Pre Game TCU

Payback Time?

With TCU knocking on the door of the four team playoff for the national championship, it might be a good time for payback. Just to refresh your memory, on November 18, 1961, #1 ranked Texas lost 6-0 at home to lowly 2-4-1 TCU spoiling the Horns chances for the National Championship. It was that loss that prompted Darrell Royal to compare TCU to a cockroach—“It’s not so much what he gets into and carries away but what he falls into and messes up.” Do you think 53 years and 9 days is too late for payback?
Speaking of ancient Texas football history, for seasons 1961-64, Darrell Royal’s teams were within two losses of three national championships in four years. Texas finished the ’61 season 10-1 and ranked #3. They won the National Championship in ’63. In 1964 only a failed two-point conversion try against Arkansas prevented Royal’s team from a perfect 11-0 season and a second straight national championship. Royal had a good run don’t you think?
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Here’s an interesting statistical comparison I read on the Barking Carnival blog. TCU is allowing 30 points per Big 12 Conference game. Texas is allowing 15. Texas is scoring an average of 24.8 points per conference game. I’ll let you do the rest of the math.
Statistical comparisons aside, Texas’ chances of beating TCU come down to two variables in my opinion: special teams and the performance of Tyrone Swoopes.
Special Teams
Nick Rose can’t any miss 28-yard field goals, Texas punters can’t shank any 12-yarders, and the kickoff coverage team can’t give up series of 50-yard plus returns. Texas is not good enough to make these kinds of mistakes and beat #5 TCU, as they weren’t good enough to overcome those types of errors against UCLA and Oklahoma. In the Baylor game, a blocked field goal attempt in the first quarter that was returned for a touchdown set a negative tone early.
Swoopes
He’s eighth in the Big 12 in total passing yards and quarterback rating, but he’s thrown only six interceptions in 325 attempts, so at least he’s not a turnover machine. There is good and bad news here. Swoopes’ low interception number is largely because Sean Watson and Strong don’t trust him to throw passes over the middle. This limits interceptions, but it also creates a relatively low ceiling for the passing attack. I think Swoopes will have to be given a bigger playbook in the passing game to beat TCU. A few quarterback keepers of the zone read wouldn’t hurt either, but I’ve come to the conclusion that’s not going to happen in order to avoid an injury to Swoopes.
Records
Texas has only beat one team with a winning record, West Virginia (6-5). The combined won-loss record of the Horns’ vanquished foes is 24-41.
The combined won-loss record of teams that have beaten Texas is 41-12, and four of those teams are ranked in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff Rankings.
Bowl eligible
Yeah, Texas will play in a bowl because they’ve won the requisite six games to be bowl eligible, but I’ve always thought that a 6-6 team playing in a bowl game was fraudulent. If Texas loses to TCU, I don’t think we’ll be looking back at it as the big one that got away in three, five, or ten years from now, but it is a big deal right now. A win guarantees a winning season, and I’d like to see Charlie Strong show he can be a clutch game-day coach by beating TCU.
Life after culture change
By the time Charlie Strong came to Austin and instituted culture change within the football program, Rick Barnes was a year into the culture change of his basketball program. I hope Strong’s culture change is as successful as Barnes’ has been.
Beware of Kansas State
Everybody’s talking about TCU and Baylor. Should TCU be ranked ahead of Baylor even though Baylor beat them? If the both finish 11-1 will either one of them make the four team playoff? This conversation bores me. If Texas beats TCU and Kansas State beats Baylor—not an unlikely scenario—the entire conversation is moot.

Charlie Strong
I’ve become addicted to watching Charlie Strong’s Monday press conferences this year. Before he got here, Strong had a reputation for not being fond of or adept at dealing with the press. I have found just the opposite to be true. Strong is the most open and candid college football coach I have ever witnessed. He provides true insight into what is going on with his team. Since I’ve been watching, he has never been terse or defensive in answering questions. He appears to take his responsibility to communicate with the press seriously, and he has been respectful with them week in and week out. He has accepted responsibility for his team’s poor performances without qualification. He doesn’t appear to be overly image-conscience. He has an endearing sense of humor that’s not the least bit biting or sarcastic. He laughs easily and heartily. What I have been most impressed with is how animated he is when he talks about his players. The little stories he tells about his one-on-one conversations and relationships with players reveals a man and a coach who genuinely cares about the young men, enjoys being around them, and is making real connections. I heard Kirk Herbstreit on the radio today talking about how much the Texas players like Strong and how hard they’re still playing for him through the adversity they’ve faced this year. I was so impressed with Strong at his press conference this week that I wanted to share my admiration for Strong with Helen and asked her to watch it. If you’re interested you should check it out on YouTube. At the end of his appearance, Strong laughs so hard while telling a funny story about an encounter he had with kind of strange guy outside the practice facility earlier this year, that he’s still laughing as he walks away from the podium. I don’t know whether Charlie Strong will be a big winner at Texas, but I’ve grown quite fond of him.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

 

3 Comments to “Pre Game TCU”

  1. We’re overdue for a signature win, Willie, payback time with Horny Frogs on the Thanksgiving menu. Enjoy the day.

  2. I didn’t know you were watching the press conferences. I really enjoyed the “Diggs’ cousin” story about the barefoot shirtless guy.

    • It was funny how he was talking about a shirtless, barefoot “brother” running with a white woman.

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