Gil LeBreton

Kenny Hill, TCU football frustrations stand at crossroads

TCU quarterback Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs had 449 yards passing against Oklahoma but only 206 against Kansas.
TCU quarterback Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs had 449 yards passing against Oklahoma but only 206 against Kansas. rmallison@star-telegram.com

The question was about his starting quarterback, and TCU coach Gary Patterson chose to explain Kenny Hill’s frustrations with a quotation.

“Sometimes on throws, it’s not always the quarterback’s fault,” Patterson said, “but he’s the one who gets blamed.

“But what do they say? — ‘To whom much is given, much is asked?’ 

Luke’s gospel does say that, sort of, but the coach’s version was more to the point.

His Horned Frogs offense needs its swagger back, Patterson said, and quarterback Hill will have to be the one who leads them toward that.

After falling in Morgantown, W.Va., to the undefeated Mountaineers on Saturday, Hill and TCU find themselves at a 4-3 crossroads.

“We’ve lost to three good football teams,” Patterson correctly noted, notwithstanding Arkansas’ Saturday implosion.

“With the five teams we have left, we can win them all, or we could lose them all. So I told them, ‘How do you want this to go down?’”

The easy thing is to blame Hill with his nine interceptions. But Patterson’s verbal defense of his quarterback was disarming.

It’s the “much is given” part of Luke’s verse that doesn’t precisely fit.

Hill wasn’t “given” Trevone Boykin’s offense. Half of that starting offense, Boykin included, is in the NFL.

I said going into the season that we need to grow up. Well, to be honest with you, we need to grow up.

TCU coach Gary Patterson

What Hill has been handed is a young offense, apparently still fragile, that has been playing without its best player, KaVontae Turpin, and a few of its best linemen.

My simple question about Hill prompted a direct answer Tuesday from the head coach.

“We need to play with more swagger,” Patterson said. “He’s got to have people to throw to. But young players ...

“It’s one thing to be the backup to Josh Doctson. It’s another to be the guy that has to go for 60 plays. Just because something doesn’t go right doesn’t mean you drop your head.”

After starting the season scoring 59, 38, 41, 33 and 46 points, the Frogs have scored only 34 combined over the past two games.

But somebody needs to explain how TCU could pass for 449 yards against Oklahoma and only 206 the next week at Kansas.

“I said going into the season that we need to grow up,” Patterson said. “Well, to be honest with you, we need to grow up.”

In truth, it isn’t in Patterson’s DNA to shower praise upon quarterbacks. He’s a defense guy and spends all week studying coaching tape, looking for warts, not halos.

But Patterson had nice things to say Tuesday not only about Hill, but also about Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes, who leads the nation in passing yards. Mahomes threw 88 passes in Saturday’s 66-59 loss to Oklahoma.

When they put eight men in the box and you can still run the football, and when they drop eight and you can still throw the ball – that’s when you know you’re a good offense.

TCU’s Gary Patterson

At West Virginia, Hill attempted a mere 31, and the Frogs scored only one touchdown.

Will Saturday’s game see a happy norm?

It shouldn’t necessarily matter, Patterson explained.

“You know when you have a good offense?” he said. “When they put eight men in the box and you can still run the football, and when they drop eight and you can still throw the ball — that’s when you know you’re a good offense.”

That day is coming, the head coach hopes.

Guys have to continue to grow up. Heads can’t be hung. Turpin has to return and play like the old Turpin. Linemen have to stay healthy.

But it’s not all Hill’s fault that the Frogs will face a crossroads, of sorts, this weekend.

He needs help. Five games are left.

After Tech racked up 854 yards of total offense in the Red Raiders' 66-59 loss to Oklahoma, now it's up to the Horned Frogs to slow down the most prolific offense in the nation Saturday at The Carter. Video by Matthew Martinez.

The Horned Frogs will have to match Tech's offense, which is averaging over 640 yards per game this season, at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday. Video by Matthew Martinez.

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