I was not looking forward to putting this piece together at halftime last night, when it looked like nothing was going to go TCU's way, and the wizard had cast his spell on the Frogs once again. But on the backs of the best player in college football and his favorite target - plus a second half defensive gut-check - the Frogs pulled out the improbable victory in come from behind fashion.
UP: Trevone Boykin - Leonard Fournette is a special talent, and might be the best running back we have seen in college football since Adrian Peterson. BUT, in my (admittedly biased opinion), there is a not a better playing in college football than TCU's senior QB. He was 20-30 on the night in Manhattan, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions - one on a throw where he was hit as he released and another where his freshman wide receiver ran the wrong route - and wracking up another 124 yards and two scores on the ground, including this 69 yarder that gave the Frogs their first lead since the first quarter:
And while that run will be a part of his Heisman invite reel (should it come), it was his response to Turpin after the freshman broke right instead of left, leading to a drive and momentum killing pick, that makes him the best player in college football. Putting his arm around the youngster, explaining what went wrong, and making sure he knew that Boykin still believed - keeping him confident to make a big play later (which he did) - that's why we love Trevone Boykin. He has all the skills, all the tools, all the ability - but more than that, he has the leadership and intangibles to keeping TCU winning in any situation.
DOWN: Corry O'Meally - The much-maligned senior corner has been in and out of the doghouse at TCU since his arrival as a junior college transfer; he has all the tools and size to be a solid starter for the Frogs, but has never quite gotten over the hump from serviceable backup to reliable starter. As the injuries mounted, the other #2 was pressed in to service opposite Nick Orr, and the results have been decidedly mixed. Against the Wildcats subpar pass offense, O'Meally struggled mightily; three pass interference calls telling the story of his long night on the outside. O'Meally is going to have to stay in the lineup - it doesn't appear that DeShawn Raymond is coming through that door for whatever reason - and with four of the Frogs final six opponents running some version of a high-powered air attack, he's going to have to find a way to keep playing physical without drawing the laundry. Apparently, the coaches teach the DBs to not turn their heads as to not lose the receiver, so they need to find another way to make a play without interfering. O'Meally did do some things well in the Little Apple though - his eight tackles and three pass break-ups were both career highs.
UP: Jaden Oberkrom - Legatron did it again, booting seven of his nine kickoffs either deep or through the end zone, limiting the Kansas State return game to 30 yards and giving the Cats a long field after every TCU drive. And while it was lost in the shuffle of Boykin's second half heroics, his 50 yard field goal in the second quarter was a huge play in the game. After cutting through KSU's defense like a hot knife through butter in the first quarter, the offense stalled in a big way in the second frame. The Frogs started at their own 25 and opened their first drive of the second quarter with a 30 yard pass play to Shaun Nixon. A pass interference call in the Frogs favor tacked on another 15 yards, and the Frogs were in business on the right side of the 50. But an Aaron Green run went the wrong way on first down, and two straight incompletions on long ball attempts stalled the drive on the Cats 33. Patterson sent out his trusty senior specialist to give TCU back the lead, the last they would have until late in the final frame. We all know #CollegeKickers and thus, should know we have a special one in Oberkrom. The 50 yarder would have bene good from 60, and those three points would prove to be huge later. If Jaden doesn't boot that field goal through, Bill Snyder probably goes for it on fourth and one from his 20 with two minutes to go in the game. And with the way things had been going, the Frogs might not have stopped them - and maybe never gotten the ball back.
DOWN: Entitlement - This is kind of new ground for TCU and it's fans, as we are far more used to climbing the mountain than staring down from the top of it. And in this new world of four star recruits and top 300 prospects, it's easy to get a little bit ahead of yourself. Patterson said "they were laughing on the practice field, laughing in the training room" and didn't take the game seriously enough. At halftime, he reminded them that he had told them how hard it would be to win that night in Manhattan, and that maybe now they would finally believe him. Well, they did. And just in time. Coming off of the utter destruction on Texas, and seeing that same Horns team take down a top 10 Oklahoma, it's understandable that the kids got a little cocky. And when you're a teenager, and you've been told how great you are for most of your life, it's hard to stay humble. These kids will come around, because Patterson will make them. And with excellent senior leadership - humble guys who were unheralded and plain worked themselves in to stars like Boykin, Doc, and Kindred - I don't think we will hear much else about guys not taking things seriously enough. Thankfully, it didn't cost them Saturday. And hopefully, the lesson learned carries over to Ames next week, and beyond.
UP: Derrick Kindred - It's been a while since we have talked at length about TCU's one remaining returning starter in the secondary. But the senior safety announced his presence in a big way Saturday night when his team needed it most. Kindred has been quiet so far this season - while he has forced a pair of fumbles this season, he hasn't had many opportunities to make plays in the passing game, as teams are focused on exploiting the younger players alongside him and thus avoiding throwing in his direction. But, with the Frogs trailing by 18 and Kansas State driving to open the second half, DK stepped in front of a receiver and picked off Hubener's pass, taking it 60 yards the other way for a touchdown that cut the lead to a more manageable 11 points.
TCU Horned Frogs (@BR_TCUFootball) October 11, 2015
That play not only changed the scoreboard, but the sideline as well.
"I felt like it brought a spark to our sideline," Kindred said. "It gave us hope.".
DOWN: The Run Defense - Fortunately (maybe) the Big 12 is a passing league. Because for the first time this season, we have seen the two converted linebackers really exposed for their lack of size. Against a spread team, the 200 pound a piece duo of Travin Howard and Montrel Wilson have an advantage, owning the quickness and athleticism to cover slot receivers and running backs out on routes. But against a power running team like the Wildcats, they got run over and blocked in to oblivion. You won't see a lot of those type of teams in the Big 12, and while the pass defense remains a concern (five pass interference calls), the power run game is dangerous not only for the yards it eats up, but the time it takes off the clock. It's hard for Boykin to do his magic when he is standing on the sidelines, and K State did a masterful job of that Saturday night, doubling up the time of possession as they bled the clock down with a mix of runs up the middle and a zone read that the Frogs never seemed to quite figure out. Missed tackles and blocks that aren't shed are things that can be addressed in practice to some degree, but at the halfway point, it's time for the young guys to just start making the plays they are supposed to make.
The Oh No He Didn't Kavontae Turpin UP of the Week: This week's play of the week goes to Josh Doctson, who had as quiet a first half as I can remember, but more than made up with it with two of the biggest plays of the night. After failing on their first two point conversion attempt, and seeing their second almost foiled by a false start, Doc did Doc things, running a slant up the middle and posting up the defender for an easy catch that stretched the TCU lead to three. Kansas State would drive down and tie it on a 37 yard boot, and the Frog O would take the field with less than two minutes to go and a chance to take the lead one last time. One play later, this happened:
"That’s what happens when our back’s against the wall," Doctson said. "We’re just ready to execute. He’s going to make big plays. And I’m going to try to make big plays along with him, along with the rest of the offense. Make big-time plays in big-time games. That’s what he did."