Were back with the Monday Morning Quarterback this morning, with lots to praise after a great win in Waco. But, fear not, there is also plenty of room for criticism as the Frogs now head into the toughest stretch of their schedule. Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma. Oh my.
Just about everything on offense. The gameplan was excellent, the offense took what they were given (and what they were given was generally a first down), Boykin looked smooth and comfortable throwing the ball and we even ran the ball well once Dean and Catalon started getting enough carries, and most importantly- no turnovers. On the defensive side with the exception of three big plays (which sucked, no question) TCU held Baylor under 300 yards. If you give Cain credit for what should have been an interception, Baylor would have only scored on those two 70+ yard bombs all game. No drives where we got picked apart, no Baylor running game, just consistent play from every member of the defense. Also six turnovers. Did I forget to mention that? Yeah, that was awesome.
The blitz that Patterson put in that resulted in their third touchdown? That was not a good call, and Patterson admitted as much after the game. Letting the Baylor receivers get behind us was an issue, as it seemed every time the coverage broke down we paid for it. Other than that... it's really hard to find space for pessimism, other than usual caveats of "Baylor's defense is the worst in the country for a reason, so don't assume Boykin has the skills of Michael Vick without being a reprehensible pusspile."
THE REBIRTH OF OPTIMISM
This was a complete performance, but more importantly it's one that may be repeatable for the offenses and defenses we see in the Big 12. The Big 12 went from a two team sprint to having a definitive leader in the course of a few hours in Lubbock, and combined with TCU's inspired performance in Waco suddenly the struggle to see two more wins for bowl eligibility turned into a "TCU really can't be counted out of any game left in the season". Who on the schedule would you say that is a sure thing to beat TCU right now? Kansas State? It's at home, and Kansas State doesn't throw the ball consistently. Texas? Looked dreadful. Texas Tech? They looked great against West Virginia, but less so against Oklahoma. Oklahoma? It's at home too and Landry Jones didn't suddenly become a fantastic QB. Okie State? Almost lost to Kansas. West Virginia? Got bottled up by the first good defense they played and their defense is about as bad as Baylor's (seriously).
That's not to say that TCU is certainly going to win all of those games- I don't know that I'd pick them outright right now against anyone other than Okie State and Texas, but to have a chance to win in every game left in the season? That's amazing considering the suspensions and Mister Pachall's wild ride.
All hail Trevone Boykin. What a difference a week makes. What was even crazier was the fact that Boykin was 14 for 14 passing on third downs. When the pressure was at its highest, the redshirt freshman responded in a big way. I look forward to watching Deuce Boogie develop into a big time quarterback. Casey who?
The defense also played a tremendous game. To hold that Baylor offense to 21 points is impressive. If you take away the 74 and 77 yard TD passes, Baylor would have only had 281 total yards. Now I know that isn't how it works, but you get the idea.
After a slow start last season, Jason Verrett is finally playing up to his potential. Verrett tops the Big 12 in passes defended (12 - 4 interceptions, 8 pass break ups) and interceptions (4). He's tied for 3rd nationally in passes defended.
I love the fact that TCU did not turn the ball over. I was so tired of seeing fumbles, especially in the red zone. Hopefully that issue has finally fixed itself.
This was a gutsy win by this young team. After losing Pachall and then losing to Iowa State, this team could have folded up for the season, but they didn't. They came out and got a much needed road victory. There had been so much negativity surrounding this team the past two weeks. It's nice to be celebrating something positive for a change.
As good as the TCU defense was they still allowed two long pass plays. I know at least one of them was due to some confusion on the field, but that is still no excuse. Tech, OSU, and WVU all like throwing the long ball so the Frogs need to continue working on that.
Outside of that, I didn't really see anything that bad.
THE "I WANT TO SEE MORE OF THIS"
I want to see more LaDarius Brown. I know the other TCU WR's have been playing well, but Brown is a matchup nightmare every time he steps on the field. The Frogs need to utilize Brown's size because if they do, he will be unstoppable.
I want to see the TCU defense continue to get pressure on the opposing QB. TCU sacked Nick Florence three times. It obviously disrupted what Baylor was trying to do because Florence threw four interceptions.
I want to see TCU build upon this win. This was the first complete game we have seen from this team and when they play to their ability, they are really good. They cannot take a step backwards this week though. The Frogs just need to improve every week and they will end up shocking a lot of people.
Everything. This game was so awesome that when I got back from Waco I sat right down and turned on the recording. The entire offense was clicking on all cylinders, the defense turned the ball over six times (should have been seven, but Kenny Cain's interception was ruled an incomplete pass).
Trevone Boykin was incredible. I know Baylor's defense is bad, but he made great decisions all night long, resulting in what I believe to be his most impressive stat, 73.3% completion percentage. If he can manage games this well the rest of the season, I like our chances.
What can I really put here? Two bad long touchdowns, where our D was burned by Terrance Williams, but Patterson has already taken the blame for one of those. And if you look at it this way, Terrance Williams is probably a first round draft pick come April, and you held him to three receptions. He was doubled all night long.
THE "TURNS OUT OUR SEASON ISN'T DOOMED"
I'm trying to hold back on my optimism, because I know there are still some growing pains that this young, young team is going to go through. It's pretty hard though after placing a beatdown like that on a rival. It's all about momentum now.
Texas Tech abused West Virginia this weekend, so Saturday's game just got a little more intense. Here's to hoping we play like we did today, and we catch Tech in a letdown game.
Ultimately, you have to start by saying a win is a win, thus everything was good. When asked after the game if this is the best the team had played all year, Gary Patterson said yes. Gary NEVER says things like this, his team always has things to work on and never is reaching its potential until it is all said and done. When Gary says this is the best we have played (on a good team during a good year, no less), that means something.
The quarterback was great and clearly (and I mean this), his arm is his greatest asset. Those true 4.5 speed, burst and instincts on the ground don't hurt either. The running backs were sensational: Tucker ran some but left the bulk of the work to the 1-2 punch of Catalon and Dean, now nicknamed "Shake and Bake" by me. Seriously, I love Catalon, the guy is Jamal Charles but with a mind that tells him to run uphill. Charles fumbled a lot as a freshman too, these guys grow up just not as fast as we like. Catalon took some big hits Saturday: No fumbles.
The receivers were very good too, no drops and the run blocking was sensational. I was less impressed with the offensive line than most, they continue to make some really stupid mistakes and suffer in pass protection at times. But, when it comes to run protection, they have been consistently good all year long. Part of me thinks this is due to the face that defensive coordinators are building their lines with primarily speed guys now, meaning they just don't have the size to deal with a line when they are trying to run the ball. No matter what, it is awesome to see such a young group figure things out. I would love to have games where we can just run the ball 50 times and not have to worry about throwing, it appears we are headed down that road right now.
Defense was solid, you can't expect guys to shut down every play in the Big 12, offenses will score. But, limiting Baylor to three scores and getting as many takeaways as we did? That is a solid B in my book.
I found some bad folks. First: The offensive line, see the previous paragraph. Second, Maponga got hurt (foot/lower leg) but Gary thinks he will be back next week anyways. Finally, the scheme at times bothered me. When Trevone took over as QB, you could tell Gary meant it when he said, "We have more offense with him in there" and clearly the offensive play callers have been calling a better game since his arrival. But, on the defensive side, I am still frustrated at times.
We still seem to run zone at the wrong times, we still seem to have problems with coverage out over the middle of the field and we still seem scared to run a blitz involving more than just the d-line. Maybe we are just holding back, being cautious, but this will not work THIS WEEK against Tech. We will have to find a way to defend the middle of the field and get consistent pressure on the QB, otherwise we will be eaten alive. I like what Trevone showed us this weekend, but I can't believe he will replicate that every week from here on out, the defense will have to find a way to keep the opponent at three scores or less, or we likely won't like the results.
THE FUTURE (NOW, AND THEN MORE)
Remember at the beginning of the year we were so scared of the back of our schedule, thinking it would be so hard and unfair? Now look at it:
vs. Texas Tech
AT Oklahoma State
AT West Virginia
vs. Kansas State
As we sit right now, we get to play the (arguably) top three teams in the Big 12 AT HOME. Don't get me wrong, Okie State, Couch Burner U and Longhorns are all tough away games and with the Big 12 being so wide open right now they still likely feel like they have a shot, but I would certainly not trade this schedule for the opposite, where we have to go to Tech, Manhattan and Norman, MAN that would be very, very tough.
IF TCU wins this weekend vs. the Raiders, things might take off from there. A one or two loss team could win the Big 12 this year, and TCU is still right there.
But, let's look ahead to 2013 real quick... Here is a semi-depth chart, read over it, just soak it all in:
QB: Trevone Boykin
RB: Waymon James, Aaron Green, BJ Catalon
FB: Laderice Sanders
WR: Josh Boyce, Cam White
WR: Brandon Carter, Kolby Listenbee
WR: JaJuan Story, David Porter
WR: LaDarius Brown, Josh Doctson
TE: Griffin Gilbert, Cliff Murphy, Dominic Merka
T: Tayo Fabuluje
G: Michael Thompson
C: Eric Tausch
G: John Wooldridge
T: Aviante Collins
KR: Deante Gray, Brandon Carter
PR: Deante Gray, Brandon Carter
I know we have to live in the present, but man, it is hard not to think 2013 is THE YEAR for TCU. Not 2014, but 2013. Everything would be in place, a solid mix of very experienced sophomores, juniors and a few seniors. 2014 will still be great, don't get me wrong, but I think 2013 is the perfect mix and OMG that could be fun. We just have to avoid losing another 20+ players between now and Sep. 1, 2013.
I feel vindicated-- not because any of my sweat, toil, or tears were spent at Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday to punish the Bears-- but because I can say "I told you so." I've been saying for weeks now that "this team" isn't any good, and that they'll lose a lot of games until they start acting like "that team."
And on Saturday, they did. Gone were the drops, the undiscipline on the offensive line, the lack of pressure from the d-line, the anemia in the run game. That's how "this team" played, and why it finally lost, two games ago. What we saw in Waco was "that team." You know, the team that plays like it's not a bunch of true freshmen anymore; the team that pushes defenses around, that makes quarterbacks hate their job, that holds on the ball. That team can win in the Big 12-- maybe a lot.
I hope that team is the one we see week-in and week-out. Be warned: young teams (and we're fielding the youngest in the nation) are, if anything, inconsistent. So we'll keep the this-team that-team rhetoric close at hand. It'll probably come in handy again.
On another very good note: TCU snagged only ten interceptions in all of last season. The four that TCU tallied against Baylor brought this season's total to 14. I think you can see the difference in this year's team and last year's team in that single stat. Our secondary-- while susceptible to big plays too often for my taste-- is not a liability this year like was in 2011. In fact, the secondary is one of the strengths of the team. It has, to date, more than atoned for its failings with interceptions. It put TCU over the top against SMU, when the offense went AWOL. Saturday it took the ball out of Baylor's hands five times (four times the refs caught on; the zebras missed the fifth one) and gave it to TCU's offense, which was firing on all cylinders. The sum of these parts is this: for the first time this year, I can hope TCU will win more Big 12 games.
Years ago (in TCU's pre-Southwest Conference days) the Horned Frogs' rivalry with Baylor was significantly more meaningful and intense than its rivalry with SMU, which was new in the 19-teens. After beating Baylor, TCU students would nail a mascot bear into a coffin and bury it, amid great pomp. I would like to see this tradition revive. It's cooler than a frying pan.