A game that in many ways was indistinguishable from the previous TCU losses. Let's run through the check list and see how many boxes we tick, shall we? Less than 20 carries for the running backs? Check. Miserable first half?Check. Multiple false start and delay of game penalties? Check. Bonehead play by Brandon Carter? Check. Solid defensive performance apart from a couple of plays with broken tackles that cost the Frogs dearly? Check. Backbreaking turnovers? No? HOORAY, PROGRESS!
I thought going into this one that it would be difficult for TCU to win without winning the turnover margin, but I didn't expect a defensive performance of the magnitude that we saw tonight- the Frogs were fantastic in almost every phase, covering well, getting consistent(!) pressure on Oklahoma's Blake Bell and stuffing the run game repeatedly (except when it mattered most). The lone issue was the lack of turnovers forced from the Big 12's leading turnover producing defense, and with the offense producing perhaps the worst first half in Big 12 history that wasn't going to be enough. Somehow in the second half the offense came awake (again, starting with the running game) to make the game close, but they just couldn't close the gap, despite some big momentum changers like a pooch kick that the Frogs recovered. There were two sequences that ended up costing the Frogs the game- Brennan Clay bouncing out of his running lane and racing up the field for a 73 yard touchdown that almost doubled OU's rushing total for that point, and the TCU drive that followed.
The playcalling wasn't great but was effective enough, but the execution was dreadful as despite the clock working against them the Frogs ticked off over two minutes to run just five plays- two minutes that would have forced OU to get another first down at the end of the game if the Frogs had cut it to a minute twenty or less. The lack of urgency of the Frogs to get on the ball and stop the clock after a sack of Boykin and a run by James were particularly galling, and left the Frogs with no choice but to be almost perfect on their next possession. The defense finally folded under the weight of the Belldozer, and the game was over.
Now at 2-3 (0-2) the question is no longer "Can the Frogs compete for a Big 12 title" but "Can the Frogs get back to a bowl game?". I believe they can and will- getting Kansas and West Virginia at home is nice, and the State trifecta- Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State should see the Frogs win at least two of the three with the defense playing like it is.
My offensive player of the game is Ty Slanina, who made some fantastic grabs and showed why he couldn't be kept off the field.
Least Valuable Player is Brandon Carter who had drops and whose only positive yardage contribution was the result of almost getting his head ripped off as he tried to do something incredibly stupid on a double pass play.
Thank goodness we get three of the next four at home, where the students yelling "RUN THE DAMN BALL" may help influence the playcalling a little bit.
I almost sat down and wrote last night that this season was over. I almost sat down last night and wrote that TCU was done, that the program was heading backward, and that Gary Patterson had a major problem on his hands that, due to his loyalty, he would be unable to fix.
Then, by some miracle, I decided to go to sleep instead.
Well, it turns out this was a good idea. I woke up this morning with one thought on my mind: "Why did I expect anything more than a close game and a loss?"
We were facing the team that I thought and have said publicly is the best in the Big 12. Why did we think we would win? Sure, the defense is great, but with the offense being horrible all year long there is just no way anybody could expect we would win.
Point and case: Every writer at FOW picked OU to win.
Now, obviously, I am angry with this team. My anger starts with the offensive line. Regardless of the play calling, TCU couldn't do anything first and foremost because the line couldn't hold a pocket for more than 1 second. Boykin was running around all day not because of skiddish feet, but because the line was awful all game long.
The play calling wasn't great either. Why do we run zone read after zone read it if isn't working? Why don't we line up under center and run it? Why not run the option and get horizontal on the field? Because that isn't in the game plan, I guess... Which gets to my point. I am convinced this teams offensive problems start on Sunday's, when the game plan is hatched... Clearly, whatever we are seeing on film that drives our decisions is the problem. Our eyes are failing us. Moreover, Jarrett Anderson and Rusty Burns are clearly blind.
I don't so much want to talk defense today, we will do that tomorrow morning in the MMQB. I am happy with their performance, it seems like new play makers are emerging everywhere. But, I will say this, they MUST start tackling better, they must be perfect. Why? Because if we are to win another game this year, the defense cannot allow a team to score, ever. If a team scores 10+ on TCU, we probably lose.