‘Let’s go,’ TCU’s Michael Collins ready for opportunity
TCU has gone from hanging with one of the top teams in the country, Ohio State, to simply hoping to become bowl eligible. That’s what losing three of four to start Big 12 play, coupled with a rash of injuries, will do to a team.
Things aren’t looking too promising for the Frogs following a 52-27 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“We’ve got to keep our heads up. The season is not over,” defender Ty Summers said. “At this point, we’re really fighting to make sure that we can find a way to get six wins [and become bowl eligible]. That’s the first bar that we’re trying to reach.”
With that being said, here’s our takeaways from Saturday’s loss –
Gary Patterson isn’t going to use the phrase, but it’s hard not to when talking about TCU right now. Shawn Robinson has shown flashes of greatness at times this season, but simply couldn’t get the offense moving on Saturday.
The opening three offensive drives produced just 21 total yards of offense and TCU found itself down 28-7. Michael Collins stepped in and provided a jolt, leading three scoring drives (two TDs, one FG) in the first half.
Collins impressed early on, but faltered down the stretch with eight straight incompletions. Collins was 7-for-17 passing for 142 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Collins also had a team-high 36 rushing yards on seven carries.
Understandably, Patterson doesn’t want to create controversy around his team, but Collins and Robinson seem to understand the situation. Collins described the quarterbacks room as being “tight,” which should make this situation easier to navigate going forward.
Did Collins show enough to earn more opportunities? Yours truly would say yes, but Robinson still has more long-term potential.
TCU can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front. The secondary is already missing free safety Niko Small and strong safety Innis Gaines, and then cornerback Jeff Gladney exits with a right foot injury against Oklahoma.
Linebacker Garret Wallow, the team’s leading tackler, is also banged up, Patterson revealed afterward.
Offensively, the Frogs have missed the presence of left guard Cordel Iwuagwu, who sustained an injury in the Texas game.
Patterson wouldn’t use injuries as an excuse, but there’s no question it’s piling up. The “next man up” philosophy is easier said than done.
“It’s frustrating. I feel bad for those guys,” linebacker Ty Summers said. “I feel for them, but it’s next man up.”
For Patterson, it’s been a constant chess game of moving pieces to try and get he best 11 out there on defense. Wallow had to play strong safety at times Saturday,
There were positives coming out of the game starting with KaVontae Turpin. He remains the must-see attraction for TCU.
Turpin is an electric player who set a personal-best with a 99-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. He also had a 41-yard TD on a screen pass, leading the team in receiving with five catches for 62 yards.
“Turpin can light up a stadium,” Patterson said. “Turpin’s awesome.”
Along with Turpin, another positive coming out of the game was safety Trevon Moehrig-Woodard.
Moehrig—Woodard is a true freshman who made his first collegiate start. He struggled at times against OU’s high-powered offense, but Patterson feels the Frogs have another standout safety on their hands.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” Patterson said. “He’s the one guy today that ran down [Oklahoma quarterback] Kyler Murray anytime he had an opportunity to run down Kyler Murray. The game was not too big for him.”
Offensively, TCU saw a promising play by freshman wide receiver John Stephens Jr. Stephens made an athletic play to haul in a 47-yard fade pass from Collins.
Patterson had a simple message to his team – Get ready for Kansas.
The Frogs aren’t going to feel sorry for themselves with the injuries stacking up. Instead, it’ll be viewed as an opportunity to get younger players game experience. And Kansas should be a welcomed sight.
The Jayhawks won just once last season, and have sustained double-digit losses in every Big 12 game to date. The latest was a 48-16 pounding by Texas Tech.
Patterson has never lost to KU since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, but he isn’t taking anything for granted. TCU has hung on for close wins the last two trips to Lawrence, winning 24-23 in 2016 and 34-30 in 2014.
“We are 3-4 and we’ve got to battle,” Patterson said. “We’ve got quite a road to get through to get to four [wins]. We go to Kansas and we haven’t played overly well when we’ve gone there.”