Frog 5: Thoughts on TCU-Kansas
A quintet of observations from the weekend that was for TCU Football.
by Caroline Collier '98 and Rick Waters '95
Updated: Monday, November 17, 2014
TCU wide receiver Ty Slanina scores a touchdown on a first-quarter reception against Kansas. (Photography by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The No. 4 Horned Frogs moved to 9-1 overall and a league-leading 6-1 in the Big 12 Conference after rallying in the second half to win 34-30 in Lawrence on Saturday. What got the Frogs in a funk? Freezing temps? Natural letdown after playing five ranked foes in six weeks? An off day? Whatever it was, the impact it will have this week in the College Football Playoff rankings remains to be seen. What we do know is that the Frogs remained 5th in the Associated Press and USA Today Amway Coaches polls released Sunday, one spot ahead of Baylor in both rankings. We also know TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has passed and run his way into the TCU record book this season. And there’s plenty more season to play.
Five things that stood out from where we sat:
1. Warm Weather Animals
Horned lizards may technically be cold-blooded, but make no mistake, they are heat-seeking reptiles. Apparently human Horned Frogs do not like the cold, either. Many of the players tried to defy nature and said no to sleeves on the frigid afternoon, but the cold was a definite distraction. Defenders missed a few usually routine tackles, and receivers uncharacteristically dropped some catches. Hopefully, the game in Lawrence was the last freezing matchup of the season.
2. Falling Records
The only thing falling more quickly than the temperature was TCU's list of single-season offensive records. Trevone Boykin now holds the marks for total offense (3,586), total passing yards (3,021) and 300-yard passing games (6). Good luck to future signal-callers in breaking these because Boykin has at least three more games to play. The next touchdown pass he tosses will put him alone atop the category for most in a season.
The Big 12 is not exactly short on explosive playmakers. In a tough stretch dating back to Oct. 4th, TCU has faced and handled Samaje Perine (Oklahoma), Tyreek Hill (Oklahoma State), Kevin White (West Virginia) and Tyler Lockett (Kansas State). Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine, who hails from nearby Denison, managed more yards against the Frogs (137) than any of those previously mentioned stars. Mundine had a career day and looked like one of the conference’s top players.
4. Very Special Teams
Nearing the end of the third quarter, TCU was behind, and the Frogs needed a spark in the worst way. Cameron Echols-Luper delivered with a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Frogs took the lead on his score and did not look back. CEL was named the conference's Special Teams Player of the Week and National Punt Returner of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. Meanwhile, kicker Jaden Oberkrom was clutch as usual, going 2-2 in field goals on an ice-cold turf. And for extra special measure, Ranthony Texada blocked one of Kansas' extra point attempts — TCU's second block in as many games.
5. Give Thanks
Focusing on playoff committees and style points need not drain the fun out of this season. With two games remaining, the Frogs are in control of an opportunity to be Big 12 co-champions. Win out, and a New Year's Day bowl appearance is the likely outcome. Considering this is only year three of TCU's journey into a new conference, all is more than well. No matter what happens from here, 2014 will go down as one of the most remarkable seasons in a long history of Horned Frog football. These are special times, and we fans are fortunate to be able to the enjoy the fruits of a lot of hard work done by the coaches and players.
And here are five stats that put the game in perspective:
1. TCU tailback Aaron Green has to be on the short list of MVPs for the second half of the season. With starter B.J. Catalon again sidelined, the junior from San Antonio, who transferred to TCU from Nebraska, ran the Frogs to victory. His team-high 128 yards on 19 carries, including third-quarter scoring runs of 3 and 24 yards, helped TCU regain control of the game. It was the third time in four games Green has gone over 100 yards rushing. He now leads the team with 677 yards on the ground with a ridiculous 8.3 yards-per-carry average. His six rushing touchdowns are third-best for the Frogs.
2. Another Frog hero since October is junior safety Chris Hackett, whose fourth-quarter interception was his fourth in consecutive games. His six picks leads the Big 12 and is tied for fourth in the nation. But this is not new. Hackett, who now has 11 career INTs, snagged three picks in as many games last season. As a unit, the 2014 TCU defense has gone 12 straight games with an interception and 22 in a row with a takeaway, good for third-longest streak in the NCAA.
3. Speaking of streaks, TCU has recorded at least one sack and one interception in a nation-best 12th straight game. The Frogs are tops in the Big 12 in turnover margin (plus-14), turnovers gained (28), tackles for loss (78), interceptions (17), fumbles recovered (11) and third-down defense (29.8 percent).
4. With 10 more stops against the Jayhawks, senior linebacker Paul Dawson is now over the century mark in tackles this season. His 105 total tackles ranks second in the Big 12 and 14th-best in the NCAA. He’s well past his TCU-leading total of 91 last year and is on pace for the most season stops in the 14-year tenure of Gary Patterson. (That honor belongs to Martin Patterson with 131 tackles in 2004.) A wide receiver in high school, Dawson has been in double figures for tackles in seven of the team’s 10 games this year and 12 of TCU’s last 17 games, dating back to 2013 when he was put into the starting lineup midway through the season.
5. Wide receiver Ty Slanina deserved a game ball against Kansas. The sophomore from East Bernard caught a career-best six passes for a career-high 95 yards, including his second touchdown of the season. On a day when leading receiver Josh Doctson was held to a single catch, Slanina stepped up. On the year, he has 28 receptions for 360 yards.