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Quick Thoughts: TCU 42, Colorado 45

Horned Frogs fall in season opener, allowing over 500 passing yards and giving away two endzone turnovers

NCAA Football: Colorado at Texas Christian
Shedeur Sanders threw for 510 yards and four TDs to lead Colorado past TCU in Fort Worth
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time under Head Coach Sonny Dykes, the TCU Horned Frogs have lost a regular season game, falling to the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, snapping an 8-game home winning streak. TCU had every opportunity to win the game, but two red zone interceptions, a dreadful day defensively, and a final drive that stalled outside of field goal range put the Horned Frogs in the loss column to start the season. These are the initial takeaways from TCU’s Week One loss:

Deion Sanders is for real

As it turns out, bringing in top-tier talent and a top-tier coaching staff can churn out elite on-field production. All the blustery showmanship, all the catch-phrases, all the chatter was fully backed up on Saturday as Coach Prime went out in his first FBS game and took it to the defending national runners-up. All who underestimated the speed with which the turnaround in Boulder would occur, present company included, were quickly and decisively proven wrong.

Tackle anyone challenge

I wasn’t charting the game, but I’m sure somewhere there is a record of how many missed tackles the TCU Defense had Saturday. And the results will be ugly. Dylan Edwards made the Horned Frogs look like they were running in a mud pit, blazing past would-be tacklers as TCU defenders haplessly attempted arm tackles. Dykes acknowledged as much in the post-game press conference, noting it was an issue that required urgent repair.

Do Your Job

It’s been the mantra under Sonny Dykes, if each player just does what he is supposed to do, the team will be in position for success. Very few Horned Frogs did his job on Saturday. TCU was whistled for 10 penalties, matching the most for any game from last season (at SMU), gifting the Buffs 78 free yards. The pass interferences and personal fouls hurt, but can sometimes be forgiven as just what happens in the course of the game, but the pre-snap penalties that put the offense in bad positions can be killer. All-Conference placekicker Griffin Kell missed from 43 yards out in the 2nd quarter, his only attempt of the game - just before Colorado drove down and made a 49-yard FG going into halftime.

It wasn’t just on the field where the job wasn’t getting done, it was with the coaching staff as well. Despite facing the same offensive scheme in practice every day, the TCU Defense was wholly unprepared for what Sean Lewis would throw at them, while Shedeur Sanders amassed a ludicrous stat line of 510 pass yards and 4 TDs. The offensive play calls also often dumbfounded. TCU was pushing around the Buffs on the ground and were set up inside the five with a 3rd-and-1 opportunity while trailing by three points; the play call was a pass to Major Everheart in the flat that Travis Hunter read like it was Dr. Seuss, making an incredible play to pick it off and eliminate the threat. As the clock was winding under two minutes to play, TCU had just crossed mid-field, driving to potentially win the game while trailing by a FG, but well outside FG range; the Frogs ran twice straight into the line for no yards, bleeding the clock and setting up a must-convert 4th-and-10 play that was a dump off to Jared Wiley for 7 yards, Frogs lose.

Travis Hunter

The man had the Horned Frogs feeling like that lady on the plane: that mf is not real. He’s a Madden glitch, the plays he made today should not be possible by humans on a football field. Listen, we knew he was an elite prospect, we knew he’d be the most talented player on the field, but we didn’t know he’d be able to play nearly every single play of the football game in the Texas heat and impact the game to such a massive degree. Another example of talking big talk and backing it up 100%. The man declared himself the #1 Heisman candidate before the season and now he very well might be atop most voters’ lists today. All you can do is tip your cap (or idk, maybe not repeatedly throw at CFB’s top CB in the red zone over and over, just a thought).

Disappearing Acts

The box score has some terrible stories to tell about many Frogs that entered the season with major expectations. The much praised depth of the new receiving corps was held to little impact; JP Richardson had a nice day with 6-63 and Dylan Wright scored a nice TD, but otherwise the wideouts were a ghost squad. Presumptive top target Savion Williams had two receptions for six yards on six targets, but at least he tried to fight the cornerbacks enough times to earn an unsportsmanlike penalty (that was fortunately off-setting). Congrats to Trey Sanders on his three TDs, that’s terrific, but at 3.1 yards per carry, including two runs for zero yards on the final drive, he proved mostly ineffective. Mark Perry was supposed to be the run-stopper from the secondary, but finished with just one tackle.

Maybe the steak could use a bit of sizzle

That catch-phrase sure sounds good in a press conference or as a hashtag (does it though?), but when the opponent - the one with the maximum possible sizzle - puts it on you like Shedeur and Travis and Dylan did in Amon G. Carter today, perhaps it’s time for a reevaluation. If you aren’t going to Do Your Job while also having No Sizzle, it’s probably not going to be a very good time. Emani Bailey did have an explosive 74-yard run and Major Everheart had a kickoff return into the redzone, but out side of those, there was no explosion from the Frogs; the longest pass play of the day was Dylan Wright’s 23-yard TD, most of which came after the catch. While TCU did look deep a couple of times, the plays were either well covered or not on target. TCU feasted on big plays a year ago and will need to find some fireworks in the future if it expects to outscore opponents.

Silver Linings

Even if it’s difficult to see right now, there are some things that went well on Saturday. When built upon, perhaps one can still see a bright future ahead for this Horned Frogs squad. Emani Bailey rushed for 164 yards, good for 11.7 yards per carry - and perhaps if he didn’t experience cramps late in the fourth quarter he could’ve had an impact on the final drive and the final result. One of the biggest concerns headed into the season was the roster turnover at offensive line, but it was one of TCU’s best units on Saturday, allowing zero sacks, zero tackles for loss, and only two QB hurries; big kudos to the big boys up front. Same goes for the defensive front - while CU torched the Frogs through the air, the Buffs had little working on the ground, rushing for just 55 total yards while suffering seven TFLs and 4 sacks. Jared Wiley and JP Richardson had very solid days, each with six receptions and over 60 yards, including Wiley’s incredible TD snag. There’s clearly talent in Fort Worth, it’ll now be a question of whether this set back will send the squad into a spiral or if they step up to the challenges ahead and build themselves back to the place they know they should be. We'll begin to find out next Saturday night when TCU will be back in Amon G. Carter Stadium to face the Nicholls State Colonels at 7 PM on ESPN+.