TCU is gaining confidence in its short-yardage running game and its running game in general.
“You’re only as good as your last game. We ran the ball pretty decently in our last game,” coach Gary Patterson said.
The Frogs showed more punch on the ground in the games since SMU, when they were stuffed at the goal line in the first quarter.
“Yeah, that was pretty bad,” center Joey Hunt said, remembering the stop on downs against SMU. “They just kind of threw something at us we weren’t ready for. I feel we’ve definitely gotten better in short yardage. We’ve been a little more successful on fourth-and-1s and goal line and everything.”
Last week against Oklahoma State, B.J. Catalon scored on a fourth-and-1 conversion from the 35, Aaron Green scored on a 4-yard run, and Trevorris Johnson ran effectively out of two-tight-end sets.
“He’s a big old boy,” Hunt said of Johnson, a 221-pound redshirt freshman. “You can tell that. It’s good to have a big guy who can get a couple yards when he falls forward. And he runs forward.”
Patterson said the running game will matter inside the 20.
“You’ve got to play well in the red zone. Most of the time, you got to be able to run the football to do that,” Patterson said.
For the first time this year, a running back leads the team in rushing. Catalon rushed for 102 yards last week to give him 370 for the season, ahead of quarterback Trevone Boykin’s 346.
The Horned Frogs rank second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, 197.5.
Boykin is as dominant as any player in the Big 12, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury was asked if Boykin has made the biggest improvement among Big 12 quarteracks this year.
“I’d say in the country,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t know how he’s not mentioned with the top three guys, when you look at his stats. They lost one game by three on the road to a top-five team, and they scored 58 points. He’s dynamic. I watched every game, and he’s as dominant a player as there is in our conference.”
Kingsbury said Boykin has improved his accuracy.
“He’s making good decisions, and he’s putting the ball on the money where those guys can catch it and run,” he said. “And those receivers are as talented a group as there is around. They’re going up and making plays for him.”
Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie is facing his former school this week, just as co-offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach Doug Meacham faced Oklahoma State last week.
For Cumbie, it is his first experience against his former school, and Patterson said he’s sure it’s significant.
“Having always been at Texas Tech as a player and as a coach, this is his first time away from them,” Patterson said.
• Defensive end Josh Carraway is back as the starter at left end, Patterson said. James McFarland started against Oklahoma State.
• Receiver Jordan Moore sat out last week’s game with bruised ribs, but has come back and practiced this week, Patterson said.
• TCU leads the Big 12 in six defensive categories: sacks per game (3.8), tackles for loss per game (8.3), third-down defense (26.7 percent), interceptions (11), turnovers (17) and fewest first downs (110).
• Last week was the first time in school history TCU had a 400-yard passer, 200-yard receiver and 100-yard rusher in the same game.