Without two defensive starters, the Horned Frogs gave up two first downs on the opening drive. Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner completed his first three passes, and the Gophers moved. Finally, the first incompletion came on a third-and-8 and stopped the drive near midfield. Experience on the defensive line was going to be big for the Horned Frogs against Minnesota’s misdirection. Without defensive end James McFarland and defensive tackle Davion Pierson, the Frogs are missing 37 combined starts.
The turnover remains part of TCU’s game. The first one of the year came from the defensive line, a strip sack by right defensive end Terrell Lathon. He forced the ball out, and it landed the hands of left defensive end Josh Carraway. TCU had 40 takeaways a year ago and finished plus-18 in turnover margin. The result? A short field, a red-zone touchdown and a 10-0 lead. So much value in turnovers.
It was risky, but TCU and Patterson opted for a 53-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. Jalen Oberkrom made everybody look good, driving the kick through the uprights. Already the nation’s active leader in field goals made, he put some confidence in himself and the Horned Frogs’ special teams. Then he gave it back by missing a 29-yard kick in thelast minute of the first half. Place-kicking is an unpredictable part of the college game.
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The Horned Frogs are going to give Kavontae Turpin chances with the ball. In practice, Patterson has said there are “Turpin moments,” when the 152-pound freshman will do something extraordinary. He returned punts in the first half, got two carries and caught a pass. He got a bad break on a first-quarter punt return when his signal to get away from the ball was interpreted as a fair catch. He stayed away from another return opportunity. But he looks like he is involved to stay.
Aaron Green wants to have a big year on the ground for TCU. He got his chances. But he made a critical error in the second quarter when he fumbled in the red zone, losing a chance for TCU to gain a firm grip on the game. The Frogs were leading 10-0 and had Minnesota on its heels. But the fumbled bled all the momentum out of the Frogs’ offense. They went three-and-out on the next two possessions.
Follow TCU beat writer Carlos Mendez from the TCU-Minnesota game.