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September 21, 2013

Breaking down the first quarter of TCU's season

It's hard to believe, but we're already a quarter of the way through the college football season with just about every team already playing three games.

TCU of course is on bye this week, so it seems like a good enough time to go back over the last few weeks and see what the team did well and where they can improve going forward. Spoiler alert, that's going to be the offense.

The season started with the highly anticipated clash with LSU at AT&T Stadium. It may have felt at times that TCU was getting blown out, but the Frogs were never out of the game they eventually lost 37-27.

TCU trailed by just a field goal early in the fourth quarter and they had the ball near midfield. Unfortunately the inability to capitalize on opportunities kept the Frogs down.

BJ Catalon proved that his success as a freshman wasn't a fluke as he ran for 52 yards on eight carries and scored a touchdown. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
TCU's offense couldn't find a groove as it ran the ball with Catalon and Waymon James just a combined 14 times for 85 yards. They averaged more than six yards per carry. TCU completed just 15 of 28 passes for 145 yards and Casey Pachall threw a costly pick early in the second quarter.

Despite allowing 37 points, the TCU defense actually played well. It was put in a difficult position time after time due to turnovers and inability to keep drives a live. That is something LSU did well as it converted 13 of 19 third downs.

If TCU had ran the ball a little more, maybe the result would have been different, but this game was still a good building block for the season.

Following that emotional opener, TCU came home to Amon G. Carter Stadium to take on Southeastern Louisiana University. It wasn't pretty as the Frogs only led 17-14 at the half against the very talented FCS school, but TCU pulled out the 38-17 victory.

The biggest news from this game was the arm injury to Casey Pachall that may have ended his Horned Frog career. He left late in the second quarter with an injury to his non-throwing arm.

Trevone Boykin came in to play full-time quarterback after the injury and completed nine of 13 passes for 133 yards and two scores. He led three-straight scoring drives in the second half to put the game away.

Chris Hackett and Sam Carter each pulled down interceptions and Jonathan Anderson laid a big hit that caused a fumble as the defense helped the Frogs stay alive until the offense woke up.

Despite the win, the team was still looking for consistency on offense.

The hope was that would come in the Big 12 opener on a wild Thursday night in Lubbock. A bunch of interesting decisions by referees and TCU's offensive play calling contributed to the Frogs' 20-10 loss.

Tech led 10-0 at the half and TCU battled back to tie the game on a Catalon touchdown run. But one of 12 botched calls by the officials ruined the comeback attempt as Tech got the ball after "kick catch interference" and "no fumble" calls. Tech even tried to give the ball back to TCU before scoring on the 1-yard line, but the ball sat in the end zone and didn't result in a touchback. But the back up quarterback Davis Webb threw the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Once again despite the loss, the defense played really well as Hackett, Derrick Kindred and Kevin White each picked off passes from Big 12 wunderkind Baker Mayfield. Jason Verrett shut out Tech's top receiver and allowed just one completion to his charge in the losses to LSU and Tech.

Gary Patterson said earlier this week that if TCU had "ran the ball 20 more times" maybe they would have won. TCU did run the ball 44 times for 207 yards, but Boykin got 20 of those carries from the quarterback position. James and Catalon combined to run 19 times for 109 yards, 5.5 per carry, and a touchdown by Catalon.

Next up is SMU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet at 11 a.m. Saturday in Fort Worth. Look for the Frogs to run the ball a lot more so it doesn't force Boykin to try and make a play every down like has happened the last two weeks.

It's also difficult for Boykin to make plays when his wide receivers have had a tough time getting going. Only Brandon Carter has 10 catches and 100 yards so far.

Don't be surprised if Catalon and James each get more than double-digit carries and maybe Aaron Green gets some touches. TCU is 89th in the nation in passing yards and 75th in the nation in rushing yards.

TCU is 93rd in the nation in total offense, which is just two spots worse than USC.


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