NCF Nation: Frogs-Falcons 101009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- TCU doesn’t care about style points.

The fact that the Horned Frogs squeaked out a 20-17 win against Air Force in 19 degree weather and snow doesn’t matter to coach Gary Patterson because his team hit its goal of being 5-0.

“All I’m going to try to do is be 12-0,” Patterson said. “The only way to get to be 12-0 is 5-0 and so we’re 5-0 right now.”

TCU is 5-0 for the first time since 2003 and for only the third time since 1942. But the win didn’t come easily. TCU battled wind, snow and an icy field in the coldest game TCU has played in while a member of the Mountain West Conference.

The Horned Frogs led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be cruising toward a victory as it was slowing the Falcons No. 2 nationally ranked rushing defense. But a fumble by TCU receiver Jeremy Kerley with less than four minutes remaining gave Air Force the ball back at the TCU 46-yard line and the Falcons scored on the subsequent possession to cut the score to 20-17.

TCU sealed the win by recovering an onside kick, but the fumble was one of three turnovers for the Horned Frogs in the game.

“You can’t turn the ball over against them, we did that, got back in the game and they fought,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit and you have to give our guys a lot of credit.”

TCU had multiple scoring opportunities, which Patterson said he’ll point out to his players when they watch film this week. The Horned Frogs turned the ball over twice inside their own 10-yard line.

But the defense was as stout as it’s been all season. It held Air Force to 287 total yards of offense, almost 100 yards below the Falcons average, and just 14 first downs.

Patterson said he was proud of the way his team fought in the game and the resiliency it showed to not let the weather or the turnovers affect it.

“To me, a win [is a win]. Everybody needs them,” Patterson said. “But you know, when you play a team that is 2-0 in conference. … Playing them at home, playing them at night and playing them on TV. Two years ago, we lose in overtime in this kind of ballgame.”

TCU remains the highest nationally ranked Mountain West team and might be able to close the gap on Boise State, which was idle this week. No. 4 LSU lost to No. 1 Florida, which should move the Horned Frogs up to No. 9, the first time they’ve been ranked that high during the regular season since the 2000.

TCU has an admirable resume with three road wins against quality opponents. It has also played in some poor weather, battled turnovers and had to come from behind. Patterson said all of things continue to show the resiliency of his team as it continues to press on toward a possible BCS berth.

“I told my team, I said maybe the man upstairs just isn’t going to make it easy,” Patterson said. “Every way we do it, we’re going to do it the hard way. The last two weeks it’s been in a downpour, this week it’s in the snow. If you’re going to win a championship, you’ve got to win on the road. That’s hard to do, especially for TCU. We’ve got bring our own energy and I felt like we did a good job of that today.”

TCU holds on in wild finish

October, 11, 2009

Posted by's Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY --- Air Force made it interesting by forcing a fumble and scoring in the final minute, but TCU recovered an onside kick and sealed the 20-17 win.

The win likely will keep the Horned Frogs in the top 10 in the national rankings and within striking distance of Boise State, which was idle this week but still is ranked ahead of TCU.

Once again, the TCU defense kept it’s opponent in check. Air Force came in as the nation’s No. 2 rushing team and the TCU defense held it well below its average.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Air Force kicker Erik Soderberg made a 28-yard field goal late in the third quarter to give him his first made field goal (first attempt) since missing the game-tying field goal in overtime against Navy last week.

In that Navy game, Soderberg missed a 31-yarder that would have sent the game into a second overtime.

Familiar route for TCU

October, 10, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- TCU has just started the second half the way it did the first -- with a turnover in the red zone.

Running back Mathew Tucker fumbled the ball on the Air Force 6-yard line. Air Force cornerback Reggie Rembert recovered the ball.

In the first half, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton threw an interception at the Air Force 4-yard line.

If there’s a bright side for TCU, it had four turnovers against SMU and still managed a blowout win.

TCU is in a familiar position

October, 10, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- TCU has dominated its game against Air Force, but it doesn’t have the points on the board to prove it.

Until the Falcons’ big option play by Asher Cark that ultimately led to the Falcons first touchdown, the TCU defense had been a wall. The Falcons had five passing yards and less than 100 yards rushing.

But the offense hasn’t been that dynamic. While the numbers are decent -- 231 total yards -- the Horned Frogs haven’t been able to get into the red zone. When they have gotten into the red zone they’ve converted two of its three opportunities.

This is the second consecutive week the Horned Frogs have had a slow start. Last week, it led just 12-7 at halftime against rival SMU before winning the game 39-14.

The weather is getting colder, it’s starting to mist and the fog is starting to roll in. Several people already have left the game because of the declining temperatures.

AFA lineback Morris injured

October, 10, 2009
Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Air Force junior linebacker Andre Morris Jr., suffered an undisclosed injury during a punt return against TCU.

Morris was on the coverage team when he was hit in the head by TCU safety Jurell Thompson. Morris went down immediately and didn’t move. Trainers for both teams went out to assist Morris while he lay motionless on the turf.

A stretcher was wheeled out to meet Morris, but he managed to get up after several minutes and walk to the locker room under his own power.

Morris had an interception at the Air Force 4-yard line during the first drive in the first quarter.

I’ll update you on his injury status as soon as it’s released to us.

TCU takes to the air

October, 10, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Despite the frigid weather, TCU came out throwing against Air Force. During its first drive, the Horned Frogs had five passes, however that fifth pass was intercepted Andre Morris Jr., at the Air Force 4-yard line.

That interception might have prompted the Horned Frogs to get away from the pass and stick with the run during the second drive. TCU threw just two passes during its second drive, it completed one but the one it completed was a 24-yard pass to the Air Force 3-yard line that ultimately set up the first touchdown of the game.

Dietz starts at QB against TCU

October, 10, 2009

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Just kicked off here at the Air Force Academy and Connor Dietz is indeed the quarterback.

The temperature at kickoff was 19 degrees with a 9 degree wind chill. It’s early, but the weather doesn’t seem to be affecting TCU’s No. 1 nationally ranked rushing defense. The Horned Frogs forced a three-and-out on Air Force’s first drive.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Connor Dietz looks to be the starting quarterback for Air Force.

Dietz took almost all of the pregame snaps with the first team while Ben Cochran took the second-string snaps. Tim Jefferson, the team’s starter who has been hampered by a sprained ankle, warmed up but didn’t take many reps.

Dietz started for the Falcons against San Diego State two weeks ago and played a series against Navy last week after Jefferson reinjured his sprained ankle.

Jefferson was limited all week in practice and didn’t take any live reps with the team on Wednesday or Thursday.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

AIR FORCE ACADEMY --- Air Force will not disclose its starting quarterback until after team warmups.

Starter Tim Jefferson has been hampered by an ankle injury he suffered against New Mexico on Sept. 19 and re-aggravated last week against Navy. He finished the game, but Connor Dietz took several first-team reps this week in practice.

Coach Troy Calhoun said that he would watch Jefferson in warmup and if he was hampered -- even a little bit -- he would not play.

I’ll have more after the Falcons take the field for warmups.