It’s hard work being a quarterback in college football. There may be no position in major sports that fans hold more accountable for wins and losses, with the possible exception of a goalie in the NHL, but the quarterback is only part of the equation. TCU was 6-7 last year, but how much of that was on the mercurial Kenny Hill? We’re in week 4 of the project to either set your mind at ease or make you even more stressed by analyzing game film on a deeper level to see just how well Kenny is doing.
Last week’s official stats showed Kenny having a decent game, but according to our read/execution metrics he actually had a pretty incredible game that was hampered by some pretty awful play from the receivers. That lends a bit of credibility to the idea that Kenny might be better than we think coming into this season, but we haven’t gotten to a game where TCU played just radically poorly yet. This game isn’t the nadir, but I remember it being very much a case of “I’m first and fourth quarter TCU offense and I have DirecTV” and “I’m second and third quarter TCU offense and I have cable.” ... I apologize for the dated meme. Let’s get right into it- as always you can follow along with the game film on FOW’s ?YouTube channel here.
The Frogs force a turnover on OU’s first possession, setting the offense up on the OU 18. With an opportunity like that, you have to take advantage, so let’s see how we do. The Frogs start off here.
Play 1: Empty trips right, 1st and 10 from the OU 18
Trips to the short side of the field means that there’s a lot of space to the left and OU is playing well off the receivers. Kenny’s read is right though, as the Frogs have the outside receiver break in late, the first slot receiver run fade and the slot receiver closest to Kenny comes in on the middle short to set up levels. Kenny sees the safety bite on the underneath middle level and delivers a strike to Austin in the middle of the end zone, touchdown. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Well, that was easy. Too bad they’re not all like that, it would make charting these a lot easier. The Frogs don’t have quite as easy a time on defense the next possession and OU drops a punt just short of the end zone. Work needs to be done, let’s see how Kenny responds here.
Play 2: Double tight 2 receivers left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 4
TCU is prioritizing protection with this lineup as OU has 5 on the line. The play is a straight zone read to Hicks and the DE swings out wide so Kenny wisely completes the handoff. Sadly the interior blocking isn’t great, but a little more breathing room. GRR +1.
Play 3: Even spread, 2nd and 9 from the TCU 5
Back to a more normal TCU formation and OU is playing pretty far off again. The coverage is pretty solid so Kenny has to check down to the swing to Hicks who gets another couple. Give the ball to Hicks in space is always a good decision. GPR +1.
Play 4: Empty trips left, 3rd and 6 from the TCU 8
Short side trips again and Kenny seems to be giving OU a lot of time to get in position over the trips. I’d ding him, but Kenny is reading the two receiver side and puts a dart into Austin’s chest on a deep out route. Nice read, better execution. GPR +1, GPE +2 for a difficult throw right on the money.
Play 5: 2 back pistol 2 receivers right, 1st and 10 from the TCU 19
OU has scouted that this is often a play action formation for the Frogs, so there is very little cushion over the slot and on the 1 receiver side. Sure enough, OU gets a free blitzer who totally ignores the play fake and by the time Kenny turns around there is a large man with a lot of momentum within two yards of him. Kenny tries to sidestep, but at that short a distance there’s nothing to do. This is a result of getting into formation habits, Dumb Play Call -1.
Play 6: 3 back pistol, 2nd and 24 from the TCU 5
And we’re right back where we began. The Frogs formation and tempo actually seems to have thrown OU off balance this time as two defenders are looking to the sideline when the ball is snapped and the result is a nice crease up the middle for Hicks. No chart.
Play 7: Empty trips right, 3rd and 9 from the TCU 20
Short side trips again, but OU is playing tighter this time. Kenny is looking for the same route combination as the last third down call, but thanks to the tight lineup the window isn’t there and Gray gets undercut for the pick. The call was dumb, but that ball shouldn’t have been thrown. BPR +2, BPE +1, Dumb Play Call -2.
That one hurt, as Kenny needed to see that the coverage was different than when the same play was run three plays earlier. The bigger issue is that we’re seven plays into this game and OU has schemed exactly what TCU is going to do for a huge play twice. You cannot be predictable on offense, and if an amateur is able to pick up these tendencies from watching game film once you can imagine that any DC is going to be chomping at the bit for opportunities. This is not a ringing endorsement of TCU’s play caller. OU capitalizes on the mistake and TCU takes back over on offense here.
Play 8: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 20
OU shifts to show a big pressure look and Kenny adjusts things at the line before running speed option. It looks like Pryor didn’t understand the blocking adjustment as he keeps on walling off the guy Kenny was hoping to option off of, causing the play to be strung out before Kenny can make a pitch in a tight window to get some yards. GRR +1, GRE +1, giving Kenny the execution plus because Pryor made the pitch much more difficult than it should be.
Play 9: Even spread, 2nd and 7 from the TCU 23
The Frogs have the far side receivers spread out very wide so either it’s a run or they’re coming in. Sure enough, Kenny drops back and gets a good look at Williams breaking in and puts it on him for a nice gain. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 10: Pistol even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 37
The Frogs go outside zone against OU’s default 3-4 look and it works pretty darn well. No chart.
Play 11: 3 linemen in, 2nd and 3 from the TCU 44
The hurry up into a weird formation catches OU off guard and the ball is snapped before anyone but the corners are set. Still, OU’s linebacker streaks into the backfield to try and cut off a screen pass which Kenny has a look at, but with both the linebacker and the corner biting hard on the screen Williams has a free release down the sideline. Kenny puts the ball up and deep and Williams comes down with it. It would have been a TD had it been a bit more in stride, but with only 3 linemen to block and a pump fake to execute, Kenny had to get rid of that ball quick. GPR +1, GPE +1, Good Play Call +1.
Play 12: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the OU 15
Kenny fakes the handoff and rolls out to the right, but #70 whose name I can’t find at the moment totally whiffs his block, causing Kenny to have to pump the brakes and double back hard. Nobody is open, but he puts it out there for Williams as the walls are closing in. It probably should have just gone out the back of the end zone, but no harm done. BPR +1.
Play 13: Empty trips right, 2nd and 10 from the OU 15
The Frogs set up trips to the wide side this time so kudos for finally making that adjustment. With OU giving a bit of cushion, there’s a nice window for the double slant concept and Kenny puts it hard into the chest of Slanina in stride for a first down. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 14: Pistol even spread, 1st and goal from the OU 4
Zone stretch, but it looks like Kenny might have had a keep/bubble screen option. Instead Hicks runs a very, very, very long way around looking for a gap before having to lunge forward when he runs into the sideline. No chart.
Play 15: QB hammer 2 receivers left, 2nd and goal from the OU 3
The Frogs line up in their “Kenny is going straight behind the up back and Hicks with momentum, try and stop it” formation which I have dubbed QB hammer and OU dutifully lines up with a bunch of guys on the left. Instead it’s a play action that Kenny puts in beautifully on a breaking out route and it’s a touchdown. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Nice job by Kenny on this drive and a bit of redemption for Meacham after getting thoroughly schooled by the visor last series. The PA QB hammer is something that the Frogs showed once before, but it was unsuccessful and wouldn’t have been a point of study in comparison to Kenny’s successful rhinoceros charges against Arkansas. The Frogs get some nice pressure and a three and out on the next possession and the Frogs try to pad out an early lead starting here.
Play 16: Empty trips left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 23
The Frogs set a receiver (Anderson) from the right in motion at the snap, which is a big telegraph for a screen pass. Sure enough, it’s a no read screen pass that OU is on top of in a hurry- made worse by Diarse whiffing on his block. GPR +1, GPE +1 for Kenny taking the extra step back to make sure it would be a forward pass as Anderson came out flat. Dumb Play Call -1. Fortunately we’re helped out by a facemask penalty on Diarse after the play- way to redeem yourself, John!
Play 17: Even spread motion to trips right, 1st and 10 from the TCU 39
The Frogs set up a similar motion to try and make the Sooners think they’re going right back to the play that... worked very poorly the snap before. Instead the Frogs are going deep and OU gets edge pressure that forces Kenny to deliver early, sailing a ball over the head of Austin who wasn’t open anyway. BPR +1, we won’t knock the delivery due to the pressure.
Play 18: Trips right, 2nd and 10 from the TCU 39
The Frogs are going deep again as OU shows and brings internal pressure right at the snap. This forces Kenny to roll out away from his check down option and he looks like he might be able to turn the corner for four yards but keeps his eyes downfield and delivers a hard ball that’s a bit too tall for White. On second and ten take the yards, Kenny. BRR +1.
Play 19: Even spread, 3rd and 10 from the TCU 39
OU shows internal pressure which may go some ways to explain the low snap. Kenny retrieves the ball and drops back before dropping to Hicks over the middle after most of the deep defenders have been run off. Hicks responds by doing the things you know Hicks can do, and it ends up with him trotting into the end zone. Good downfield blocking by Gray as well. GPR +1, GPE +1, Touchdown.
Not a great series for Kenny but a worse series playcalling wise. I know Meacham likes to take a shot after a penalty, but using the screen that was just buried as the bait just takes a receiver out of the play. Still, it ended up in the end zone thanks to Kyle Hicks and Kenny’s understanding that giving the ball to Kyle Hicks is a good idea. Playcalling is on a 3:1 pass to run ratio at the moment which is worth keeping an eye on. A TD is a TD, but it feels like counting on Hicks to do something spectacular on third and long every time isn’t a good long term bet. OU grinds down the field and scores to cut the lead to 7 before giving the ball back to the Frogs here.
Play 20: 3 back pistol, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
The Frogs fake a handoff to the left before Hill and Hicks take off on option right. Sadly Pryor gets destroyed by the OU DL and Kenny has a hand jerking him around before he can make the pitch. Still, Kenny stays on his feet but gets tripped up reversing field. The book on this is pretty clear- Kenny is hard to bring down, but he needs that forward momentum. GRE +1 for not going down on the first tackle I guess?
Play 21: Even spread, 2nd and 17 from the TCU 18
OU has one very, very deep safety (seriously over 20 yards off the line) and is playing tighter underneath. Kenny has a one on one on the sideline as his first read and takes it as he’s supposed to (even though I think it’s a dumb option 1). The ball is high enough but a bit short and Williams got exactly zero separation the whole way. GPR +1 (I hate plusing this, but it’s what the play read says), BPE +1, Dumb Play Call -1.
Play 22: Empty trips right, 3rd and 22 from the TCU 18
After a false start it’s time for another one of Kenny’s danger downs. OU is playing off but still gets edge pressure quite quickly on a four man rush. Kenny has to step up and start toward the line in a hurry before delivering a smooth ball to Gray about 14 yards away. Gray makes the catch and starts up field, but it’s a long, long way to go. GPR +1, GPE +1.
I’ll try really, really hard not to ding the first read sideline fade as a dumb play call every time, but on 2nd and 17 with a safety playing that deep from the snap it’s pretty dang dumb. I feel bad that I have to keep dinging Kenny on the fades too when it’s obvious that’s not his forte, but he is still the one who threw it. OU does its thing and I don’t care what their draft grades said, Perine is a much better back than Mixon and isn’t a scum bag either. Less than four minutes into the second quarter and TCU has seen a two TD lead vanish as they take back over here.
Play 23: 2 back pistol 2 receivers left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
It’s play action set time for the Frogs again, and wouldn’t you know it, they run play action. It’s worth noting that no one on OU’s defense is paying any attention to Kyle Hicks, TCU’s most dangerous player, on this play until he is through the line and turns off into a check down route- that’s how predictable the play action out of this look has become. OU collapses the pocket with relative ease and Kenny has to step up and evade before finally unloading a deep ball to Gray on the far side of the field. It’s a good ball, but it has to cover a lot of distance which lets the defense recover and converge to knock it away. GPR +1, GPE +1, Dumb Play Call -1.
Play 24: Trips left, 2nd and 10 from the TCU 25
TCU motions out of the 2 back pistol before the snap to make trips left and Kenny takes off to the right on a designed keep that sees him get a great block by Hunt to set up some space to get some forward momentum. Kenny with forward momentum is almost as good as getting the ball to Hicks in space and he picks up the first down. GRE +1.
Play 25: 2 back shotgun 2 receivers left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 38
It looks a bit like our old friend Justin Fuente’s inverted zone read but with a lead blocker out of the back field. Hill makes the read and hands the ball off once the DE is committed, but Hicks doesn’t manage to block anyone and the play is stopped shorter than what it could have been. GRR +1.
Play 26: Trips right TE left, 2nd and 9 from the TCU 39
White motions in and starts back out before the snap and Hill completes the handoff to Hicks on an inside zone for a nice gain. I think Kenny had a pass option as White was looking for a swing pass, so we’ll call it GRR +1.
Play 27: 2 back shotgun 2 receivers right, 3rd and 4 from the TCU 44
OU shows presnap pressure from the 2 receiver side but walks out of it. Kenny keeps his eyes up and sees the CB on the 2 receiver side start to bail early and knows right where to go with the ball as a result. GPR +2, GPE +1, an extra PR point for spotting something happening the split second before the snap.
Play 28: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the OU 49
It’s a basic zone read, but as it’s just the third run play that TCU has done today not out of a gimmicky formation it seems to catch OU entirely off guard. As Hill makes the read and completes the hand off Hicks doesn’t encounter a defender until he’s already gained nine yards. Add in the Hicks factor and it’s even better. GRR +1.
Play 29: ???, 1st and 10 from the OU 36
It’s Fox’s turn to be caught off guard by the tempo so we don’t get a look before Hicks is already catching the ball. I think this is that Quad-stack screen we saw against Arkansas a couple of times maybe? No chart, sorry if it was a good throw Kenny. Fox -1.
Play 30: Trips right, 2nd and 5 from the OU 31
Trips to the wide side means that there’s a one on one matchup up top and Kenny is waiting for it to pop open on a delayed slant. OU brings delayed pressure though and by the time Williams breaks in there’s a man at the line in the throwing lane who tips the ball up and away. Dang. GPR +1.
Play 31: Empty trips left, 3rd and 5 from the OU 31
Trips to the short side, please don’t be that play again... Time out.
Play 31 take 2: Even spread, 3rd and 5 from the OU 31
I think it was going to be that play again, because we’re in a new formation now. It’s that confused zone read-looking thing from Arkansas where Kenny isn’t actually reading anyone so he just hands off? It is about as effective as you remember. No chart.
Play 32: Empty trips right, 4th and 4 from the OU 30
In no man’s land, the Frogs are going for it. Kenny briefly looks off the two receivers up top before turning and delivering hard and fast toward the trips, but OU has a man to bat it down at the line again.
That was okay, I guess. I do want to say that the two back pistol is usually an effective running formation, so play action out of it can be quite effective. It is not effective if you don’t ever actually run out of it, though, and that makes TCU’s insistent use of it to exclusively pass kind of dumb. Kenny has been doing decently so far, but the offense hasn’t really been putting him in the best situations. Two plays later, Lincoln Riley shows Meacham how to actually do a flea flicker- by setting up the run first- and Kenny and co. take to the field trailing for the first time today here. OU has scored 3 times in 7 minutes of 2nd quarter game time.
Play 33: 2 back pistol 2 receiver right, 1st and 10 from the TCU 9
A holding penalty on the kickoff means TCU is backed up to start this possession and in a familiar formation. They actually run the ball on an outside zone though, and it works very well. Who knew formations designed to help you run the ball would be effective to run the ball out of? No chart, Good Play Call +1.
Play 34: Trips left, 2nd and 3 from the TCU 16
OU is lining up very, very tight over the trips- possibly tighter than I’ve ever seen out of anything but a goal line set. Hicks almost falls over in the backfield before the snap, though, so let’s try it again.
Play 34 take 2: Trip left, 2nd and 8 from the TCU 11
OU is showing pressure from the right side, but is using it to disguise a safety blitz from the Trips side. It works frustratingly well and Kenny has to throw an under pressure sideline fade before he can make a second read, which goes about as well as you’d expect. No chart.
Play 35: Empty trips left, 3rd and 8 from the TCU 11
OU shows blitz again and brings the house, meaning man coverage across the board. White is the second receiver in the Trips side and works a crossing route underneath, but it looks like Kenny was expecting a slant. As a result the ball is caught, but the OU safety is in position to make a tackle right as White makes the catch. Dang. GPR +1, I won’t + or - the execution since I don’t know who messed up.
Three and outs always suck, but they suck even more when OU is really clicking on offense. I wish I knew what the mistake on that third down was, and still hating the sideline fade call on second and long. What happened to the “Let’s make third and manageable” offense that we saw against Arkansas? OU converts a third and 18 on the next series and finds themselves in the end zone two plays later. Ugh. The Frogs take back over on offense here now down two scores and in need of something to stop the bleeding. Sadly, it’s still the second quarter.
Play 36: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
Pre snap motion brings the short side receiver back behind Kenny as the ball is snapped and after a just a brief look downfield to try and push defenders into their drops he dumps it off to Gray. The downfield blocking is good and Gray turns the corner for a nice gain. GPE +1.
Play 37: 3 back pistol, 2nd and 5 from the TCU 30
It’s play action (of course it is) which is a pity because the inside run actually had an absolutely massive lane. Instead, Stoops has outpredicted Meacham again and Kenny throws into the hand of a large OU linemen who came through without worrying about the run and bats it away. No chart, Dumb Play Call -1.
Play 38: Empty trips left, 3rd and 5 from the TCU 30
Trips to the wide side so it’s not an obvious tell. That’s good! TCU is sending all five receivers deep (no breaks before ten yards!), on third and five when their defense could really use a break after giving up 4 consecutive TDs. That’s bad. OU gets scads of pressure before TCU has a single receiver who could look for the ball and as the DE forces Kenny to step up and inside, a DT grabs at his ankles. To his credit, Kenny evades both but has to change direction as a third DL has come off his block and the first DE cleans him up from behind. GRE +1 for avoiding three tackles, Dumb Play Call -3.
Yeah, -3. Given the down, distance and circumstance that’s “Let’s abandon the run and throw a bunch of fades against 2014 Baylor” levels of dumb. There was absolutely nothing that even could have been open before Kenny had to run for his life, and now OU gets the ball back with a 14 point lead, all the momentum and 3 minutes before halftime. Fortunately the TCU DL lays into Mayfield to force a fumble and the Frogs have 38 seconds and three time outs to capitalize starting here.
Play 39: Tight end 2 receivers right, 1st and 10 from the OU 35
OU shows and brings a ton of pressure against this and Kenny again has a free runner in his face before any receiver is breaking on their route. Kenny again sidesteps and sees Williams pull free up top, but can’t get fully settled and the ball is just out of reach for Williams- who probably catches that if he jumps or the corner didn’t grab him to hold him up for a second. No flags though. GRE +1, GPR +1, GPE +1, Refs -1. Giving Kenny the run plus for that nice sidestep of a charging linebacker.
Play 40: Empty trips right, 2nd and 10 from the OU 35
The Frogs still have 29 seconds and three time outs, so the full playbook is open here. Instead the Frogs send everyone quite deep again, but Austin cuts back on his vertical after about 15 yards and Kenny puts it on him in a hurry. Austin dances in front of the CB for a few seconds before choosing to go inside(??) and is tackled. At least coach Patterson is right there to yell at him about it. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 41: Shotgun 2 back 2 receivers left TE right, 1st and 10 from the OU 19
Two time outs and 20 seconds left. The Frogs run a mesh concept that sees the inside receivers have some room but there are defenders just waiting to tackle them in bounds when they catch. Instead Kenny tries to dump off to Hicks out of the backfield, but the ball is batted down at the line again. GPR +1 for the situational awareness.
Play 42: Empty trips right, 2nd and 10 from the OU 19
Trips to the short side again, 15 seconds left in the half. TCU is sending almost the whole party deep again, and again OU’s DL is in Kenny’s face before he can deliver to anyone. This time Kenny tucks and pulls up wide, considers going outside to the sideline but sees the LB has overcommitted and he cuts back inside and breaks another tackle to before being swarmed at the 6. GRR +1, GRE +2. It sure would have been nice to have those extra seconds that Austin’s dancing and the need to have everyone run to the end zone on 4/5 of these plays cost us. Instead with 5 seconds left the frogs take the field goal.
This is becoming quite aggravating. There’s no shame in having an OL that can’t block OU’s defense for 4 seconds per play, OU’s DL and LB group are very solid and they’re scheming us well. The issue is that the play calls aren’t being adjusted to allow more check downs or simply getting the ball out faster. This is an OU team that has been gashed by RPOs by both Houston and Ohio State at this point, so the general lack of willingness to run the ball or make Kenny make decisions to get some carries himself is striking. TCU takes the ball to start the second half to try and cut a bit more into the lead here.
Play 43: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
The Frogs go vertical again, though Diarse does eventually come back after about 10 yards. OU’s coverage is good once again though, and Kenny eventually dumps the ball off to Hicks out of the backfield. Getting the ball to Hicks in space is always a good decision. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 44: Even spread, 2nd and 6 from the TCU 29
It’s a straight inside zone call that looks pretty good, but OU’s DT submarines a guard and gets an arm aroung Hicks’ ankle in the hole. Bad luck, no chart.
Play 45: Even spread, 3rd and 5 from the TCU 30
OU is playing tight to the line with 1 safety high against TCU’s wide spread. They bring pressure that ignores Hicks’ release(!) but TCU picks it up for long enough for Hill to deliver a strike to Austin on a slant. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 46: Even receiver stack, 1st and 10 from the TCU 41
Williams doesn’t get set before the snap, oops.
Play 46 take 2: Even spread, 1st and 15 from the TCU 36
Take two sees the Frogs come out to try and get back to the original line of scrimmage with a double slant concept. Diarse gets free quickly and beckons for the ball as he sits down in a soft spot in OU’s zone. Kenny dutifully puts it on him and it bounces off of Diarse’s hands. Sigh. GPR +1, GPE +1, hypothetical Diarse -1.
Play 47: Empty trips left, 2nd and 15 from the TCU 36
OU’s secondary is arced to give more cushion the further the receiver is away from Kenny. The LB to the short side times a blitz well and runs right by Collins to be the first of three OU defenders that converge on Kenny two seconds after the snap. Kenny evades the first two but the third corrals him. It looked like Kenny had the read and was about to deliver to the open man in Austin but just didn’t have any time. GRE +1 for evading two tackles and making the sack less painful than it would have been. Danger down coming up.
Play 48: Even spread, 3rd and 21 from the TCU 30
Right back where we were on the previous third down, OU is again playing tighter the closer the receiver is to Kenny with two safeties deep. The pressure comes again but the TCU OL actually picks it up decently and Kenny has a fairly clean pocket to step up into. It looks like he’s hearing footsteps though, as he delivers without setting his feet and the ball is at the feet of Diarse who had a bit of space. GPR +1, BPE +1.
I’m hesitant to ding Kenny on that last one as with the very regular pressure he’s getting he’s likely working off an internal timer of “I have this many seconds before I get hit.” Still, it’s important that he recognize when the line is working well so a ding it is. The Frogs offense is getting pretty bogged down here but it’s hard to blame Kenny too much. The drop was 97% Diarse, the penalty took the run out of the equation and when they don’t have to worry about the run every Stoops brother loves to send pressure. The fact that they’re pretty much ignoring Hicks half the time does seem to indicate that they either don’t believe that TCU can run on them, or they don’t believe that they will run on them. That’s bad. OU scores quite quickly after Mixon busts a big run (it came off of a huge TCU defensive breakdown though, I still don’t think he’s actually that good?) and TCU is now digging out of an 18 point deficit here.
Play 49: 2 back pistol 2 receivers left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
Even if you aren’t watching the film for most of these, watch this one play and you will understand the suffering of 2016 Kenny Hill. OU called time out on the lineup before and TCU’s response was to flip the side the 2 receivers are on from right to left. OU is playing soft because they know that in the case of play action they’ll have a bit more time to come up on a route. Sure enough, it’s play action outside zone, but because TCU did actually run the ball (just once) quite well on that play from this look it actually works and TCU gets Graham wide open in the deep middle of the field. Kenny puts a great ball up and on him and it passes straight through his hands and hits the facemask. Even almost nine months after this game was actually played I want to scream. GPR +1, GPE +2 hypothetical Graham -3.
Play 50: 2 back pistol 2 receivers right, 2nd and 10 from the TCU 25
After play action-ing off of it, the Frogs line up in the same formation and actually run the outside zone this time. I assume you can guess the results. No chart, Dumb Play Call -1.
Play 51: Empty trips right, 3rd and 13 from the TCU 22
OU shows pressure from the Trips side but backs out of it and brings it from the two receiver side instead. TCU running that same play to the wide two receiver side that Kenny was picked off on earlier, but this time he sees that the linebacker is coming and puts the ball in a nice safe spot for Gray breaking out to the sideline. Gray drops it. Sigh. GPR +1, GPE +2, hypothetical Gray -1.
Spoiler in case this is your first time watching this game: TCU loses by 6. Yeah, that drop was a pretty big deal. Kenny threw pretty much the perfect ball (getting GPE +2) on two plays this series and the Frogs not only didn’t get a first down, they lost yards. Just ugh, man. OU grinds down the field again and tacks on another score, putting the deficit at 25 when TCU take back over here.
Play 52: Pistol even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 23
This is just the third time today that TCU has lined up in what has generally been their most effective running formation, for reference. It’s a called bubble with no read, Kenny puts it on White quickly but the LB is playing fairly tight and makes the tackle in open space for minimal gain. No chart.
Play 53: Trips right, 2nd and 8 from the TCU 25
The Frogs are trying to set up the swing behind the trips, but OU has it scouted and swarms in the passing lane. Kenny wisely doesn’t throw it it and turns to find a DL in his face just two yards away. Instinct takes over and Kenny surges forward, sending the DL spinning and creating a nice lane where he breaks a tackle before the third man cleans up. GPR +1 (didn’t throw it even though it was the only read), GRR +1, GRE +2- that’s 12 positive yards he made from where the OU DT had him practically dead to rights in the backfield.
Play 54: Tight end 2 receivers right, 3rd and 1 from the TCU 32
This is a weird tackle eligible formation because the only receiver on the short side is off the line and set in motion, so the TE isn’t actually eligible. TCU runs a fly sweep to the receiver in motion, who then dumps it off to Gray who is coming around on a reverse. Kenny is left to solo lead block two OU linebackers and does a credible enough job putting a shoulder into one, but the free man make the tackle. We only needed one yard. GRE +1 for the block I guess, Dumb Play Call -3.
This has officially gone past the point of maddening playcalling to full on Madden playcalling. And bad Madden playcalling at that. You have gotten one first down this half, and on third and one when you have Kyle Hicks, TJ and Kenny Hill who you could all count on to get one yard on the ground, and we run a play designed to play off of a defense’s reaction to a play that we not only haven’t run all day, we’ve run once all year (and poorly at that). I’m going to finish this game, and I know it gets a bit better from here, but I am officially concerned that the conclusion we get from this series is “I don’t know if Kenny is good or not, but I don’t think Doug is.” Good freaking luck next year, Kansas. TCU takes back over on offense here.
Play 55: 2 back pistol 2 receivers left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 15
The frogs line up in play action formation and OU responds with a defense that says “Sure you have two backs, but you’re running play action” with 6 in the box against TCU’s 5 OL, 2 backs and legitimate running threat QB. The frogs set up a fly sweep motion, fake it and then fake inside zone so what is generally a three receiver formation turns into a two receiver formation really quickly. Hicks gets absolutely demolished by a DT who nearly drives him back into Hill, but Kenny stands and delivers to a somehow open Porter releasing into the middle of the field, but Porter misjudges the angle and tries to pluck it up off the ground instead of laying out for it. There are not many receivers who can do that successfully, and Porter is not one of them. GPR +1, GPE +1, it was there and with Hicks’ helmet between his legs I don’t know that Kenny can throw a better ball than that.
Play 56: Even spread, 2nd and 10 from the TCU 18
Straight drop back and the Frogs are working the intermediate routes from the slots and RB while sending two deep. The coverage is solid though, so Kenny has to hold the ball longer and evade a diving DE. Finally Hicks pops into a little window and Kenny puts it on him for a couple and he falls forward for two more. Always a good decision. GPR +1.
Play 57: Trips right, 3rd and 6 from the TCU 22
OU spreads their DL quite wide and Kenny adjusts the blocking before the snap. It’s a straight drop back and he finds Diarse open as he cuts into the middle. The ball is accurate and Diarse catches it (though in his gut, not with his hands) for the first down. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 58: Pistol even spread, 1st and 10 from the TCU 29
After the first down the Frogs pick up the tempo again and go to the outside zone to Hicks who picks up some nice yards. No chart.
Play 59: Trips left, 2nd and 3 from the TCU 36
With trips to the short side the Frogs go play action. It works well because they just ran the ball successfully and aren’t in a formation that gives it away, and Diarse is selling a bubble screen underneath that gives the outside receivers a clean release. Kenny is able to find Williams who is absolutely wide open in the deep middle of the field for the touchdown. GPR +1, GPE +1, Touchdown.
I think the hurry up works better for us because it gives Doug less time to think of something creative. If you establish a play that works, you can get a defense to bite on it and open up something else all day, but you have to do the work establishing that play as a threat first. Here the Frogs established the screen earlier, ran Hicks the play before to good effect, and the result was a wide open TD. The Frogs get a stop on D and take the field again down 18 here.
Play 60: 2 back pistol 2 receivers right, 1st and 10 from the TCU 25
OU shows pressure, but happily the Frogs aren’t running play action this time and the outside zone mitigates the pressure so Hicks can make a decent gain. No chart.
Play 61: Empty quads right, 2nd and 7 from the TCU 28
The Frogs hurry up and get into a weird formation as Kenny takes the snap from under center. The tempo means that OU can’t get into a better formation and Diarse drops back like he’s running a screen. This disguises Austin releasing up top for the double pass, but Diarse severely underthrows it when it would have been an easy touchdown if he’d simply put it in front. Instead, he hangs it up and short, forcing Austin to slow, turn and leap for it which makes the toasted OU corner able to disrupt him before he lands. Damn. No chart for Kenny, hypothetical Diarse bad pass execution +1, good playcall +2.
Play 62: Empty trips right, 3rd and 7 from the TCU 28
OU is scrambling and confused for what seems like an eternity before the snap. The Frogs are going all vertical (because Meacham) and OU is bringing pressure that makes Kenny have to roll out to his right. He keeps his eyes downfield, but sees grass in front of him and turns the corner to pick up the first down fairly easily. GRR +1, GRE +1.
Play 63: Empty trips left, 1st and 10 from the TCU 39
The Frogs push tempo again and it looks like this is a designed QB outside zone. Kenny strings it out as he’s supposed to but two defenders pop through before he can get much forward momentum. Still a couple though, GRE +1.
Play 64: Trips right, 2nd and 8 from the TCU 41
Short side Trips leaves a lot of space to the left and OU is playing well off on that side. Kenny has a look but the receiver is on a slow breaking route that a linebacker drops into the zone for. Seeing a DL pop free Kenny quickly turns to the checkdown Hicks and delivers. Always a good decision. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 65: Trips left TE right, 3rd and 3 from the TCU 46
The Frogs set up a tunnel screen to the Trips side and Williams fakes a defender well on an inside move before popping outside. GPE +1.
Play 66: Even spread, 1st and 10 from the OU 39
OU stifles the tempo by having a cornerback lay down for a while. After the snap the Frogs go deep, but OU brings a delayed blitz that brings a free runner up the middle. Kenny sees, sidesteps, resets and throws downfield where Porter makes a great readjustment to the ball and brings it down just outside the end zone. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Play 67: Trips right, 1st and goal from the OU 2
I think they cheated Porter out of a yard there (Refs -1). TCU tries to run the goal line QB hammer that has been effective, but they seem to have forgotten that it’s generally run with two backs to lead block. OU has a guy pop through the line and take down Kenny before he can get the forward momentum again. No chart.
Play 68: Double TE 2 receivers right, 2nd and goal from the OU 3
Straight inside zone handoff, but this formation is another tipoff and OU smothers it easily. No chart.
Play 69: Pistol even spread, 3rd and goal from the OU 2
Kenny readjusts the blocking just before the snap and the Frogs run option to the left. Kenny waits, flips it out to Hicks and Hicks trots into the end zone untouched. GRR +1.
Going into this I thought that Kenny did play better when things were faster tempo, but I think a lot of that seems to be from the slightly simpler playcalling that results. Another good drive for Kenny and TCU is plausibly in this one again. OU grinds some clock but has to give the ball back to the Frogs so TCU takes back over on offense down 11 with 5:45 to play here.
Play 70: 2 back pistol right, 1st and 10 from the TCU 26
Play action formation. The Frogs run play action and actually have two receivers pop open pretty cleanly early. Kenny waits though, and delivers a great ball to Williams in the middle of the field who catches in stride and takes it in for another TD. GPR +2, GPE +1, great patience by Kenny to see Williams was about to pop open again.
Play 71: Even spread, 2 point conversion from the OU 3
The Frogs motion White over to the right to try and pop open on sort of a wheel, but OU picks it up and instead Kenny looks to find 2 receivers crossing the back of the end zone. He picks Porter and puts it on him for the conversion. GPR +1, GPE +1.
Um. I don’t know quite what to say. Good job Kenny and Taj? Damn you second and third quarter Doug Meacham? We’ll go with both. Sadly, Baker Mayfield is good and OU gets a field goal while wiping a bunch more time off the clock and TCU has less than two minutes to get a TD starting here.
Play 72: Even spread, 1st and 15 from the TCU 23
After a false start penalty OU is showing pressure but change into a zone blitz once the ball is snapped. This throws off Kenny’s first read and he has to change the side of the field, but the OL didn’t pick up the blitz well and Kenny has to throw it away just before getting blasted. Intentional grounding penalty hurt bad, but there wasn’t really any other choice since there was no check down. No chart.
Play 73: Empty trips right , 2nd and 24 from the TCU 15
This is the situation that desperately needs to be avoided. The Frogs are way behind the sticks and OU is getting pressure from 4, so Kenny has to throw before Slanina breaks and hope he comes back to it. Ty does, and makes the catch, but has to go down in bound. GPR +1.
Play 74: Even spread, 3rd and 14 from the TCU 24
OU is showing pretty soft coverage and Kenny looks at underneath crossing routes. Both are open, but both have OU defenders in spots over the top which will make a first down impossible, so he looks deeper but doesn’t have time as his leg gets pulled out from under him as he was in the throwing motion. Still a bit more awareness would have been good- we’re going for it on fourth if we don’t get it, so take the yards and make it easier. BPR +1.
Play 75: Even spread, 4th and 20 from the TCU 18
It’s a long developing play to get 20 yards and OU is collapsing the pocket again. Kenny thinks he has Williams about to break free but has to throw it a split second before he wants to and it falls to the dirt three yards in front of Taj. GPR +1, BPE +1, turnover on downs, ballgame.
Well dang. It’s amazing how close we came to winning that game with the incompetent mess of playcalling that went on in the second and third quarters, not to mention the drop by Graham and the underthrow by Diarse to Williams. I think Kenny was good enough to win us that game, but let’s check the stats.
Traditional stats had Kenny at 26/44 for 449 yards, 5 TDs and 1 interception to go with 12 carries for 4 yards on the ground (sacks really should be counted separately). Let’s compare that with our chart.
Run Read: 9 good run reads (+9) 1 bad run read (-1)
Run Execution: 11 good run executions (+13), 0 bad run executions (0)
Pass read: 35 good pass reads (+37), 4 bad pass reads (-5)
Pass execution: 28 good pass executions (+31), 4 bad pass executions (-5)
That again looks like a pretty solid day, especially with the amount of throwing that TCU did in this one. 9/1 on good run reads, 11 good run executions, almost an 8/1 ratio on good to bad pass reads and 7/1 on good to bad pass execution. Where did we go wrong?
Play calls: 3 good play calls (+4), 9 dumb play calls (-14)
Ah. Yeah, that will do it. I wondered how far I’d get into this series without tearing into Meach, and today we have our answer as Meacham went a long way to costing TCU this game by falling into predictable playcalling, giving formational tells, not changing the plan when OU was getting consistent pressure on deep routes and throwing up two of the absolute stupidest play calls I’ve ever seen for the situations in which he called them. Yes he had a couple of quite clever moments, but the ratio of clever to dumb was 1:3 and that’s pretty much unsustainable. There are definitely times where Meacham’s creativity with plays pays off, but it seems like when he has time to think about it too much he’s liable to outsmart himself when a simple play would have been much more effective and at lower risk. Kenny has been somewhere between pretty good and great so far in the series, and while I think that the shoe will eventually drop I’m becoming a bit more optimistic that things may improve simply because Meacham is in Lawrence this year. Speaking of both a possible Kenny drop and Lawrence, guess who’s coming up next week? As always if you have thoughts, suggestions or anything else you’d like to see charted, feel free to let me know in the comments.