It was a hard loss on Saturday, for a few reasons. Not the least of which is that people formally started questioning coaches, player heart, and the overall talent of the team en masse.
J.T. (filling in for Melissa) and I hit on a few of these things last night during the radio show, and Melissa called in to give her thoughts as well once her flight landed. It’s worth a listen, IMO.
I went on a bit of a rant about #GiveKyleTheDamBall, because I truly believe he needs it more. Heck, Trevorris Johnson needs the ball more too. Here’s why.
11 of Hicks’ 18 touches came on TCU’s two scoring drives.
He touched the ball seven times (six rushes, one reception) on TCU’s field goal drive, when the Frogs were already down 14-0. Kenny Hill was 3/4 for 36 yards on the drive. The run opened up the pass.
The lone touchdown drive was 12 plays long. Eight were running plays, one, I believe, was a Hill scramble. Hicks + TJ touched the ball seven times. Hill was 3/4 on this drive too, for 34 yards and a touchdown. Again, the run opened up the pass.
After that TD it was a 4 point game, and it seemed like TCU’s offense had finally found a rhythm that worked. The next drive, now down 21-10, TCU opted to throw the ball exclusively. Four plays and a punt.
To their credit, they went back to the run on the following drive, still down 11, but two good stops by West Virginia forced TCU into a 3rd-and-long that they couldn’t convert. So, sure, running the ball isn’t a foolproof plan, but two out of three drives ending in points ain’t bad.
Also, here’s a fun stat split for you: Kyle Hicks has carried the ball 44 times this season with TCU down 14 points or less. He has 238 rushing yards (5.4 ypc) and three rushing touchdowns.
But let’s move along to some other things.
Ranthony Texada was fantastic on Saturday. He allowed just one pass completion, recorded a sack, and just all around shut guys down. He has finally looked healthy the past few games, and he’s playing like his old self again. The only issue is, he’s just one guy.
Which is why it was so good to see Julius Lewis back out there again as well. Thought to be lost to a season-ending injury, Lewis played pretty well for his first game back. Hopefully he continues on this trajectory, because if TCU’s defense can finally have two good man-coverage corners again, things may turn around in a hurry.
The defensive line had four sacks on Saturday as well, from four different linemen. Curry, Carraway, Boesen, and McFarland all got to Skyler Howard. Also, while West Virginia managed 158 rushing yards, TCU avoided giving up a rushing touchdown for just the second time all season.
Also, here’s something interesting. West Virginia offense was held to below 400 total yards (389) for the first time this season.
Kyle Hicks was good too. 18 touches, 120 total yards. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the day, but he only carried it 15 times. He now has 907 yards from scrimmage on the season.
Also, Adam Nunez is a badass.
Outside of the two scoring drives, during which Hill went 6/8 for 70 yards and a touchdown, Kenny Hill was quite bad. On non-scoring drives Hill was 12/23 for 78 yards and an interception. Most of his passes wound up forcing receivers to the ground, as they were low and off target.
He also looked extremely hesitant to run the ball when he had opportunities. I’m not sure if that’s fear, or a mandate from the coaches, or something else.
TCU’s secondary not named Texada and Lewis had bad days, TCU’s linebackers couldn’t tackle to save their lives, and beyond the sacks, the defensive line struggled to get pressure. That’s all I’ll say about the defense in this one though, as it was truly the offense that let the team down on Saturday.
Deante Gray also had a tough day, fumbling two kickoffs. It’s one of those performances that had fans flashing back to the days of Skye Dawson.
Also, reports of TCU fans shouting derogatory things at their own team at the game Saturday are very disturbing. Don’t be those people. Be better than that.
Where do we go from here?
The defense had an okay day, beyond the fact that they were absolutely drained by two long third quarter drives, which totaled more than 13 minutes of game time. They’ll need to continue to improve, and stop giving up massive passing plays, with Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State coming up for the next three games.
This season can still end on a positive note, but it’s going to take some soul searching from the players, coaching staff, and fans.