Updated: September 6, 2011 at 12:00 am
Yes, TCU’s Horned Frogs lost Friday to Baylor, but any wise Air Force coach, player or fan remains full of dread.
The Baylor loss will ignite rage in the heart of TCU coach Gary Patterson, who is, even as we speak, using all of his diabolical power to repair a wounded defense. Trust me: A TCU loss to Baylor is the worst thing that could have happened to Air Force.
Baylor scored 50 points, which is considerable, but Air Force defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt noticed another interesting statistic:
TCU scored 48 points.
“To score that many points against anybody, it’s a pretty good feat,” Wallerstedt said. “A lot of points, a lot of yards. In the air, on the ground.”
The challenge Saturday rests on Wallerstedt and his defense. If the Falcons want a major upset – please, pay no attention to the point spread – the defenders must deliver their best effort since 2009.
That’s when the Falcons held TCU to 20 points. Alas, the offense only managed 17 points in the loss, but it was a noble effort.
Nothing was noble about the games that sandwich the 2009 effort. TCU rampaged to victories, outscoring the Falcons 82-17.
This is typical behavior by the Horned Frogs. Let me share a few disturbing statistics: TCU has won 47 of its past 52 games under Patterson’s direction. The Horned Frogs have scored more than 30 points 22 times in their past 27 games while soaring 16 times over 40 points.
TCU’s defense looks much more porous, but the offense looks just as powerful.
“This is a very explosive ball club,” Wallerstedt said. “They showed it again against Baylor.”
Saturday’s game will serve as a preview for the season. The Falcons are blessed with the luxury of five easy games. Air Force shouldn’t break much of a sweat throttling New Mexico, Wyoming, UNLV, CSU and, especially, Tennessee State. Army presents a challenge, but not a staggering one.
TCU lurks on the other side of the schedule, the powerful side. The Horned Frogs start the parade of the most formidable opponents in Air Force football history. Navy, Notre Dame, San Diego State and, especially, Boise State will awaken Air Force coaches in fear at 3 in the morning.
Those games could get ugly. Those games could resemble last season’s struggle with TCU, which ended with Air Force players trudging off the field in humiliation.
Senior strong safety Jon Davis grimaced as he traveled back to the 38-7 loss.
“It was terrible,” Davis said, shaking head slowly. “Nobody likes to lose like that. We shouldn’t have lost like that.”
Davis uses last season’s TCU loss at inspiration. The defeat injured his pride, and he wants to heal the wound.
Senior cornerback Anthony Wright Jr. is taking a different approach, declining to get stuck in the past. For him, it’s a new season filled with fresh beginnings. He has immense respect for TCU. He wants to make this truth perfectly clear.
But he believes in his teammates.
“We aren’t worried about anything, man,” Wright told me a few minutes after Saturday’s win over South Dakota. “Any team that comes here, we’re going to play hard. We don’t care who it is.”
The Horned Frogs, especially the defenders, will spend this week enduring questions from spoiled fans and enduring shouts from their enraged coach. They will arrive at Falcon Stadium as a beast of a team.
“We’re going to come in fired up, too,” he said. “We’re going to come in with all the swagger in the world, and we’re going to see who is the better team on the 10th.”
That’s Saturday, and it should be quite a show.