NCF Nation: Elisha Olabode

TCU keys in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
12:30
PM ET
Let's take a look at three keys for TCU in today's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

1. Be patient, young ones. TCU's offense hasn't been real effective after losing Casey Pachall, with a couple exceptions. However, they love to run the ball with B.J. Catalon and Matthew Tucker. Trevone Boykin provides another weapon with his legs at quarterback. The Frogs have had a lot of effectiveness working that scheme and then beating teams over the top. They may have to do that with Michigan State, who should be one of the better rush defenses (rank eighth nationally) TCU sees this year. Finding the right time for that big play and hitting it could be the difference in what should be a low-scoring game.

2. Wrap up, wrap up, wrap up. If you didn't already know, the first five minutes of tonight's game will make it very, very obvious: They simply do not make backs like Le'Veon Bell in the Big 12. The 250-pounder runs hard and leads the nation in yards after contact. He can also hurdle you with little hesitation. You cannot arm tackle this man, no matter how hard you try or how much you believe you can. TCU's got to be disciplined tacklers and swarm to him when he's got the ball, otherwise he's going for 200 and TCU's not winning this game.

3. Keep making big plays defensively. TCU kept itself in the game with a pair of defensive plays in the loss to OU, and the offense is likely going to have a tough night against the Spartans. Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell has multiple interceptions in his last two games after throwing two picks in his previous nine games. TCU, meanwhile, are fourth nationally with 21 interceptions this season. MSU won't chuck it around like Big 12 teams, but the Frogs' Jason Verrett, Sam Carter and Elisha Olabode have combined for 14 picks and could do some more thieving. I can't emphasize it enough: This game very likely will turn on a big play. TCU's defense may be just as likely to make it as the offense.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
10:00
AM ET
Here's what I saw on a Saturday full of surprises across the Big 12 in Week 9:

Best offensive performance: Steele Jantz, QB, Iowa State. Cry about Baylor's defense all you want, but Jantz had to complete the passes. He had a huge career day, completing 36 of 53 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns with an interception in ISU's 35-21 win over Baylor. He also ran for 54 yards on 10 carries.

[+] EnlargeSteele Jantz
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallSteele Jantz threw five touchdown passes in the Cyclones' 35-21 victory over Baylor.
Best defensive performance: Elisha Olabode, S, TCU. The Frogs safety had a huge day with 10 tackles and a forced fumble. His biggest play, though, was an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown that put TCU up 7-0 early.

Best team performance: Kansas State. Another top-15 team, another dominant performance from the Wildcats, who rode a huge second-half surge to a head-turning 55-24 win over Texas Tech. K-State made it look easy in the second half.

Best game: Texas 21, Kansas 17. This one was unwatchable for the first three-and-a-half quarters, but you've got to love some late drama. No other Big 12 game this week had it. KU kicked a go-ahead field goal with 2:28 to play, but Case McCoy entered in relief and rallied the Longhorns to a dramatic comeback, highlighted by a fourth-down conversion to Jaxon Shipley. More on that later.

Best quote: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma. "I hate this. I hate this feeling." Sometimes, a few words says all you need to know. Simple, but poignant from the Sooners' star after a frustrating 30-13 loss to Notre Dame at home.

Worst play: Kansas State's latest red zone disaster. Facing a third-and-goal and the game tied at 10, Kansas State handed the ball off to Angelo Pease, who stopped short of the line of scrimmage and attempted a jump pass. The only problem? He was hit as he threw it, and it was some sort of weird two-handed, overhead toss that fell incomplete. Ugly stuff, and this is the second time this year K-State has earned this nod for a play in the red zone. Earlier this year, Collin Klein attempted a behind-the-back jump pass for a huge loss. At least K-State made the field goal this time. It missed it after the disaster against Miami.

Dirtiest play: Cyril Richardson, OL, Baylor. There are plenty of ways to get a player off you. Kicking them in the groin should be nowhere on that list. Richardson kicked upward and connected with the groin of Iowa State's Brandon Jensen, earning himself an ejection and helping prevent the Bears from scoring on the early fourth-quarter drive.

Best play: Case McCoy x 2. The first ignited a game-winning drive that hardly even started. McCoy found Shipley over the middle for an 18-yard gain to keep the Horns alive. Later in the drive, he found Mike Davis over the top for a 39-yard gain to set up Joe Bergeron's game-winning touchdown in the Horns' 21-17 win over Kansas.

Best special-teams performance: Quinn Sharp, P/K, Oklahoma State. Sharp made five field goals and pinned TCU inside its 20-yard line on two of his five punts. Nice day.

Worst team performance: Texas. Even with the win, I can't let the Horns off the hook here. Kansas has lost 17 consecutive Big 12 games now, but outplayed the Horns and held them to just seven points over the first 3 1/2 quarters on Saturday. Texas had 60 more penalty yards and needed a dramatic rally, despite winning the turnover battle 3-1. It also made an inexplicable switch to McCoy after David Ash struggled early. Once McCoy was in the game, Texas ran seven consecutive running plays on a touchdown drive, and now may have a quarterback controversy on its hands. That said, it should just play Ash.
TCU won the first quarter, Oklahoma State won the game.

As a result, the Cowboys control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race.

OSU defeated TCU, 36-14, at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday, scoring 36 unanswered points after facing a two-touchdown deficit in the first quarter. At 3-1 in Big 12 play, OSU joins in-state rival Oklahoma as the lone Big 12 squads with one loss and fingers crossed hoping for a Kansas State loss. The Cowboys will play both teams in their final five games and would take the Big title if they win out.

OSU’s win sets up a key Big 12 matchup between the Cowboys and Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., next Saturday. Unlike the Sooners, OSU doesn’t have to hope for a K-State loss -- it can knock the Cats from the ranks of the unbeaten in their head-to-head matchup. OSU also travels to Norman, Okla., for Bedlam on Nov. 24. Thus, Saturday's victory combines with Texas Tech's 55-24 loss to KSU to put OSU in position to control its fate.

Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt was shaky early in his return from injury, throwing a interception for a touchdown to TCU safety Elisha Olabode on OSU’s second possession. Lunt, a true freshman, played in his first game since injuring his knee against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15.

When Lunt finally found his groove in the second half, the Cowboys began to pull away. Lunt seemed to regain confidence after sitting out for over a month -- an encouraging development for coach Mike Gundy's team.

In the first half, OSU had three red zone opportunities and settled for three field goals as Lunt searched for his rhythm. In the second half, the Cowboys scored on five of their six possessions, including three touchdowns before running the clock out on their final drive.

The OSU defense was stellar in the victory, allowing one touchdown to a TCU squad that had scored 53 points in a triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech last weekend. The Cowboys allowed 344 total yards -- 4.8 yards per play -- and were particularly stout on third down, allowing the Horned Frogs to convert just 2 of 14. The Cowboys will need to continue to play defense at that level if they hope to win their second consecutive Big 12 championship.

The loss dropped TCU below .500 in the Big 12 (2-3) with West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma remaining on its schedule.

Yikes.

To make matters worse for the Horned Frogs, quarterback Trevone Boykin went down with 1:26 left in the game with an left knee injury and was replaced by Matt Brown on their final drive. So TCU could be looking at the roughest stretch of its conference schedule with its third different starting quarterback.

Welcome to the Big 12.
TCU 56, Grambling State 0: TCU wasn’t just looking to win, the Horned Frogs were looking to dominate.

And they didn’t waste time in their easy victory, scoring touchdowns on their first six possessions. TCU scored on a 70-yard punt return by Deante' Gray, a 1-yard run by Waymon James and an 28-yard interception return by Elisha Olabode to take a 21-0 lead just minutes into the game.

Those three touchdowns by three different phases (offense, defense, special teams) served as a signal that the Horned Frogs were ready for their first game as a member of the Big 12 and wanted to send a message to the rest of the conference by dominating an inferior opponent in every phase of football.

Quarterback Casey Pachall and receiver Josh Boyce showed signs of being a quarterback-receiver duo to be reckoned with as TCU put the game away by halftime. Pachall finished 9 of 9 pass attempts for 201 yards and three touchdowns while Boyce had four receptions for 102 yards and two scores. Boyce’s 66-yard touchdown catch was the highlight of the night as he waved through a couple of Grambling State defenders before outracing the rest to the end zone.

Meanwhile, the Tigers gained 70 total yards as TCU's defense overwhelmed their offensive attack.

Message sent.

Texas Tech 58, Texas State 10: Saturday's game had danger written all over it for the Red Raiders, who must not have been paying attention to all those red flags.

An amped crowd awaiting Texas State's first-ever game as an FBS member? A team coming off a shocking, 17-point win a week earlier as a 36-point underdog?

All Texas Tech saw was a four-touchdown lead less than a minute into the second quarter. It never got any closer. Texas Tech rolled in front of a packed crowd in San Marcos, Texas.

Darrin Moore's first two catches of the season went for touchdowns and Seth Doege threw five on the night before taking a seat in the third quarter. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 319 yards in the blowout.

Another solid performance for the Texas Tech defense, too, which held Northwestern State to less than 100 yards of offense last week. Texas State was forced to bench quarterback Shaun Rutherford early, and gained a little momentum with Tyler Arndt, but this one was all Red Raiders.

Texas Tech has to feel confident after leaving no doubt in this game, and hosts New Mexico next week. The Lobos won just one game a year ago.

Offseason spotlight: TCU Horned Frogs

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
4:22
PM ET
As we welcome nearby TCU to the league, the offseason spotlight Thursday shines on the Horned Frogs:

Spotlight: A rotating group of safeties that need a big offseason.

2011 summary: Tekerrein Cuba and Johnny Fobbs combined for 135 tackles and were two of the team's top four tacklers. Cuba broke up three passes and forced two fumbles and Fobbs intercepted one pass with six breakups and forced three fumbles. Both are gone and must be replaced.

The skinny: I'm guessing most of you saw TCU just once last season, and it wasn't a great impression. The first night of the season was an ugly one for TCU full of deep balls and a painful loss, courtesy of future Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Some of those five touchdowns came in single coverage, but the safeties at TCU left a lot to be desired, especially after losing Tejay Johnson after the 2010 season, a Thorpe Award finalist.

This year, Jonathan Anderson and Elisha Olabode slide into the new safety spots. Offenses like Baylor's are pretty common in the Big 12. Not so much in the Mountain West. That duo has to step into new roles and be effective for the Horned Frogs to succeed in their new league.

Anderson is a promising sophomore who made 17 tackles in a win over BYU at Cowboys Stadium this past season, including 11 solo tackles. Olabode didn't quite have that kind of impact, but both players' development this spring and in fall camp will be enormous.

For so much focus on the offense in this league, you can't forget about the defense, which last year was below what's been expected at TCU.

TCU looking for special teams ace

April, 15, 2011
4/15/11
10:30
AM ET
TCU has not had to worry about its kickoff and punt return game in recent years, not with Jeremy Kerley returning kicks.

Kerley became on of the most dynamic return men in college football, winning Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year honors twice -- just the second player to accomplish that feat. He ranked second in the league in punt returns and third in kickoff returns. His speed always made him a threat to return a kick for a touchdown, though many teams kicked away from him last season and his opportunities dwindled.

Still, he leaves a big hole in the TCU special teams game. Kerley had 30 of the team's 36 punt returns last season and 19 of the team's 31 kickoff returns. Coach Gary Patterson still is undecided about who will replace Kerley when the season begins Sept. 3 against Baylor. There are some players on the team with punt and kickoff return experience, but not many. Among the candidates:

Cornerback Greg McCoy. Perhaps the most experienced of those on the team with kickoff returns, McCoy returned one for an 81-yard touchdown in 2009. He had five kickoff returns last season for 167 yards, a 33.4-yard average that could make him the front-runner to take over for Kerley.

Receiver Skye Dawson. He had one punt return and three kickoff returns last season and is one of the fastest players on the team.

Safety Elisha Olabode. He played as a true freshman last season but returned no kicks. He did in high school, though, with three punt returns for touchdowns at Cesar Hill High in Texas.

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