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1. We didn’t think that the TCU slide would start so fast and so hard at home, but the Horned Frogs were taken down with ease at home 37-23 by the Iowa State Cyclones. ISU made it look easy because TCU gave the game, and the ball, away.
The only stat that mattered in this game was the number of turnovers. TCU turned the ball over five times while Iowa State only turned it over once. The Horned Frogs won every other battle: yards, first downs, 3rd and 4th down conversions, and time of possession. So TCU isn’t having any trouble moving the ball, but the young guys that have the offense in their hands are making the typical mistakes that young players make. Trevone Boykin threw three interceptions that Casey Pachall probably doesn’t throw. BJ Catalon fumbled two ball that Matthew Tucker probably doesn’t lose.
Iowa State is a tough team capable of upsets, but they’re hardly among the contenders in the conference and are in the middle of the pack when most people rank how good the teams in the Big 12 are. It’s no surprise that TCU was dropped completely out of the AP poll. They’re at Baylor next then host a high-powered Texas Tech team.
A lot of people still think that the Horned Frogs can rebound from this, but only if Pachall is allowed to return as quarterback. Right now, he’s indefinitely suspended for his DWI last week. But head coach Gary Patterson plans to address what will happen with Pachall for the rest of the season tomorrow. This isn’t Pachall’s first major offense. Pachall has previously admitted to marijuana use and failed a drug test around the time that several players were arrested for selling weed. So last week I concluded that it was likely that Pachall will be dismissed from the team. Anything else would be a surprise.
Photo courtesy Stacy Revere/Getty Images
2. Turnovers didn’t determine the game in Oxford, Mississippi this weekend though. The Texas A&M Aggies won another SEC game on the road against the Ole Miss Rebels 30-27 despite turning the ball over six times. The best thing about A&M’s win is that rather than blowing a 4th quarter lead, they pulled off a 4th quarter comeback. Down 10 after an early 4th quarter touchdown by the Rebels, the Aggies finished the game on a 14-0 run, culminating with a clutch touchdown pass from Johnny Manziel to Ryan Swope.
The turnovers are what kept Ole Miss in this game, but only because they put a stop to A&M’s momentum. Six turnovers were only converted into 10 points because the A&M did a pretty good job of getting stops on defense. After all, the Aggie defense got two turnovers of their own. One interception was returned for a touchdown and the other sealed the victory for A&M.
It’s a great win for the Aggies, who are on track to be a ranked team if they can beat the now-ranked Louisiana Tech Bulldogs heading into the following week’s game against LSU. But this game was a step back for the Aggies. The running game was great as A&M racked up 290 yards on just 44 carries (6.6 yards per carry), but the turnovers and the passing game’s frustration against a team that David Ash and the Texas Longhorns ripped apart earlier this year should be a concern. When the Tigers come to town and when the Aggies have to play the heart of their SEC schedule, they’re not going to be able to escape with a win.
3. On to the weekend’s NFL action where the worries about the way Robert Griffin III is playing have come to full fruition with this latest hit. RG3 was knocked out of yesterday’s game between the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons and his status for this coming week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
I’ve previously expressed my concern for Griffin and his style of play along with the play-calling, so it’s a little ironic that he took such a bad hit on a designed pass and the smart play would have been to either throw the ball away or run out of bounds. It was at least nice to see only one rushing attempt for Griffin in this game. But he needs to be focused on keeping his eyes up the field and abandoning a bad play rather than trying to make something happen and either making a bad play worse, forcing a turnover, or worst yet, getting hurt.
He actually held his own pretty well against a powerful Falcons defense so it was a shame that he couldn’t finish out the game because he might have been able to pull off the upset.
Photo courtesy Peter Aiken/Getty Images
4. Two guys from Texas made a lot of news in Kansas City this week. The first was Jamaal Charles, who is quickly emerging as the best running back in the NFL. Against the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense, the former Texas Longhorns star ran 30 times for 140 yards and made another three catches for 21 yards. He WAS the Chiefs offense and you can’t put their 9-6 loss on him.
Charles leads the league in rushing and the added ability to catch passes out of the backfield makes him one of the most dangerous running backs in the league.
But the guy that made the biggest headlines for the Chiefs over the weekend was former Houston Texans offensive lineman and Midland native Eric Winston. During the Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium, Matt Cassel was struggling against the Ravens defense. He took a bad hit and was knocked out of the game after throwing for less than 100 yards and two interceptions. When it was clear that he was going to have to be replaced by Brady Quinn, the crowd started cheering. So after the game, Eric Winston absolutely went off on the fans in an epic speech about what it’s like to hear a home crowd cheering about one of their players getting hurt.
You can listen to the full audio here, but if you’re somewhere where you can’t listen, here are the highlights:
“We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want, I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People, it’s hard economic times, and they still pay the money to do this. But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play. I’ve already kinda come to the understanding that I won’t live as long because I play this game and that’s OK, that’s a choice I’ve made and a choice all of us have made. But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s sickening.”
He goes on to say more and you should give it a listen if you get a chance. The most striking thing that he says is his admission that he’s giving up not only years off his life to play in the NFL, but quality years off his body as well. As the stories pile up about former players and the injuries that have affected their lives after football, particularly head injuries, the feeling is that the fan culture has changed. We don’t view hits the same way. On plays that used to light up a crowd, people now cringe at some of the hits we sometimes see. And yet, just when we think the culture has changed, a quarterback sustains a head injury that knocks him out of a game… and a home crowd cheers.
We still have a long way to go.
We at Playmaker Magazine aren’t surprised that this came from Winston though. Last year an interview we conducted with Winston at training camp was picked up all over the NFL and on ESPN when he called out Mike Lombardi for criticizing Houston’s offensive line.
5. Ever since the Miami Dolphins lost to the Houston Texans to open the season, Miami is 2-2 and both losses came in overtime. Reggie Bush has mostly carried the team running the ball, but Ryan Tannehill is starting to play half decent. He didn’t light up the Cincinnati Bengals the way he did the Arizona Cardinals, but in a 17-13 win Tannehill was 17-26 with no interceptions. It was just the 2nd game in which he hasn’t turned the ball over and with the pending New York Jets loss tonight, the Dolphins will be tied for 2nd in the AFC East division just one game back of the New England Patriots.
As a Dolphins fan, I can firmly say that I did not expect that five weeks into the season.
Photo courtesy Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
6. And finally, the last nail in the coffin was placed on the Texas Rangers Friday night when they lost 5-1 to the Baltimore Orioles in the one-game wild card round that the MLB implemented this year. The loss was typical of how the last part of their season went. They got a quality start out of their starting pitcher (Yu Darvish), but it didn’t matter because Texas couldn’t come up with any clutch hits. The 9th inning just made it more painful as the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs only to squander the opportunity for one more rally.
Injuries killed the Rangers chances as they lost Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz early then had Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre miss time down the stretch when one more win would have won them the division title. But even if they had gotten to skip the wild card round, it’s doubtful they could have put up much of a fight in the division round.
They couldn’t count on guys coming off the bench the way they could last year, and their injuries on the pitching staff should have been better addressed before the deadline. They did trade for Ryan Dempster, but their gaping hole that was the #5 spot in the lineup cost them a lot of games that they should have had.
We’ll talk more about what Texas should do in the offseason when it comes to their infield as well as Josh Hamilton being a free agent, but we need to let this settle for a little while. There’s too much good football being played in Texas this winter to worry about baseball right now.