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Frogs Roll in Big 12 Opener, Beat Iowa State 41-20

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TCU won their first Big 12 home game of 2016 today against Iowa State, and looked good defensively for the first time this season.

Iowa State v TCU
Kyle Hick breaking away on a 64 yard touchdown run in the first quarter today against Iowa State.
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Mark it 1-0, dude. That’s TCU record in the Big 12 right now, and due to the fact that no one other than Iowa State and TCU have played a Big 12 game yet, it also puts TCU in 1st place in the Big 12 for at least one week. The Frogs played up to their ability for the first time this season. Granted, they had the benefit of playing against a struggling team, but beating winless teams the way you are supposed to beat them is a big confidence booster for a team that is still discovering who they are.

The offense started slow again, recording a field goal and a punt on their first two drives before getting into the endzone about half way through the first quarter. If TCU wants to beat the better teams in the Big 12, the offense will have to learn to get things rolling right out of the gate.

While the defense played a lot better, Iowa State could have kept things a lot closer earlier if not for some bad drops by wide open Cyclone receivers. Still, it was the best overall performance that we have seen from the Frogs this year, and should definitely be considered a step forward. Now, let’s take a look at what we learned.

1) Kyle Hicks is a Feature Back

Hicks was incredible today in a breakout performance for the junior tailback. On just 12 carries, he put together 117 yards and a touchdown. He broke free for a 64 yard run on the score and averaged 9.8 yards per carry. He also caught 3 passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. It was a defining game for Hicks as the feature back in this offense.

As a team TCU had 229 yards on the ground and proved just how deep they are at the running back position. Kyle Hicks, Derrick Green, Trevorris Johnson and Kenny Hill all had rushing touchdowns. Johnson looked especially impressive, rushing for 47 yards on 4 carries, and Green continues to prove that he is very difficult to stop in short yardage situations.

2) The Deep Ball is Back

Kenny Hill hadn’t had a lot of success on throws over 20 yards in the first two games of the season. Today was the first time that the TCU offense really seemed to have success at stretching the field. Hill connected with John Diarse for 35 yards and Emanuel Porter for 39 yards down the sidelines, and also had a 25 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Hicks. He only threw for 219 yards, but the playcalling was very balanced, with 37 run plays to 35 pass plays.

3) John Diarse is Doing #9 Proud

Diarse established himself as a leader in the receiving corps today and made the play of the game in the passing game when he went over a defender’s head to high point a 35 yard deep ball. That play happened with TCU up just 10-7 in the second quarter and the drive ended up resulting in a touchdown to put TCU up 17-7. Diarse had 7 catches today for 97 yards and was consistently showing up to make big catches when the Frogs needed him.

A total of nine different receivers caught passes today, and five of them had multiple catches. Emanuel Porter also had an incredible catch near the goaline in double coverage, and had the most yards of any receiver other than Diarse with 48.

4) Injuries Made a Good Win Scary

The injury with the biggest impact today has to be KaVontae Turpin. On 4th and 4 in the 3rd quarter, Turpin made a catch over the middle for the first down and didn’t get back up, holding his leg in obvious pain. The trainers helped him off the field and eventually he walked into the locker room under his own power. It looked bad. Like, possibly season-ending bad. Patterson said after the game that they’ll do an MRI on Turpin tomorrow.

Other key injuries today were to cornerback Jeff Gladney and defensive end Josh Carraway. They both went down with apparent injuries to their right foot, but they both were able to get up and walk off the field under their own power. Hopefully, both of them will be back in action next week.

5) The Defense Finally Looked Like a Gary Patterson Defense

The Frogs held Iowa State to 355 total yards, allowing just 138 rushing yards. Most of that came from Mike Warren, who had 23 carries for 95 yards, but a lot of that came in the second half after TCU had the game well in-hand. Jeff Gladney, Deante Gray and Ranthony Texada combined in great coverage, holding Iowa State’s star receiver Allen Lazard to just 8 yards on one catch.

TCU’s defensive front also got much better pressure today than they did over the previous two games. They recorded 5 sacks as a unit, their best production thus far this year. Tipa Galeai and Aaron Curry both had one sack, while L.J. Collier and Mat Boesen each combined for 1 and 1/2. Boesen, a much talked about transfer from Boise State, lived up to the hype. He and Tipa Galeai each had near misses on interceptions that went off their hands.

Bonus Learnings

TCU made two field goals today! Ryan Graf and Brandon Hatfield each made 37 yard field goals. With TCU’s starting kicker Johnathan Song still out for an undetermined amount of time with an injury, it’s cause for celebration anytime we get a positive result out of the kicking game.

The Frogs now have the chance to enjoy a conference win, and start getting ready for next week’s rivalry game against the SMU Mustangs in Dallas. That game will be nationally televised on ESPN on Friday 9/23/16 at 7:00 pm CDT.