Huge thanks go out to Melissa Triebwasser for participating in our Q&A!
TCU’s defense seems to be struggling this season, which is uncharacteristic of a Gary Patterson-coached squad. What accounts for this?
There isn't really on thing we can point to that explain the difference in this year's defense compared to year's past, it's kind of a mix of several things - injuries, youth, inconsistency, lack of size... etc. While a lot of these kids got valuable experience last year, they are still a really young group overall, and it shows in the pre-snap reads more than anything. In the first few games especially, guys were having trouble getting lined up and making adjustments, causing GP to make several changes to the lineup. The tackling was atrocious as well, but the insertion of linebackers Sammy Douglas and old OU friend Ty Summers has made a big improvement in that. We are still waiting to see Travin Howard to have the impact on the defense that he did a season ago, but Niko Small, Jeff Gladney, and Tony James have been pleasant surprises so far this year. The biggest surprise has been the lack of pressure on the QB generated by the D Line; we expected that to be the biggest position of strength on the roster, and they just haven't been consistent. The last two games have been better, but Baker Mayfield presents a whole different challenge than Ben Hicks and Joel Lanning, obviously.
Games between our two schools seem to always be tightly contested (even before TCU joined the league). Do you think we see the same thing on Saturday?
I certainly hope so. I don't see any scenario where the Frogs are blowing out the Sooners at any point, so for TCU to have a chance to pull out the win, it's going to have to be a one or two score game heading into the late third/early fourth. With the slowwwwwwww starts we have seen from this offense through the first four games, there is certainly a concern among fans that if they fall behind early, the defense won't be able to make enough stops (especially with the powerful run game OU possesses) to catch up late. But if it's close in the fourth, and that crowd is in full throat, it could get interesting. So, if the Frogs start slow, and spot OU 2 or 3 scores, it could get ugly. But I think we see TCU ride the momentum of the crowd early and hang tight. Could be another last one with the ball wins kind of game for sure.
Many OU fans will be making the trip to Ft. Worth this weekend. What are some restaurants and nightlife establishments you would recommend to them?
Fort Worth is such an awesome city, and if you are headed to town for the game, WELCOME. TCU is a great campus and the surrounding area offers tons of options for food and adult beverages. Within walking distance of the stadium is Dutch's (excellent burgers, cold beer, and great onion rings), Buffalo Bros (great wings and beer), Fuzzy's, etc. If you venture down to the Near Southside, I HIGHLY recommend Heim BBQ (opens at 11 until they sell out) for the best brisket I have had and this magical item called a bacon burnt end that will change your life. They also have 130 whiskeys. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY. The bar stays open until 10pm, if you need to celebrate - or drown your sorrows ;). There are a million other places there that are equally as delicious, as well as a couple craft bars (Proper and the Usual) and some great micro breweries. West 7th has more nightlife and restaurants and downtown is always a happening place. Honestly, in FW, there are so many options for great food and drink that it can get overwhelming.
Kenny Hill has been somewhat up-and-down this season, but generally good at QB for the Frogs. What is the general felling about him within the media and fan base at this point?
This has been a hot topic around Frogs O War, mostly because our fans can't just accept that, while Kenny Hill isn’t Trevone Boykin, he's pretty dang good. Let's look at the stats:
371.8 yards per game
41.5 yards per game
I think *most* college football fans would be pretty happy with those numbers from their QB, but it Fort Worth, apparently we are incredibly spoiled. I don't know if the stench of A&M is still on him, or if it's just because we haven't looked great in the first half of games (hello 17 wide receiver drops, most in the country), or if they're still bitter about Sign Language Gate, but when you consider that he hadn't played a game in 18 months, he's done okay for himself. Yeah, he's not super accurate as of yet (18 months of rust will do that), but he's improved every week. Plus, he's put his partying ways behind him and has been a great kid in the classroom and in the community. His teammates love him, too.
Outside of Texas and Baylor, which school within the league draws the most ire from TCU fans?
TEXAS TECH. For sure. There is a long standing history of hatred between the two schools, and the name calling can get pretty low brow at times. I would even venture to say that we hate the Red Raiders more than the Horns these days, because our games have been so contentious over the years. You have the 82 point game (where TCU literally ran out of fireworks, the tip six last year (I can send the VTM guys into a panic attack with just a photo), not to mention we knocked them out of the Big 12 Basketball Tourney last year, and baseball has gotten to be one of the fiercest rivalries around (if you haven't heard about watergate, you're missing out). It goes all the way back to Mike Leach and "Speed, baby", and now spans all three major sports. When the Frogs and Red Raiders meet up, it's going to be close, it's going to be contentious, and someone is probably going to get arrested. I love it.
Who are some playmakers on the TCU squad that OU fans need to be worried about on Saturday?
Well, being without KaVontae Turpin is probably good news for Sooner fans, as he is one of the most dynamic players in the country with the ball in his hands. But, we may have found a kid to fill his role in the diminutive Desmon White, who was dynamite against the Mustangs in Dallas as a return man and receiver. John Diarse, the transfer from LSU, has become Hill's favorite target in the passing game, and Kyle Hicks has taken hold of the lead running back job and been great carrying the rock as well as catching it. Defensively, the aforementioned Small has come on strong, James McFarland seems to be rounding into the All Conference talent he was pre-injury, and linebacker Sammy Douglas looks like he might be a star.
What are your feelings heading into Saturday’s game, and what is your final score prediction?
I was feeling really good about this weekend, until I saw that Baker Mayfield has a chip on his shoulder. Haha.
But seriously, OU is like an injured animal right now, having been disparaged nationally for their slow start. They want nothing more to prove they still belong in the conversation, and are still the favorites to win the Big 12. There's nothing more dangerous than a team with their backs against the wall, and this is as much a must-win game as a team can have at this point in the season. It's going to be a great game, and I think it will go back and forth until the fourth quarter. I am a homer, so I am picking the Frogs, but I truly believe this could go either way. That being said... 37-33 with TCU scoring with less than 20 seconds remaining to take the lead and the win.