It’s been a long time since we have had righteous downs around here, but there is certainly plenty of blame to go around for Saturday’s no show in Ames. TCU got owned on offense by a very good Iowa State, but not one that should have been able to completely shut them out. Let’s reminisce on what went right and what went wrong before we turn our attention to Texas.
UP: KYLE HICKS AND DARIUS ANDERSON
The lone bright spots of a dismal offensive performance, TCU’s dynamic running back duo combined for 175 yards on 24 carries. Both took turns slicing and dicing the Iowa State defense, running over and through players with relative ease. Anderson broke off a couple of big runs late, setting the Frogs up for a scoring opportunity (that would be squandered, natch) and Hicks flashed a fire and intensity I have never seen from him before - welcoming contact and showing a ton of emotion after taking big hits. I can’t tell you why the ball was consistently taken out of their hands in the red zone, or why they had just 24 combined carries, as it was clear they were the two best players on the field for the Horned Frogs.
DOWN: Kenny Hill
Worst game of his TCU career? That’s quite possibly the case when it comes to Saturday’s fall from grace, as Hill went from savior to whipping boy over the course of four quarters. Hill look rattled from the start with the pressure on, which only exasperated his accuracy issues and intensified the microscope he was under. It didn’t help that his offense was constantly behind the chains due to penalties and that his play caller was... who knows what he was thinking. Hill finished just 12/25 for a paltry 125 yards, threw two picks - one in the red zone - and fumbled away another scoring opportunity late. Many of his passes missed high, or just plain missed - the pick he threw on a pass intended for Turp should have been a walk in score, but instead looked like it was intended for the defender. I am not ready to give up on Kenny yet (do you really think a true freshman would have done better in that situation?), but the Texas defense is just as good, if not better, than what Hill faced yesterday, and he will need to make some big improvements over the course of the week to get the Frogs back to their winning ways.
UP: JEFF GLADNEY
Gladney helped shift the momentum early in the second half with an incredible interception, as he got great position on a long pass down the sideline and out jumped one of ISU’s massive wide receivers. But it wasn’t just the big play that had Gladney shining Saturday, as he was rotated over to Allen Lazard for much of the second half and shut him down. Ranthony Texada struggled in a big way early, but Gladney was nails throughout, ending the game with three tackles and a ridiculous four pass break ups. He is turning into an absolute star for Gary Patterson’s defense.
DOWN: SONNY CUMBIE
So, I have a theory on Sonny. The two games where TCU fans have been absolutely up in arms over the play calling was the win over West Virginia and the loss to Iowa State. Both teams run funky defenses, lining up in a 3-3-5 formation. Cumbie seemed to get a little too cute in both games, abandoned the run at the most inopportune times, and made some curious calls relative to down and distance. In just his first year as a play caller, Cumbie has a lot to learn, and it seems if these awkward alignments especially serve to amplify his weaknesses. I do think he will get better over time, and learn to deal with variable defenses in the process. Hopefully, he is already learning from his mistakes in these two games and making adjustments, and he seems like the kind of smart guy that will do just that. But, it doesn’t excuse the option on third and forever, some oddly timed QB draws, or continuing to throw the ball in the red zone when it’s the run that got you there. You have two of the best backs in the country, Sonny, lean on them please.
UP: ADAM NUNEZ
I vacillated between Nunez and KaVontae Turpin for this slot, and frankly both deserve the spot. Turp single handedly kept the Frogs’ second best scoring streak in the country alive, but were it not for Nunez, TCU wouldn’t have been in the game in the first place. Used far too often for my comfort, Nunez punted a ridiculous nine times, averaging 42.6 yards per, booming a long of 58, and pinning the Clones inside the 20 six times with just a single touchback. All that led to just a single return by ISU, and though it was a big one, in general, the Frogs did a good job of flipping the field and forcing long drives by ISU. That was especially crucial in the second half, when Iowa State couldn’t get anything going on offense.
DOWN: OFFENSIVE LINE
Patrick Morris, please get healthy. Senior Austin Schlottman took four flags for holding, and the offensive line in general played a sloppy game. On more than one occasion, big plays came back due to penalties, pass protection was subpar, and the offense was stagnated by constantly being behind the chains. You can look at the run totals and think ‘well, they did something right’, but how much of that credit goes to the blocking against how much was DA and Hicks being beasts? Iowa State had but one sack, though it led to a fumble, but they were in the backfield all day, harassing Hill. Additionally, there were multiple whiffed blocks that led to losses, missed assignments, and more. It was just not a good look from a veteran front.
Leave your UPs and DOWNs in the comments below, and let’s commiserate together.