It was fourth-and-2, and the TCU Horned Frogs faced a long, but makeable field goal for a 13-point lead in the second quarter in Waco.
If they wanted.
Coach Gary Patterson kept the offense on the field, Kyle Hicks took a handoff, and his 22-yard touchdown run off right end gave the Frogs a three-possession lead in last week’s game against Baylor. It was 24-7, and the Frogs were on the way to authoring a 62-22 victory — spurred by a show of faith in an offense that had not scored more than 24 points the previous three games.
“The main way you gain confidence for your offense is to believe in them,” Patterson said. “They felt comfortable about the calls they had, so we ran with it.”
TCU had already rushed for 110 yards before the fourth-down call. By game’s end, it was a season-high 431, seventh most in team history. The 62 points were also a season high, as were the 688 total yards.
The performance could signal a change in fortunes on offense for TCU going into the final three games. After this weekend’s bye, the Frogs face Oklahoma State at home, Texas in Austin on Black Friday and Kansas State at home to finish the regular season.
“I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks, they need to get their swagger back,” Patterson said.
It’s easier to swagger when you’re healthy.
Since the previous bye week in mid-October, the Frogs’ offensive lineup has gained receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin, center Austin Schlottman, guard Trey Elliott and receiver Ty Slanina.
And Hicks got over an ankle injury by staying out of practice for a week, responding with five touchdowns against Baylor.
Additionally, Patterson said receiver Emanuel Porter is playing better after struggling since the death of his father in August.
“Emotionally it bothered him for a while,” Patterson said. “He’s just starting to come back around. For us to have a chance to win the last three, you’ve got to have all your bullets.”
Not to mention good quarterback play. Kenny Hill ran for 85 yards last week, his most since the Arkansas game, and was turnover-free for the first time since the SMU game. He was sacked only once and averaged 8.1 yards per pass attempt and 7.7 yards per rush attempt.
“When they’re worried about me, Kyle gets a bigger hole,” Hill said. “I think it just opens stuff up.”
That’s not all. Last week, the Frogs worked in freshman running backs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. They combined for nine carries for 72 yards, including Olonilua’s 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“They’re young, and they’re hungry,” Hicks said. “They have great play-making ability, and we can really use them in this offense. I’m trying to do the best I can for any situation that may be thrown at them during the game. And I like how they’re coming along.”
Finally, Brandon Hatfield was perfect on field goals. He went 2 for 2, hitting from 26 and 39 yards, after missing three attempts the game before. The coaching staff had confidence in him but clearly wanted a chance for a touchdown instead of a field goal in the second quarter.
By the time the Frogs offense left McLane Stadium, it was with seven touchdowns.
“We’d like to come out and do this every Saturday,” Hicks said. “And we know we’re capable of doing that.”
TCU vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State
Nov. 19, Time and TV TBA