The Horned Frogs make a cameo appearance in the national rankings before being conked by the Iron Skillet.
BY BUCK D. ELLIOTT
Stop. Take a deep breath. Repeat after me. Everything is fine. If you’re a Frog fanatic, you might not believe me at the moment, but let’s take a step back. A rivalry exists because of real opportunities for either team to win. The University of Texas plays the Rice Owls every year. That doesn’t make it a rivalry. TCU vs. SMU, although lopsided in the modern era, is still a gritty battle every time the Methodists and Disciples grace the gridiron.
Shame on any purple proponents still wallowing because of a three-point loss to an improved Pony stampede. We’re just spoiled. TCU is 16-3 against the Mustangs this century. If you add up all the scores since 2000, which I have, the Frogs have hopped all over the Horsies 726-311. SMU is averaging one victory every five and a half years. In additional “the sky is not falling” news, Coach Gary Patterson’s Frogs went on to win 11 games in both seasons they lost to their cross-town rival, albeit TCU was in the Mountain West then.
The only game more beloved than football is the blame game. Whose fault was this? If you need a short answer, I don’t have one. Patterson’s scheme struggled against a better Sonny than his own offensive coordinator. SMU Coach Sonny Dykes’ air raid offense took flight early and left the Frogs in a 15-0 jetwash quickly thanks to an excellently executed flea flicker and a five-play opening-drive for an SMU touchdown. The Ponies scored again shortly after TCU running back Sewo Olonilua (No. 33) fumbled on the Frog 4 yard line. Dykes’ offensive unit scored and successfully converted for two points. The early deficit required TCU’s freshman quarterback Max Duggan (No. 15) to press and force balls during an outstandingly awful first half of passing. The frosh completed only a single attempt during the first two quarters. He had the aura of a stubble-faced underclassmen fraternity boy with a fresh new fake ID. He kind of looked legit but was trying too hard to fool the bouncer. Duggan’s receivers seem like they’re downfield of a JUGS machine cranked up to maximum speed. The ball is mostly in the right spot, but there’s no arch or touch to make it catchable. Frog phenom Jalen Reagor (No. 1) still can’t seem to form a connection with the new QB and finished last among purple receivers with a head-scratching two receptions for two yards. Defensively, Patterson’s players never put pressure on former Longhorn quarterback Shane Buechele (No. 7), who dropped beautiful swing and outside-leverage passes at critical points to keep the park city dwellers on top late in the game. Buechele’s experience, combined with Dykes’ quick pass system, allowed only one TCU sack. Purple corners and safeties suffered from Buechele’s comfort.
Silver linings are necessary for flipping our collective Frog frowns upside down. Our little freshman No. 15 grew up tremendously in four quarters. He battled back from mediocrity and a 15-point deficit to complete 15 of 26 second-half attempts with three touchdowns. Long-faced from a failed drive in the fourth quarter, Duggan’s spirit was lifted from the encouragement of former Frog quarterback and now coach Kenny Hill. The Ginger Slinger shattered his melancholy with two 60-plus-yard drives to elevate his teammates within a field goal of the Ponies (the closest score all afternoon). Senior Frog runner Darius Anderson is a grown man. The feature back continued to amalgamate imposing stats by toting the rock 19 times for 161 yards with two touchdowns. Onlookers were reminded that tight end is a position that exists in Fort Worth as the awesomely named sophomore Pro Wells (No. 81) caught his fourth and fifth passes in a purple uniform, both for touchdowns. Defensive high points are few aside from linebacker Garret Wallow (No. 30), who with 19 tackles –– 11 of them solo –– would be more accurately named Garret Wallop.
Dykes’ Mustangs went deep into the playbook to beat their rival –– the best team on SMU’s schedule –– and it worked. Three lost fumbles, a maturing quarterback, and sloppy penalties that negated impressive kick returning swirled together to create a dust storm off the hooves of SMU. The Dallas-based squad should have no problem whipping their half of the American Athletic Conference before losing to Central Florida in the championship game. Patterson and all the purple people need short memories. The Mad Hatter (Les Miles) and his upstart Kansas Jayhawks are inbound for morning madness at the Carter. He’ll have a trick or two when he comes through, and word on the street is they’ve beaten an FBS team already for the first time in the history of ever.