TCU went 2-2 on 4th down attempts on Thursday, so that sounds like a positive....well, sometimes it’s the sins of omission that are just as evil as the sins of commission. TCU had two more opportunities where it could’ve attempted a 4th down conversions, times when it was not necessary, but perhaps an optimal choice. Early in the 2nd quarter, TCU had a first down at the Texas Tech 33 yard line; an overthrow to Savion in the endzone, a JoJo Earle run and an Emani Bailey run set up 4th & 2 from the 25. Rather than attack, TCU chose to attempt a 43-yard field goal, which Griffin Kell missed wide right. Kell is now 11-18 on the season and just 6-13 from 40+ yards. The more egregious cowardly 4th down decision came in the 4th quarter with the Frogs trailing by a touchdown and under 12 minutes to play. Following a screen pass that gained zero yards, TCU was faced with 4th & 7 from the TTU 40; rather than go attempt to tie the game, it put the game in the hands of its defense, punting away and pinning the Red Raiders inside the 10, terrific. Three plays and 92 yards late and Jones AT&T Stadium was celebrating a touchdown as Texas Tech grew its lead to two touchdowns with time dwindling.
The Red Raiders were not 100% on their 4th down tries, even kicking one red zone field goal where you might’ve expected an attempt at a TD, and its one failure giving TCU the ball with a very short field, directly resulting in a TD. But Texas Tech did pick up 2 fourth down conversions, with another converting via penalty as TCU was making a substitution for some reason and got caught sleeping; those conversions led to 10 Red Raider points and ultimately the difference in the contest.
Perhaps the Horned Frogs were still living in the Bye week for the first half, because it was a rough go for the opening two quarters. TCU’s offense did have one very nice 7 play 75 yard drive for a touchdown. But outside of that it was four punts, including two three-and-outs, and a missed field goal on just 97 total yards and just 6:52 of possession. On the other side of the ball, Texas Tech was getting whatever it wanted from the TCU defense in the first half. The Red Raiders opened the game with a three-and-out, but followed that up with four straight scoring drives, including three drives of 12 or more plays. The Frogs were able to get off the mat in the 2nd half, but it had dug a hole two deep for this version of the team to dig out of.
The TCU offense abandoned the run game again on Thursday night. Emani Bailey did receive 19 carries, but for the game TCU had just 26 total rush attempts for a paltry 87 rushing yards. Josh Hoover was playing well, but was also playing with fire all night, even his TD pass to DJ Rogers in the first quarter very easily could have been an interception. He had an interception called back due to a low-hit roughing the passer penalty, and had several other turnover worthy plays. It was only a matter of time before he tossed a back-breaking interception as the offensive gameplan had him attempt 52 passes. Hoover did eventually throw two second half interceptions: one coming in the final minute of the 3rd quarter, on the first drive after TCU had taken the lead, which Texas Tech turned into a TD two plays later, and the other being the game sealing giveaway as Tech could kneel out the remaining seconds. Hoover has the ability to get the job done for the Frogs, but when the entire offense is put on his back, the weight is too heavy at the moment for the redshirt freshman.
Red Zone Success
Well, would you look at that, TCU remembered it was within NCAA rules to run the football when inside the opponent’s 20 yard line and the result was 3 rushing touchdowns, added to a DJ Rogers TD reception from 17 yards out. TCU entered the game as bottom-five nationally in red zone scoring percentage, converting under 50% of red zone trips into touchdowns. On Thursday, TCU found the end zone on all four of its trips into the danger zone and will surely find itself out of the statistical basement when the week is complete. Emani Bailey had scoring runs of 16 yards and 2 yards, while Trey Sanders’ lone touch of the night was brought into the end zone from one yard out. TCU finally turning to the run game in the red zone in the second half was a welcome sign and it was rewarded with points on the board.
Look, it’s obviously not the final result you want, but one thing that was clear on Thursday night was that the Horned Frogs wanted it. The team took its punches, fell behind, but came out of the locker room for the second half and continued to push. Every time there was an opportunity to pack it in - trailing by 13 at half, trailing by 14 with ten minutes to play - the Horned Frogs kept pushing. TCU still had a chance to go tie or win this game right up until the interception in the final minutes. The effort has been lacking often this season, and it has cost the Frogs multiple ball games, but at least this one wasn’t for lack of trying. After failing to show that fire the last time out, TCU’s on-field effort down the stretch wasn’t the cause.