TCU Football’s Saturday matinee with Texas Tech is liable to get weird. That seems to be what happens when these two rivals meet, with the sports’ most underrated trophy on the line.
To get a look behind the line of fire, we turned to Michael Macon of Viva the Matadors to find out just what the Red Raiders are bringing to town.
Frogs O’ War: Tech’s quarterback issues are reminiscent of TCU’s from a few years ago — lots of talented guys but none that can stay healthy/take firm hold of the job. After struggling last week, Henry Colombi was benched for the original starter, Alan Bowman. Who gets the start Saturday and which QB do you think gives the Red Raiders the best chance to win?
Michael Macon: Colombi wasn’t really benched, at least that’s the understanding I and the general public have. It was garbage time in an absolute massacre, and Alan Bowman deserves some time for all he sacrificed for the program. Henry Colombi will start, and he gives Tech the best chance for success. Bowman has the better arm, but the years of injuries have really shaken him up and he no longer looks able to play confident. Colombi is very accurate in the short and intermediate game, and his legs add a needed element to the offense. For most Tech fans, David Yost more or less wasted Bowman’s potential. That argument aside, Colombi runs the offense best that Yost wants to run.
FOW: SaRoderick Thompson is one of the more underrated running backs in the conference. What is it about his game that makes him so effective?
MM: He’s just a bruising back with deceptively quick feet. He runs with such a purpose when he gets going it looks silky smooth. And Sweet Feet can really dance, which for his style of running is a bit unusual. The offensive line at times has hung him out to dry, but unless your last name is Hall, Vaughn, or Hubbard, you can’t claim to be a better back. At least in my very biased opinion.
FOW: If I remember correctly, Tech had a bunch of guys on the preseason all defense team. The talent is clearly there, but the unit hasn’t come together quite as expected. Do you think the Red Raiders’ D is overachieving, or are the numbers inflated by having played so really good offenses already?
MM: The linebackers are the real deal. Seriously, Tech’s linebackers are maybe the best in the conference and have been for a few years. Jordyn Brooks, a first round draft pick, left and the group’s overall play has not dipped. They are that good, and if the secondary wasn’t so awful they’d be recognized for their performance.
Which brings me to your question on what’s been going wrong: the secondary is hilariously bad. Guys peeking into the backfield, guys just getting lost, and guys getting flat burnt. The only thing they do well is play hard and come down with a fury to stop the run. The problem is, if you just want to score at will, throw the ball. West Virginia's awful passing attack couldn’t do it consistently, and thus their run game was stuffed. Keith Patterson for some reason is usually unwilling to bring pressure, and if your line is decent, Tech will not be able to generate a pass rush — so you can fire at will. Even TCU, with questions in the passing game to some degree, can find success through the air.
FOW: Is there an area you think that Tech has a strong advantage over TCU? Is there a matchup that you’re especially concerned about?
MM: The actual talent on offense is just leaps and bounds better than TCU. The receivers, running backs, and for most of the year the pass blocking by the line. I’d argue Colombi even washes the quarterback duel. [editor’s note: whut] Ask any Tech fan though, and they’ll reveal what’s killing this team. The matchup that could cost Tech the game is David Yost versus Gary Patterson. Gary is just better at coaching, and his scheme is brilliant. Yost relies on a short game that hasn’t worked in almost two full seasons, and can’t manage leads once he gets them.
FOW: TCU/Tech is one of the weirdest and most consistently unpredictable rivalries in the state. Do you have a favorite memory of these two teams playing in any sport?
MM: I don’t actually, and I have always supported the identity of Tech versus the world so I tend to hate everyone equally. If you asked an older Tech fan, they’d be more help or one really someone who cherishes rivalries more than I. I will tell you the Tip Catch that I was in the student section for will always haunt my dreams. An infamous moment I one day hope to see get avenged live when both teams are actually relevant.
FOW: What’s your prediction for Saturday and who do you expect to be the player of the game?
MM: In a battle of teams trying to stay solidly in the middle of the pack, I’ll give you my homer pick of Tech in a close one 35-31. However let me be clear, if TCU score mores than 35 Tech does not win this game.
As for best player, if Tech wins it’ll be Thompson that does the work. The ground game will decide it as Colombi, while very efficient, is only a bit more than a game manager. Yost won’t ask Colombi to win this game with his boring scheme, so Thompson will have to wrack up the yards.
Thanks to Michael for the time and be sure to follow him on twitter (@mikemacon23)! I am sure you all won’t have any opinions on Colombi and Duggan being a “wash” at QB or the talent on offense! ;)
In fact, just for fun:
What offensive skill position group would you rather have:
This poll is closed
Henry Colombi, SaRoderick Thompson, Tahj Brooks, Erik Ezukanma, KeSean Carter, Travis Koontz
Max Duggan, Darwin Barlow, Zach Evans, Taye Barber, Quentin Johnston, Pro Wells