It wasn’t easy, and they did shoot themselves in the foot more than once. But, all in all, TCU’s formal introduction with the Big 12 was a good one.
The Horned Frogs (2-0, 1-0) struggled to hold onto the ball on offense, but held their ground on the defensive side of the ball, to beat the Kansas Jayhawks (1-2, 0-1), by a score of 20-6. Second-year starting QB Casey Pachall put up some impressive numbers, throwing for 335 yards and 2 TDs, while completing 80% of his passes against Kansas (24-for-30). WR Brandon Carter, meanwhile, caught both of Pachall’s TD passes, finishing with 8 receptions and 141 yards on the day.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, led by former Notre Dame QB Dayne Christ, threatened the Frogs all day with an offense that could move the ball down the field in chunks. 4 of 11 drives on offense were for 10 plays or more, and at least six put them in scoring position. Despite their ability to move the ball downfield, it didn’t translate to an ability to score – they only got two field goals for their efforts, despite Christ’s 303-yard passing performance. It didn’t help that, aided by TCU’s advantage on the ground game (152 yards to 77 yards), the Horned Frogs had a decided 8-and-a-half-minute edge on time of possession (34:17 to 25:43).
That’s not to say that TCU’s win was a spotless one. The offense committed four turnovers during the game – all of them lost fumbles, and all of them occurring in Kansas territory. A missed field goal took another three potential points off the board for TCU. For all intents and purposes, the game could have easily been a blowout, but the Frogs’ relative inability to hold onto the ball in the red zone left the door open for the Jayhawks to come back. While the victory was still in hand, TCU better know that they can’t play this way against the bigger powerhouses in the Big 12 (i.e. Texas and Oklahoma). Knowing head coach Gary Patterson, he won’t let them forget it.
In any case, the Horned Frogs find themselves at 2-0 headed back home to face Virginia in a nationally televised game (ESPN, 11:00 CT).
Some quick thoughts:
- While outperformed by TCU’s Pachall, don’t sleep on Kansas QB Dayne Christ. While he left a big college football program like Notre Dame to head to one of the lesser schools in Big 12 football, Christ still has an arm, and some potential to make noise within the conference. Some of his big throws came on third-and-long, showing tiny glimpses of a clutch gene. With no competition behind him, look for Christ to play big on bigger conference stages.
- Another word on TCU’s Brandon Carter – the 5’11” Euless, TX native was the standout in an otherwise sloppy offensive team. And what a time to have a breakout game – in TCU’s first-ever Big 12 matchup.
It will be interesting to watch a potential rapport between Pachall and Carter grow and thrive in a conference that’s big on gunslinging. With honorable mention from ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben, Carter’s name may be talked about in the national media all season long – so long as he keeps up his production from Saturday.
- I probably wasn’t paying attention to Kansas’ coaching situation, but I, admittedly, didn’t know that Charlie Weis was the Jayhawks’ current head coach. It would explain why Christ is now at the helm, playing for a former Notre Dame head coach and all. And, seeing him on the sideline, I couldn’t help but harken back to images of former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino – though, to be fair, Weis wasn’t nearly as big as the rotund, mustachioed Mangino, known as much for his figure as his appearance at No. 2 in the country, and his 11-win season in 2007.
Weis doesn’t have to match those accolades to have a successful season – just make a bowl appearance, and erase the memory of their recent struggles (5-19 in two years under Turner Gill).