TCU played a far more complete game Saturday afternoon - albeit against a far less competitive foe. While not everything was perfect on the field, it's very easy to find some players who stood out with their performances.
UP: KaVontae Turpin - The man we will forever more call #TurpinTime showed out in a big way in his first game on his home field, making the most of his seven touches, and scoring his first collegiate touchdown. With over 100 all-purpose yards on one rush, three receptions, and three punt returns, KT drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd with every cut and spin. Turpin does a great job of securing the ball on punt return duty, and seems on the verge of breaking free for a score basically every time he touches the pigskin. Shifty, explosive, just plain fast - the kid is special. I think we have a good one, Frog fans.
DOWN: Aaron Green - I know that Patterson made a point to say that Green's limited reps was more about other guys getting touches and less about his performance, and I know that he scored two touchdowns, but five carries for 20 yards with a long of nine is not the #22 we have come to expect. It's very early, and TCU hasn't really needed to rely on Green to this point. But you hope that when that time comes, the senior running back will get back to being the game changer out of the backfield that we were spoiled with a season ago. I still believe that Green is one of the most complete backs in the country, and after averaging over seven yards per carry a year ago, he has proven what he is capable of. I expect a big game from him Saturday against SMU, as Cumbie and Meacham will look to get him going against a really bad run defense.
UP: Denzel Johnson - With defensive players dropping like flies, somebody was going to need to step up and make the big play. On Saturday, that somebody was Denzel Johnson. The 6'2" junior safety out of Gainesville, TX made his first career interception count - taking it 50 yards the other way for his first career touchdown. With all signs pointing to Iloka being out for the year, Johnson has a chance to shine opposite Derrick Kindred in the defensive backfield. With four tackles, including a TFL, a pass break up and that interception, he had Patterson glowing after the game. Between Johnson, Travin Howard, and Montrel Wilson, TCU has potentially found something special on the defensive side of the ball.
DOWN: Injuries - This is kind of cheating, but my goodness, will we ever get a break? The Frogs lost Kenny Iloka for the season after the senior safety suffered a knee injury in the first quarter on kickoff coverage, when he collided with an SFA player. TCU also may be without redshirt freshman Shaun Nixon for a while - the running back, who has been excellent in his first two games since returning from an injury suffered last fall in camp, went out late in the game holding his side, and disappeared from the sideline soon thereafter. His injury is unknown at this time, but Patterson did say he was held out of the second half "as a precaution". Fingers crossed on that. Senior defensive end Mike Tuaua was not on the sidelines for SFA, and while no announcement was made, he has been struggling with an undisclosed injury as well. Add those to the losses of James McFarland and Sammy Douglas, both out for the year, Davion Pierson, who has yet to get on the field after suffering an unknown injury in camp, plus the mysterious disappearance of highly toued freshman DeShawn Raymond, and has any top five team lost more players in the first two weeks of the season than the Frogs in 2015? Never mind the fact that the team was already replacing five defensive starters from 2014... now the replacements are having to be replaced. At one point yesterday, I saw someone comment on twitter about getting the first team defense off the field... but by that point, the first team was also the second and third. GP's "next man up" philosophy is going to get it's biggest test if TCU is going to contend for a Big 12 title this fall.
UP: Walk Ons and Seniors Shine - There is nothing better than seeing guys on the field in a blowout win that are so nondescript you find yourself rifling through the program trying to figure out just who they are. We got that in spades in the fourth quarter against the Jacks, as guys like Colten Christensen, Stacy Boyd, Michael Carroll, Connor Osborne, and more got their moment in the sun. Christensen was the bell cow in the final frame, gaining 43 yards on ten carries and scoring a touchdown. Having gotten to know these guys through our countdown series, it was fun to see them in action, finally getting to play in front of the home fans (well those that were left - be better, people) and have a chance to make plays in an actual game. Five Frogs had their first career scores yesterday afternoon; for some, the first of many. For others, maybe their one special moment in a career fraught with hard work. It was also fun to see our first glimpses of Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein, the potential QBs of the future - Kenny Hill TBD - as well as the likely successor to Jaden Oberkrom, freshman Jonathan Song. Foster completed his first collegiate pass to his old high school teammate, tight end Charlie Reid.
DOWN: FCS Opponents - This is somewhat contradictory to the previous "up", but these FCS games are a drag. There isn't much fun to be had when you're dropping 70 on an overmatched opponent, and when the stadium is basically emptied out after halftime, you've lost a starter to injury, and you're playing your fourth string QB, it's acceptable to question if it's really worth it. I appreciate the tune-up and the chance to get your backups some work, but would rather see that against an FBS opponent - go play a low level MWC or AAC team instead. Of course, it's not always a cakewalk... just ask Auburn, or Arkansas. Woof.