For months, when he would talk to reporters, Gary Patterson would bring up one thing about TCU in 2017.
Six tough road games.
It almost became a habit.
“I started talking to them in January about being road-tested,” Patterson said at Big 12 Media Days. “When we’ve been good here, we’ve been able to play on the road, and we’re going to have to do that again this year.”
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But the Frogs got one of the six Saturday in a 28-7 victory against Arkansas at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
They scored first and never trailed, holding the home team under 300 yards and ending the game in victory formation.
The Frogs never looked rattled, never looked uncomfortable in the SEC stadium hosting its first game of the season.
“It was a pretty good atmosphere, but nothing I’ve never been a part of,” said defensive end Ban Banogu, a transfer from ULM who has played at Alabama. “I’ve played in a lot of great environments.”
TCU entered the game with the nation’s third-best road record over the past eight seasons (33-10). TCU was 4-1 on the road last year, losing only at West Virginia. In the Big 12, they are 14-9 on the road.
Three of those nine Big 12 road losses are at Oklahoma State, where the Frogs are going for their next road trip.
Some other observations from Week 2 at Arkansas:
1. Kyle Hicks had a touchdown in his season debut, a light day with 12 carries. Most of the work went to Darius Anderson, who started and had 15 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Kenny Hill, who converted three third downs with designed runs and carried 11 times. Sewo Olonilua did not take a snap out of the regular offense, but scored twice in wildcat formations. The work of the other backs impressed Patterson. “I think he ran a little bit tentative,” Patterson said of Hicks. “I thought Darius and Sewo ran more straight ahead, did their thing.”
2. The Frogs’ three sacks came from three players. Banogu set a tone early with a strip-sack on third down to stop the first Arkansas drive. Safety Ray Issahaku had a sack, and defensive tackle Corey Bethley wrapped up Austin Allen on the last Arkansas snap. Through two games, that’s eight sacks for the TCU defense, well on pace to match or top last year’s Big 12-leading 43.
3. The Frogs won a game in which they lost the turnover battle. That speaks to the solid performance of the defense Saturday. TCU gave up an interception and a fumble, part of the reason the game stayed a one-score battle into the fourth quarter. The Frogs’ only takeaway came on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter, forced by Innis Gaines and recovered by Sammy Douglas.
4. Through two games, Kenny Hill has a strong completion percentage. He’s at 72.2 percent (39 of 54) despite two drops Saturday. That’s a high mark for him. He had a 66.7 completion percentage in eight games as a starter at Texas A&M in 2014 and 61.1 percent last year in his first season at TCU.
5. TCU has a 68 percent conversion rate on third down. The defense has not faced more than 60 plays in either game. That’s not unrelated. Last week, Jackson State got off 56 plays. Saturday, Arkansas ran 54. That’s about a 20-play difference from what TCU has grown accustomed to in Big 12 games. “The less series people get, the better opportunity you have of being successful,” Patterson said. “Kansas State has been a great model for that.”