Social media feeds stayed quiet from TCU fans and alumni on Saturday night. What was there to say about a 47-10 shellacking from the arm of Will Grier and West Virginia? It was almost a tale of two halves. Coach Gary Patterson’s defense admirably stymied the prolific Mountaineer offense to a solitary field goal in the first 24 minutes of play. West Virginia made its first end zone appearance with six minutes remaining in the first half when running back Kennedy McKoy sprinted 33 yards into the end zone to take a 10-3 lead. The touchdown was no surprise from a team that averages four per half. Disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff. Frog returner Taye Barber fumbled, and the Mountaineers recovered the ball on the 17-yard line and quickly converted a second touchdown. And then a third. This game went from a contentious battle tied 3-3 to a 24-3 spanking in less than four minutes. John Denver made West Virginia sound so nice in “Country Roads,” but those mountain mamas are more like hillbilly terminators with ’tudes.
TCU has one offensive weapon – Jalen Reagor. The sophomore wide receiver is the sole producer for this hapless group. Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie’s unit efficiently moved 65 yards on their first drive en route to a field goal. The offense gained only 49 yards more in the half. Reagor scored the Frogs’ only touchdown of the game in garbage time down 30 points. TCU’s one-dimensional aerial attack piles pressure on quarterback Michael Collins and running back Darius Anderson. The rushing game, if you can call it that, netted -7 yards for the day. Anderson gained a paltry 19 yards on 11 attempts. Collins was sacked repeatedly. The offensive line doesn’t deserve overt blame. They adequately protected on passing downs. Rather than throw into coverage, Collins held the ball for ages praying for open receivers who never broke free until he was slammed to the turf. Collins’ scrambles have digressed. He has started running laterally at the chance of extra yardage when he should truck straight ahead and be happy with what’s available. Turnovers were even for a change. TCU lost two fumbles, and WVU lost a fumble and threw an interception.
Any Good News?
The season is almost over. Injuries and turnovers have turned this year into the biggest disappointment of the 21st century for Patterson. The Frogs were 4-8 their first year after joining the Big 12, but expectations were low. Now anything short of a solid showing in a bowl game is considered a bust. Silver linings exist for those willing to think long-term. Young Frogs, especially on the offensive line, are maturing through pain. Reagor has emerged as an NFL talent akin to Josh Doctson. Collins and injured starting quarterback Shawn Robinson are only sophomores, and highly recruited freshman quarterback Justin Rogers is waiting to push them to perform at their best. TCU’s past quarterbacks have progressed through their careers. Kenny Hill, Trevone Boykin, and Andy Dalton all improved significantly every season they played under Patterson. The only quarterback who became worse was Casey Pachall. He was pure rock star, never as good after he went to rehab.
This week’s game is the season. Not because the Horned Frogs need to win both remaining games for a bid to the Wendy’s Value Meal Bowl. Baylor is the truest conference rival. The Revilvalry has taken place 113 times since the first contest in 1899, a real barnburner that ended in a 0-0 tie. Beating Baylor wouldn’t make up for this season, but it could start the healing process in preparation for next year. Baylor coach Matt Rhule has taken a team that was close to the NCAA death penalty and improved it from winning one game last year to five this season. The Frogs haven’t won a road game since beating SMU in Dallas on a rainy Friday night that seems forever ago. The offense will have to find a way to run the ball. Reagor needs a couple of big plays for touchdowns. Patterson’s defense must play four quarters and overcome any bad situations they inherit from the offense. The Frogs need to burn Waco down, steal all of Robert Griffin’s Subway sandwiches, and turn McClane Stadium into a viable candidate for the next season of Fixer Upper.