It was a dominating performance, nearly from start to finish, as the Frogs nearly equaled the yards allowed with the points they scored. Plenty of people got snaps, plenty of performances were note-worthy, plenty of fun and fireworks were had. Let’s take a look at the best, and worst, of opening weekend.
UP: OFFENSIVE ROOKIES
What a debut it was for true freshmen Kenedy Snell, Jalen Reagor, and Shawn Robinson, who combined for 214 total yards and three touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Snell ignited the crowd early with an insane play, one reminiscent of Aaron Green’s touchdown against Kansas State, as he broke a tackle before flipping the field and out-running the entire Tiger defense on his way to the end zone. A nice block by Kenny Hill sprung him for the final few yards.
Jalen Reagor nearly matched his Waxahachie teammate, taking a pass from Kenny Hill just one offensive play later, spinning out of a tackle near the sideline, and streaking towards the end zone. He was pulled down just short of the goal line, at the four, but gave TCU fans an exciting glimpse into the future as well.
Finally, the much-heralded Shawn Robinson took the field at QB in the third quarter, connecting on his second passing attempt for his first career touchdown. He would add a 40 yard scamper later as well, as he completed 5-7 passes for 94 yards and two scores.
DOWN: LJ COLLIER
Oh, LJ. You played well enough (three tackles, one TFL, one sack), but your actions late in the game likely cost you big Sunday. Collier is a huge key on the defensive line - don’t be stupid this week, please, LJ.
GP: on one of the penalties LJ flipped a ref off. He'll pay for that tomorrow. We're not going to act like that.— PurpleMenace.com (@TCU_Rivals) September 3, 2017
UP: TURNOVER CITY
The 2014 defense wasn’t necessarily the most talented one that Gary Patterson has fielded, but it was the most fun - 39 sacks, 26 interceptions, 14 fumbles forced. In the two seasons since, the Frogs have fallen way off in turnover margin, including last year’s dreadful eight interception/eight forced fumble campaign. So, needless to say, it was a lot of fun to watch this year’s group fly to the football, take aggressive chances, and wreak havoc on an overmatched Jackson State offense.
The Tigers started the game with an opening drive that sliced and diced the TCU D into the red zone. But a 28 yard strip sack flipped the field and changed the momentum, and it was all Frogs from there. In all, TCU forced two fumbles - recovering one and returning it all the way - picked off a pass (taking it to the house), and sacked Tiger QBs five times. That’s the defense we all know and love. Now, let’s do it against Arkansas.
DOWN: SPECIAL TEAMS
Well, Jackson State was smart in not giving many chanced to TCU returners KaVontae Turpin and Desmon White, but, the special teams units were just meh all-around. Adam Nunez, the rocket-legged punter who was a lone bright spot as a true freshman a season ago, was just okay - his two punts traveled an average of 32 yards with a long of 36, one hit inside the twenty and neither were returnable. I am not too worried about Nunez, but Arky has some dangerous returners, so he will need to be on his A game Saturday.
The kicking game remains a question mark - the Frogs didn’t attempt a field goal, but were 9/9 on XPs, including an 8/8 day from Jonathan Song, who appears to have won the job - for now.
Turp got his hands on just one punt, and despite sore hammies, was a breath away from breaking it big. Daythan Davis had the lone kickoff return, on a pooch kick that he took 12 yards to midfield.
Cole Bunce remained in charge of kick-off duties, and had one out of bounds and four touchbacks. I am of the mindset that if you can kick it through the end zone, you do, and give your opponent a long field and no momentum change. We will see what the Frogs’ philosophy this year is in more detail this week.
UP: SONNY CUMBIE AND CURTIS LUPER
THANK YOU LU-BIE.
The play-calling was markedly better in game one of the 2017 season, as new offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper made good on their promise to run the ball more immediately. With both coaches on the sideline, and Sonny Dykes in the booth, the Frogs opened with conservative rhythm passes for Kenny Hill that enabled him to get in a groove early, and he rewarded them by completing his first eight attempts. Outside of what was either an ill-advised play call or a missed opportunity that led to a pick late in the first half, I loved the tempo and toughness the Frogs played with on offense Saturday.
One of the biggest question marks late last season and into the fall this year was how TCU would treat its running game. With Kyle Hicks sidelined for the opener, that was an even bigger point of interest, but the combo of Cumbie and Luper (the former running backs coach) didn’t disappoint. Nine different players ran the ball, including all three QBs, with Darius Anderson taking the brunt of the opportunities and rewarding his coaches with an efficient 13 carry, 68 yard night. Sewo Olonilua finally had a chance to show out a bit, and while he wasn’t a explosive, he was steady - averaging over four yards a carry and converting a couple first downs. Kenedy Snell, who many thought was a redshirt candidate when he didn’t make the three deep, made the most of his opportunities as both a runner and a receiver - Lu-Bie were creative in how they got him in motion and space and he was absolutely electric. They were careful with a nicked up Turpin but still let him shine, and in all, 14 different players caught a pass, with Ty Slanina’s four receptions leading the charge. Lastly, I thought Kenny Hill looked much more decisive in the pocket and was incredibly intelligent when he took off running - in particular, the third down conversion up the middle and the stop and pop rollout to his left where he connected on a dime to the sideline. Ultimately, TCU had a run pass ratio of 36 to 30, and though the fourth quarter was basically a game of clock management (someone send that to Kevin Sumlin), it was obvious that they wanted to run the damn ball. And they did. Well.
Sure, this was all against a bad defensive team in a game that was over very early, but assuming we were given a glimpse into how these two o-coordinators WANT to call the game this year, I will take it.
DOWN: FOOTBALL IN TEXAS
Oh man... I know we need Texas and Baylor to be good - or at least competent - for the sake of the conference. And I know that A&M continuing to crap the bed is bad for recruiting in Texas because it makes it easier for SEC teams to come get kids out of the state, but hoo boy did I enjoy this weekend as a TCU fan.
By now, you’re likely well aware that Texas lost to Maryland in a game that never felt as close as the score sometimes got - in Austin. You also know that Baylor lost to LIBERTY. LIBERTY. I can’t even. Also a home game. And, you might have watched, or woken up to the news that A&M blew the second biggest lead in college football history in dropping a road test to UCLA Sunday night. It was a no good very bad day for the state of football in Texas, as the only Power Five teams to win were TCU and Texas Tech, with FBS programs SMU, UNT, and Texas State also got Ws. Overall, it was a 5-7 weekend for what has widely been considered a top five football factory location, and the mantra of the Big 12 is dead now reads as Texas Football is dead. But more on that, tomorrow.
Want to give ups to someone? Have a down I missed? Let us know in the comments!