially after Tom Herman’s exit.
Central Florida vs Arkansas State
Red Wolves are for real, especially on offense.
Toledo vs. Appalachian State
Watch out for Yosef! (look it up)
Grambling vs. North Carolina Central
New Orleans Bowl
Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Golden Eagles roll.
Monday, December 19:
Miami Beach Bowl:
Tulsa vs. Central Michigan
As Gordon Lightfoot says, “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down ….” Not today.
Tuesday, December 20
Boca Raton Bowl:
Western Kentucky vs. Memphis
Tigers make the Hilltoppers blue.
Wednesday, December 21
BYU vs. Wyoming
Cowboy Joe parties in San Diego! Powder River!!
Thursday, December 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:
Idaho vs. Colorado State
Rams over the Vandals.
Friday, December 23
Armed Forces Bowl:
Louisiana Tech vs. Navy
Navy rights the ship. They’re good.
Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion
Dollar General Bowl:
Ohio vs. Troy
Still wondering why Nebraska ran off Frank Solich. He’s really good.
Saturday, December 24
Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee
Great place to visit, tough place to play.
Monday, December 26
St. Petersburg Bowl:
Mississippi State vs. Miami (OH)
Bulldogs slip by a well-coached Redhawks team.
Quick Lane Bowl:
Maryland vs. Boston College
N. C. State vs. Vanderbilt
Tuesday, December 27
Heart of Dallas Bowl:
Army vs. North Texas
Army green outshines the Mean Green.
Temple vs. Wake Forest
Owls have the plan.
Washington State vs. Minnesota
Cougs and Mike Leach have a day at the beach.
Boise State vs. Baylor
Broncos are sneaky good.
Wednesday, December 28
Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
Pat Fitzgerald does a great job.
Russell Athletic Bowl:
Miami vs. West Virginia
Mountaineers are really good.
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
Bill Snyder says, “Come in, Houston ….”
Foster Farms Bowl:
Utah vs. Indiana
Utes are too much for wounded Indiana.
I’ll pick the other 16 games plus the National Championship tomorrow.
John Denton has been the color analyst for the TCU Sports Network from IMG since 1988. A former standout for the Horned Frog football team, Denton went from walk-on to a four-year lettermen as a kicker and punter for the Purple and White from 1981-84 and completed his career at the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl. Shown here with his former coach, the late Jim Wacker, Denton currently serves as the Director of Major Gifts for TCU Athletics.