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MMQB: A Laborious Opening Win

TCU’s season started off with a win, but what kind of win was it?

NCAA Football: South Dakota State at Texas Christian Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

There’s really nothing more that you can ask from your favorite team than for them to begin the season 1-0. TCU did that, but because of the style of the win people are pretty shaken about the Frogs’ chances to reach some of the lofty expectations placed on their shoulders this season.

Folks, relax. It’s all going to be ok.

The Good

Kyle Hicks looked like a legitimate feature back. He carried the ball 15 times for 59 yards (3.9 ypc) and two touchdowns, and caught four passes out of the backfield for an additional 37 yards. No, the numbers aren’t otherworldly, but he ran with confidence, wasn’t afraid of contact, and got into the endzone twice. People should feel good about the way he ran on Saturday.

Taj Williams looked great in his first appearance in a Frogs’ uniform. The JUCO transfer hauled in 11 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown. He definitely has the chops to be a No. 1 target at this level, now it’s just a matter of continuing to produce. Of course, a lot of that depends on the quarterback, who we’ll get to in a moment.

KaVontae Turpin had several Turpin Time moments. His first reception of the game was of the falling-backwards-while-being-hit variety, he had a dazzling 33 yard run, and he returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown that helped TCU steal the momentum back from the Jackrabbits. He finished the night with 177 all-purpose yards.

The Bad

The secondary gave up 333 passing yards to an FCS team. That’s probably the worst thing about this game. Texada struggled a bit in his first game back, and the safeties had trouble in coverage for the majority of the game. Here’s something to think about, though. Jake Wieneke is great. Like, has 3,074 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons and a game great. I don’t care if he’s playing for an FCS team, he’s an elite receiving talent.

That isn’t an excuse for the secondary’s overall performance, but it does lend to me cutting them a bit of slack in the first game of the season. If they don’t pull it together soon, though, this season will start circling the drain before we reach November.

The defensive line couldn’t get much push. I came into this season thinking that the defensive line was the most talented unit on the entire team, outside of wide receiver. Yet on Saturday they didn’t do much in the way of pressuring South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion. It’s a strange thing today when the line recorded four total sacks on the night, but there were long stretches of time where Christion just sat back in the pocket and waited for a chance to throw the ball to Wieneke.

The penalties. Oh, the penalties. 12 for 125 yards. Holdings left and right. Multiple blocks in the back on kickoff and punt returns. A couple pass interference calls. This was, realistically, one of the more undisciplined games a Gary Patterson team has ever played.

The Kenny Hill Era Has Begun

Did he look great? No. Was he horrendous? No.

Kenny Hill looked like a kid who hadn’t played a real football game for two years. He was rusty, clearly nervous, and he played like it for the first half. Two interceptions, both on underthrown balls that were telegraphed, had folks calling for Foster Sawyer. I say to those people, chill out.

Hill finished the game with 439 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. While most of his passes in the first half came off his back foot, he started stepping into his throws with more confidence in the second half, and flashed some zip on the ball that was lacking early on.

He also ran seven times for 45 yards and three touchdowns. In all, he accounted for 484 yards and five touchdowns, and seems to have developed a good repertoire with Williams and Turpin.

I have confidence that Hill will get better as the season progresses, so let’s all just take a deep breath. Because here’s the thing, and it happens all the time:

It seems that fans, not just TCU fans but fans of every program, have a mental block when it comes to losing great players. I gleaned from the criticism of Hill on Saturday that people expected him to come in and be a world-beater immediately. That he would pick up the baton from Trevone and the Frogs wouldn’t lose a step.

Well, he stumbled a bit and still put up Boykin-like numbers in his first game, but he’s not Trevone Boykin.

And we shouldn’t expect him to be. Let Hill be Hill.


If I know anything about TCU football, it’s this: The defensive side of the ball is going to have a bad time at practice this week.

If I know anything else about TCU football, it’s this: The defensive side of the ball is going to improve dramatically as the season progresses. It always has, and it will once again.

So, let’s all take a deep breath, and get ready for Arkansas.