Bet against Gary Patterson and TCU at your own risk.
TCU’s success last season owed far more to its uniqueness as a defensive stalwart in an offense-first league than its quarterback play. But the Horned Frogs did win 11 games with Kenny Hill under center, and their top candidates to replace him have yet to show they can be effective against college defenses. Both returnee Shawn Robinson, the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2017, and incoming freshman Justin Rogers, the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite, received high marks from scouting services, but there could be an adjustment period for whoever wins the starting job.
Fortunately for that QB, he’ll have a clear sophomore leap candidate in wide receiver Jalen Reagor to target on the perimeter and a deep running game to fall back on. Head coach Gary Patterson’s reputation as a defensive whiz is well-earned, but he’s losing a handful of key pieces from the unit that led the Big 12 in yards allowed per play and points allowed per game in 2017, including top tackler Travin Howard, sack leader Mat Boesen and defensive backs Nick Orr and Ranthony Texada. Though another year-to-year plummet, like the one that saw the Horned Frogs go from 11–2 in 2015 to 6–7 in 2016, feels unlikely, so does another conference championship game appearance.
This is a must-read. Daniel Walsh, who many of you remember for working his way into the starting lineup over more highly touted players a year ago, spoke some wise words to young players from his hometown.
Walsh was speaking to members of the Daily Breeze All-Area Football Team at the annual banquet sponsored by the South Bay Athletic Club about how they will be held accountable at the next level by teammates as well as by coaches.
“It’s awesome you are being recognized now,” he said. “But in college everyone around you is as good if not better than you. All those stars you have earned, they just go out the window.
“If you carry the mentality into college, ‘I’m a 5-star, a 4-star’ or whatever, it doesn’t last. I’ve seen it so many times. You’re at the bottom now. So you’ve got to put your head down and work as if you have no stars. The dudes with that mentality are the ones who do the most in college.”
The only thing better than two Harris brothers? Three Harris brothers.
“It’s going to feel great to play with my brothers again and to consider myself a Horned Frog,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt Harris recorded 71 tackles, six pass deflections and three interceptions in the fall. Aledo came up short against College Station in the Class 5A Division II state championship game.
“It was awesome playing with both brothers in high school and now to be able to play with both of them at TCU is like a dream come true,” said Wes, who was a redshirt freshman last season.
Another former Frog will get a Super Bowl ring.
When the Eagles do get the ball on offense in Super Bowl LII, former Horned Frog Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a graduate of Haltom High School, will start at left tackle. When starter Jason Peters went out of the lineup with a torn ACL and MCL in Week 7, the third-year pro has served as the blind-side protector for quarterbacks Carson Wentz and now Nick Foles. Since Peters’ injury, Halapoulivaati has started 11 games, mostly at left tackle.
Before being selected by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (16th overall), the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder was a two-time second-team All-Big 12 selection at right tackle by the league’s head coaches and the Assoicated Press.
So, Huggy didn’t like how excited TCU was about being on Big Monday? Shove it up your sweatsuit, Bob.
Huggins even referenced “all the B.S. leading into the game,” an apparent jab at TCU’s social media videos that hyped the school’s first appearance on ESPN’s “Big Monday” matchup. (And hyped it quite effectively, we might add, considering the Schollmaier Arena sellout drew more than one-fifth of the student body.)
This game clearly meant more to the Frogs, who pass the eye test of an NCAA team but not necessarily the win-loss record. That 2-5 start in the league required an immediate nose-up climb to bolster postseason hopes. Throttling West Virginia sure elevated the resume, with TCU rising to 17th in the RPI. (That’s four spots higher than WVU, should Huggins need to incentivize his guys for the next meeting in Morgantown.)
Can TCU make it five straight?
No. 24 TCU (13-5, 4-3 Big 12) was ranked in the latest poll by the Associated Poll for the first time since November in 2010. The Horned Frogs have won four straight games, including a 76-66 win over Kansas last Saturday in Fort Worth. TCU likes to shoot the long ball, as the team is third in the conference in 3-point field goals made per game (7.4) and second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.373). Three players average in double figures, including 17.2 points per outing from junior forward Amy Okonkwo. Against KU, Okonkwo came off the bench to record 24 points and five rebounds.
Jamie Dixon preaches turnovers for a reason.
Taking care of the ball was essential for TCU to win this game. The Frogs succeeded, and these numbers show just how well they did. West Virginia entered Monday’s game forcing turnovers on 12.8 percent of possessions and earning a takeaway (forced or unforced) on 26.4 percent of possessions. WVU forced only eight turnovers in the game (down from its season average), giving the Mountaineers a flat 10 percent steal percentage. TCU’s 16 total turnovers might seem high, but the Frogs gave the ball away on only 20 percent of their trips down the floor. Against a team that relies on free possessions, it was enough to take down WVU.