The PA system didn't work. The video board was shorting out. The crowd was disinterested at best. And Trevone Boykin has an as-yet unidentified ankle injury that is being speculated as a high ankle sprain. It was a tough day at Amon G., but we got the win, and that has to be enough for now.
UP: Aaron Green - AG had a vintage performance on Saturday, at a time when his team needed it most. Green had 30 carries for 177 yards; the vast majority of those coming on tough runs up the middle. He fought for every inch, and other than his one long 48 yard scamper, they were all hard-earned. Green just has a sense for the moment; while he hasn't put up the numbers in the last few games, he once again delivered when the Frogs needed someone, anyone, to step up and put the team on their back. Much like the second halves of SMU and Tech, Green got it done - this time for his beleaguered offense as opposed to rescue a tired D. Green's 30 carries are the most for a TCU running back since 2007, and as he usually does, he ran better the more touches he caught and the harder the yards came. He might not be the best we have had, but he has been as important to this squad as the two bigger names he plays with on offense. Once Boykin went out, it was his game to win. And he did what he needed to do.
DOWN: Backup QBs - First and foremost, we all hope Trevone is ok and back on the field - healthy - soon. For the Frogs to lose their two best players in back to back weeks felt like the ultimate gut punch in a season full of them. While young guys have stepped in admirably at wide receiver and running back, allowing the offense to still function (well, the last two weeks aren't exactly proof of that), more young guys have stepped in to defensive roles (albeit with mixed results), the inability for TCU's coaches to develop a capable backup is certainly troubling. Gary Patterson knew it was a potential trouble spot for his time back in the spring.
I don't care what the national media thinks, or the Heisman voters, or SEC fans - Trevone Boykin is the best player in college football. If you want proof of that, see what happens when you take him off the field for all but a handful of plays against one of the worst teams in Division I. So it's understandable that the coaching staff would game plan around a talent like that, that he would get the reps, that the offense would be built around his considerable talents. All that being said... he's a guy that likes to get out and run, and puts himself in a lot of perilous positions, which leads to a higher chance of getting injured. We have been lucky in that regard, and he has been incredibly tough - playing through a myriad of nicks and dings - but that luck ran in to a brick wall or a bad ankle on Saturday, and with his status going forward up in the air, it's hard to imagine Bram Kohlhausen or Foster Sawyer going in to Norman six days from now and producing a win. Bram has been a nice backup, he's steady, he knows the playbook, he's been around the program - but despite decent stats, he was unable to lead the team on a scoring drive and was pulled after throwing an interception to open the second half. Redshirt freshman Foster Sawyer succeeded him behind center, and while he didn't do much through the air, he provided a noticeable spark to the team and the stadium. Sawyer matriculated the team down the field for three scoring drives, including the first career touchdown for both he and Shaun Nixon. With Boykin's status against the Sooners in doubt, I would hope that Sawyer (who would be my choice as backup at this point) gets plenty of reps this week with the first team. And with a wide open competition on the horizon, as we near the end of the Deuce Boogie era, it will be interesting to see what GP and co think of the future at the position.
UP: Shaun Nixon - The future is bright in Funky Town, due in large part to the do it all running back/wide receiver out of Austin. The redshirt freshman seems to be all the way back from the knee injury that cost him all of 2014, and improves each time he steps foot on the field. With Slanina out for the past several weeks, it has been Nixon that Boykin has looked to in that role - and Bram did the same when his number was called. Nixon set careers highs in receptions and receiving yards Saturday - seven for 78 - and hauled in his first career touchdown on a nifty catch and run from Foster Sawyer. He was targeted far more often than the older, more established wide outs, and he made the most of his opportunity. Nixon has a chance to be a great one inside for the Frogs.
DOWN: Offensive Game Plan - There are a lot of reasons the TCU offense hasn't been clicking the last few weeks; between injuries, youth at key positions, lack of continuity, defenses making adjustments... but, all that being said, isn't there something that just seems, I don't know... off? I'm not an expert, I just play one of the internet. But it doesn't take much to see that this is not the same offense we saw a year ago, or for that matter, a month ago. The play calling is different, the routes don't look the same, the running game is... not working, for the most part. The loss of Doc is a big part of that, a banged up Boykin is certainly part of the problem, but at some point, the staff has to make adjustments and put these young, inexperienced players in positions to succeed - no matter what is going on that is out of their control. The Frogs hardly ever go deep anymore - and with Kolby Listenbee looking close to full health, I don't understand why not. The offensive line is a mess of injuries now, so maybe that explains it - and if so, why not employ more of a power running game where they are just asked to use their size and strength to win the line of scrimmage? Boykin is being rolled out on bootlegs nearly enough, the option game is underused, and we haven't done enough to utilize our undersized, but speedy, slot receivers in ways that give them opportunities to pick up yardage outside of expecting them to break tackles or make guys miss. I don't know if they are holding back for reasons we aren't privy too, and if so, I can accept that. They know far more than us. I just hope, no matter who is on the field Saturday in Norman, we see something closer to the TCU offense that put us in the conversation, as opposed to the one that kept us out a few years back.
UP: Aaron Curry - Curry was awesome for a TCU defense that finally generated some pressure on the quarterback, as he basically lived in the backfield against Kansas. With two sacks, three tackle for loss, and six total stops, he was a one man wrecking crew for a defensive line that had three sacks and nine TFLs on the game. With the secondary continuing to struggle, the defensive line's ability to pressure the QB is paramount - and for the first time in a long time, they delivered, led by the Nebraska transfer Curry.
DOWN: 11am Kickoffs, Broken Stadium Speakers, and Empty Seats - As grey and overcast as the day was, it was a fitting weather atmosphere for a dreary stadium environment. It wasn't the home game feel we are used to - the broken PA system affected the crowd much more than I would have anticipated, the Riff Ram video came before the end of the first quarter and featured a non-Frog family member for the first time I can remember (Rick Carlisle... why?), and the video board had glitches and issues throughout. The crowd was sparse - and I get it, Saturday morning is a tough make for people, especially families - but it made the senior day activities fall flat. It just didn't seem like a crowd befitting a 9-1 team, even against Kansas, and that's sad to me. This squad, somehow, has just a single loss on the year. They have suffered 23 injuries over the season - five more on Saturday - including losing the best player in the sport, one of the two best receivers in the sport, and more corners/safeties/linebackers than most teams dress on game day. Not to mention the three starting offensive linemen down that have made things all but impossible for running backs trying to find yardage or quarterbacks trying to buy time for receivers to get open on deep patterns or double moves. They still deserve your support, because they're still fighting. I imagine the next home game, the last home game, will be packed to the gils - even though it's not the game we once hoped it would be - but, let's not take any chances. Be early, stay late, get loud. This is the end of an era of some of the best players this program has seen.
The Ka'Vontae Tupin 'Oh No He Didn't' UP of the week: This goes to KT himself, for his ridiculous punt return touchdown in the first half. For a TCU offense that couldn't get anything going in the red zone, the 49 yard return for a score was the biggest play of the game. Turp reversed field on the play, breaking several tackles, showing off a wide array of cuts and jukes, then turning off the after burners to find the pylon. We have been saying all season that he looked like he was on the verge of breaking one every time he touched the ball; well, on Saturday, he finally did.
I do also want to mention a special UP for the TCU D; after the game, Patterson said he was waiting for a game where the defense was going to have to win it for them, and on Saturday afternoon, that is exactly what they did. Yes, the Kansas O isn't exactly world beaters, but the TCU D stepped up and stifled them on the ground and through the air for the most part, and gave the Frogs a chance to win on the shoulders of a third string QB. As much as we have banged on that side of the ball, and with good reason, they stepped up when they needed to and prevented TCU from falling victim to what would have been one of the biggest upsets in College Football history, based on the numbers. So for that, we are grateful. And so was Coach P.
"Sometimes you just don’t have any answers except, ‘This is what it is,’ " he said. "Everything that’s happened to us, and we’re 9-1. Most people would be maybe have won three ballgames. But these guys have fought through everything this year." - via the Star Telegram