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Three Up, Three Down: Frogs Overcome Slow Start to Down Ponies

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The TCU running backs had themselves a DAY.

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was a run away win for TCU, but not the kind of performance that had Gary Patterson praising his team post game. Can the Frogs get things cleaned up ahead of their Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State next week? We will answer those questions and more in the coming days, but before we do that, let’s look at the studs and duds from yesterday’s win.

UP: KENNY HILL

Kenny Hill delivered one of his best performances as a Horned Frog, going 24-30 for 364 yards, four touchdowns, and no turnovers. He was efficient through the air, made the right read the majority of the time, and at least three of his six incompletions were drops. 12 different receivers caught passes, including a finally more involved KaVontae Turpin, who led the team with eight receptions for 88 yards and a score.

Though he missed a wide open pass downfield, took too many sacks by holding onto the ball too long, and was a little indecisive as a runner, he played the kind of game that can give TCU a chance in Stillwater next week. Hill is far from perfect, and he’s not a super-duper star in the mold of Trevone Boykin, but he can lad the Frogs to a lot of wins this season if he plays like he did Saturday.

DOWN: MAT BOESEN

I don’t think it was a dirty play, but Boesen’s helmet to helmet hit on quarterback Ben Hicks cost TCU 15 yards and Boesen the second half against SMU - and more importantly, the first half against OSU next week. Boesen and Banogu have been TCU’s two best pass rushers this season, and losing his motor for the biggest game to this point is a huge loss. It was one of 11 penalties in the game, resulting in 94 yards for the Ponies, and the lack of discipline is concerning overall.

UP: KENEDY SNELL

“We have been chasing him all through two-a-days.”

That’s what Gary Patterson said about the true freshman out of Waxahachie, who has seen his role within the offense grow exponentially as Kyle Hicks continues to struggle with injury. Snell has three touchdowns already this season, doing it on the ground and through the air, and is a true threat to house it every time he touches the ball - as evidenced by his 71 yard sprint to the goal line Saturday. Where Turpin is more wiggle, Snell is pure speed, and he’s a little bigger and stronger than Turp, so he can break tackles as well.

With a healthy KaVontae back involved in the offense, the duo represents all kinds of problems for opposing defenses, and could be a big key to surviving in Stillwater with Hicks likely on the bench yet again.

DOWN: SLOPPY PLAY

Eleven penalties. Three fumbles. Burned on trick plays on back to back SMU drives. 463 total yards allowed. Zero Sacks.

Sure, it was the quintessential TRAP GAME, sandwiched between a big road win against the SEC and a looming showdown in Stillwater against what looks like one of the best teams in the country - in a place TCU has never won as a member of the Big 12. But, the point remains: the Frogs did not play well against a team they are much better than.

“It was alright,” Patterson said. “We scored 56 points but really didn’t play that well. Penalties, turnovers. We did what we needed to do. We should have done what we needed to do. We were bigger, we were more physical, we were more experienced. Should have been 80.”

TCU has 22 penalties on the year for 222 yards, free plays that will get them burned against the explosive offenses littering the Big 12. They have seven fumbles, losing four, and two interceptions. It’s not a great start against what has been average competition, but, on the #brightside, Gary has plenty to keep his team humble as they continue to rise up the rankings.

UP: FOUR HEADED MONSTER

The Horned Frogs are a running team.

Even with Kyle Hicks banged up and limited to just 23 touches in the ground game, TCU is dominating games behind a strong offensive line and the strength of four players that can gain ground in very different ways out of the backfield.

Darius Anderson has been a revelation - after bursting onto the scene against Texas last season, he has become the go-to guy in the Horned Frogs’ running game, leading the team with 42 attempts and a 6.2 average, plus three scores. Complementing him is the bruiser, Sewo Olonilua, who has the size to run through people, the athleticism to jump over them, and surprising speed to run away from them. He’s averaging nearly six yards per carry himself. Add in Kenedy Snell, and his blazing speed, along with Kenny Hill’s ability to extend plays and pick up first downs with his feet, and TCU is a really dangerous offense.

If Cumbie and Luper continue to lean on the ground game, asking Hill to throw around 30 times per game, they can control time of possession and keep the defense fresh. That’s a winning formula.

DOWN: TCU VS SMU

I tweet out this picture in the third quarter, when TCU was leading 28-22:

Melissa Triebwasser

Though it devolved into a conversation about fans and heat, it was meant to make this point: TCU fans that came after the SWC era don’t care about the TCU-SMU rivalry.

It was undeniably hot, and I heard that many people sought medical treatment. 2:30 PM games in September in North Texas can be miserable, no doubt, and Saturday was no exception. But, you can’t convince me that, had that been a one score game against Texas, OU, Texas Tech, or even Baylor, the stands would have looked like that.

Since joining the Big 12, those games have become incredibly meaningful to fans and players alike - they compete for the same kids, the players all know each other from the 7 v 7 circuit, and there are tangible stakes. Sure, the Iron Skillet is a great piece of history and represents a formerly bitter rivalry, but the Mustangs have only two wins in the Gary Patterson era, and only one that really meant anything (2005). Patterson himself doesn’t seem to care for playing the Ponies:

“I get more nervous for the SMU game every year than I do about every other ballgame that we play,” Patterson said. “You have a situation where everybody expects you to win. They’re going to be more ready to play against us than most people that play against us.”

The “should TCU keep playing SMU?” conversation is one for another day, but on Saturday, it was certainly a dud.