It is Thursday afternoon and I am sitting in my office wrapping up emails and getting ready to head out for the day. My wife is out of town for the evening.
As I exit the final door of a series of doors, I hear someone cry out “hold the door!” I shudder and think to myself “you were gone too soon Hodor. You don’t deserve this.” It was my boss. He asked about my plans for the evening and I notified him of my provisional bachelor status for the evening. As we parted ways he jokingly remarked, “don’t let things get too out of hand” as though he were hearkening back to a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas scenario. I gave him a wink and a nod and replied, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Little did he know that my wild and crazy evening was going to consist of me cooking dinner for one (Sad!) and watching the 2016 TCU/Arkansas game. To get a better picture, the last time my wife went out of town, I believe I tried to listen to all 18 hours of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History that covered the entirety of World War 1. This is my version of Hunter S. Thompson’s work.
Why the Arkansas game you ask?
Perhaps the simple answer is that I am merely a glutton for punishment, and that every excruciating play gave me a sadistic sense of pleasure. The other explanation is that I believe this game is the key that can unlock the 2017 season for us. Yes we lost, and yes Arkansas went 7-6 (Still better than us). This was a game of polar opposites, however. A tale of two kennys (that would be some dope fan fiction), and honestly a tale of two frogs. We made plenty of mistakes, sure, but this game differed from so many others of the season because it showed me something I didn’t see in the West Virginia, Kansas St, and Oklahoma St. Games; Grit, perseverance, and an interminable desire to fight until the end.
In a nutshell, the 2016 season can be categorized as one of a doldrum. There was a lack of hustle, and passion.
But in the Arkansas game, I saw fire. I was like Sandor Clegane looking into the flames for the first time. I was mesmerized, and hypnotized as I sat fixated on the incredulous nature of the 4th quarter and the painstaking overtime.
Below I will give three things I saw in this game that allow me to believe that we will be better next year.
1) Our Offense is extremely capable
Hear me out first. We had stretches in the game where our offense moved the ball extremely well. The first drive was marred by Deante Gray fumble on the five yard line. The opening drive of the second half saw a return to an ability to move the ball and the execution in the 4th quarter was nothing short of brilliant. The offense functioned very well. There was a solid balance of the run and pass attack. Both Kyle Hicks and Kenny Hill ran well, scoring two touchdowns apiece. Kenny threw for 377 and Kyle had just under 100 yards receiving. In essence, it was a balanced attack. There were, at times, questionable play calls, and hopefully that has been remedied by the installation of Sunny Cumbie at the helm of the offense. Also, excuse me while I go fix my broken record, but there were a few times that dropped passes stalled drives that had the potential to score. My point is simply this: Our offense has the weaponry necessary for battle. We have the propensity to play with anyone in the league if we execute.
Let me put this another way. We were down by 14 in the 4th quarter and scored 21 straight points. Our defense gave up a touchdown within two minutes and then TCU drove again and had a touchdown called back because Immanuel Porter was flagged for illegal touching. On a much related note. What the heck is illegal touching? (I know what it is, but it sounds really weird) After that was called back, we missed a field goal that could have sealed the game for us.
2) Kavonte Turpin is really good
No... Like he is really good.
I am a big stats guy. 7 receptions for 126 yards. 4 kick returns for 136 yards. 2 punt returns for 34 yards. In the waning moments of the game when Arkansas drove down the field and made a two point conversion, the wind had been taken out of everybody’s proverbial sails. And yet, Turpin was unfazed. He returned a kickoff 64 yards to give us yet another glimmer of hope.
I don’t want to dwell on this point too much because it’s not news to most people. But he makes us better when he is on the field. Let us hope that he stays out of trouble and stays healthy. He can and will be a tremendous asset if he does.
3) Our defense was over hyped at the beginning of the year
After going 11-2 and returning almost everyone on defense, people began to believe that we would return to being a stalwart bulwark. What people seemingly forgot, was that a lot of our wins in 2015 were offensive shootouts where we won solely because we had the ball in the last possession and our triumvirate of Doctson, Boykin, and Green would not be deterred. What happened was we put too much hype on a defense that maybe wasn’t in a position to deliver. This was evident in the Arkansas game. They looked a half step slower than the other team most of the time. Texada, who in fairness to him was coming off of a season ending injury, got worked over on the field. As the season progressed, Ranthony was perhaps our best and tighest corner. These things take time. I am not going to commit the same mistakes we did a year ago, but I think we got better as a defense last year, and I believe we will continue to get bigger, stronger, and faster, which is essential to the Patterson defense.
* A special note about kickers *
Well, its not really special, it’s just a note about them. I want to be able to say that we will be better on this front. I am hoping that another year will bring a little more sure-footedness (probably not a real word), but if we’re being honest, I have no idea what we’re going to look like. The reality is that our record and season looks very different last year with some well timed made field goals. Here’s to hoping we can be better on this front.
There you have it. We have the capacity to be better. We can and should be better. What does this all mean? Probably nothing. So much of a team’s DNA changes from year to year and candidly games are won and lost by individual and collective execution. But if nothing else, I think we should have hope. That’s the beauty of a new season. The board is wide open and anything is possible. look to 2014 for inspiration. Or take a cue from JP from Angels in the Outfield, “It could happen.”
So what’s on the docket tonight? Well my wife is back in town and I am going to cook a fancy dinner for us. steak, lobster, glazed carrots, balsamic Brussels sprouts and bacon mac and cheese. Hopefully this will put her in a good mood because I want to watch the TCU/Tech Game.