TCU S Nick Orr sees improvement in defense lately
TCU football coach Gary Patterson had Texas Tech’s explosive offense, which leads the nation in total yards and averages more than 50 points per game, under wraps for more than 58 minutes Saturday.
The Red Raiders, with 1:30 left, had managed only a touchdown and a field goal as TCU nursed a fourth-quarter lead. If Patterson had known he’d be in that situation before the opening kickoff, he probably would have liked his chances to post a win at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“Yep. Probably,” Patterson said. “You know I don’t lie.”
Yet the defensive effort, arguably TCU’s best of the season, was not enough to get the Horned Frogs across the finish line during a 27-24 loss in double-overtime.
Tech added a game-tying touchdown with 1:28 remaining in regulation, benefited from three missed field goals by TCU kicker Brandon Hatfield and rallied to win a game in which the Red Raiders (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) were limited to 17 points in regulation, matching their season-low from a 48-17 loss to No. 10 West Virginia on Oct. 15.
The Frogs played 89 defensive snaps and limited Tech to 345 total yards, which is 295.3 yards below the Red Raiders’ season average (640.3). It is 509 below the 854-yard outburst Tech compiled in last week’s 66-59 loss to No. 16 Oklahoma. Yet, it did not translate to a win as TCU (4-4, 2-3) squandered opportunities with missed field goals, quarterback Kenny Hill’s interception in the Tech end zone and some ill-timed penalties that contributed to the Red Raiders’ ability to convert on 10 of 20 third-down situations.
“Defensively, we played unbelievable. They keep getting better and better,” said Patterson, who leaned on a six-deep secondary that included the first extensive action of the season by safety Ridwan Issahaku. “They played their [butt] off ... But you’ve got to stop them when it counts.”
For years, you find ways to win them. Then, you find ways to lose them. We’ve got to get back on the track of finding ways to win them. It’s pretty simple … In tight ball games, you can’t miss three field goals.
TCU coach Gary Patterson, on the team’s 1-3 record in games decided by a touchdown or less this season.
TCU was unable to do that in crunch time, dropping the team’s record to 1-3 this season in games decided by a touchdown or less. TCU was 6-1 in such contests last year and 2-1 in 2014.
“For years, you find ways to win them. Then, you find ways to lose them,” Patterson said. “We’ve got to get back on the track of finding ways to win them. It’s pretty simple … In tight ballgames, you can’t miss three field goals.”
Nor can the defense allow a game-tying, 80-yard touchdown drive on the opponent’s final possession of regulation. Tech’s march covered 16 plays, 12 of them running plays by a team that leads the nation in passing, but came in averaging only 97.6 rushing yards per game, last among Big 12 schools.
Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was limited to 206 passing yards and left the field clutching his right shoulder, capped the game-tying drive in regulation with an 8-yard scoring strike to Dylan Cantrell. Mahomes added a 15-yard touchdown scramble in the first overtime and downplayed concerns about his shoulder, which he initially injured Sept. 29 against Kansas.
“It’s good,” Mahomes said, adding that a TCU defender “landed on top of me” on one of Tech’s final plays before a game-winning, 37-yard field goal by kicker Clayton Hatfield. “It’s tender, so it just gave me a sharp pain. But I went and I threw a little bit after the game and I was fine.”
You can feel good that we held them to 17 in regulation … but nothing good comes from a loss.
TCU safety Nick Orr
Mahomes found little throwing room against a TCU defense in which Patterson used Issahaku in a coverage package “they had not seen before from us. They had a hard time telling where they needed to go with the ball.”
But the solid statistical effort does not satisfy TCU safety Nick Orr, who had a first-quarter interception.
“You can feel proud, but we still lost,” Orr said. “You can feel good that we held them to 17 in regulation … but nothing good comes from a loss.”