1. Tell us about this team. What should we know before walking up to Boone Pickens Stadium?
MC: First of all, this is the only team in the country that is currently playing with a level of heart that even comes close to that of Oklahoma State. This is a team that, after last year's snub, is willing to do whatever it takes to win. This squad is willing to scratch, claw, and fight through ugly games if that's what it takes to get to the top. It's been a while since I've seen a team this willing to play a game for all sixty minutes as if it was their last.
On offense, other than being incredibly fun to watch and stacked with play makers, this team has got experience and then some with 10 starters (all seniors) returning at the start of the season. You look at the big three names on offense: Boykin, Doctson, and Aaron Green. These guys all play with a chip on their shoulder. Why? Because they have been counted out time and time again in the past. Doctson was a 2-star recruit that didn't get an offer from his dream school, so he had to walk on after transferring from Wyoming. Aaron Green, a 5-star recruit out of high school, wasn't going to get a chance to play running back at Nebraska, so he transferred here and he's waited for his moment. Boykin had to play almost every other position on offense before he got his chance to shine. Even then fans doubted his ability to win.
Defense is a whole different story. So many young guys have had to step up, and the lack of experience has shown. If you watched the Texas Tech game, as great as the immaculate deflection was, it could of been avoided if the team just tackled better. They've been improving week after week, but we'll see them truly tested in the weeks to come.
2. Trevone Boykin has looked unstoppable. What has made him into what he is, especially after the first two years he started?
MC: Well improved mechanics and decision making is absolutely a credit to Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham. While Cumbie has helped improve Trevone better progress through his reads, Meacham has helped tailor an offense that plays to Boykin's strengths. It's also notable to mention that our offensive line is SO MUCH BETTER than it was in 2013.
In terms of work ethic, he's pushed himself a ton since the 2013 season ended (TCU finished 4-8). The following season he dropped 15 pounds and cut fast food from his diet. I can't go a week without Chick-fil-A so I was surprised to say the least. He's a lot more mature on and off the field from how he used to be, but at the center of it all, I think that it all comes from his desire to be great. Like I said about him playing with a chip, I think he's tired of being doubted, and is ready to show how good he can be.
3. Injuries seem to be a very big worry for the Frogs this year. Who are some big players missing that OSU can exploit? Who are their back ups and do you know anything about them?
MC: He's been gone for a while, but Ranthony Texada. He was the only corner on the roster that got significant playing time last year, and he went down against SMU when he tore his ACL. Since then, his replacement has been Corry O'Meally. He's not bad by any means, but he draws P.I. flags more than Carl's Jr. commercials draw eyes from teenage boys.
Against West Virginia, Torrance Mosley actually filled in a for O'Meally and played fairly well, so i'm not sure who will be starting this week. If it is O'Meally going up against James Washington at any time, Rudolph would be smart to heave it deep in that direction if he wants to have a good chance of drawing a flag.
Derrick Kindred suffered a shoulder injury after an being on the receiving end of an arguably dirty hit last week, but he should be good. It's the free safety position that has made me nearly pass a kidney stone from all of the stress it's given me. At the start of the season it was Kenny Iloka, who looked solid until a knee injury sidelined him for the year. Then Michael Downing filled in for him.
He's a nice guy and he's a smart football player, but he just lacks the speed to keep up with Big 12 receivers. I know Gary likes to get his seniors playing time, but I'm glad he made the recent switch to Ridwan Issahaku, who has been playing very well, considering he's technically the third string.
Our linebackers are considered to be undersized, but they make up for that with their ability to fly to the ball, so you won't beat them with just speed.
4. Thoughts on being left out of CFP top four?
MC:Obviously we are all bummed about it, I'm not ready to get the torches and pitchforks just yet though. Yes, we don't have a win against a ranked opponent and we haven't looked pretty in all of our games, but 8 is too low for a undefeated power 5 team not named Iowa. I have us currently at 6. The big thing that this initial ranking showed me, while yes it will undoubtedly look a lot different in December, the committee has little respect for the Big 12. I'm more upset for the conference than for TCU. The committee clearly values Big 12 wins (and losses apparently) a lot less than they do for the other conferences. You can see my full rant and the thoughts of the other Frogs O' War staff over on our site.
*We're about to publish a Round table for week 1. I think it is coming out today or tomorrow*
5. How can OSU stop, or simply maintain, Boykin?
MC: By making sure that the weather is cold. At least from what I saw last year, our team really struggles in the cold, and even more so when it is cold on the road. Last year in Morgantown, Boykin played his worst game of the season. He couldn't find a rhythm early and his confidence wasn't there.
Jokes about the weather aside, don't let him find a groove. If somehow the Pokes secondary finds a way to take away Doctson (which would require a lot) and force him to make those questionable throws to someone other than his security blanket...then you may see Boykin make some poor throws.
6. What does Doctson do best?
MC: Everything. Jaw dropping catches, drawing double coverage, still catching the ball in double coverage, twisting his body in midair, being a threat in the red zone, and hell even blocking. If I had to choose one thing to point out, it's his ability to get open. Even if he gets put into double coverage and isn't open, he creates windows for other play makers, such as Kolby Listenbee, Kavontae Turpin, and Jarrison Stewart to rip off huge chunks of yards. Against Texas Tech, despite being double covered for a majority of the game, he racked up 18 receptions and 267 receiving yards. This Included the catch through a tight window to set us up in the red zone. Doctson is leading the nation in receiving yards, and is without a doubt in my mind the best receiver in the league. I know Boykin is the most important player on our team, but I'd be so much more heartbroken if Josh Doctson got hurt.
7. What's the general feeling on campus and in the fan base?
Well considering how all of our road games have been up to this point, cautious to say the least. Minnesota gave us a little scare/a tease of what was to come. Texas Tech gave us all heart attacks and made me want to go start a fire. Kansas State had us thinking the dream was almost dead by halftime, and Iowa State made it too fun for the first half. For the most part, our defense likes to play leagues better in the second half and get our offense back on the field to bail us out.
It's our first ranked match-up and we know that November is where we make our case for the playoffs. Which by the way, remember what happened last time TCU played a game right after dropping 3 spots in the committee rankings? The fan base is angry and I can guarantee that the team is looking to release some of that frustration. It's unfortunate that the Pokes have had to play us at a very frustrating time for two years in a row (after last year's melt down in Waco), but we know that this will be no 2014 Peach Bowl.
A lot of us aren't sure what to make of Oklahoma State yet, after those calls against Texas and Kansas State. But with the defense improving week after week, we're putting a little more trust in them to prevent a shootout.
If there's one thing I am sure of, it's that Emmanuel Ogbah frightens me.
8. How much do you and the fans hate Baylor? Because this thing definitely sounds like a rivalry.
Have you ever seen the movie Hot Rod? Well it stars Andy Samberg, and his character has this excessive level of hatred for his step dad, Frank. Imagine Baylor as Frank, and us as Rod without the whole deep down just wanting Frank's respect thing.
One of my favorite chants that the student section does, is that whenever they show clips from around the Big 12 on the Jumbo-tron in the stadium, and Baylor comes on, everyone just chants "Baylor Sucks". It's fantastic. I don't know why both teams said that this isn't a rivalry, because I can guarantee that there is no team that either wants to beat more than each other. Also we're both small private schools that are on the same highway.
It's 90% of the Baylor fan base that I truly cannot stand. I leave that 10% for those that are actually good people, who use their free time to do things other than troll, and for the most part are humble fans. Also, we tend to frown upon the other team when one of their players runs up to our coach and starts shouting death threats at him. But that's just my opinion.
9. Prediction of how this game goes?
I absolutely believe that this one will be close for a majority of it. There's going to be a lot of deep balls thrown down field, and a lot of offense. I have the Frogs winning by 10 by a score of 44-34, but I don't think that they will break away until the defense causes a fumble at the start of the fourth. I expect the frogs to be trailing at some point during the first half, but Boykin to Doctson, once again, comes to the rescue. This game all depends on who's secondary performs better, and right now I give the slight edge to TCU. Then again, it is TCU on the road, so it could end by a last second touchdown pass to cap of another cardiac arresting comeback.
10. If you could only win one against OU/OSU/BU which would you pick and why?
Baylor. As much as I love beating Bob Stoops and the most annoying fight song in the Big 12, it's Baylor by a mile. If we won 70-0, then I'd never have to hear the whole 61-58 ever again. One of my favorite games of the 2014 season was the Cotton Bowl, and oh my gosh was it ever so satisfying seeing Baylor blow a 20 point lead in the 4th. Poetic Justice. In 2013 I loved watching the Pokes put the Bears down hard in Stillwater, so thank you for that!
Why? Well because a majority of their fan base likes to say how Patterson is obsessed with beating Baylor (which he is, but we all want to beat Baylor more than anything) but then they make rally towels that say "61-58" for a game that's not even against us. They also like to troll us a lot more than we do them, so you know there's no hypocrisy there.
Finally, even though it was an incredibly painful ending, last year's game against Baylor was one of the most fun that I have ever watched. I'm sure that this year's edition on Black Friday will live up to the excitement of last year and then some. It makes the game even more fun when you know...you win it.
Oh and let's not forget that despite not having a winning season from 1996-2010, a lot of their fans act like Baylor has always been football royalty...but then they storm the field when they win a game after being favored and at home. Am I safe to say that nobody in the Big 12 likes Baylor other than Baylor? I think so.
After talking with Mason, I've decided TCU may be my second favorite team in the Big 12 because he managed to trash talk OU and Baylor in a whole paragraph. It was amazing. Don't forget to go check out what I had to say on their site here before the game tomorrow. They do a wonderful job over at Frogs O' War, so get ready for a fun weekend.