October 9, 2015
It’s the halfway point in the regular season, and here’s what to look for (along with a few musical references) as the Frogs are On The Road Again (Willie Nelson) to a place they’ve not yet won in as a member of the Big 12.
Coming off the explosive win over Texas, Coach P hinted that the light is starting go on for some of his young defensive players. I’d say so.
It’s That Time of the Season (The Zombies) when players hit another gear mentally and you can tell the difference. A lot of it has to do with the consulting firm of Pierson & Tuaua, experts in adding heart and fuel to defense.
The offense has hit another gear as well and running like a new Mercedes! A surprisingly explosive running game has been complimented as expected by the air game and Josh Doctson. But it’s the New Kid in Town (Eagles), KaVontae Turpin whose time has come.
Kansas State is as beat up on offense as the Frogs have been on defense, and the next new quarterback they run out will be their sixth of 2015.
Keys for the Frogs are to start fast and take advantage of their speed. Defensively, the Frogs have to get K-State off the field, or they’ll play “keep away” and shorten the game.
Bill Snyder is a master game planner, and he’ll have his beat-up troop ready to face the Purple Rain (Prince). The Frogs only win in Manhattan came in 1985 by a score of 24-22. Hopefully, this will be The Second Time Around (Sinatra).
See you on the radio at 5:30 p.m. on the TCU Sports Network, live from Manhattan.
Kick ‘Em High!
October 2, 2015
Happy Homecoming, Horned Frogs!
In a Homecoming game matchup that never would have happened in my day, the Frogs welcome the Texas Longhorns to Amon G. Carter Stadium for an 11 o’clock kick. It’s Breakfast at The Carter!!!
I’m surprised a bit by the early kick time, given that the Frogs are No. 4 in the nation, and Texas always draws a huge audience. But the upside is that the Frogs/Horns are nationwide on ABC as soon as “ESPN College Gameday” is over.
This game features two teams battling different sets of problems and challenges. The Frogs are clinging to a Top 5 ranking without most of their defensive starters and young players are getting a lot of “OJT” (see footnote). The Horns, on the other hand, are just trying to find the inside pieces to the puzzle — and their season has been puzzling so far — to all Orangebloods.
After looking a gear behind against Notre Dame, Texas has looked better the last three weeks. They’re improving, but they’ve been victimized by meltdowns on fourth down that involve putting foot to leather — a missed PAT against Cal that would have sent the game to overtime, and last week, the punter failed to follow Step 1 in The Punting Handbook: CATCH THE SNAP.
Nonetheless, Charlie Strong’s crew will come in and play hard, believing that the odds are going to swing in their favor sooner than later. Speaking of Sooner, Oklahoma awaits the ‘Horns next week in Dallas. But don’t think for a minute that the Horns will be looking ahead. They’re focused on the Frogs, and here’s how they’ll attack TCU:
It was great to see TCU defensive tackle Davion Pierson bring attitude to the Frogs defense last week. You might see Mike Tuaua back on the field this week doing the same.
For the Frogs, I think they just need to keep doing what they’re doing. They are starting to find real rhythm on offense. Saturday could be another one of those record days of 700-plus yards of total offense.
Defensively, the Frogs are getting better each week. Experience earned now will pay huge dividends down the stretch.
Have a great Homecoming Weekend, enjoy the great weather, and …
Kick ‘Em High!!!!
September 25, 2015
As we head to the South Plains for a visit with Texas Technical College (Tech’s original name), both teams are approaching this game from different places than what might have been anticipated before the season.
Tech is 3-0 and hot, coming off a win over Arkansas (in Fayetteville) last weekend. Their offense is back to its old self, and the defense is showing signs of improvement, especially creating turnovers. Tech still has trouble stopping the run (more on that later), but new defensive coordinator David Gibbs may just be the “offseason hire of the year” in the Big 12. He’s definitely had an impact.
A sold-out crowd will greet the Frogs Saturday afternoon at AT&T Jones Stadium. It will be loud, and Tech fans, believing that their team should be ranked, will be ready to distract the No. 2/3 Frogs.
Taking the crowd out of the game will be key. That means a fast start by the offense.
Here are some other huge factors to the game:
Dinner’s at The Fifty Yard Line steakhouse tonight…a Lubbock legend.
September 18, 2015
If you like dual-threat quarterback, then Saturday night’s 95th edition of TCU-SMU is the ticket for you.
Trevone Boykin, TCU’s Heisman Trophy candidate, will match skills with the Ponies’ athletic signal caller Matt Davis. Ironically, both had to fight for their quarterback lives at one point in their careers. You know the story of Boykin and his path from quarterback to wide receiver to taking on Matt Joekel for the starting role in 2014 to exploding on the college football world.
But Matt Davis’ path is even more circuitous. Davis was signed by Mike Sherman to play at Texas A&M. When Kevin Sumlin showed up as the new head coach in College Station, and Johnny Football exploded as Aggie signal caller, then Davis decided he better look elsewhere for work. So he transferred to Tyler Junior College for a year, then landed at SMU where he saw his first action last year. If you count them up, new SMU head coach Chad Morris is Davis’ fifth coach in his college career.
Well, don’t feel too sorry for Davis. He’s landed quite nicely at a place that wants him and is playing for a coach that wants to be at SMU. Head coach Chad Morris has pumped lift into the SMU program, and he has the Mustangs believing they can compete and win. An Art Briles starter kit, Morris cut his coaching teeth with 15-plus years as a Texas high school coach before moving on to Tulsa and then Clemson as an offensive coordinator. He will mend recruiting fences in Texas that were abandoned and left to rust under June Jones.
Matchup #1: Davis vs. the TCU defense — Morris has installed an offense in which Davis can thrive. SMU will line up and run the ball. Yes, I said run the ball straight at you. They’ll throw it, too. They call it Pony Up Tempo and Davis is the key. So far he’s done most of his damage running with the football when four and five wideouts fail to get open and he has to take off. He’s averaging 120 yards per game on the ground so far. Davis is a great decision-maker and he will spread out and test TCU’s ability to contain.
Matchup #2: Boykin vs. the SMU secondary — Much like TCU, SMU’s defensive strength is its defensive line. They are large and they are improved. Beyond the line, things get murky for the Mustangs. That’s where Boykin and the Horned Frog receiving corps should have room to work. SMU has struggled in coverage. They prefer to play a lot of man-to-man, but have resorted to zone coverages to try to minimize the big plays prevalent in their loss to Baylor.
History Lesson: TCU and SMU began their series in 1915. The Frogs hold a 47-40-7 lead and have won 13 of the last 16. There has been one forfeit in the series in 1918 when heavy rains left roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in terrible shape with many impassable. On the way to Dallas, the Frogs’ bus got stuck in the mud, and the team couldn’t make it to the stadium. So TCU had to forfeit the game, officially a 1-0 loss.
September 11, 2015
The Frogs open the 2015 home slate tomorrow against Stephen F. Austin, and it’s already apparent that this is a different year. Last year, the Frogs got on a roll with a new offense and the blessing of little or no injuries until late in the season.
It’s Week 2 for the Frogs, and they already have taken hits to the two-deep, including two linebackers — an area that Coach P and the defensive staff were already working on. Junior linebacker Sammy Douglas is gone for the year due to injury, and freshman Mike Freeze has taken a leave of absence. Along the defensive line, it was announced that Peach Bowl juggernaut James McFarland is likely done for the year with a broken toe. All this news leads me to the key matchup for TCU vs. SFA: TCU’s defensive front 6 vs SFA’s experienced offensive line.
SFA returns all five starters along their offensive line. Two juniors and three seniors who have played 151 games combined and 115 starts. They know what they’re doing, and they’re the key to SFA’s offensive hopes on Saturday. TCU’s defensive line will need to be great as they try to confuse SFA and protect the Frogs’ young linebacker corps. SFA quarterback Zach Conque (pronounced Konk) is the head coach’s son, and he’s a big dual-threat QB who has two good receivers in Aaron Thomas and Robert Sylvester. They throw it around. Eight different ‘Jacks caught passes last week.
On offense, the Frogs and their fans will be looking to light the roman candle on the 2015 version of the “Meacham Field” air attack. Wide receiver Josh Doctson told me that he didn’t have a good game against Minnesota and that he had a lot to work on this week. I’ll remind you that Josh had eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown … and he’s not satisfied. I like his attitude, and my guess is that the entire offense (coaches Meacham and Cumbie included) feel the same way. I look for a much smoother, faster, swishy showing tomorrow.
By the way, I was asked this week, “Who was Stephen F. Austin?”
OK … Stephen Fuller Austin is known as the “Father of Texas.” A Yale-educated statesman who, along with his father, Moses, gained approval to bring 300 American families into the Mexican colony known as Texas. He chose an area consisting of 200,000 acres between the lower Colorado River and the Brazos River for his settlement. He spent time in prison at the hands of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna and later served as a commander in the Texas Revolutionary Army. He saw Texas through from a colony to an independent republic, and he lost the Texas presidential election to Sam Houston in the fall of 1836. The state capital is named for him … Austin.
A little football and a little history for you.
Kick ’Em High!
September 3, 2015
It’s finally here! Frog Fans, you’ve waited since New Year’s Eve to get another taste and now the 2015 TCU Football season is about to pop out of the oven.
Tonight’s lid-lifter at Minnesota kicks at 8:10 p.m. CT, and the sell-out at TCF Stadium will be ready for your Frogs – know that.
Some things to concentrate on as you prep for kickoff:
1. First games are always scary. It’s an equalizer, much like rain or inclement weather. Anything can happen. It’s the first, true, full-speed exercise of the year. Sure, teams have been practicing for a month, but there’s nothing like that first game to knock off the rust.
2. Matchup to Watch: TCU’s offensive line vs. Minnesota’s front 6 – this is key as TCU wants to protect quarterback Trevone Boykin and execute its offense. If Minnesota’s going to stay in this game and impart their will to slow down the game, then the Gopher’s defense is going to have to be stellar.
3. Matchup Watch II: TCU’s rebuilt secondary vs. Minnesota’s young/inexperienced wide receivers. Will the real players please stand up? Thursday night will be a proving ground for these two groups and, while Minnesota still wants to run it most of the time, they installed some “hurry-up” to the offense in the off-season that includes emphasis on the short passing game.
4. Kicking game – it’s one of the hardest parts (and for coaches, the scariest) part of the game, especially in first games. This is where turnovers are found and games turn. The team that’s secure with the ball in this phase always wins.
The Frogs are being led into 2015 by their offense. This is a switch from what we usually get. Defense rules. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Coach P and the defensive staff have a whole lot more fun calling defenses when the offense is putting up 40+ points a game. Will it happen at Minnesota? It could. The weather will be perfect for a high-octane night.
Minnesota is better than you think. They have improved each year that Jerry Kill has been head coach. They’ve had back-to-back 8-5 seasons and they’re starting to complete for the Big 10 title. Last year, it was Minnesota who gave Ohio State their only real battle late in conference play. Not Michigan, not Wisconsin, not Michigan State. Bear that in mind as you settle into your seat tonight.
All this being said, I think the Frogs win and get off the launch pad in style. They have to.
August 20, 2015
Ol’ No. 15, John Denton, begins his 27th year on the TCU Sports Network broadcast crew this week with a look at the Top 15 games in Gary Patterson’s 15 years as head coach. The games selected are based on impact on the program and key turning points, not just wins.
1. Southern Miss 2001 – This was the thrilling game that put Gary Patterson’s first team in a bowl game (GalleryFurniture.com Bowl vs. Texas A&M) and vaulted season-opening opponent Nebraska into the National Championship game. You’re welcome, Cornhuskers! A long touchdown pass with a circus catch by Adrian Madise was the difference in putting the Frogs on top. TCU 14, Southern Miss 12!
2. Louisville 2002 – After a Labor Day weekend stumble at Cincinnati, the Frogs rolled off five wins to set up a big CUSA matchup with Louisville. The Cardinals had just knocked off a Top-5 ranked Florida State team and seemed poised to make big noise nationally until TCU showed up in Louisville on a wet, rainy Saturday in mid-October. The Frogs came out and jumped on Louisville and the stunned crowd at Papa John Stadium booed them to the halftime locker room, with the Frogs up, 38-6. Ricky Madison rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown and Lonta Hobbs ran for 106 yards. The Frogs held Louisville, the same team that had run through Florida State, to minus-26 yards rushing. TCU 45 Louisville 31.
3. Liberty Bowl 2002 – This was an old-fashioned defensive battle in Memphis on New Year’s Eve that saw the Frogs lock down Colorado State’s Cecil Sapp, one of the nation’s top running backs. The Rams were held to 89 yards rushing for the game. Quarterback Sean Stilley, who led the Frogs to their first bowl win since the 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl, hit LaTarence Dunbar with a 15-yard TD pass just before halftime. Running back Ricky Madison added a touchdown in the second half on his way to 111 yards rushing. Nick Browne added a 25-yard field goal late to round out the scoring. It was also the Horned Frogs’ 500th victory in school history. TCU 17 No. 23 Colorado State 3.
4. Louisville – 2003 – The first game that really stoked TCU’s BCS fire pitted the No. 12 Horned Frogs against No. 25 Louisville in a Wednesday night showdown on ESPN. “The difference in that game was about three inches,” coach Gary Patterson said after the Frogs beat the Cardinals again, 31-28, when Nate Smith’s 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game bounced off the cross bar. TCU quarterback Brandon Hassell, filling in for injured Ty Gunn, passed for 251 yards and a touchdown while running for another score. Reggie Harrell caught eight passes for 128 yards. When it was all done, TCU was 9-0 for the first time since 1938 and was one of two undefeated teams left in college football. (No. 1 Oklahoma was the other.) The Frogs also ran their win streak to 11 games. Amon G. Carter Stadium and the TCU campus was abuzz all day prior to the game and the drama that ensued did not disappoint. Brian Estridge exclaimed on-air, “The Frogs are still alive as BCS Busters!”
5. Tulane 2004 – This game was a shocking and painful end to an up-and-down year for TCU. Tulane scored on the last drive of the game to pull off the upset, 35-31. One TCU assistant called it a “kick to the mid-section that we needed.” In the offseason, Gary Patterson went through his program with a fine-toothed comb and laid the groundwork for an eight-year bowl run with 83 wins that was unmatched in the state of Texas.
6. Oklahoma 2005 – This one was a gigantic boom across the college football landscape that signaled TCU’s entry into the Mountain West Conference. The Frogs entered this season opener as a huge underdog and used its speed and the lingering bitter taste of the 2004 season to fuel a defensive effort that confused and dazed the No. 5-ranked Sooners. 2004 Heisman runner-up Adrian Peterson was held to 63 yards on 22 carries. TCU’s Ty Gunn threw for 226 yards and a touchdown to Derek Moore. Peter LoCoco kicked a 25-yard field goal, and Robert Merrill scored the decisive score on a 2-yard run with 11:56 left. And the Frogs did it in Norman! Nobody wins in Norman. It was the Frogs’ biggest upset in 45 years and launched the 2005 season, which ended in a conference championship. TCU 17, No. 5 Oklahoma 10.
7. Houston Bowl 2005 – In the bowl game that year, the Horned Frogs notched their second win over a quality Big 12 opponent. No. 14 Iowa State was a high-powered team, but the TCU defense forced four turnovers. Quarterback Jeff Ballard and the TCU offense came up with big plays to down ISU, 27-24, in a game decided by Peter LoCoco’s 44-yard field goal with 5:25 left in the game.
8. Texas Tech 2006 – In a grudge match that the Frogs had looked forward to for two years following a 70-35 embarrassment by Tech in Lubbock in 2004, the defense led the way as Coach P’s plan to bring pressure and be physical held Mike Leach’s high-powered offense to a field goal. Chris Manfredini hit four field goals on the way to a 12-3 win in Fort Worth over the No. 24-ranked Red Raiders.
9. Utah 2008 – A national audience focused on Salt Lake City on a Thursday night in November, and the Frogs looked impressive early, moving down the field with ease. But miscues and turnovers kept Utah in the game. Consecutive missed field goals by TCU freshman kicker Ross Evans left the door open. One kick bounced off the left upright. Then with 2:48 left, another kick sailed wide right on a 35-yard attempt. Utah got the ball back on the 20-yard-line, and quarterback Brian Johnson led the comeback from there. The Utes marched 80 yards in the final minutes, sealing it with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Brown with 48 seconds left. Painful is not close to describing the feeling. It was the longest, quietest ride I’ve ever taken on a TCU charter flight. No. 9 Utah 13, No. 11 TCU 10.
10. Utah 2009 – Amon G. Carter Stadium and the TCU campus bristled with energy at the thought of No. 16 Utah coming to town for a national showdown, which also brought ESPN College Gameday to campus. The night game atmosphere fueled the No. 4-ranked Frogs to a dominating win that saw big play after big play roll out for the Frogs. A big hit by the TCU kickoff team resulted in combined “Oooh” from the 50,000+ fans and sent the crowd into a frenzy from which Utah never recovered. Frogs, 55-28.
11. Utah 2010 – This was a rematch of the two class teams in the MWC, and, again, ESPN College Gameday felt compelled to show up and make Salt Lake City the center of the college football universe. That’s as good as it got for Utah that day. The No. 3 Frogs came out to, as Coach P says, “take a game on the road.” The Frogs attacked through the air and on the ground on their way to a BCS-alerting win. Utah turnovers added fuel to an already hot fire. The Frogs led 23-0 at the half, 40-0 at the end of the third quarter. The final score 47-7 didn’t indicate how one-sided this one was. TCU’s dominance made a loud statement, and experts across the nation realized that TCU would be a force in the BCS bowl picture. A milestone day for the program.
12. Rose Bowl 2011 – Having learned a lot from their BCS disappointment a year before at the Fiesta Bowl, the Frogs were ready to put the icing on the cake that began with a 2010 season-opening win over Oregon State and saw the Frogs run the table. No. 5 Wisconsin would stand in the way of a perfect season. Andy Dalton was near-perfect, leading the Frogs to an early lead with a touchdown pass to Bart Johnson. The TCU defense, utilizing a creative Gary Patterson game plan, convinced Wisconsin to be a passing team, abandoning their vaunted power run game. Late in the game, Wisconsin scored a touchdown to make it 21-19, setting the stage for linebacker Tank Carder to make one of the most historic plays in TCU football history, knocking down the Badgers’ 2-point pass attempt. The Frogs finished No. 2 in the final poll.
13. Boise State 2011 –In a classic game that lived up to the billing, TCU took on its newest and most-familiar rival, this time for the first time as MWC rivals. TCU and Boise had met three previous times, all in bowl games, and the total difference in score in the three contests totaled 11 points. TCU’s first trip to Boise turned out to be one of legend as the Frogs battled back from behind to beat No. 5 Boise State, 36-35. The game is easily quarterback Casey Pachall’s finest hour as a Frog. Pachall threw for 473 yards and 5 TDs. Coach Patterson’s mindset late in the game was to go for the win, and Pachall’s 2-point conversion pass to Josh Boyce was clutch. The Frogs celebrated all the way back to Fort Worth.
14. Oklahoma 2014 – The Frogs, having begun the season unranked, tip-toed into the Top 25 at #25 the week that #3 OU came to call. The new TCU offense kept TCU in the game (469 yards and 4 TDs) until the last 20 minutes of the game, when three big plays by the Frogs handed them a nation-rattling decision. Late in the 3rd quarter, Trevone Boykin found Deante Gray for a 29-yard TD, then LB Paul Dawson opened the 4th with a stabbing 41-yard Pick 6 to put the Frogs up 37-31. Finally, TCU LB Marcus Mallet and DT Chucky Hunter stopped OU tailback Samaje Perine on 4th and 1 deep in TCU territory and the Frogs held on for a 37-33 win, its biggest to date in the Big 12. It launched the Frogs to a new level.
15. Now it’s your turn. What do you say? Will it be the Baylor game the day after Thanksgiving or is the game at OU going to be the pivotal contest in this potentially uber-historic year for the Frogs? Send in your choice to TCU Magazine at email@example.com.
December 6, 2014
The old saying goes: “One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to Get Ready and Four to go.”For the Frogs, it’s One for the Show, if you ask me.
Here we are on the eve of the season finale and, for a moment, just kick back with me and reflect.
Here we have a team that was unranked at the beginning of the season and didn’t hit a poll until the last week of September. The Frogs rang in October with a huge win over Oklahoma and then the season was on.
Lunch-pail game control against Okie State, offensive explosion versus Texas Tech, gutsy, no-panic win at West Virginia. Then came a statement of dominance over a very good Kansas State team that still sits at No. 9 and lurking like the hunting cats that they are.
Finally a just-win-baby game at Kansas and a barrage in all three phases at Texas. Even turkey, dressing and tryptophan couldn’t stop the Frogs Thanksgiving night in Austin.
All of this happened for the Frogs to climb from no ranking to ORV (Others Receiving Votes) to No. 3 in the CFP.
Now, one to Go.
And this one is a beat-up, but pesky bunch of Iowa State Cyclones, whose injury-riddled year could be made with an upset of the Frogs. Coach Paul Rhoads is a good coach and a good man. His teams have given the Frogs fits the last two years, going 1-1 against TCU.Yes, this year is different, but here at the end of the season, there are lots of distractions. But these Frogs have come too far to peak ahead.Speaking of reflecting, look for your 1984 TCUnbeleeevable Bluebonnet Bowl team at halftime today at The Carter. They’ll be there in force. Has it really been 30 years???
See you tomorrow morning. Enjoy the day. I will.
Kick ‘Em High!!
November 27, 2014
The Eyes of…..the college football world will be on the Frogs tonight as they try to make a huge statement about who they are with a win over Texas. The Frogs held firm at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, and the stage is set for a big night in Austin. The Frogs need to play their best game and they’re due after surviving scary road trips to West Virginia and Kansas. But this is not the same Texas team that started the year slowly, suffering injuries at almost the same rate as defeats. They’re better and they’ve won three in a row.How’d they do it?
They went back the stuff that would make Darrell Royal smile: running the football and playing double-tough defense.Texas has rebuilt their O-line, and they’re running the ball with authority. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray both have more than 600 rushing on the year, and the Horns put up 241 on the ground against Texas Tech and 227 against a tough West Virginia defense.
Defensively, Texas has the best scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing 21 points per game. The defensive line, led by another guy named Malcom Brown and defensive end Cedric Reed are big and fast. This game will match the two best defensive line groups in the Big 12.
That being said, it all comes down to how well the offensive lines play and execute.
Trevone Boykin will need to use his speed to stay out of trouble.
By the way, congrats to Trevone for being named one of the three finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, handed out annually to the best quarterback in the country.
See you in Austin.
We’re on the air at 5:30 p.m. with the pregame show on the TCU Sports Network. You can hear our broadcast of TCU-Texas on:
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
November 15, 2014
This week, one of my favorite radio stations switched over to all Christmas music all the time, which made me think of all the things I’ll need to do for Christmas. It also made me think of Christmas things like lights and snow globes.
It occurs to me that the Frogs will play in a snow globe today at Kansas. In a likely snow storm that’s to arrive with breakfast on Mount Oread (the hill on which KU is located) with every fan on the college football globe taking copious notes. Shake it up and watch the Frogs go.
The Frogs will need to warm up the running game today. They can try throwing it, but the weatherman is the 12th Man today, so the Air Raid offense may need to go with boots on the ground. The KU defense gave up 699 total offense to Baylor (oops, I had to bring them up, didn’t’ I?)
The key will be to strike early and keep pouring it on as Kansas is coming off of a win over Iowa State. They think they can win – and that may be the most dangerous thing about Kansas.
Offensively, the Jayhawks are improving. New quarterback Michael Cummings (from Killeen) has thrown for 200 or more yards in each of the last four games. (By the way ,KU has 25 Texans on its roster.) Wide receivers Nick Harwell and Nigel King are dangerous and can put up huge yards.
Kansas would prefer to run the ball and take some time off the clock. Dual threat running back Tony Pierson is the best all-around player for Kansas, and TCU’s linebackers will need know where he is before each snap.
Let it snow. Only 39 shopping days!
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.