The off-season is the longest season in sports, even for fans who have teams to root for late into June, as is the case for Frog Fans seemingly annually thanks to the Omaha exploits of our diamond darlings. And while we respect the consistent greatness of our baseball program, the newly instituted excitement over the boys who call the hardwood home, the promise of soccer and volleyball, the championship pedigree of rifle, and the speed and power of track - among others - most of us clamor loudest for the boys of fall and TCU Football.
Well, here we are, a day away from the opening night of the 2017 season, one that gives some of us a sense of deja vu all over again. We have new offensive coordinators, a new QB that has come in to try and push or displace the starter, a handful of top-rated recruits that are finding their way into the depth chart and onto the field, and hopefully, a new mojo after a semi-disastrous 2016 campaign.
There is reason to be hopeful.
There is reason to be excited.
There is reason to believe.
Let’s play football.
Here. We. Go.
The Frogs open with the Jackson State Tigers, who come to Fort Worth from Jackson, Mississippi, primarily for a paycheck. The JSU Football program, and athletics department as a whole, is in dire financial straits, and thus, they take payday games to stay afloat.
The Tigers are not very good; coming off of a 3-8 season a year ago, they’ll play seven games away from home in 2017, starting with Saturday night’s tilt in Fort Worth.
Jackson State had a revolving door at QB a year ago, as three different players had at least 87 pass attempts. QB1 Jarin Morikawa is gone, leaving redshirt sophomore Brent Lyles (50-106, 593 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions) and juco transfer Jarrad Hayes as the primary options to take the bulk of the snaps. Coach Tony Hughes announced earlier this week that Lyles will start, but leaked confidence when it came to naming him as ‘the guy’ for the year, making it clear that Hayes, and even freshman Jordan Williams and junior Tavis Williams will get snaps as well. Running back Jordan Johnson is back for his sophomore year after leading the Tigers with 477 yards and a pair of TDs last year. At receiver, the three leading pass catchers have moved on, leaving whichever QB lines up behind center with an inexperienced group led by Romello Shumake, who averaged 14 yards per game on 14 receptions and one touchdown.
The Tigers averaged just under 18.5 points per game last year, threw for 205 yards and rushed for 103 more, totaling less than 310 yards per game in summation. One of the more interesting stats is their fourth quarter scoring - just 17 points total over the course of the entire season.
They are... not good one offense.
Just one of the Tigers’ top three tackles is back for 2017, senior defensive lineman Keonte Anderson, who had 55 stops last year, and led the team with nine sacks. There is not a player on the roster who had an interception in 2016, and the team as a whole had only eight. They allowed nearly 30 ppg to opponents, surrendering 350 yards per contest - 160 on the ground and another 190 through the air (which is pretty decent, actually). They were really bad on fourth down plays though, as opponents converted on 55% of those opportunities. The red zone wasn’t much better - 77% conversion rate for scores, 73% for RZ touchdowns. The Frogs should be able to punch it in with ease from inside the 20.
Keys to Victory:
- Score More Than the Other Team: But seriously. This is not a good team. The Frogs need to put touchdowns on the board, and should only settle for field goals if they need to see who can make one of those in 2017.
- Fly Around and Wreak Havoc: The Tigers have little in the name of a passing game, so the Frog D should be aggressive, attacking, and taking chances. They need to not only control, but dominate the line of scrimmage and make things miserable between the tackles for JSU running backs. Oh, and get to the QB. A lot.
- Catch It If You Can: We don’t need to identify a number one receiver tomorrow night, but we better see a bunch of guys actually possess the football. Give Kenny Hill confidence in his playmakers by showing they can go out and do their jobs.
- Speaking of Hill...: no turnovers. An clean, efficient game is just what Frog fans need to see to make us all feel better about the Hogs next week. Also... run the damn ball, Luper and Cumbie, please. Anderson and Sewo should show out with Hicks on the bench. If the Frogs don’t have at least 35 touches out of the backfield, I will be disappointed.
- End it Early: We all want to see Shawn Robinson in the second half. Put up five to six scores early and turn things over to the subs. Let the front line guys knock the rust off - then get them the heck out of harm’s way.