This hasn’t been the best of weeks for the TCU football program.
It started with coach Gary Patterson dismissing one of the team’s stars, KaVontae Turpin, and ended with a 27-26 loss to Kansas on Saturday. Oh, and one of the 2019 commits, Aledo’s Colt Ellison, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament on Friday.
Saturday marked the first time Patterson has lost to Kansas in his career, although trips to Lawrence have always been difficult to escape with a win.
This time, KU finished it off even though it got interesting down the stretch. On to the takeaways from the game –
1. Anderson’s day
Darius Anderson’s reaction on the sidelines after replay officials determined he fumbled the ball late in the game said it all. He was emotional. He was upset with himself.
But props to Anderson for speaking with reporters after the game. Nobody would’ve been surprised if he opted not to.
“Just a mistake I made,” Anderson said of his fumble. “I can’t get it back now, just hope to learn from it. Hurts, but we’ll be back.”
The fumble ruined what had been a solid game for Anderson. He finished with 20 carries for 95 yards, the most carries he’s had this season and the second-most yards he’s rushed for.
That’s a positive step for Anderson and TCU’s rushing attack. The Frogs didn’t have a leading rusher surpass 50 yards the previous two games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
Anderson acknowledged he gets into a better rhythm with more carries.
“Yeah, I feel like I get stronger, but I still feel if I have one carry, I still feel as strong,” Anderson said. “It’s just being consistent.”
2. QBs from Connecticut
Michael Collins became the first non-Texan to start at quarterback for TCU in Gary Patterson’s 21 seasons with the program.
The New Canaan, Connecticut, native handled himself well for the most part. Collins finished 23-for-33 passing for 351 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The interception happened deep in TCU territory on a screen play that the offense had run earlier, but the defense held KU to a field goal.
Outside of that pass, Collins had the Frogs offense moving better than it has of late. TCU finished with 504 total yards, punting just twice in the game.
“I thought Mike played well,” Patterson said. “He did everything we asked him to do.”
For those wondering, the last non-Texan to start at quarterback for TCU was Birmingham, Michigan native Derek Canine in the final five games of 1997, the year before Patterson’s arrival.
3. Injury woes
Patterson won’t blame the injuries for TCU’s struggles this season. The team, like just about every other program, preaches “next man up.” That’s easier said than done.
TCU simply can’t catch a break this season. Free safety Niko Small returned after missing the previous three games, but couldn’t make it through the first half. Then linebacker/ pass rusher Ty Summers went down with an injury.
The defense has been hit so hard with injuries that the team’s leading tackler, Garret Wallow, is having to play some strong safety (with Innis Gaines done for the season) instead of linebacker.
Wallow is a little banged up himself, as are starting cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Julius Randle.
Offensively, the team hoped to get Cordel Iwuagwu back this week but he sustained another injury in practice.
As they say, when it rains, it pours.
4. Some positives
There isn’t much good that comes out of losing to KU, but TCU had some on Saturday.
Jalen Reagor had an impressive game, finishing with a personal-best 177 receiving yards on eight catches. The highlight was a 56-yard TD catch.
Freshman Taye Barber seemed to make critical catches all day, finishing with five for 75 yards.
Defensively, Ben Banogu had one series in which he had consecutive sacks, and finished the game with 4.5 tackles for loss. Banogu now has 6.5 sacks on the season.
The defense did a decent job containing Kansas’ standout RB, Pooka Williams, in the run game. Williams had just 35 rushing yards on 11 carries, but the problem was Williams in KU’s passing game. He finished with 102 receiving yards on seven catches, including two TDs.
“He’s given everybody trouble throughout the Big 12,” Banogu said. “He’s a good running back. Hats off to him and the Kansas offense and the whole team in general.
“Obviously, we game-planned to stop their best player. He had his chances and he capitalized on them.”
5. Looking ahead
At 3-5, TCU’s bowl chances are in jeopardy. As stated, injuries and inexperience are piling up on the Frogs.
The youth of the team was apparent on the final kickoff on Saturday. Despite Patterson and the coaching staff emphasizing players to “fall on the ball,” which would have given TCU a chance to attempt a 50-yard field goal to win the game with one second left, they didn’t.
That didn’t sit well with Patterson. But Patterson had a succinct answer when asked if goals or expectations change for this season.
“You’re still trying to win one at a time,” Patterson said.
TCU has fallen short of bowl eligibility in just two of Patterson’s first 17 seasons – 2004 and 2013. The Frogs have responded to those seasons by winning double-digit games the following year.
Despite the struggles, Patterson and his players vowed to work to get it turned around.
“We’re 3-5. We might be 3-9 before it’s done,” Patterson said. “The bottom line is we’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep getting better so we can move forward next year, one way or the other, unless they don’t keep us.
“But the bottom line to it is you’ve got to keep people healthy, people have got to make plays and people have got to grow up. If we’ll do that then we’ll have a chance.”
Added senior defensive end Ben Banogu: “We’ve got to take the coaching and try our best to improve on the situation. It’s going to be hard, but life isn’t easy … football isn’t easy. We have to figure out a way to right this ship and win the last ballgames we have. At the end of the day, I think we’ll be OK.”