JT and Melissa still have some questions about the overall strength of the Horned Frogs, so they decided to talk it out and dig deep into just how good the Frogs are, and what our expectations should be the rest of the way.
With TCU starting 5-0 for the second time since entering the Big 12, how do you feel about the Horned Frogs so far in 2017?
JT: Petrified. Honestly, every game. Every drive, every snap of the ball makes me a bit squeamish. I can’t quite shake it, but for some reason I have this unnerving feeling that we are about to completely unravel. Maybe I have witnessed one too many bad-beats. Maybe last year’s ghost of Kenny Hill is still haunting my dreams. Maybe I am completely losing my mind. The perfect storm of gaining national attention, and being in close games, gives me cause for concern. People have made comparisons to 2014, but I think we might be more in line for a 2015 level of hype and fallout.
Melissa: It has definitely been one of the more stressful seasons of my TCU fandom, especially because all of the games have been so close and so contentious in the third and fourth quarters. In 2014, it was such a shocking turnaround, that every win felt like a gift until late in the year. In 2015, once the injuries started, I never really expected to make it to the post-season, but the build up before the games certainly set us up for failure. After living through last year’s 6-7 campaign, my hopes were never really all that high, so the early success is more of a bonus. If you had told me we were going to be 3-2 at this point in August, I would be pretty satisfied. To have give wins, two against ranked opponents and one on the road against the SEC, it’s hard to be unhappy. But the road just gets tougher from here, and after starting so strong, it would be tough to swallow two or three losses (something that Bill Connelly anticipates happening). All that being said, I think the Frogs are good, maybe really good, but probably not ‘special’ good this season.
What is the best case scenario for the next seven games? What’s the worst?
JT: Best case, we win out. Worst? We we lose to Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and as an added kick to the nards … Baylor. Yeah, I said it. That would be the worst case scenario. Honestly, winning out and losing to Baylor would also be brutal.
Melissa: I think 11-1 would be a terrific season considering the way the schedule sets up. The worst case scenario would be the ‘1’ coming to Baylor on Black Friday. I need to throw up now.
What is the ceiling for this team as currently constructed? Are they good enough to run the table?
JT: This is where I get caught up. I think we have the capacity to win every game we play. We have great running, and great defense, which is a recipe for a winning football team, but something doesn’t sit right. Something feels funny, It feels off I say! For some reason, I think we are playing with house money, and our luck might be running out. The clock may strike midnight on this story of ours.
Melissa: I think this team can win on the road in Norman and Lubbock in back to back weeks, make it to Arlington for the Big 12 Championship Game, and win the conference to get into the Final Four. But I don’t necessarily think that should be the expectation. Ten wins and a berth in an upper-tier bowl is probably about right, especially factoring in the injury issues on both sides of the ball.
The Frogs have two Top 25 wins, a win on the road against an SEC team, and have the chance to put together a playoff-worthy resume if they keep winning. Do you think TCU is a playoff team?
JT: Think about this question another way, are the Frogs one of the four best teams in the country? I think the answer to that question is no. I think TCU is good, and they have good wins, but I am not fully convinced they are one of the four best teams in the country. Not yet, at least.
Melissa: It’s a really odd crop of talent at the top of College Football this year, so I won’t say they aren’t. Alabama and Clemson appear to be in a league of their own, but is TCU that far behind Washington, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Georgia? I don’t think so, and if they were to meet on a neutral field in January, I don’t see the spread being more than three. OU and Ohio State are obviously beatable, and no one else has really stood out for the first six weeks. So, is TCU one of the four best teams? I don’t think so. But, can anyone prove that they aren’t? Not yet.
What is one thing TCU has to do better on each side of the ball if they want to make it to Jerry World for the Big 12 Championship game?
JT: On offense, we just need to be able to put everything together as the right time. When we are converting third downs, and running well, we are a good team, and a very difficult team to beat. On defense, we need not get beat deep. Especially with some injuries and lack of depth at secondary, we need to make sure we are solid back there so we don’t give up the long ball.
Melissa: The Frogs need an identity on offense. And that identity needs to be one of a running team. I know we won, and I know we averaged over five yards per carry against WVU, but Kyle Hicks and Darius Anderson combining for 20 rushes is far too low. Anderson alone should be getting 15-18, with Hicks 12-15 carries and another couple targets as a receiver. TCU needs to play the ball-control offense that beat OSU with a little more regularity.
Defensively, as JT pointed out, we have to continue to making adjustments to the big play, especially with OU and Texas Tech - on the road - remaining.
After starting 5-0, what would be a satisfying result for the year? Do they have to make it to the Big 12 Championship game to consider the year a success?
JT: If we get to double digit wins, I will consider this season a success.
Melissa: I think making it to the Big 12 Championship Game is a fair barometer at this point.
Who are the biggest threats in the conference to keep TCU from making it to Arlington?
JT: Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma is arguably one of the best teams in the conference. I know they just lost, but they are good, and they will be our toughest challenge moving forward. I think Texas is deceptive. Yes, they are 2-3, but I have a feeling they will take us by surprise. It would be a mistake to underestimate the Longhorns.
Melissa: Oklahoma is the obvious choice - they get TCU, Tech, and WVU all at home, and have just one road obstacle in Oklahoma State. But they lost to Iowa State, at home, so...
Oklahoma State is probably the second most likely. They have tricky road games at Texas and WVU, but the schedule is favorable over all.