That same season saw a sophomore quarterback, Trevone Boykin, finding his way for the Frogs as he split QB snaps with Casey Pachall. TCU opened the season 3-3, losing two of its first three Big 12 games. The Frogs gave the ball away an average of 2.5 times a game that season.
This 2018 season is getting off to an eerily similar start. TCU held its own in a losing effort against a Big Ten powerhouse, Ohio State, last month.
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The Frogs are enduring the growing pains of a young, inexperienced, but talented, sophomore quarterback in Shawn Robinson. TCU finds itself at 3-3 after losing two of its first three Big 12 games. Oh, and the Frogs are averaging 2.5 turnovers a game.
Coach Gary Patterson mentioned the 2013 season in his postgame remarks following a 17-14 loss to Texas Tech on Thursday.
“This program has been here before, gentlemen,” Patterson said. “It doesn’t look good when you’re 3-3 and you’re looking down the middle to Oklahoma and they’ve had two weeks to prepare for you … we’re going to learn just like we did in 2013.
“Hopefully we’ll win more than we lose.”
That 2013 season saw the Frogs finish 4-8, just the second time a Patterson-coached team hasn’t become bowl eligible.
Here are more takeaways from Thursday night’s loss:
Securing the ball
It’s no secret that among the top statistics between wins and losses in football is turnover margin. And TCU isn’t taking care of the ball.
The Frogs have turned the ball over at least three times in their last four games, including three on Thursday night. The 13 giveaways is the No. 1 reason they’re 1-3 in that stretch.
It could’ve been worse on Thursday, too, with TCU fumbling four times and only losing one of those, and Tech dropping a couple potential interceptions.
The Frogs are last in the Big 12 at minus-9 in turnover margin and enter this weekend ranked 126th out of 129 FBS teams in the country.
“You can’t turn the ball over,” Patterson said succinctly. “If a running back is going to complain about carries, you need to hold on to it. When you’re in the red zone, the ball bounces off a guy and they intercept it … you gotta make plays. It’s simple.
“Our running backs have to secure the ball. We’ve got to do a better job at the quarterback and running back position.”
The giveaways are a big reason why TCU has blown halftime leads in all three of its losses. Nine of the 13 turnovers the past four games have come with the Frogs leading, tied or trailing by one point, or in the opponents’ territory.
TCU has scored 17 or fewer points the past three weeks. The last time that’s happened? 2006 when the Frogs had a stretch of a 12-3 win over Tech; a 31-17 loss vs. BYU; and a 20-7 loss at Utah.
TCU has to find more playmakers, as Patterson put it. The Frogs need more than just receivers Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin finding the end zone.
“We’ve got to find more than just Jalen and Turpin. We’ve got to find more guys that can go make plays,” Patterson said. “If we’re going to win ballgames and we’re going to go downfield, guys are going to have to start making plays.”
Running back Darius Anderson is a home-run threat when the ball in his hands, but he has found limited success the last three weeks. He has 96 rushing yards on 36 carries (2.67 yards per carry) over that stretch.
Don’t blame the D
Patterson pointed to himself for allowing the two big plays Tech scored touchdowns on – a 62-yard pass from Jett Duffey to Ja’Deion High in the third quarter and a 38-yard QB draw by Duffey in the fourth quarter.
But the defense did its part. This is a Red Raider offense that entered the game averaging 48.4 points and 591 yards a game. They scored 17 points and gained 353 yards against the Frogs.
In fact, it marked only the fifth time Patterson has lost when allowing 17 points or fewer. TCU is now 111-5 in those games.
TCU’s pass rush might’ve been the highlight of the night with Ben Banogu and L.J. Callier each registering two sacks.
Patterson wasn’t surprised by his defensive performance even though he wasn’t pleased with the two big plays.
“I read some of the stuff you guys said and how they were going to torch us for 8,000 yards,” Patterson said. “But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. This is not my first rodeo.”
Patterson doesn’t like to talk about injuries, but mentioned TCU could have sustained a few significant ones in the loss to Tech.
Strong safety Innis Gaines exited in the second half with an apparent injury to his left leg. Left tackle Austin Myers also was on the sidelines for the last several offensive series.
That adds to the list of injury concerns for the Frogs. They were without free safety Niko Small for a second consecutive game, as well as left guard Cordel Iwuagwu.
With Gaines and Small out, TCU was forced to go with true freshman Trevon Moehrig-Woodard and redshirt freshman La’Kendrick Van Zandt in the secondary.
As far as the O-line, Chris Gaynor started in place of Iwuagwu at left guard and Anthony McKinney saw extended time at left tackle with Myers sidelined.
Patterson said he’d have to watch film before assessing the O-line, but said the loss of Iwuagwu has “hurt us quite a bit.”