Seventh time’s a charm; TCU tours the Mountain West one last time in 2011.
The Frogs open 2011 with a pair of very similar road games. Both come against familiar foes—Baylor has played TCU three times since 2006, including last year’s “game” in Fort Worth. Air Force has been a conference opponent for seven years running. Both opponents feature senior quarterbacks, experienced skill players, and aggressive defenses, and both teams need to recover some dignity after suffering thorough beatdowns in Fort Worth last season. TCU cannot afford a loss at either opponent if it wishes to play in a meaningful bowl, and needs to settle a lot of first-time starting jitters—without the benefit of a cupcake opponent at home.
The Frogs’ success in Waco and in Colorado Springs, perhaps more than its other opponents in the first half of the season, will hinge on how successfully Casey Pachall can leverage success on the ground into success in the air. This was the formula by which Andy Dalton led TCU to the fore of the Mountain West, and will be the key to Pachall continuing the Frogs’ dominance in that conference for a final year. So the question on this first pair of road games is going to be, after the threshold questions of basic competence about which Frogs fans have every reason to be confident, how well will the offensive line keep Baylor’s and Air Force’s pass-rush out of the pocket, and how well will the line blow open holes for TCU’s parade of talented tailbacks? (more…)