I am sure there will be plenty of conversations over the next day or two about the two point conversion that was and then wasn't, but let me go on the record in saying that I have no problem going for broke in that scenario, all things considered. If you want to decry the first attempt, I have plenty of thoughts on why that was a terrible decision in my eyes, but... that's for a different story. For now, the best, and worst, of a Saturday night in Norman.
UP: Bram Kohlhausen - We might not have believed in Bram last week against Kansas, and many (myself included) were happy to see Foster Sawyer getting the first team reps when Trevone Boykin looked lost for this game. But you have to hand it to the senior QB, who came in facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit against one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the Big XII and made smart plays to move his team down the field. Five for eleven for 122 yards and two TDs, Bram was the man, hitting KaVontae Turpin for a long TD on his first drive and finding Emanuel Porter in the end zone for what could have been the game tying/winning score with less than a minute to play. He had Shaun Nixon open and put himself in position to make the pass on the failed two point conversion, but the OU defender made the better play, ultimately leading the Frogs to fall just short. All signs point to Boykin's return on Black Friday, but if he can't go, Bram has the stones to get it done.
DOWN: Play Calling - I'm not going to rip a redshirt freshman making his first career start on the road, in Norman, against that defense and pass rush. Foster Sawyer didn't look good - his balls hung in the air so long that I think I could have made it down from my seat in time to pick one of them off, but the struggles aren't all on him. It is the coaching staff's job to put their players in a position to succeed - and calling long pass after long pass down the sideline did no such thing - especially when you consider how far off of Kolby Listenbee the defense was playing. Sure, they were creative when it came to the Wild Frog and use of Shaun Nixon, but why they didn't use Turpin more, call more screens and short passes, I just don't know. Give Kohlhausen all the credit, for sure, but it's not much of a coincidence that his success came as the play calling did - he had a chance; it never seemed that Sawyer did. Foster will need to be much better if he wants to beat out Kenny Hill this spring for the starting job in 2016 - he stared down his first read for an eternity, he was jittery and indecisive, and the hang time has already been mentioned - but he's seeing his first significant action and that's to be expected. But, it will also be up to the staff to adjust to his skill set if he does indeed become the man going forward.
UP: Aaron Green - Green was soooo good, especially in the second half, as he rang up big run after big run, showcasing speed, power, and an arsenal of moves. Green became TCU's first thousand yard rusher since Ed Wesley in 2010 on his way to a 127 yard performance, and his TD run immediately following the muffed punt snap changed the momentum and put TCU in the driver's seat for the first time all game. Green has struggled some over the second half of the season, but once again, when he was needed most, the senior had an impressive, complete, and truly special performance. When you consider that Kyle Hicks did not have a rushing attempt, that Trevorris Johnson was pulled after one run that led to one fumble, and the Frogs rushed only 12 times by five players (two of them being QBs) for a combined 34 yards, t's obvious just how important AG was to TCU's success and almost upset. OU knew he was getting the ball, and yet, they couldn't stop him. Credit his spirit, and some good blocking by the O-Line, for putting the Frogs in position to pull off something special - that was almost really special.
DOWN: Run Defense - The pass rush was much better against the Sooners, as they were able to pressure Baker Mayfield and Trevor Knight consistently throughout the game. But the rush defense was abhorrent. Now, I understand that OU's two running backs outweigh TCU's two linebackers by a considerable amount, but at the end of the day, defenders need to make tackles. It also didn't help that Ty Summers was ejected for targeting - he is the only guy the Frogs have left that has any real size at that position. That stat also in no way excuses how Mayfield ran over, through, and by a litany of defenders before leaving the game at halftime to the tune of 42 yards, a number that is much bigger if you take out the sacks. On the evening, OU ran for a total of 333 yards on 59 attempts, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Once Trevor Knight took the reigns behind center, the Sooners leaned heavily on the duo of Perine and Mixon - and they delivered, despite missing chunks of plays between them due to injury. TCU did a much better job against them in the second half - and surely the injuries and lack of a true running threat at QB played in to that - but had they done more in the first half to contain the rushing attack of the Sooners, maybe the strategy changes and GP doesn't go for two early, or feels more confident going to OT late. Maybe.
UP: Special Teams - Jaden Oberkrom became the Big XII's all time leading field goal kicker with a 43 yarder late and limited the OU returners to a total of 19 yards in returns; while Ethan Perry booted four punts inside the 20 and one for over 50 yards in holding Sterling Shepard to negative yardage in punt returns. The Frogs' special teams unit did their job, as OU faced long field after long field, helping force their explosive offense in to more field goal opportunities than touchdown drives. Perry has been up and down in 2015, but was far more good than bad Saturday night in helping TCU flip the field and giving the defense a chance.
DOWN: Trevorris Johnson - I have seen calls for this kid to get more opportunities all over this blog and twitter since he stepped on campus, and it looked like he was finally going to get his chance Saturday night. While I applaud his push for extra yards, and while I recognize that maybe the whistle should have been blown a bit earlier, that fumble problem has followed TJ throughout his career. With the injuries, the problems scoring in the red zone, and the way the running game has struggled at times, he seems the perfect answer to a lot of question for the TCU offense. But the fumbles seem to have led to a lack of trust in him by the coaching staff, and the times he has seen extended time of the field - generally in late game situations when the game is in hand - he seems to want to dance around and bounce it outside when he is the perfect picture of a one cut, run you over back that the Frogs could so desperately use this season and in to the future. I haven't given up on TJ, and I hope he gets a chance Friday to redeem himself. But he has too much talent to not be playing better.
The KaVontae Turpin "oh no he didn't" UP of the week: Emanuel Porter had a pretty miserable game leading up to the most crucial catch of his career - there were several balls that he didn't come back to, he should have fought to break up a pass that became an interception on one of Sawyer's deep balls, and he had a couple really bad routes - BUT, when he was needed most, he stepped up in a BIG way, and reminded us all how glad we are to have him healthy and back on the field. Porter was draped by OU defenders in the end zone with time ticking down and TCU needing a touchdown to give them a chance to take the game, and he rose for a ball from Bram, tucked it in, and came down for the score. It was a heck of a play, and had TCU made the next one, he would be a hero. As such, let's hope that catch gives him momentum heading in to Friday, where he will play a big role in helping pick up for Josh Doctson's absence.
Ultimately, I am so proud of this team; the way they fought, the heart, the guts, the will they showed with all the deck stacked against them. Not many teams would roll in to that atmosphere, with those injuries, and that point spread, and no roll over. Our Frogs? They never quit. Now, we get ready for the biggest battle, and the last fight, of our year.