The weather has finally turned in Texas, at least for the time being. That snap in the air, the ability to be outside without sweating to death while the sun is up, the leaves plotting against us to cover every square inch of your yard - yes, it’s the annual three weeks of fall in the Lone Star State.
This is, what most people refer to as, Football Weather. It’s the best time of year to enjoy a game on the gridiron. That being said, I have a feeling I wasn’t alone amongst Frog Fans in feeling somewhat relieved to not have a TCU game to watch.
Whether you’re new to TCU Football or you’ve been around decades, the last two years have been tough on fans. Last year, injuries gave us an excuse for a subpar season, and it was frankly a ton of fun to watch the remnants rally over the course of the last month plus of the season to get to bowl eligible and win that disaster of a game known forever as “The Greatest Bowl Game in History”. We all felt justified in expecting the patented Gary Patterson Bounce-Back Season - what with returning talent on both sides of the ball, renewed hope at the QB position, and history on our side.
But five games into the 2019 campaign, the Frogs sit at 3-2, having lost to the only two teams with a pulse they have played — and with rivals SMU and Baylor a combined 12-0 on the season (both already bowl eligible). Meanwhile, the Frogs face what feels like a must-win game in Manhattan this week if they want to play in the post-season for a sixth straight season.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Kansas State won’t be a pushover at Bill Snyder Family Stadium; under Chris Klieman, the Cats jumped out to a 3-0 start, including an impressive win over Mississippi State in Starkville. But they have dropped two straight, managing just 25 total points against Oklahoma State and Baylor combined. They’ll be looking to get back on track as well, knowing that Saturday is as critical for their bowl hopes as it is for the Frogs’.
The key to success will be establishing the run, not turning it over on offense, and finding Jalen Reagor early - like they did late at Iowa State. Getting TCU’s best players involved in the game plan from kick-off would be a nice change of pace, too. And maybe some more creative play-calling, while we are at it? K State is actually below TCU in most major offensive categories amongst the Big 12 teams, and their rush defense is second worst in the conference. But they are strong against the pass - something that could actually play into the Horned Frogs’ hands. Who wouldn’t sign up for 45 carries between Darius, Sewo, and the freshmen?
No matter what the game plan is, Saturday will be a gut check moment for TCU. We saw the team respond after losing to SMU by blasting Kansas (but... it was Kansas), will we see them play angry after getting blasted at Iowa State and pick up their first conference road win in response? All we know now is this — if the Frogs can’t get it done in the Little Apple, it is going to be a very long season for everyone invested in the program.
But if they can?
That momentum could carry a long way and we could see the program get right and win a lot of games.
It should be fun to find out.