35 Comments

  1. John

    Well done. I appreciate the response. A few counterpoints since I enjoy the discussion..

    “I have a few questions about their DL, in particular whether it’s advantageous to have two different talents at either DE spot when the Frogs go so much mileage a year ago from having nimble OLBs in either spot.”

    Collier will most likely only be a 25-40 snap guy a game. Those other snaps will be played by Brandon Bowen who we finally got to see in the spring game after 2 years. At 6’4 235 Bowen is one of the best pure athletes of the entire defense (Needs to stay healthy!). Good combo of speed and power that Bowen brings that can be paired opposite of Banogu to bring speed off both edges. More versatility at DE this year than previous years.

    “TCU won a lot of games last year because they played great defense, they could run the ball with a veteran OL that excelled at combo blocks…”

    Although I do agree we had a good OL last year, that was really only when Center Patrick Morris was not injured. Frogs averaged 232 rush YPG through the first 4 games. Then Morris got hurt and the run game was mediocre, the averaged dropped to 160 YPG without Morris. So not really sure we won too many games off pure ability to run last year, was more Hill’s ability to game manage, limit turnovers, and great defense.

    “Overall I feel like this offense is a year away from being as terrifying as the component parts would suggest it could be.”

    Though I agree that the offense is going to be an absolute monster in 2019, I think we can expect a similar, if not slightly more explosive offense this year than last year. The ability to throw the ball down field now is the main component behind my thinking.

    “Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense’ survival into the modern spread era depended on Howard’s ability to essentially be a cross between a box safety and a weak side LB.”

    Wallow worked at safety most of last year despite finally playing some LB at the end of the season. He was also a safety in high school. After being moved full-time to LB this spring, I think he’s well versed in Patterson’s schemes and ability to execute them, although he is slower than Travin Howard but much better against the run. The other key here is grad transfer Jawuan Johnson. Almost a clone of Travin Howard. The big question will be how quickly he can get up to speed with the defense as he’ll really only go through fall camp. Talent isn’t the question with him, he’s phenomenal in pursuit and playing downhill (18 TFLs! Yes I know it was some MACtion but look how our last non-P5 transfer Banogu turned out), he was also used a decent amount in coverage at NIU (5 interceptions too!). So IF he can get up to speed, he may take that spot next to Summers. LB never really concerns me when GP is coaching.

    “Nick Orr brought a lot of range and versatility on the back end.”

    This is the most difficult point to refute, although I don’t think he is irreplaceable because we’ve consistently replaced our great safeties (Kindred, Johnson, Carter), he was definitely a cornerstone to the defense. The good news is that there is so much experience returning at the safety spots and most of the guys have played all 3 safety spots at some point at TCU. Gaines is the guy to watch here, future All-American. But definitely a valid point on your end.

    “Ranthony Texada was a longtime fixture as a lockdown CB.”

    Lastly, Taxada was definitely a special corner at TCU, no doubt he was our go-to lockdown corner. But offenses started to pick on him because of his size and that’s when Gladney really broke out last year and did a great job against some of the bigger WRs in the Big 12. So I think to rephrase your point, the question would be if Julius Lewis can return to pre-injury form where he was one of our best corners. That’s the thing to watch.

    With that being said I still see top 3 to top 4 in the conference. I don’t see any team that really stands out this year in the Big 12 and I think Oklahoma will be a run-centric team this year that plays towards TCU’s strengths. TCU will probably beat a team or two that they are not supposed to beat and might lose to a team that they aren’t supposed to lose to. But as long as the talent level continues to increase at TCU and GP is still there, they’ve probably got a shot.

    • ianaboyd

      When I watched the Frogs they were pretty solid running it even without Morris (another tuff loss) because of the Pryor-Schlottmann tandem.

      With so little experience at OL, QB, and WR I can’t see how this offense will avoid some growing pains as they figure things out. I can see them being more explosive but less consistent than last year and really struggling against the better Ds in the league or to keep up with the top Os.

      I was actually really iffy on Bowen out of HS, drew a lot of catcalls from Baylor fans suggesting he might be kinda stiff.

      I haven’t done any homework on the MAC LB and don’t know where the returning CBs are at. I could see TCU finding enough playmaking to make this thing work but I can also readily recall the 2015 and 2016 Ds where TCU was solid but not great on D in between fielding deadly, veteran units in 2014 and 2017. It’s not impossible that they could take a step back there.

      Or they could be really strong again on D but struggle to break through to the top because of a young O. There are just enough question marks where I don’t feel good about ranking them very high.

  2. System Poster

    “Team X is probably too low”

    The crazy thing about the big 12 this year is you can make that argument for every team from 5-9 in your power rankings. TCU fans were obviously shocked by their placement, as I’m sure WVU and OSU fans will be as well, although I can’t argue that you’re wrong in your rankings.

    Even Texas Tech may very well meet two of the three factors you identify as being important. Last year’s defense was a hair’s breadth from being a top half of the big 12 defense and returns all but one player. The secondary will finally be experienced, so we’ll see what kind of difference that makes with Gibbs’s system.

    The offensive line was above average to, at times, good last year with four underclassmen starting. This year, it should be four upperclassmen and Jack Anderson. The big glaring question is obviously quarterback, which matters a lot in Tech’s offense. It will be interesting to see what changes new OC Kevin Johns, out of the Kevin Wilson coaching tree, makes to the standard air raid. I assume it will be more run-oriented, which seems like a good idea as that was the strength of last year’s team (15th in rushing S&P).

    • ianaboyd

      Yeah with this line and you probably want to run it more. QB is my concern although I’m sure Kingsbury can figure something out.

      I’ve expected more pushback against the idea of Texas as a top 3 team in the league next year.

      • Travis

        Big XII teams hardly play against teams with such stifling defenses like Texas had last year. I bet that garnered a lot of respect from fellow fans.

        As a Baylor fan, the offense was a particularly woeful matchup for the Texas D because of the putrid OL, but that was painful/impressive to watch.

        It will be interesting to see how much of the benefit of base dime being new wears off next year. The Baylor O was much better a few weeks later against Iowa State, though that was with a (relatively) much more experienced Charlie Brewer. From some of the comments from Rhule and Snow you can tell the base dime is on their minds.

        • ianaboyd

          What were the Rhule and Snow comments about it?

          You can try to bully it but then either the D goes nickel or they just outnumber you and dare you to throw it from bigger personnnel sets.

          • Travis

            I remember that somebody asked Snow “how important defensive line getting a pass rush is to being good on defense” or something (typical thrilling reporter Q) and he said something to the effect of “well some teams in our conference, like Iowa State, played really great defense with only 3 DL, so it doesn’t always have to be the DL” or close to that.

            I don’t remember exactly what Rhule has said, same general stuff. IIRC it’s been in the vein of “there’s a ton of ways to play great defense at the end of the day it just comes down to execution” or something.

          • ianaboyd

            Yeah okay, and I could see them matching that style since they don’t have many good DL save for the nose and maybe another DT. Also, they’ve played a 3-2-6 pretty extensively before back when they had Tyler Matakevich.

      • System Poster

        I think we’re all just numb predictions that UT is going to have a breakout season because we’re so used to seeing them. Not from you, of course, but throughout the media and college football blog-o-sphere.

        • ianaboyd

          Sure, because Texas is always loaded with highly regarded talent that turns out to be poorly developed and badly fitted.

  3. Jack

    This is going to be the best D-line since the peach 🍑 bowl year. I think that alone will keep us in games with big time plays sacks on 3rd down.

    Biggest worry for me is Robinson, he makes late throws. Got away with it in high school Because of weak coverage and Great arm strength. But in the game against Texas Tech last year he had a few throws that were late and should’ve been picked off. Again in the spring game he had a late throws that were picked off. This is where Cumbria comes in. He formulated a great offense last year to protect Hill who was also interception prone. If you can pull together game plans that accentuate Robinson’s running ability and establish a play action pass While protecting him from rookie mistakes; TCU you could have a really explosive offense at times.

    • ianaboyd

      Like I’ve tried to suggest, I foresee him having flashes of brilliance and then periods where he’s lost, much like the rest of the young offense.

  4. Philly Frog

    All about the QBs in this league.

    It will be fun to watch Robinson develop. No one thought Boykin would be Boykin; at this point in 2014 we all thought we’d be seeing a different Texas A&M transfer at the QB spot.

    Also, there’s been a fairly subtle talent upgrade across the board over the past four years for the Frogs. I don’t think you can assume that having new guys getting plugged into the 2-deep is a negative for them like it was in 2015 and 2016.

    I’m not upset at an Ianalysis picking us 7th. This is a high-variance kind of year. But to be fair, if things go well at the QB spot they could just as easily wind up at 7th in the country.

    Urban Meyer can go suck calf rope, by the way.

    • ianaboyd

      I’ve been watching Texas plug in highly rated young talent on D for years now and then struggling while those guys figure out how to play football at a high level in the Big 12 where mistakes and lack of knowhow can make you look bad in a hurry.

      I also don’t know that lack of talent was the issue for previous Frog teams. I can believe that Innis Gaines may hit sooner than other guys, I think a high vote of confidence in TCU this year is basically a vote of confidence in Gaines, but overall I think that high end talent still needs a few years before they’re ready to make good.

          • Clayton Davis

            Come on, PF. You know the offense carried them to those championships, generally speaking.

          • Philly Frog

            Clayton:

            Ian can stand on his own two legs; he does great work and I read what he writes.

            But, this is a team sport.

            OU has ‘sucked’ at the top half of the conference defensive statistics for the past few years. I’d rather have our DC than theirs, but they haven’t been bereft of talent on that side of the ball over the past fours years.

          • ianaboyd

            OUs D has nearly cost them each of their championships save for 2015 when it was decent and absolutely limited them from doing anything in the postseason.

            They needed an all time historic offense just to win the B12 the last two years. D ranked 101st in S&P+ last year and got shredded by anyone with a pulse.

            My point stands, you don’t want a bunch of underclassmen playing on d if you can help it.

          • Clayton Davis

            As an OU fan, I don’t hate Kenneth Murray, or Norwood. I absolutely wish we had players with their talent but a couple more years of experience playing in their spots last year. Possibly win the national championship in that case.

  5. Travis

    Ian, random thought. I am thinking that 2017 Iowa State might be a good analogue for 2018 Baylor. A so-so OL with a couple of really good skill players; good QB play; a revitalized defense in its second season which prioritizes safe coverages, tackling, and toughness. I think the win totals and season trajectory could look similar, too.

    • ianaboyd

      Thinking out loud here:

      2016 Iowa State played way better D in terms of soundness than 2017 Baylor. Then in 2018 they had some senior leaders that were bought in and on a mission playing in the middle of their defense. Then in 2018 they also dropped their dime package which will probably revolutionize the league.

      Baylor struggled to play their D soundly in 2017 and 2018 will probably feature lots of young guys starting to break out of their cocoons.

      On the flip side, I think the 2018 Baylor O has a chance to be better than the 2017 Iowa State O. Brewer can match 2017 Kempt, OL can be as mediocre as ISU’s, skill talent is comparable.

      Without a breakthrough on D I don’t think Baylor can match that 5-4 outcome but I bet the O is good enough to give a lot of teams trouble to where you can’t just expect to win against Baylor without preparing and playing hard.

      I think 3-6 in league play would be a solid outcome.

      • Philly Frog

        The Wind really upgraded their interior DL in 2017. One DT was a kid the Frogs went after pretty hard.

        I’m way too lazy to look this stuff up, BTW.

      • Travis

        Yeah the D will definitely be the deciding point. Rhule took Temple from 115th to 13th at Temple from year 1 to 2. It is unreasonable to expect a similar breakthrough this year for Baylor, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a top 50 or 40 unit. Rhule had Temple in the top 25 every year after the first year.

        Iowa State was S&P 71st Off. and 32nd Def in 2017. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor was closer to 50/50. Unsurprisingly, I think Brewer could do some really good things with Mims/Hurd/Platt healthy.

        FWIW, Iowa State was 98th in Def. S&P in 2016.

        • ianaboyd

          Yeah that’s what I’m thinking.

          Iowa state ranked low in D in 2016 but they played smart and sound, just got overmatched. Talent caught up more in 2017.

          • Travis

            I’m not sure how much you watched after the UT game, but they started playing much more sound in the final month of the season. They stopped blowing so many coverages and assignments, instead just continued missing tackles for long touchdowns.

            But I understand your point. 2016 Iowa State was never as unsound as 2017 Baylor was early in the season.

          • ianaboyd

            Baylor never got consistent play across the D from what I could tell. Also they lose some guys, or Young at least, and are going pretty young whereas the cyclones last year had a ton of 4th and 5th year guys.

            Raising to 50th in D sounds reasonable to me. If they can find a package that gets 11 truly good players on the field maybe they can do even better. That last point seems like the trick, I wonder if they can build a 3-2-6 that’s worthy of basing from.

          • Travis

            Your point about experience is well-taken.

            FYI, Baylor’s 1st team D in the spring game had BJ Thompson (6-6 220) and Xavier Jones (6-3 235) as DEs. Then Pitre (6-0 210) at WILL, Black (6-0 200) at SAM. Rhule definitely seems to be trying to replicate the Oguike/Reddick Temple defenses.

          • ianaboyd

            I don’t know much about Xavier Jones or BJ Thompson, those are going to be crucial spots for sure though. I liked Black’s play a year ago. Ogor flashed more but when I went back and watched, Black played quite well. Also Ogor appears to be a violent criminal. I don’t know if I’ve seen much from Pitre but I’m a big fan of Rhule safety-converts at LB as a general rule and if they’re starting him at Will then they see something good in him.

            With the DTs they seem to be ahead of schedule but the DEs are also crucial spots in this D, like you’re noting.

          • Travis

            I just brought up Thompson and Jones to show the types of guys Rhule is gravitating towards at DE. Notably, they’re starting over the much bigger backups Greg Roberts (6-5 260) and James Lockhart (6-3 256).

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