The Terry Malloy Game (TCU vs. Texas)
The monks in the monastery informed me that this week I would be allowed to set aside my vow of internet silence for one day and write about the game this evening.
Immediately I thought there would be no better place than on Barking Carnival since there was a high probability (I am sure someone here has an algorithm to give the exact probability as well as the adjusted probability factoring in strength of schedule and the strength of various tail gates.) I have seen more of the Frogs games than anyone on BC and a good portion of the TCU season ticket holders and student body.
Oh, for those upset by my last comment screw you. You can’t get your butts to the stadium because of a boring offense? the heat? the opponents? You candy asses wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes on the multi-purpose tartan basketball floors of the student center in my day on campus and forget about one quarter of being in the stands of a game during the FA Dry era. Somewhere Sammy Baugh is rolling over in his grave and Dan Jenkins weeps for what has become of all the RL Paschall and TCU alums he knew and have been replaced by a bunch of Chubbies short wearing with the same unbuttoned at the collar oxford Polo shirt for three day man-boys who would rather take a spinning class than support the Frogs. No wonder the third child of Davey and MWOMFH scratched you off her potential college list. She prefers men who have muscle tone and like to be in the football stadium and not manning the daiquiri blending at "Father’s" tailgate.
Sorry for that, but much like Peter North being abstinent for a month sometimes things just blow from the pressure and I truly believe the TCU fan base needs to appreciate what they have at this time. Maybe they should require all incoming freshmen to read Jenkins "You Gotta Play Hurt" or "Baja Oklahoma".
While I am still off topic who is Terry Malloy and why is he in my title? Well, first this is BC and after being gone so long I knew I couldn’t just call it the coulda-should-woulda game. Second, I realized like other certain Message Boards (i.e. Killer Frogs and Shaggy) there is a good portion of the readers who don’t think CGI is required for a great movie and might have actually on purpose seen a black and white movie let alone an American Classic. Terry Malloy is the name of Marlon Brando’s character in the movie "On the Waterfront". Brando won his first Oscar playing Terry and while some people place the line in "A Street Car Named Desired" it was as Terry Brando uttered the lines,"
I just realized that in mentioning Marlin Brando movies I just triggered a portion of the readership imagining Will Muschamp going Benjamin Willard on Col. Kurtz (aka Mack Brown) even if it meant offering Bevo to avoid the slip of the UT program. For both fan bases this year is a matter of what could have been if some changes had been made at the co-ordinator positions. What might have been had some players been healthy or things gone differently? I truly believe that if TCU had even an average offense the way they have played this year the only game they had no chance to win was the LSU game. For Texas the hope is there for a conference title, but could things have been bigger, could Mack have really made one last push for a BCS title had he made the change at DC last spring? Hence, the Terry Malloy game.
Time for football talk now and I apologize if any of you suffer PTSD relapses when you read what I have written. They are some very similar events when we talk about the TCU offense. Again, my apologies.
The strength of the TCU team is their defense. It is athletic, well schemed, well coached, and well executed. It is not the most physically talented defense Patterson has ever had in Fort Worth, but it might be his best executing when you consider the level of competition. They run well, tackle well, but don’t have great athletes in some key places and that is where you can attack them.
Defensive tackles and the secondary form the core of the defensive. When people talk about d-tackles in the Big 12 you often don’t read about the trio of Hunter-Pierson-Lewis which is a mistake and not a law firm Gary has on speed dial. None of the three look like an NFL prototype defensive tackle, they all look a bit short and soft bodied, and they are very good at creating havoc in the interior line. The three have combined for 13 tfl’s this year, play low and quick attempting to disrupt blocking schemes through penetration. If they can tie up the three interior offensive linemen it frees the TCU linebackers who run well, but aren’t big. LSU was up to the challenge and ran the ball inside with the most consistency against the Frogs and OU had look with their center getting out on the TCU linebacker. Sooners also did something else that was effective which I will touch on shortly.
Defensive end is a place where the Terry Malloy mantra truly applies for the TCU defense. The Frogs coulda returned not only Devonte Fields but also Stansly Maponga and that in my might would have made this Gary’s most talented defense. Unfortunately Maponga left for the draft and Fields is gone after foot surgery which robbed TCU of two natural pass rushers at defensive end. The quarter they do have is comprised of a senior who plays hard, but is a bit stiff and gets turned in at times in Koontz. A converted linebacker who really is stiff a year away in terms of strength in Mc Farland. Mike Tuaa is a sophomore JUCO transfer from the same school as Verrett (You have no idea how much I want to read that TCU picked up two offensive tackles from this school.) coached by a former player for Patterson. Neither Mike nor Jason were highly regarded out of JUCO, but their coach knows Gary type of player and once again with Mike we see that in physical end who plays hard. The name here though is Terrell Lathan.
Lathan is young, raw, and starting to understand his upside. He is from West Monroe like Hunter and McFarland and Terrell originally played d-tackle last year before moving out this year. At 6"5" and ~270 he is a bigger end who can hold the edge with good quickness. Far from a polished pass rusher he gets by mainly on bull rush and effort, but he leads this unit in sacks and once again Frog fans can only wonder what might have been on third and longs with Lathan sliding inside and Fields and Maponga on the edge.
What is done is done and to finish the TCU front are the linebackers. Marcus Mallet started to emerge last year and is the leader of the unit. He is physical, runs well, but isn’t overly big. Paul Dawson was a wide receiver in high school who went to JUCO for a year, filled out, and came to TCU last year when the Frogs lost a number of their linebackers to either being a dumbass (Brock) or injury. Paul looked lost at times last year, but has benefitted from a year of coaching and recently turned in a 17 tackle effort against Kansas. He replaced Jonathan Anderson who as bigger safety who plays hard, but really hasn’t shown great instinct for the position and ran himself right out of the play unblocked when an OU back cut back and went 75 yards late to seal the Sooner victory.
I think something to watch today and something I alluded to earlier is that if Texas can get to the TCU linebackers you don’t have to completely block the front. OU allowed TCU’s d-tackles to get upfield, their o-tackles had success turning Koontz and McFarland, and the back would then cutback into open space. Gray scares me to death going into this game because he is the one Texas back who has consistenly shown the vision to find that cutback lane with the quickness to exploit it. That might be something to watch.
The Frogs secondary is the strongest unit of the team with talent and experience. Clay Jennings does not get the credit he deserves in producing what I believe is the most consistent cornerback combination in the Conference. Verrett had a great year last year and has continued it with 11 pbu’s and 1 interception. Jason is technically solid, plays very aggressive on the shorter routes, and has developed into a very good zone corner as well as man. He counterpart on the other side is Kevin White who mouthed off early prior to the ISU game, got beat deep twice, and since then has closed his mouth-busted his butt, and got better. Kevin is a very solid compliments with 6 pbu’s and 2 int’s and the pair gives Patterson great flexibility in coverage.
Safeties for TCU are the playmakers in the defense at their trio really work well together. Elisha Olabode looks more like a bigger corner than safety, but it very physical and will come up to the support the run. He is among the top 3 on the team and tackles, has 6 pbu’s, and is very adept at staying back in zone coverage on the underneath routes to bait a quarterback. During his time at TCU he has shown a great knack of covering the inside routes in the TCU redzone.
Sam Carter is the best athlete on the defense with the loss of Fields and really has become their big play guy over these past two seasons. His numbers show 21 solos, 4 ½ tfl’s, 2 sacks, and 3 int’s. If UT can effectively run the ball it forces Patterson to use Carter more in run support, but if the TCU front can control the line of scrimmage the Frogs use Carter in a variety of positions so where Sam is lining up is an indicator of that batter.
Derrick Kindred is a classic TCU recruit who played d-line, linebacker, and safety at SA Waggoner. Last year he quickly showed a grasp of the defense, he had over 12 tackles in the WVU game, and this year has played some big minutes. He is very physical against the run and been improving in zone coverage.
TCU’s deep safety is Chris Hackett. He has very good instincts, but is not an elite athlete. In most cases the ability to think fast makes up for a lack of elite speed, but Chris did get beat out in the flat twice by Tech for huge plays in that game and against OSU last week a smaller receiver went up over him for a big play on a drive that ended any Frog comeback hopes.
As a unit, this might be Patterson’s best and they are very good. The key to attacking it lies in three areas. First, the corners are very aggressive but not overly big. Receivers sound in using their bodies can be effective at times and if you are going to throw those routes you have to take shots down the field on double moves or just a straight fly route. If you don’t attack down the field White and Verrett will begin to sit on the shorter routes and take away the outside receivers.
Second, attack the individual weaknesses of the safeties. Use multiple receivers that force the safeties out of zone and into more individual coverage. Olabode is great at shorter zone coverage, but can get beaten deep due to a lack of great foot speed. Kindred is a bit stiff in coverage and has struggled at times covering the slot receiver down the field on (aka Daje’ on a wheel route much like OU has done to him the past two seasons.). Carter plays the deep ball well for a big guy, but struggles at times chasing smaller receivers in crossing routes. Finally, isolate Hackett in space where he lacks of speed can be exploited.
Third, control the line of scrimmage. If you can run it makes the safeties play the run and it keeps them from playing back. It also is key on passing downs. The Frogs don’t have a polished pass rusher without Fields and much of their success rushing the passer has come from effort up front and coverage down field. If a quarterback can be patient and let the routes develop down field against the corners or find the best match-up against the safeties their can be success. However, if you don’t make the corners cover the entire field and rush the inside throws they do make it very difficult in the passing game.
According to the balance of life if you have a talented, well designed, and well executed group on one side of the ball I guess it is inevitable the other must be a disorganized, unprepared pile of crap. What………….it doesn’t? Please let me delude myself in my struggle to understand how a school that can be so well coached, well prepared on one side of the ball be a train wreck on the other because people that is the TCU 2013 offense.
Yes, there has been a key injury (Pachall does have an NFL arm with the ability to make every throw, but more on him later), but there has been an offensive scheme that our two Labradors could have done a better job implementing with a tennis ball in our back yard and poor line play.
It has been very much a chicken and the egg debate the past two years as to whether it has been the terrible job by offensive co-ordinator Jarrett Anderson or the play of the offensive line (coached by longtime assistant Eddie Williamson) that has been the bigger negative for the program.
Personally, I was pissed with Mack fired Manny because I was looking for the match-up of idiots in Manny going against Jarrett. Then Gary pulled Jarrett’s play calling responsibilities and it dawned on me that this was the first step in Major Applewhite and Stacey Searels coming to Ft. Worth. No, the tea isn’t that strong here in the monastery. We all know Saban is taking over in Austin and he won’t keep Major and he will bring with him Mario Chrstoval. Son of Davey read it on Shaggy so you know it has to be true.
All jokes aside, Anderson’s design and play calling has been dreadful with no real pattern, players aren’t put into positions to succeed, and it has been nothing short of horrific.
The only thing possibly worse is the offensive line situation. In part to a potential senior starting offensive tackle lost in the drug bust, academic issues, injuries, or players not have the physical tools to be effective the 2008, 2009, and 2010 recruiting classes really haven’t produced much in the offensive line.
How bad is it? Only one senior has over 10 career starts. Only one other offensive lineman has over 10 career starts and he isn’t starting at this time. That second lineman is part of a trio of true-sophomores who have more combined career starts than all of the players in the 2009, 2010, and 2011. Additionally the Frogs have used 4 different offensive lines this year already and only one player (true sophomore center Joey Hunt) has started the same position in each game.
So is there any offensive hope for TCU today? Boykin when put into the right situations can be an effective quarterback. He isn’t a drop back passer, gets wild at times due to his mechanics, and seems to read the field a bit slow. I have never understood why they don’t move him a bit, put him on the edge, and give him fewer passing reads along with and put a bit of pressure on the defensive line and off the offensive line.
The backs are talented and very quick. BJ Catalon if he stays healthy really looks like he is developing into a very good back with a dangerous burst, added some strength to run inside, and can find that cutback lane. James the senior has similar traits as well as Green. The biggest frustration with the backs is the failure to use them aside from the same three running plays and as a fifth receiver.
TCU lost their all time receiver in Josh Boyce to the draft, but something else is wrong here and it isn’t just Boyce leaving. It might be the changes in the coaching staff with Curtis Luper taking over for Rusty Burns. That doesn’t explain though the lack of any urgency in the older players. I do know Brandon Carter broke a hand during fall camp and he has struggled all year with consistency. Carter is small, been prone to injuries, but also at time been plagued by off the field issues and have they finally gotten too much. Hard to say behind the purple curtain but he is a guy who in 2011 and 2012 made 4-5 catches as good and athletic as anyone, but that is missing. They do have some talent in their younger receivers who are raw, but like much of the offense they either have underperforming, over matched upperclassmen or younger talent that is struggling to adjust.
To be blunt on paper with this offense the Frogs have no chance. Trouble is that has been pretty much the case in the game against OU and OSU and yet they found a way to stay in those games and make a push late. There are two potential wild cards for the TCU offense in Rusty Burns and Casey Pachall.
Burns has been an OC elsewhere (SMU and Cincinnati) and he took over calling plays for Anderson in the second half last week. Even if Rusty channels Paul Brown, Mouse Davis, and Bill Walsh later today he can’t solve the Frogs offensive line problems or get some consistency from the receivers. It is possible however, much like we have seen with Robinson with the UT defense, there be some success by putting players in better situations. Can it be enough? Odd say no, logic says no, and my head with that alone says no.
That brings us to the second wild card. TCU’s version of Joe Kane, Casey Pachall. Physically he has the ability to make every throw from your quarterback and done so in games. He has shown he wasn’t afraid to get hit, had the courage to make difficult throws, and when on could lift a team.
Here is the tricky part and I am not trying to be funny with this when I ask can he do it sober. In all honesty if he does play today the Texas defense is not his biggest opponent. It is can he handled the rest. Against LSU he just didn’t seem to have the same confidence as he had shown in the past. There just didn’t seem to be the same bravado, almost arrogance that he could put the ball wherever he wanted it. Yes, I fully understand the concept of a player rounding back into form, but there was something else. Almost as if with each throw he was trying to prove that he was worth all the time and trust Gary, the program, his family, all those people put into helping him which is an impossible task.
Physically he can give the Frogs something no other quarterback can give their offense. The question though is can he do that mentally and emotionally. What I want to see if Casey plays today is does he look like he is having fun. Does he look like a guy who understands he can’t make up for the sins of the past and he better enjoy the now because it will soon be past him. If that is what I see then I do believe there is a chance.
If not, then I fear TCU is bringing a knife to a gun fight. I don’t say this because my wife is a Horn, Son of Davey an ardent fan, and our youngest has been accepted (but not yet decided), but instead of logic. UT’s offense has the ability to both run and throw which if they can make TCU defend the entire field opens everything up as LSU shows. Big thing is they don’t have to be dominant just effective. Score in the 20’s and the game should be their’s for the taking.
My hope as a Frog simply draws upon OU an OSU not being able to finish off TCU and the Frogs coming back in both games. I don’t envision a win in the manner of last year because the Texas program isn’t in that same place. Even if the same arrogance distorts the Horns focus for this game I just don’t see TCU not winning this without some dramatic change on offense. Unfortunately this isn’t Hollywood, Eric Taylor wasn’t named the OC, and unless the football gods show favor and forgiveness to Casey I think it will be the Frogs again sounding like Terry Malloy after the game tonight.