It's hard to believe The Peach Bowl is already here. It's even harder to believe that the 2014 season comes to a close in a matter of days. Let's not go down some 2001 perception of time and space; but just think about where TCU is now; and compare that with where you thought they were August. Move past the 4th quarter collapse in Waco, step outside, take a deep breath, and smile at how wonderful this season was.
Even with losses on defense, which we will get to after the season, the Horned Frogs may in fact return even better in 2015. But in terms of expectations, no matter who you are and how wishful of a thinker you may be, this season was an utterly pleasant surprise. For me, it felt better than the Rose Bowl season. That year, we were expected to be good. This year? Not so much. And because of that, it'll be hard to top emotionally, until Gary Patterson and TCU win a National Championship.
It's also fitting we'll play Ole Miss; a recent baseball foe that's about 550 miles from TCU's campus, to close out 2015. We sat down with our friends at Red Cup Rebellion to do a little Q&A.
TCU vs. Ole Miss, Peach Bowl. What are your first thoughts?
I wish we could have seen this game with a healthy Laquon Treadwell and Vince Sanders. Ole Miss’ top two receivers will miss the game, and that’s going to be problematic for the Rebels. Their best chance was to try to take the top off the TCU defense, which is quite strong if you can’t do that. Without those two receivers, it will be tough.
How do Ole Miss fans view their season; was it a success overall, or was it a let down after the big win against Alabama?
The season was a resounding success. After inheriting a 2-10 squad, Hugh Freeze has led the Rebels to 7-6, 8-5, and 9-3 (with the bowl remaining) finishes in his first three years. Ole Miss fans really just can’t believe it.
There was certainly a time in the season when Ole Miss fans had higher hopes than a 9-3 finish. When the team was 7-0, I asked RCR readers what finish would not be a disappointment to them. The resounding answer was 11-1. 9-3 is obviously not 11-1, but now that Rebel fans have had a chance to take a step back, most realize it was a good year.
Are a lot of fans, your friends, etc. travelling to Atlanta?
Yes. Tons. There will be at least five people who have written for our blog (at one point or another) there. I’ve talked to so many people who are coming to the game. It’s conveniently located, and there’s a tremendous level of passion for the program right now.
Ole Miss has one of the best, okay the best, tailgating scene in the country. How does that work when y’all travel?How does a parking lot in Atlanta begin to feel like The Grove in Oxford?
Well, the times that I’ve traveled, Ole Miss fans have struggled a bit to figure things out. We’re accustomed to one central location where there will be a thousand tents and 40 thousand people. It’s easy to be hospitable in that situation, giving food and drink to anyone who walks by and says hello. In a hodgepodge type of situation, we’re generally out of our element, and it certainly loses some of the luster.
Aside from the Arkansas game--which I admit, was a weird outlier--y’all lost your other two games by a total of 7 points. How do y’all keep it so close?
The defense is just incredible. They can rush the passer, the secondary boasts two All-Americans, and they’re phenomenal at destroying outside runs and plays to the flats. With the defensive potential this team has, they can stay close with anyone.
The offense isn’t bad either. While the running game is doo-doo, this team can usually pass pretty well (or at least, they could before losing their top two receiving threats). More on this later.
Get more Peach Bowl coverage from Red Cup Rebellion
Get more Peach Bowl coverage from Red Cup Rebellion
TCU’s defense had one of the best turnover margins in the country. Gary runs a 4-2-5, which a few SEC teams run--including y’all--how will this matchup work with Dr. Bo and the offense?
It’s tough to know, really. That’s a cop out, but I’m going to rehash this. The Rebels’ #1 traditional receiver remaining is probably Cody Core, a third year player who has stepped up his play this year but isn’t a major threat without a great receiver across from him. The #2 receiver is Quincy Adeboyejo, a converted slot guy who has potential but hasn’t put it all together. After that, it’s Markell Pack, a true freshman who makes some plays but will benefit from an offseason training program, and then…. Pretty much nothing.
Of course, tight end Evan Engram is fantastic, but the 4-2-5, especially one that focuses a lot of effort on man defense, could potentially make it harder for him to carry the team like he has the last few games.
Well, y’all also have a pretty salty defense; the No. 1 scoring defense in the country. TCU had the No. 2 scoring offense in the country. How do you think the defense prepares for Trevone Boykin and company?
Before I start this, I have to admit to having done very little scouting on the TCU offense. I was much more interested to learn about your D, as I think that will be a primary determination of the game’s outcome. All that said, here’s my somewhat uninformed opinion.
I think that they will attempt to make Trevone Boykin beat them with his arm. He’s a very good passer, so that may not actually help them win, but they can’t allow him to be a very good passer AND a very good runner. When they did this against Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, it worked, as Prescott had trouble getting past the line of scrimmage all day, and the passing game wasn’t strong enough to make up for that. I think Trevone Boykin is a much better quarterback, but that’s just a parallel I’m drawing.
They also have to hope that Senquez Golson (an All-American corner with nine picks on the year) is able to contain Josh Doctson to an extent. Doctson has a lot of height on him, so that’s going to be a tough assignment, but Golson can’t allow Doctson to beat him on routes that don’t involve balls thrown high that Golson can’t defend. He can’t get beat on slants over and over again.
As far as Aaron Green, I don’t know any of his tendencies, but the Rebels have done well when runners have to bounce it outside. They have quick, fast linebackers and safeties who clean up runs outside and corners who excel at fighting off blocks. That’s their recipe for success, as teams have done well (relatively) when they run straight at the Rebels.
What’s the more intriguing matchup; TCU’s offense vs. Ole Miss' defense; or Ole Miss’ offense and TCU’s defense?
I answered this earlier, but I think the game is all about Ole Miss’ offense against TCU’s D. The Ole Miss defense should be able to limit TCU, at least somewhat, on offense. I still think the Ole Miss offense will have to score 30+ to win, but I’d be pretty surprised if TCU approaches its scoring average of 46.3 points.
On offense, can Ole Miss run like it finally did against Mississippi State? Can the Ole Miss offense handle the losses of its two best receivers? How do the Rebels do without their best guard (also out for the game)? TCU’s defense is really good, and they could potentially shut down a depleted Ole Miss offense. There are just so many questions here.
Gary and Hugh have been texting each other a lot. What do you think they talk about?
The rumor is that Hugh Freeze asked Gary to stick with one defensive formation this game. Gary apparently replied, "no." I’d guess they’re textually fellating one another’s schematic intellect as they watch film. Hugh Freeze does a good job getting his receivers open. Gary Patterson does a good job stifling otherwise strong offenses. I’m really intrigued by this matchup.
Do you think Katy Perry is still an Ole Miss fan?
Oh definitely. You know, that whole thing was just fantastic for Ole Miss. Katy Perry picked Ole Miss to beat Alabama. They did. She rushed the field. Later that night, she went to a local bar, danced on the bar, shotgunned a beer, and dove into the crowd. She tweeted "Hotty Toddy" to her six bajillion followers on Twitter. It was a good day.
How does Ole Miss win this game? How do they lose it?
They win by establishing a running game and staying away from predictable passing. Defensively, they are able to do what they did all year, generating a lot of third and longs and bending but not breaking.
They lose by becoming one dimensional, getting down early and having to throw their way out of it. There aren’t enough weapons on this team at the moment, and that could come back to bite them. Defensively, they lose contain on Boykin or just can’t stop the TCU receivers.
Okay, as I always say on this blog--It’s time for the Great American Pastime of score predictions. Your prediction for the Peach Bowl. GO.
TCU 28 – Ole Miss 20