Around the Horned With Brian Estridge
Oct. 5, 2002
Today's match-up with Houston and a recent article by our friend Keith Whitmire in the Dallas Morning News got me to thinking. Whitmire called for a re-birth of the Southwest Conference, taking the Big 12 South members and coupling them with the likes of TCU, Houston, SMU and Rice. This isn't going to happen, but it does get you to reflect a bit.
With all of the talk lately around Frogland about the offense, one can't help but look back to some of those late '80s and early '90s match-ups with Houston with amazement. Houston's "run and shoot" under Jack Pardee and John Jenkins put up some unbelievable numbers. Led by some tremendous quarterbacks including Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and David Klingler, the Cougars high-flyin' attack was hard to contain.
But the Frogs found a way. It took Coach Jim Wacker a couple of years, but in 1991 the Frogs outscored the Coogs by a 49-45 margin in Fort Worth. The year before, TCU's Matt Vogler had put on an amazing aerial show going 44-for-79 for 690 yards and five TD's in a 56-35 Houston win. From there the track meet was on. The Frogs scored 146 points, an average of 35 points per game, over the next four seasons under Pat Sullivan as TCU defeated Houston in three of the final four years of the Southwest Conference.
College football has changed since then. The run and shoot is no longer in vogue (except if you live on some cluster of islands in the Pacific), coaches now refer to it as the "sputter and punt." Maybe it's because defenses have become so much more aggressive. Maybe it's because players have gotten bigger, stronger and faster - with the ability to react and recover increasing. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because coaches were going gray early!
If you relied on your offense to roll up 30+ points a game while throwing the ball 50+ times a game, you also ran the risk of those all too familiar three play drives, sending your defense back out on the field again to face the same assault.
Today coaches focus on being more balanced, as opposed to the run and shoot days when the proliferation of throws would warrant an occasional run, just to keep everyone honest. Don't get me wrong, I love the high-powered offense - one that puts up 30+ points a game. There's nothing sweeter than the perfect throw to a wide open receiver on every play.
But unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. What's the old line... three things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them are bad. I am not calling for a return to the "three yards and a cloud of dust" days, but I do hope we don't go back to those throw it on every down days! Maybe I am old school, but it just seems communist not to be able to line up and grind out the tough yards on the ground when you need 'em. Maybe that's why middle drill is my favorite time to watch practice.
This current offense of the Frogs is based around balance. It relies on its ability to be physical upfront in the running game, creative on the corners with the option, and sound down field through the air. Keep that in mind while you watch today.
Oh and let us not forget, the Frogs start a new quarterback today as they renew that old rivalry with Houston. He might just be a redshirt freshman, but you never know, it may spark the beginning of "Fun and GUNN!" at TCU.
From the streets and avenues of North Texas to the information super highway, I'm Brian Estridge. We'll see you on the radio!