Though TCU struck first and never trailed in their game Saturday at Arkansas, the final outcome seemed in doubt until late in the fourth quarter. Ahead 14-7, but having squandered multiple prime scoring opportunities, it appeared that the Frogs were in danger of giving the ball back to the Razorbacks and facing down another potential overtime game.
But then, Darius Anderson happened.
TCU got the ball back thanks to another excellent stop by the TCU D, who forced a punt thanks in part to a holding call (finally!) and a Corey Bethley sack of Austin Allen, facing 4th and 21, the Hogs punted to KaVontae Turpin with 6:47 to play in the game, and the Frogs’ return man called for a fair catch at his own 45.
A three and out would have been devastating to the defense at that point; it was time for the TCU O to finally impose their will.
The series opened with a designed run for Hill, who showed good patience behind the line until a hole opened up back inside. It looks like had Schlottman blocked outside instead of in - and by in I mean just standing in the middle of the field looking for something to do - he might have been able to get the corner, but it’s three yards either way.
The next play was a huge moment for Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs, as the TCU QB dropped back, rolled to his left to escape pressure, and fired a dart to Shaun Nixon on the sideline for a big first down on second and long.
That’s the good Kenny... the talented athlete who does an outstanding job keeping his eye downfield even under pressure, can move in the pocket and force defenders to make tough decisions, and still execute throws on the run to move the sticks.
Darius Anderson’s rush attempt on the next play got strung out for a minimal gain, but the sophomore was smart enough to stay in bounds instead of picking up an extra yard or two and risk stopping the clock. TCU looked in all kinds of trouble when second and seven turned into third and long on the next play.
Arkansas blitzed off the edge, and didn’t fall for the play-action at all. Anderson got a decent initial chip in, but as Hill scrambled to his left, the offensive line lost contain and four Hogs converged on Kenny in short order. Hill, who kept looking downfield the entire time, wisely tucked the ball and took the loss. Live, I remember thinking that if he would have made the decision to run earlier, it would probably have led to positive yardage and third and short, or, possibly a big gain. Sometimes, Hill wants to make the big play instead of taking what the defense gives him - or just using his natural ability to keep the offense moving. This, in my opinion, was one of those times.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Facing third and forever, the offensive line does an incredible job of giving Hill a clean pocket out of a four wide set.
Hill has Jalen Reagor to the wide side of the field and Sewo Olonilua in the backfield - who seems to be the go-to guy on third down - with trips to the short side (John Diarse, Shaun Nixon, and Desmon White). Hill never really looks towards Reagor’s side, but does give Sewo a glance as a check down, before uncorking one deep to Diarse down the sideline.
It wasn’t a great pass - had Hill led Diarse even a little, it was an easy touchdown for TCU. But Hill didn’t fully step into the throw (probably trying to release the ball quickly), which caused an under-thrown ball. Because Diarse had to stop on the route (it looked like it was a go, not a comebacker to me), he didn’t have much of a shot. Of course, because he stopped, it took the Arkansas defender out of position, drawing a flag. There were some questioning the validity of the call, but:
Yeah, that’s PI.
The Frogs got bailed out at a big moment in the game by a flag, meaning they could run down the clock at least a few more minutes instead of punting it back to the Razorbacks with just under four minutes to play.
This is where things got fun.
Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper decided to impose their will on Arkansas in a way that the Hogs aren’t used to having done TO them. The normally wide-open Frog Raid O became ground and pound, and the results were glorious.
Kyle Hicks up the gut for three on a well-blocked, patient run.
Darius Anderson with a huge run off the right side for a first down - and the presence of mind to cut back inbounds and keep the clock moving.
I love the formation, with Sewo and Anderson both in the backfield and Olonilua serving as a lead blocker. But the best part of the play was the blocking. Just look at the way TCU set the edge - nothing but green grass in front of Darius and Sewo doesn’t have anyone to block until he gets five yards downfield.
That all sets up a beautiful touchdown run.
Hill lines up under center for the first time this drive - and the first time all day - with the Frogs in the red zone and a first down. We are under the three minute mark in a one score game, meaning a score here all but ends it for the Razorbacks.
Go step on their necks, kid.
The offensive line just explodes off the ball at the snap, giving Anderson all the crease he needs as he slips through a hole between Schlottman and Noteboom.
Then, he lowers the boom.
One more broken tackle, and Darius is into the end zone (with a little help on a block by Diarse at the goal line), and the game is all but won. Darius Anderson dominated an SEC defense Saturday, showing speed, quickness, great feet, and a little wiggle. And then, when he needed to - he stuck guys.
The final (real) drive was a thing of beauty - old school TCU style O, running with speed and power behind an excellent offensive line. And they capped things off with some old school TCU D, as Innis Gaines sealed the win the very next play, by destroying the hopes and dreams of the Hogs kick returner on this play:
That might not be the recipe for success Saturday against SMU, but in Fayetteville, it was just what the doctor ordered.