in the words of Bubba Gump, "Life was like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're gonna get..."
As we analyze all three phases of the game. The offense stole the show on Saturday, as was the most exciting part for Horned Frog fans to see an improvement in. TCU ran a very balanced attack Saturday, rushing for 200 yards and throwing for 355. Trevone Boykin lead the way as he was responsible for 349 of the 550 total offensive yards, as he was also named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. Boykin finished 29-41 and 3 touchdowns, with a completion percentage over 70%. He was not as sharp as he could have been, but there was a lot of improvement with his accuracy from the 2013 season.
Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham made their debut as offensive coordinators for the Frogs and gave the fans a good showing of how different this year's offense is from the past two seasons. 7 players had over 10 rushing yards and 11 players had over 10 receiving yards, with 13 players recording a reception. TCU recorded 33 total first downs, which was a lot better than Samford, who had 9. This statistic was also balanced as 15 were accomplished by rushing, and 17 by passing (1 first down was due to a penalty, according to gofrogs.com). TCU showed many different sets and options from the their opening drive, and Stamford knew that they were going to have their hands full.
TCU had not scored over 40 points since September 28, 2013 versus SMU and of course they won, 48-17. The Frogs were balanced in their scoring as well, and they put up double-digit points in each of the four quarters. TCU averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 10.8 yards per catch which is ideal for an effective offense. It only took TCU 2 minutes to score on the opening drive, and outside of the first pass being an in-completion, Boykin was effective throwing the football. B.J. Catalon and redshirt freshman, Trevorris Johnson, lead the stable of running backs for the Frogs as each ran for 38+ yards and 8+ carries. Ty Slanina made a strong impression in week one, leading all TCU receivers with 10 receptions for 60 yards. Slanina tied his career high in receptions with 6, and he recorded his longest career reception of 23 yards. There is a lot of upside potential for the young slot receiver.
This was Gary Patterson's 13 straight victory in a home opener, and it was the first time TCU played Samford University (according to gofrogs.com).
The defense has not skipped a beat since last season! Last year's squad lead the Big 12 in run defense, and they finished second in total defense. The Horned Frogs returned nine starters on that side of the ball, and they lived up to the hype. A lot of that was in part to a big man with a whole lot of hair, Mike Tuaua. Tuaua recorded 7 total tackles, 3.5 of them were for a loss, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He was a wrecking ball against the Samford offensive line. Tuaua had a lone sack versus Oklahoma last season and 4.5 total tackles for a loss, which he is well on his way to beating this year. Tuaua not only lead the team in many of these categories on Saturday, but he brought a tenacity and drive that reminded me of the late great Jerry Hughes.
Diving deeper into the statistics, the Horned Frog defense only allowed 143 yards of total offense. 87 yards on the ground and 56 in the air. If your Patterson, you cannot ask for a much better performance. After the defense had to repeatedly keep the offense in games last season, it was nice to see TCU develop a lead and settle in. Samford was only able to get into the red zone once against the Horned Frogs all game. Even though they scored a touchdown on that drive, it was the only points the defense gave up all game.
Finally, one of the underestimated statistics is the time of possession. TCU was barely able to win this battle last year 30:23 compared to 29:37. To most fans though, it felt like the defense was always on the field. Saturday the Frogs handily won the battle of possession 32:15 to 27:45. This is a good sign for the team heading into the bye week. Knowing that our offense can sustain longer drives and keep players fresh will be key versus a strong Big 10 opponent (Minnesota) and the upcoming Big 12 conference schedule.
Last, but not least we have special teams. In the words of Gary Patterson in his post game press conference, Jaden Oberkrom is a "weapon inside 60 yards" (according to our own Jamie Plunkett). Oberkrom was not really tested this week, as his long field goal was 25 yards, but he was 2-2. That is all you can ask from All-Big 12 Honorable Mention kicker.
There were not too many attempts for kick and punt return, but the Frogs do have a lot of speed returning the football with Cameron Echols-Luper, who was reported as being "fine", after leaving the game due to a hyper-extended knee. Deante' Gray and Catalon will be returning kicks this season. Each kick returner had one attempt Saturday and Gray lead the pair with a 24 yard return. Both have returns for touchdowns in their careers, so look for both of them to break one again this season.
Ethan Perry played a strong role on special teams as well. He averaged 48.2 yards per punt, which is over 6 yards better than his average last season. He also tied his 2013 season high with a 57 yard punt Saturday. TCU was able to hold Samford to a -4.0 yard average for punt returns. You cannot ask for much better from your special teams unit.
Interesting statistic of the game:
TCU went 7-7 (100%) in red zone scoring attempts. Five of the scores were for touchdowns and two field goals. This statistic will be crucial for the Horned Frogs to keep as high as possible in order to keep up with the other high-scoring offenses in the Big 12 conference this fall.