clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Keys to the Game: TCU vs. Nicholls State

What does TCU need to do following last week’s disappointing loss to Colorado?

NCAA Football: Colorado at Texas Christian Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

TCU will host the Nicholls State Colonels on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. local time, so fans will have the whole day to tailgate and watch other games before the Frogs take the field. TCU should win this game big, but I understand if fans are hesitant to accept that after last week. I have no doubts TCU will win this game, and I think it’ll be by at least four scores.

“All About Us”

This is the perfect game for TCU to have after the opening week loss. The Frogs will be far more talented across the field on Saturday, and it’ll provide a great opportunity to fix issues from week 1. You’ll often hear coaches talk about the “week 2 jump” because the largest one-week growth for a team occurs immediately after the first game. TCU’s focus on Saturday should be on perfecting their schemes, executing at a high level, and hopefully getting some of the young guys a little playing time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Colorado at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offensive Focus

Outside of two ill-timed interceptions, the TCU offense was incredibly prolific against Colorado. The Frogs put up 541 yards of offense with 279 coming through the air and 262 on the ground. The ground attack was highlighted by a huge 74-yard run by Emani Bailey when the Frogs were backed up deep in their own territory. The run game had plenty of variety with multiple zone and gap schemes featured. This week, I’d like to see Emani Bailey as the featured back. Trey Sanders actually finished the game with one more carry than Bailey (15 total), but he only had 46 yards on the ground. Bailey finished the day with 164 yards on 14 carries.

The passing game was inconsistent on the afternoon. Chandler Morris went 24/42 with 279 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. I honestly think if he’d only thrown one pick on the afternoon he wouldn’t be getting so much heat from fans and the media, but that’s the nature of this beast. TCU had 10 different players catch a pass on Saturday. Jared Wiley and JP Richardson led the way with six catches each. Last week I felt that Kendal Briles did a decent job of scheming things up and putting Morris in position to make throws.

The problem is that Morris spent way too much time against Colorado throwing late, and two of those late throws were costly interceptions in the red zone. This week, I’d like to see Morris get more comfortable in his reads and progressions and make accurate throws on time.

Colorado Buffaloes vs Texas Christian University Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Defensive Focus

I’ve seen lots of fans upset with the performance of the TCU defense against Colorado, and rightfully so. However, I think it’s important to understand that offensive performances like Shedeur Sanders’ are almost unheard of. If you rewatch the game he really only missed on two throws. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from a quarterback.

With all that said, TCU has to make significant improvements on defense this week. During my rewatch, I didn’t feel that scheme was the reason Colorado threw for over 500 yards. TCU tried man, zone, combo, blitz, etc... You name it, they tried it. There were plenty of times when players were in position to make a play and simply didn’t. To make matters worse, there were a lot of examples of really bad effort from this defense. I pointed out a few in my game film breakdown earlier this week.

So really, there are just two things I want to see from the TCU defense this weekend. First, the Frogs need to play with incredible intensity. There should be 11 purple hats flying to the ball on every play. Pedal to the floor until the whistle blows. Hell, I wouldn’t even be upset about a late hit or two because guys are all over the field. You did not see any of that in the Colorado game. Second, I’d like to see guys making plays in space. As I mentioned earlier, there were too many times that a defender was in position to make a play and did not. This weekend, we want to see the first man make the tackle, and if he doesn’t there’s a second defender there to clean up immediately.

What If...

I know what you’re thinking, what if they can’t do the things I’ve mentioned above? In my opinion, get some of the younger guys in the game and give them an opportunity. One of the things that bugged me about the Colorado game is that I saw the same guys failing to make plays over and over again. At what point does the coaching staff say enough is enough? It’s one thing to fail to make a play while playing with great effort and intensity, but that was not the case last weekend.

To me, it’s unacceptable to allow the 11 on the field to not play with maximum effort when you have 90 other guys on the sideline. The expectation needs to be set this week. “We’ll ride with the 22 guys who are going to play the hardest.” This week is a gut check for this team, and they’ll have every opportunity to show that they’re ready.

Once the Frogs take care of business on Saturday they can start looking towards the Big 12 opener at Houston on Sept. 16. I expect this to be a big week for TCU, and the Frogs will regain some of their swagger.