Well, THAT'S not how it was supposed to go.
I suppose we should've been more realistic about our situation this weekend because, despite what we all wanted to believe about Trevone Boykin, poor kid was preparing to be a backup RB until Thursday morning. Plus, no matter Boykin's abilities - which are greater than we saw on Saturday - losing an NFL caliber QB who also happened to be the only thing on the entire offense that worked with any consistency is preeeetty critical. Hats off to Paul Rhoads because just when we thought we were going to be the ones with the advantage of running out a QB with limited film and who is exactly the opposite of our normal starter, Rhoads did the EXACT same thing by starting Jared Barnett over seriously-not-a-pornstar- Steele Jantz. It's not exactly the same situation as Barnett was a starter for part of last season before losing the job to Jantz before the season started. And, truth be told, outside of those 2 TD passes to Josh Lenz, Barnett was fairly average, only accumulating 58 yard. But still, you can't argue with the 37 points he put on the board against what we THOUGHT was a good defense when you consider Iowa State came in average 24. Are sideline benches made of Steele? Because pretty sure Jantz will be riding his namesake for at least another week.
Going back through the game, the Frogs offense wasn't that bad. In fact, they were quite good, out gaining Iowa State 455-350 in total yardage and had the edge on the ground and through the air. In fact, if you go through the stats, offensively TCU was better than Iowa State in ever facet except the one that counts. TCU dominated possession, was more efficient on third down and ran more plays. HOWEVA, 5 turnovers, including a pick seis and numbers seven AND eight inside the 20 were ultimately the doom, and the culprits were the two new faces of the TCU offense. Say what you will about a couple of his decisions - he missed Boyce WIDE OPEN streaking down the sidelines on one play, and the off-the-facemask INT was just a super unfortunate decision that a veteran doesn't make- but - HSO HERE - Trevone Boykin did more against that defense than Casey Pachall would've been able to. Sure, Casey wouldn't have tossed three picks, but he also wouldn't have rushed 14 times to open up the offense when plays broke down because, in case you missed it, our offensive line is BARF. Like, I don't know why they even break the huddle and line up on some plays because there are times where we may as well be running the swinging gate, but instead of swinging the gate closed you leave it open and let all the animals loose. Not even an offensive backfield with Herschel Walker and Johnny Unitas could overcome that lack of protection. After being sacked 4 times, I'm just glad Trevone escaped with his brain and his CLs, M and A.
You're the worst kind of pessimistic TCU fan if you don't think Boykin is going to get better as the season progresses and that we're doomed for a 4-8 finish. Despite throwing a pick on his first pass as a starter - a pass that he NEVER should've been asked to make in that situation - Boykin settled in pretty well considering all that was asked of him. He threw the ball 40 times. FORTY! Casey's career high is 42, the only time he's hit the 40 attempts mark. His high this season was 32 against UVA. That's a testament to our lack of ground game and if you include his 14 rushes, Boykin had a direct hand in 54 of the 83 offensive plays that were run. That's not even counting plays where he pitched it, so that number might be closer to 60. Again, that's a LOT to place on the shoulders of a guy who had 48 hours to prepare which either says the staff has a lot of faith in him, or they have no other choice. Probably a little bit of both. Before the game my take was that Boykin was going to make a handful of plays that Pachall couldn't make, but also a handful of plays that Pachall wouldn't make. Through one game, I'd say the former outweighs the latter. Just some food for thought - Boykin threw two INTs, one that went for 6, and still had asses in the seats with 5 minutes left leading what could've been an improbably TCU comeback. Let that be what you take away from this game, not the last pass he threw in it.
Moving on, I suppose we should address the BJ Catalon situation. Like Boykin, I'm not sure what we were supposed to expect from a guy who came into the season likely expecting to redshirt, now thrust into a starting role due to injuries, having to play behind that same offensive line teased above. His two fumbles were brutal, but I'll take that 13 runs for 86 yards over what we've seen out of that unit since Waymon went down ANY day. Besides that, BJ seemed to be a lot more confident in his ball security after halftime. He's a young kid, but he's giving his best effort and he's going to be REALLY good with some reps. Keep in mind that in the 3 games since Grambling, Catalon only had 10 combined carries for 19 yards. Like Boykin, he's going to get better as the season progresses, partly because he has the talent, but mostly because he'll pretty much have to.
But, despite the youthful mistakes, you'd be a fool to pin Saturday's loss on the absence of Casey, Boykin's 3 picks or BJ Catalon's butterfingers because, seriously, what the hell happened to this defense we've been bragging about? Josh Lenz came into the game with 13 catches for 132 yards and 1 TD. He left FW with 5 catches for 147 yards, 3 TDs AND a reverse pass for a TD. Josh Lenz is a white receiver from Dubuque, IA with ZERO multiple TD games to his name and only one where he gained 100 yards. So you could say Lenz' overwhelming career day is a black eye for this defense and, specifically, Kevin White. Depending on which color you were rooting for Saturday, Lenz MAY have pushed off a bit on his first score, but still - after that happened, adjustments should've been made to not put Kevin White on an island with him. Naturally, Lenz did it again right before the first quarter ended on a play where White was beaten so badly I have to assume he, like the rest of us, was simply looking around before the play wondering if he went to bed Friday night and woke up in Iowa... But more on the worst fanbase in collegiate sports later.
Seriously, though - what the heck, D? Where were the Bumpas Hounds with their ears pinned back rushing the passer? Only 1 sack? 0 listed QB hurries? Where were leaders Kenny Cain and Stansly Maponga? Was Jason Verrett the only player on that side of the ball interested in winning? Is is time to give Paul Dawson and Kevion Gamble a shot? Is Jonathan Anderson alive? I'm just not sure.
Ok, so I'm probably being too harsh. They only allowed 3 points off of our five turnovers, which has to be construed as a positive. And, like I said, outside of the two boneheaded lapses in coverage by Kevin White - something you'd expect to be corrected this week in film because, if not, Terrence Williams is going to set NCAA career records for reception yards in ONE game - they played the pass very well. But, the 152 rushing yards allowed was unexpected, as was the lack of forcing turnovers, although perhaps expectations were a bit too high after last week's free for all. If only we could play Garrett Gilbert on a weekly basis...
However, enough empty praise and could've beens because TCU did not deserve to win that game. Saturday just wasn't going to be that day. But while there's plenty of blame to go around ON the field, the situation in the stands plays every bit as equal of a role. I've only been a TCU fan since things were good, so I am by no means qualified to make comparison to the past, but situationally I would have to say that Saturday was the most disappointing atmosphere I have ever experienced at a sporting event. There were, what, maybe 1000 Iowa State fans in the stands? Yet, they were TEN TIMES louder than our fans. Keep in mind, they sent back tickets from their allotment, and were confined to the upper corners of the north end zone, so things weren't exactly on their side. It was embarrassing. And, the weird part about it? we HAD people there, at least for the first half. They just refused to create a home field advantage. Hats off to the students - they didn't fill their entire section and were overrun by ISU fans in spots, but despite it being fall break they showed up and yelled their butts off. Everyone else, though? PATHETIC. The first Big 12 home game. A 4-0, top 15 ranked team. A young QB thrust into a starting role that needed the support of the home crowd more than any other player has needed it in quite some time. And... nothing.
I was fortunate enough to nab a club seat for the game and can report with 100% certainty that the majority of the seat holders in that section were at the game... they just never made it outside. This despite the fact that your seats are LITERALLY 15 steps from the bar and you can bring food and drinks outside. Folks criticize the corporate atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium, but you know what? I've sat in those club seats too, and when you go in during the game to grab a beer, the place is empty because everyone is in their seats, you know, WATCHING THE GAME. And the Cowboys are GARBAGE!! I won't lie - the club area is very nice. There's gourmet food prepared by Tim Love - he's walking around in there and everything! - and purchasable booze at a reasonable price point even when you consider the $1500 a seat price tag. But it's not so awesome that you don't feel the need to be part of the game. Seriously, you're spending $1500 to spend 6 Saturdays sitting in a living room that's less comfortable than your own and you have to pay for drinks? The recession, it's not happening in Tarrant County.
The fans bitched about the UVA game because it was too hot... apparently 50 degrees is now considered too cold. Our fans bitch about having games a Jerry World, but maybe those climate controlled confines are more our style? There really are no excuses. It was a 6 point game at halftime and a 3 point game in the fourth. When was the last time we've had that type of situation in a conference game at home? Apparently close games are just as boring as blowouts.
Look, tailgating is fun. Drinking beer outside is really a lot more fun than it has any right to be. But if you're not even going to come into the game, why not just stay at home and drink in the safety of your own home? There are comfortable chairs. There is a controlled climate. There is no drinking and driving. Or, if you're just going to leave at halftime and not come back in? Do you need a drink THAT badly and, if you do, is it really THAT much of a secret that you can sneak alcohol into an NCAA sporting venue and consume it without repercussions? They have items SPECIFICALLY created for this situation! Stunning. I have another hint for everyone - TCU's tailgating isn't really THAT great unless you're able to spring for a big money spot. When it's hot, it's REALLY hot. When it's cold, it's REALLY cold. When I graduated, underaged students were too terrified to even do it because TABC would corral you. I'd just as soon sneak a flash into the stadium and mix a drink during warmups without fear of being hassled, but that's just me.
There are a lot of things beyond our control as fans that need to go right this season if we hope to compete, but fortunately this is the easiest situation to correct! The players can only do so much when they're trying to get amped up for a big play only to look around and half the stadium be empty and the other half not paying attention. UT is the worst, but their "come early, be loud, stay late" whatever motto is SO spot on it's dumb. Remember in the latter days of the old stadium when we had a true homefield advantage where folks would stand up and cheer and not leave after the first quarter to go tailgate? That needs to return. Immediately. If not, get ready for 75% of the stadium to be wearing red in 2 weeks and place your bets for TCU becoming the new Baylor. The situation is really that dire.