A comment on one of our recent FOW stories suggested we all take a step back from our anger/disappointment with the 2018 version of TCU FOOTBALL... after some talk of making coaching changes to prevent continuing BAD FOOTBALL like we've seen this season. Instead, we're told to take the "Long View". So that's the subject of this piece... just what is the Long View?
I've been to Longview TX many times. Or more accurately, I've been through Longview... it's a large town almost on the Louisiana border with a peninsular tip that covers exits off I-20, so getting gas on trips elsewhere is about the extent of my (and most others) knowledge of it. Perhaps it's an aptly named metaphor for this current TCU football debate/ panic attack. Every HORNED FROGS team is a collection of 120 players roughly divided by classes from FR to SR. So we get and lose about 30 players per year. But when it comes to playing time, obviously that's tilted towards older players who have more experience (elites=4+stars are obviously exceptions).
SIDENOTE: Class breakdowns are not regulated, so there are important yearly variations. The current actual breakdown of players is 26 SR, 24 JR, 28 SO, 18 RS-FR, 23 FR = 119 players. That bonus category of RED-SHIRT FR is an emerging important wild-card factor that's still hazy with ongoing NCAA rules changes.
So when we're told to take the "long view", that's either (1) changes in the way we recruit and train players, or (2) changes in coaches and strategy. If you don't already know that these 2 areas overlap greatly, then you'll get lost in this discussion (go study up on the internet and come back later). In general, coaches can learn too and change over time... but that's a long drawn-out process not to be relied upon for quick results. Which is why, if you're looking to change coaching styles... you'll likely be firing and hiring, so tread very very carefully with that recourse. Few in FOW land would even consider replacing HC Gary Patterson (those few don't last long on FOW); he's a legend... don't even go there. If things don't improve otherwise, then we'll come back to this desperate resort in another article. So let's get back to the main discussion.
- (1) Changes in the way we recruit and train players:
RECRUITING - The natural inclination is to go after players who have already shown talent/results in the style of play we currently use. They more easily fit into our established system, and they will be more susceptible to our recruiting them too. There's some leeway for adaptation for both parties, but why try to force a round peg in a square hole? We're a successful football program, and this is what we do. A sub-category here is our recruiting grounds, which have spread (with success) from DFW to NE Texas + north LA + south CA (this is a good subject for a separate story more in depth)
TRAINING - By far the lesser emphasis in our discussions, this may nonetheless be the more relevant and where we can do the most good. There's got to be a reason why we continue to have so many injuries (more than average) that derail our season. Not much we can do about Texas weather, which is one factor that we do look at, but LOOK HARDER. Heat makes you sweat/dehydrate/tire, and diverts your focus. We have to do a better job protecting our players from injury, so we can put our best product on the field.
- (2) Changes in coaches and strategy:
COACHES - we've already commented above on GP; he's NOT the problem and is off the table until
he retires as far off as possible NEVER. Move on... SHOO! But let's look at each team unit and coach.
- [DEFENSE] That said, most of us would agree anyway that our defense has done a reasonably good job. Injuries have hurt depth/talent in the secondary, and they have inexplicably been unable to contribute with forcing turnovers, but overall done at least an average job. So coaches Glasgow, Gonzales, and Modkins get a pass. Line coaches Fitch and Sharp at least get a break-even C-grade, because our 4-2-5 style defense gives them a 1-man disadvantage, but we've been gashed by long runs this year. Hopefully, experience for a young line improves this area in 2019.
[OFFENSE] Now for the main problems... the OFFENSE (or lack thereof); OMG this was a train wreck! Sonny Cumbie is the main target/question here, though Luper's disappointing running game also irritates. Thomson's OL was mediocre at best, but we knew going in that they were young/inexperienced... so a reluctant pass for them, too. Receiver coaches Anderson & Burns might well deserve criticism if it weren't for the disastrous mistakes of our QBs (which makes it hard to tell), for which we have to return to Cumbie. I love Sonny... he's brilliant, great with QBs, a premiere recruiter, and extremely likeable... BUT... as the primary play-caller he is predictably limited and stuck in his ways, and far too lenient with his QBs. If he doesn't learn how to be more flexible/varied with his calls, and open to adjustments to counter defenses thrown at him... his very high standing here will erode quickly. If he's the heir to GP, he simply must come up with more answers/variations.
- As for the squad of "advisors" and GAs we have on O and D, I have no idea what they do... so can't comment on them. But going back to our continuous injury problems, I can at least throw some questioning "shade" at Sommer (conditioning) and Gable (medicine). GP is loyal to a fault concerning staff... and there is plenty of room here for questioning, if not upgrading.
Going back to the players (past what I've already said above), let me again emphasize that this was a very young/inexperienced team, with a lot of injuries to key people. And we lost a couple others to stupid personal mistakes/problems and transfers. We have to live in an imperfect world , so these things will happen. Some will rise to the occasion and grow, while some will not. There are things we must try to do better, or find others who can. The same is true for every other school out there. Its a competition and we won't always win... even less so since we've upped the stakes dramatically into big-time college football. Perhaps we have obstacles and disadvantages that others don't. But this is what we wanted... what we dreamed of.
We're NCAA, D-1, CFP, Big XII college football; we're the TCU HORNED FROGS. Lace 'em up and let's play!
ps... my apologies for rushing this piece... no pics or layout trim or anything fancy; I haven't done a Fanshot in a long while and just wanted to get this out and hear opinions