Frog 5: Thoughts on TCU-Minnesota
A quintet of observations from the weekend that was for TCU Football.
by Caroline Collier '98 and Rick Waters '95
Updated: Monday, September 15, 2014
Josh Doctson's spectacular one-handed grab in the first quarter was SportCenter's No. 1 Top Ten play of the day on Saturday. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)
TCU Football pushed its record to 2-0 in 2014 after a 30-7 victory over the Big Ten's Minnesota Golden Gophers. The defense was impressive in limiting the Gopher offense to 268 total yards, including a three-and-out on seven of Minnesota's 15 possessions. The offense moved the ball but had to settle for field goals three times.
Five things that stood out from where we sat:
Entering the season, TCU's wide receiver corps needed to improve if the Meacham/Cumbie Air Frog offense was going to function as advertised. Several Horned Frogs have heeded the call thus far, none more than junior Josh Doctson. A Wyoming transfer and once-walkon, Doctson had perhaps the best offensive game for a Frog in the last few years, highlighted by two first-quarter touchdown catches. His now-famous one-handed scoring grab earned him the top spot on SportsCenter's list of plays of the day. Doctson and quarterback Trevone Boykin were in sync all afternoon, and Big 12 defensive coordinators are probably now fretting about how they are going to find a defensive back who can jump as high as he can.
2. Don't throw this way.
TCU's defensive backfield looked much more skilled than the Gopher receivers did, snagging three spectacular interceptions and narrowly missing on a few more. The loss of Jason Verrett, who is showing out after two games with the San Diego Chargers, doesn't seem to have negatively impacted the always-fierce Frog secondary. Senior Sam Carter appears to be every bit the leader he has promised to be.
3. Blocking on the up
Playing against a team with big bodies in the trenches of course posed a good test for the offensive line, and Minnesota is a typical Big 10 squad in this respect. TCU's o-line responded to the challenge by playing probably its best game in two seasons, although it was flagged a few times for holding. Boykin had ample time to run through his reads, and B.J. Catalon found holes where he needed them. If line play is the bellwether for success this season, promising things are ahead.
4. Strong Arming
TCU's defenders — every one of them — showcased solid fundamentals by wrapping up tackles at every opportunity. TCU held the Gophers to 99 yards rushing, their lowest total in several years. Minnesota's quarterbacks Mitch Leidner and and Chris Streveler were thwarted at every turn. We could point out standout individual performances, but everyone would be included. Mastering the simple things wins games, and this team seems to have heeded that message.
5. Not all the way faster
Though the no-huddle, deep ball offense is a lot of fun to watch, it hasn't helped speed up the games. Despite the outcome being somewhat certain by halftime, the clock didn't hit triple zeroes until almost 6:30 p.m. — three and a half hours after it began. Not that anyone was complaining. September couldn't have offered a more perfect day to watch some Horned Frog football.
Five facts that put the game in perspective:
1. 17 is a magic number
The Horned Frogs improved to 89-3 in the Patterson era when allowing 17 points or less. The Frogs are also 2-0 for the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. The Frogs' five takeaways against Minnesota pushed their record to 36-2 in their last 38 games when snagging three takeaways.
2. Hungry for tackles
Paul Dawson led the team last year with 91 tackles, and he's off to a good start to top the Frogs again. Dawson's team-high 15 tackles, including four for a loss, made him an easy choice for defensive star of the game. It was his sixth time to record 10 or more stops, with all six of those coming in the last nine games. His career high is 17 tackles, which he got last year against Kansas. Against Minnesota, Dawson also had a second-quarter forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Two weeks ago against Samford, he had nine tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and pass break up.
3. We got scoreboard
With Michigan's loss to Notre Dame last week, TCU now owns the nation's second-longest streak of avoiding a shutout with 269 games. That's good for the seventh-longest stretch in NCAA history. The Frogs only trail Florida, which has scored in 324 consecutive games. The last team to blank the Frogs? Texas, with a 32-0 drubbing in Austin on Nov. 16, 1991.
4. High-wire act
Josh Doctson’s first two touchdown catches of the season were first-half scoring grabs of 13 and 7 yards from Trevone Boykin. He now has six touchdown catches at TCU and 11 in his collegiate career. While he led the Frogs with 36 grabs a year ago, Doctson is only TCU's fourth-leading receiver with 83 yards through two games this year. The Frogs have depth at the WR position.
Quarterback Trevone Boykin had a team-high 92 yards rushing, leaving him eight yards short of his second career 100-yard game on the ground. He also leads TCU on the year with 121 yards. Through the air, he completed 27-of-46 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.