TCU’s football season seemed like a lost cause in late October.
The Frogs were reeling.
They were dealing with an endless list of injuries and then had to dismiss star returner KaVontae Turpin from the team after falling to Oklahoma 52-27 at home. That week also saw a quarterback change from Shawn Robinson (shoulder injury) to backup Mike Collins.
Of course, TCU went on to lose at Kansas.
At 3-5 and on a three-game losing streak, TCU appeared headed toward a forgettable season. But, courtesy of a missed point-after attempt by Kansas State, TCU avoided what would’ve been Gary Patterson’s first four-game losing streak to start November.
But the Frogs sustained the most lopsided loss in the Patterson era the following week at West Virginia. Instead of giving up on the season, though, TCU rallied to win its final two games against Baylor and Oklahoma State to become bowl eligible.
Then, in one of the more wild college football games in recent memory, TCU somehow prevailed with a 10-7 overtime victory over Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Winning seasons aren’t easy to come by in today’s college football world and here’s a look back on the year that was.
WR Jalen Reagor. The sophomore receiver had a breakout season. Despite TCU using three quarterbacks, Reagor became the youngest player in program history to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Reagor finished the season with 72 catches for 1,061 yards and nine TDs. He also scored two rushing TDs.
RT Lucas Niang. Offensive lineman are hard to quantify, but Niang was the only one who started every game this season. He didn’t allow any sacks, per Pro Football Focus.
Junior running back Sewo Olonilua led the team with 635 yards rushing and two TDs. He saved his best for last with a 194-yard performance in the Cheez-It Bowl. … Fellow running back Darius Anderson finished with 598 yards and three TDs. … QB Shawn Robinson led the team with 1,334 yards passing. He had nine TDs and eight interceptions. … QB Mike Collins finished second in yards passing with 1,059. Collins had six TDs and two interceptions. … TCU finished with the second-worst scoring offense in the Big 12 with 23.5 points a game. The Frogs averaged 33.6 in 2017.
DE Ben Banogu. The senior defensive end ranked first on the team in sacks (8 1/2) and tackles for loss (18). It doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but Banogu should be noted for his leadership and not letting the team become disheartened or down with the number of injuries.
Plus, as Patterson said, having solid ends such as Banogu and L.J. Collier available all season, is a big reason TCU finished as the Big 12’s top defense.
DE L.J. Collier. Collier may be the first TCU player selected in next year’s NFL Draft and he had a solid senior season. He finished with six sacks and 11 1/2 tackles for loss in 11 games.
S Ridwan Issahaku. Issahaku finished tied with linebacker Arico Evans for the team-lead in tackles with 80. He played all three safety positions for the Frogs, providing much-needed flexibility given the number of injuries to the secondary this season. He also tied for the team lead with two interceptions.
CB Jeff Gladney. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions and came on as the season wore on. He’s one of the top cornerbacks in the Big 12, and will be looking for a big senior season.
With Ross Blacklock out for the season, defensive tackle Corey Bethley provided interior pressure all season. Bethley finished with five sacks and 9 1/2 tackles for loss, impressive numbers for a DT. … Cornerback Julius Lewis had a nice rebound season, tying for the team lead with two interceptions. … Linebacker Garret Wallow finished third on the team with 72 tackles, and showed flexibility moving midseason to safety. … Linebacker Jawuan Johnson made the most of his one season with the Frogs, registering 71 tackles.
They said it
“I son’d ‘em.” – Reagor on a TD reception where he leapt over a defensive back on a TD reception vs. Kansas State
“I’m trying to be a leader. I’ve only got one more year left. I know we’ve got a lot of young guys, so I’ve got to step up and lead them. I feel like just playing showed them like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to push through anything.’” – Gladney on playing through an injury vs. Kansas
“At one point of the game, I was going to walk up to Coach P and ask him if I could play a little DB, seemed like everybody was getting picks.” – Banogu joking about the number of interceptions in the Cheez-It Bowl
“I told some of the Yellow Jackets [at the Cheez-It Bowl], we could give you guys great ratings. I said, ‘What’s going to happen here is we’re going to come back and we’re going to get the ball last and we’re going to go down and kick a field goal and we’re going to win.’ I said, ‘We’re going to win 10-9.’ So I was off by two points, but you guys got your ratings. I’m proud of these guys, obviously proud of the team.” – Patterson on Cheez-It Bowl victory
“I always watched No. 82. The fact that my name is listed next to his for his award is tremendous.” – Ty Summers on being named a Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year semifinalist
318 Career tackles by Summers, who finishes his TCU second all-time in the Patterson era
167 Patterson’s career wins after the 7-6 season
93 Yard rushing TD by Anderson vs. Ohio State is the longest running play in school history
9 Patterson improved to 9-0 in games when TCU throws for fewer than 100 yards passing (TCU had 28 passing yards in Cheez-It Bowl)
4 TCU record for career punt returns returned for TD, set by KaVontae Turpin in the SMU game
3 Reagor became the third TCU player to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark, joining Josh Doctson (2014-15) and Reggie Harrell (2003)