TCU coach Gary Patterson doesn’t want to create a quarterback controversy in the middle of the season. But he knows those headlines are unavoidable after No. 9 Oklahoma rolled to a 52-27 victory on Saturday afternoon at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“You write what you want. I’m not going to talk about it,”Patterson said. “I can’t grow this team up if you guys want to make it about a quarterback controversy cause there’s a lot more things going on than the quarterbacks.”
But, for TCU, it’s the biggest storyline coming out of the game.
Shawn Robinson got the start once again and struggled to get the offense going early on. The Frogs had just 21 yards of total offense after the opening three offensive drives and were already trailing 28-7 midway through the second quarter.
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Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie summoned backup Michael Collins into the game, and it provided a much-needed jolt to what had been a stagnant offense.
Collins’ third pass was good for a 41-yard touchdown to KaVontae Turpin, and he connected with Jalen Reagor for a 33-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive.
Collins closed the opening half by leading a field goal drive and TCU was suddenly back in the game by half, trailing 28-24.
Asked about Collins’ spark to the offense, Patterson said: “I don’t know what it was, but obviously we scored points when he came in. That’s what their job is.”
Collins’ red-hot start didn’t carry into the second half. The Frogs managed just a field goal in the final half and Collins sputtered going 0-for-8 with an interception to end his day.
Collins himself acknowledged his outing wasn’t “that much success” since the Frogs lost. But TCU scored its most points since the Ohio State game more than a month ago, and Collins was responsible for 20 of the 27.
His first half play, coupled with a memorable stiff arm on OU defensive back Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, has people wondering what TCU will do with the QB situation going forward.
Collins didn’t know whether his outing would earn him more playing time, saying: “It’s not up to me. Just going to try and do my job, let the coaches decide, put us in the best position to win.”
What is clear is the quarterback room won’t be divided. Robinson was among the first people to congratulate Collins on the sidelines after the TD pass to Turpin.
“Shawn’s my guy,” Collins said. “The quarterback room’s really tight. It’s a tough position and he’s just a great teammate. He’s always encouraging the offense the whole time, helping us out, helping me out, helping us with looks.
“College football’s tough and the margin of error’s really small. I’ve learned that there’s ups and downs in everything. Shawn’s just a really good guy, a really good quarterback. I’m with him and he’s with me. We got each other’s back.”
Oklahoma’s quarterback situation, meanwhile, is just fine with MLB first-round pick Kyler Murray leading the way. Murray rebounded from losing the Red River Showdown well, showcasing why he’s in the Heisman conversation against the Big 12’s top-ranked defense.
Murray finished 19-of-24 passing for 213 yards with four touchdowns. He also had 51 rushing yards on nine carries.
OU has now scored at least 30 points against TCU since Lincoln Riley joined its staff as offensive coordinator in 2015. Riley is now 5-0 in his time at OU against TCU.
“He has good players,” Patterson said. “Anybody that’s ever been there has been pretty good. Lincoln has done a great job. You have to give them a lot of credit.”
Patterson didn’t use it as an excuse, but part of TCU’s issues were injury related. The Frogs entered the game without starting strong safety Innis Gaines or free safety Niko Small, and then lost their top cornerback, Jeff Gladney, to a right foot injury during the game.
Linebacker Garret Wallow has been banged up, too, and had to spend time at strong safety Saturday given the secondary’s injury issues.
But Patterson refused to blame injuries, saying TCU was “fine.”
“[Oklahoma] is pretty good on offense, No. 1,” Patterson said. “Two, we’ve got to make better plays cause we’re a better defense than that. I’m not giving them [TCU’s defense] any outs.”
TCU is now 3-4 on the season, the first time it’s been sub-.500 in the regular season since the 2013 season. But the Frogs aren’t giving up on the season despite losing three of the first four conference games.
“We’ve got to keep our heads up. The season is not over,”defender Ty Summers said. “At this point, we’re really fighting to make sure that we can find a way to get six wins [and become bowl eligible]. That’s the first bar that we’re trying to reach.”