To tell you the truth, that went just about how I expected it to go once I saw Collin Klein take the field Saturday night. Honestly though, did anyone think he wasn't going to play, and would it really have mattered? I see why that guy is so great now- those running lanes he has and the pocket his offensive line creates is phenomenal. I long for the days of a functioning offensive line again. Klein was the least impressive he's been all year, accounting for both of the K State touchdowns on the ground along with 50 yards, but looked like a very marginal at best passer going 12-21 for 145 and a pick. Offensively though, TCU was unable to establish anything at all until the 4th quarter, but by then it was clearly too little, too late.
I don't want to dwell on this one too long because it's never that fun to talk about losing and we have a huge Thanksgiving matchup looming with The Evil Empire, but this K State team is just one incredibly well-oiled machine. Looking back at the preview I said that in order to be in this game we needed to force turnovers and not create any ourselves. Well, the turnover battle was even, but after that ridiculous INT by Devonte Fields yielded 0 points on our opening drive, I was pretty demoralized. Unfortunately I didn't set this game to record, but I'd love for someone to tell me how the Hell you get an illegal substitution play on your first offensive play from scrimmage??? That has to fall on the coaches. I really don't understand how that happens. 1st and 10 is hard enough against a disciplined team like K State. Get 1st and 15 and you might as well quick-kick. We did snap the remarkable 111-0 points off turnovers stat that K State had with some 4th quarter points following a fumble, but the game was well in hand by that point. Finally, is there anybody out there who can handle a punt on this roster? Just when you think the Skye fumble issue is taken care of, Deante Gray tries an over the shoulder catch inside the 10 yard line and loses one. Let's go ahead and start recruiting Jeremy Kerley's baby already.
Turnovers was the utmost concern I had going into this one, but #2 was penalties. Again, this was a battle I didn't think we'd win and technically we didn't, but it wasn't too bad. 4 penalties for 25 yards is very un-TCU-like, and I mean that in a very good way. Remember how I said K State was the least penalized team in the country though? Yeah, 1 penalty, 5 yards. They really just do not help you out at all, and NEVER shoot themselves in the foot. This team has what it takes to win it all. I don't remember any college team that has that much ability and is also that disciplined. Yes, the service academies aren't ever penalized either, but their linemen are about 240 pounds, not 315. It's pretty remarkable what Bill Snyder has working up there.
Before I bury this one into the back of my brain, I'd like to hit on some positives and negatives from what I saw Saturday night. Surprisingly in a game where we lost 23-10 I did take away quite a few positives from it.
- The defense is outstanding again, and still very, very young. Devonte Fields' interception made him look like a TE, and what an amazing play call to have him drop back into zone there. The emergence of Marcus Mallett as the second linebacker has really stabilized a corps that I thought would be in shambles, and once again our secondary locked down the opposition (for the most part).
- GP still has an incredible ability to game plan defensively. We saw it against Baylor, WVU, and now K State, who is more potent that both of those two teams. I have no doubt that he will have David Ash confused out of his ugly mind on Thanksgiving.
- Josh Boyce is Mr. Reliable at WR. I know it's hard to notice when Boykin doesn't have time to get the ball out, but he gets at least 6 catches in every single game.
- Trevone Boykin is a gamer. He got a stinger in the 2nd quarter which really killed momentum, and even went back to the locker room leading me to believe he was done, but he came back and played his ass off. He may have struggled, but you try throwing with a numb arm while being chased on every single play.
- Tight ends got catches. Welcome to the stat sheet, Griffin Gilbert! It wasn't much, but I did like those play-action pistol roll out passes in the flat to the TE's. I'll like them even more if we could block.
- Matthew Tucker appears healthy. 64 yards on 10 carries is not a bad day for someone who I thought would be banged up the rest of the season. Hopefully he can be the thunder to Catalon's lightning for the remainder of the year.
- The crowd made a difference for the first time since Utah. The blackout wasn't a complete success (who thought it would be?), but the crowd noise was the loudest it's been in the new stadium. I was impressed.
- Offensive game plan. I know I sound like a broken record with this, but we've got to mix it up if we want to score on stout defenses like K State. We are so depleted personnel-wise that our only real shot at getting big plays is to shake it up a little. Maybe Anderson needs a couple shots of Jack before the game to loosen him up. Ann Coulter thinks he's too conservative.
- Offensive Line. They're young and it has been a bit of a war of attrition up front, but man, they can't give TB 2 seconds to throw the ball. I could write a few paragraphs on this one, but I'll spare you all that. These guys have got to grow up if we want to have any chance in the next few years, because our tackles are getting smoked on every play. The veterans on the interior of the line aren't without blame either. Boykin was sacked 5 times and hurried on just about every throw. You can't win under those conditions.
- Backup QB. Look, I know it's not fair to criticize backup QB play when your backup is really your 3rd string, but Matt Brown just doesn't seem to have the ability to complete passes at a college level. I realize he was getting looks at WR and that's probably where he should be at this point, but some of those passes were flat out atrocious. When he was in, K State had no need to worry about the pass at all and it showed as they plugged up the run. If Boykin goes down for any extended amount of plays again, can we just put Brandon Carter back there and see how it goes? His TD pass to Corey Fuller vs. WVU was a better looking ball than any Matt Brown has thrown in a TCU jersey to date.
- 4th quarter coaching give up. When we decided to punt down 23-0 on 4th and 4 from around midfield, I felt like that was our way of waving the white flag. I didn't like it one bit, but I'm sure GP has an explanation for it. Herm Edwards famously said "you play to win the game", and it certainly didn't look like that's what we were doing at that point in the game. I get kicking a field goal on 4th and 14 like we did, but punting when we needed 4 yards was ridiculous in my opinion.
- The secondary continues to give up big plays. It was only one big play this game, but the 45 or so yarder that burned Kevin White on their first scoring drive was a HUGE momentum swinger. White has been a solid cover corner all year, but he's been beat deep several times. If he can fix that aspect of his game, then he'll be a great player for the next to years. If not, he'll be out of a starting job.
- The PA guy. Of all the negatives, this one might be the worst just because it's been an ongoing problem and it's the easiest to fix. I thought the kinks had been worked out with this guy after the first couple of games, but he was just flat out awful once again Saturday. I know this has no impact on the game, but it is flat out embarrassing. I heard Tank Carder get credited for a tackle at one point in this game, and also he referred to Matthew Tucker as Justin Tucker. Justin Tucker is the former UT kicker turned Baltimore Raven who now has to be this guy's fantasy football kicker. There's really no other explanation for that one, but it's just incredibly pathetic. I might see if CDC will give me a crack at that position. I may not be qualified, but I know the names of the players and I couldn't possibly be more incompetent than that clown.
That's about all I have for this one. Congrats to K State and I hope they go on to win the national title this year. Their fans were all very friendly, they traveled quite well, and they made a whole lot of noise. Snyder and Co. have something special going on up in The Little Apple, and I hope they can see it through to the end. I'm just glad that next year when we head up their way we won't be a team full of freshmen playing a team full of seniors again. Best of luck to them, and hopefully we grew a little from this game as well.