So... that was not a great way to spend a Saturday. But there were some bright spots in the darkness that was a 20 point road loss to the undefeated Pokes.
UP: Shaun Nixon - The redshirt freshman is returning to the form that made him a four star recruit out of high school, and had his best game as a Horned Frog in Stillwater. Nixon had only one rushing attempt (for four yards), but was a dangerous weapon as a receiver, leading the team with nine catches for 146 yards - including a seventy yard scamper that he was one block from taking to the house. Nixon is one of a host of smaller young players that can basically do it all, and as he gets stronger and more confident on the repaired knee, I think he will become a better runner, too. We have seen how hard it is to cover Nixon, White, and Turpin when you aren't sure where they are going to line up - and when they are seemingly always one cut from taking off for a big play. Speed, baby.
DOWN: Aaron Green - What happened to Aaron Green? I said on twitter yesterday that I don't think I have seen him make someone miss since the opening play at Kansas State, and he didn't do much to change my mind in Stillwater. After being so good last year, especially when BJ went down and we didn't have anyone else to step up, he just hasn't gotten it going in 2015. The run game as a whole looked like a disaster against Oklahoma State - and credit their excellent front line for a lot of that - and while Green's 97 yards on 24 carries wasn't bad by any stretch, he couldn't break free for any big gains or get to the second level of the defense. Without the run gain being a serious threat, teams are starting to get to Trevone Boykin, and that's not allowing the longer routes to develop on the outside. Not every team can play defense the way the Cowboys did yesterday - but it gets a lot easier when the run game isn't clicking like it's capable of doing.
UP: KaVontae Turpin - 282 all purpose yards, including over 100 yards as a receiver. He runs it, he catches it, he returns punts and kicks - and he does it all as a true freshman.
This kid is special. You worry about his durability because of his size - but, much like Russell Wilson, it's really hard to level a big hit on a guy that you can't square up, or even catch. It feels like every time he touches the ball he has a chance to score, and with all of the injuries to the receiving corp, he's become Boykin's favorite target, and the one he trusts the most.
DOWN: Nick Orr/Torrance Mosely - James Washington had four touchdown receptions, and the shortest was 47 yards. The Frogs have been playing with fire in this area all season, but it took Mason Rudolph's otherworldly day throwing the long ball to really get them burned. Even when the two defensive backs were able to run with the Pokes wide receivers, the still couldn't make a play on the ball, and it had people clamoring for a return to the pass interference calls that were complained about a few weeks ago. 15 yards is better than 50, after all. At this point, I don't know what Gary Patterson can do. Yeah, this is a completely different defense with Texada on the outside and Illoka over the top, but they aren't coming back in 2015. GP is going to have to find other ways to get pressure on the opposing QB (the D Line has been stoned by opposing offensive lines all season and completely ineffective in the pass rush) or stop blitzing and roll more safety help over the top. Because Baker Mayfield and Jarrett Stidham don't suck, sadly.
UP: Josh Doctson - I don't know the status of Doc, if it's a break or a sprain, or some yet to be determined injury. But, for the senior wide receiver, who is - at least in my eyes - inarguably the best receiver in TCU history, there is at least a thought he could be out for the year. I will continue to hope for the best, of course, but if this is the last game he plays, I'm giving him an UP. It was obvious to anyone that had watched the Frogs for the past two years that the offense relies on him so much... and time and time again, he comes through. He scoffs at single coverage, he laughs at a double team, and he makes plays even when tripled. You hope he isn't done in purple - especially with that game being his swan song - but no matter what, he is going to have a long pro career ahead. Doc owns just about every major record for a wide receiver in the TCU books, and there's not a better player, or person, to have his name next to them. Get well soon, Doc.
DOWN: Turnovers - I am not going to beat up on Trevone Boykin here, at all. The kid has been unbelievable this season and last, and has stepped up to the challenge time and time again. And with a defense that is just do vulnerable, he has had to be perfect more often than not. Against OSU, and they way they played Saturday afternoon, even perfection might not have been enough, and it's obvious by the way he was pressing that Tre was aware of that.
Injuries do a couple things; they take talented players off the field, they shorten the bench and thus the depth, and they force a lot of guys who maybe aren't getting reps in practice to play a pivotal role in the games. That last point was stunningly obvious for TCU in Stillwater. Boykin threw four picks - something he had never done before - and most of them weren't great defensive plays. Part of it was having guys in his face, part of it was not being able to fully set his feet, but a lot of it appeared to be due to the fact that he wasn't on the same page with his receivers, that they were running the wrong routes or breaking off cuts too soon or too late. Boykin was flustered, no question, and credit that to a great execution of an outstanding game plan. But also don't forget that the Frogs, in addition to the insane amount of injuries suffered on the defensive side of the ball, TCU's wide receiving crew has also been decimated:
- Deante' Greay: out for the year
- Ty Slanina: out for the year
- Ja'Juan Story: out for the year
- Emanuel Porter: out indefinitely
- Kolby Listenbee: missed several games
- KaVontae Turpin: missed time
- Josh Doctson: ???
TCU won EVERY. SINGLE. STAT. Except one. And that's the one that matters.
But hey, we live to play another day. And while the defense was exposed in a major way by Gundy, TCU still has the best player in college football. With two out of the final three games at home, the chase to the Big XII title isn't over. The Frogs have an uphill battle for sure, and the trip to Norman looks even more frightening than before. But 8-1 with one of the best coaches in the land? It's not over, Frog fans.