Shawn Robinson’s status, Darius Anderson’s carries among TCU’s off week takeaways

TCU’s Jalen Reagor calls QB Shawn Robinson ‘a soldier’

TCU WR Jalen Reagor met with reporters after the Frogs' 17-14 victory over Iowa State on Saturday night. TCU saw starting quarterback Shawn Robinson go down with an injury late in the game.
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TCU WR Jalen Reagor met with reporters after the Frogs' 17-14 victory over Iowa State on Saturday night. TCU saw starting quarterback Shawn Robinson go down with an injury late in the game.

An off week is always a welcomed sight for football teams, especially after a win. Players have time off to recover. Coaches get somewhat of a breather from the daily grind.

They always seem to come at the right time.

“Perfect timing,” TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor said about the Frogs’ off week this week. “We get to regroup, refocus and get everybody back healthy. Then we’ll be good, ready to rock.”

TCU entered the bye week after a 3-2 start. With that being said, here’s our five takeaways from the first part of the season.

1. Quarterback play.

Shawn Robinson’s status remains in question going forward. He injured his left shoulder late in the Iowa State game, and coach Gary Patterson didn’t say much on it earlier this week.

The Frogs are confident if backup Michael Collins has to step in, but Robinson has shown flashes early on this season. Robinson seems to have poise beyond his years, and doesn’t let bad plays affect him.

But those bad plays have been costly for the Frogs. Robinson turned the ball over three times in each loss to Ohio State and Texas, as TCU squandered halftime leads in both.

Part of that is the developmental process of a young quarterback.

TCU coach Gary Patterson announced his starting quarterback on Saturday. It'll be sophomore Shawn Robinson.

Again, though, the No. 1 storyline is Robinson’s health for now. Nobody is going to fault Robinson’s competitive nature of wanting to make a play late in a tie ballgame like he did against Iowa State, but knowing the risk/reward in such situations is something that comes with experience.

If Robinson has to miss time, it will be interesting to watch Collins. The coaching staff has been high on Collins since fall camp and defender Ty Summers compared Collins’ arm to that of Trevone Boykin.

2. Reinforcements on way?

Speaking of injuries, TCU missed a couple staples on offense and defense against Iowa State.

Left guard Cordel Iwuagwu, who started every game last season and the first four this season, was sidelined. So was free safety Niko Small, who has the second-most career starts on the team with 27.

Both Iwuagwu and Small were injured in the first-half of the Texas game, and Patterson expressed optimism afterward that each wouldn’t be sidelined long.

It’s hard to replace that type of talent and experience. Patterson thought Markell Simmons “played great” in Small’s place against Iowa State, and the O-line shuffled by moving Chris Gaynor to left guard and giving Wes Harris the start at right guard.

The O-line is something to watch the rest of the season. Anthony McKinney started at left tackle against Iowa State, although regular starter Austin Myers dressed and was listed as a participant in the game.

3. More Jet?

Running back Darius Anderson, nicknamed “Jet,” is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. He set a TCU record with a 93-yard TD run against Ohio State, and leads the team with 316 rushing yards.

But defenses are clearly focused on not letting Anderson beat them.

Anderson has struggled to get going the past two weeks, being held to 15 yards on eight carries at Texas and 42 yards on 16 carries against Iowa State. But there’s no question Anderson is looking for a strong finish to the season. He is healthy and ready to go.

Anderson posted on his Twitter account earlier this week, “the fire growing inside me.. I can’t hold it anymore.” His mom also weighed in on social media, saying: “He’s hungry, not sure why they’re starving him!”

Anderson has 53 carries on the season, second-most on the team behind Sewo Olonilua (58). Anderson is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, too, and his career average is 6.3 yards per carry.

That’s a better average than some of TCU’s top runners in school history such as LaDainian Tomlinson (5.8) and Kenneth Davis (6.1).

4. Breakout players.

Garret Wallow has made a seamless transition to linebacker and leads the team with 39 tackles. He certainly fits the description of “breakout player” and is the next in line of standout linebackers under Patterson.

TCU linebacker Garret Wallow started his first college game on Saturday, and impressed against Southern. He had four tackles, a sack and a QB hurry on the day.

And how about another sophomore standout in defensive tackle Corey Bethley? He leads the team with six tackles for loss and has become an interior presence after Ross Blacklock went down with a season-ending injury.

Offensively, WR Taye Barber has impressed. He’s third on the team in receiving with 13 catches for 118 yards with two TDs.

Barber scored the offense’s lone touchdown against Iowa State, making a couple nifty moves on a 10-yard screen pass.

When asked about Barber’s touchdown, Reagor’s eyes lit up and said: “Y’all seen it. … From spring to when he got here, he’s another speed player just like how we have across the board.”

For special teams, let’s give the nod to kicker Jonathan Song. Song wasn’t the starter going into the season, but has connected on 4-of-5 field goals including the game-winning 28-yarder against Iowa State.

5. Playing to win

Patterson has won 163 games in his career. That’s 163 more than most of us will ever win.

But Patterson received criticism for his decision to punt the ball away when TCU was down two scores late in the Texas game. Patterson defended his choice after the game, pointing out the team had two timeouts left, and returned to the topic after the Iowa State game.

Patterson said TCU had a fake punt called late in the first half when it faced a fourth-and-five from the Iowa State 38.

“[Iowa State] covered who they needed to cover, so [punter Andrew David] ended up punting,” Patterson said. “But he wasn’t supposed to punt it into the end zone. Kick it out of bounds.

“But we had the fake called. So for all those people who think we’re not playing to win here for two weeks in a row … OK?”

TCU coach Gary Patterson explained why he punted the ball on fourth-and-four late in a loss to Texas. The call baffled many for a team down two touchdowns.

Going back to the end of the Texas game, the reason Patterson’s decision stunned many is that it simply gave a team that had lost four straight to TCU too much respect.

Why not force the Longhorns to make a fourth-down stop? Who knows? Maybe Texas crumbles in the final minutes such as Oregon did against Stanford later that night.

At the end of the day, it’s over with. Patterson explained his mindset and strategy. He made it clear he wasn’t giving up on the game, and yours truly doesn’t recall any local outlet suggesting TCU “quit.”

But it is interesting Patterson brought it up again after the victory over Iowa State, and it’s fair to wonder whether Patterson is going to become more of a gambler in certain situations going forward.

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