Coach Patterson certainly comes out wise in naming Tye Gunn the starter. Gunn went 20 of 38 for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Nine different players had catches on the night, as he surveyed the field beautifully. This looked like the Tye Gunn of his freshman year – healthy, poised and getting the offense running on all cylinders. He was so hot, Brandon Hassell will have to wait for SMU for his chance for snaps.
RUNNING BACKS: A
Another welcome sight was Lonta Hobbs at full-strength. Hobbs is now 10th on TCU’s all-time rushing list after his 23 carry, 142-yard performance. He had two touchdowns, including 22-yarder in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Robert Merrill had only three carries for –2 yards, but he’ll certainly get his chances down the road.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A+
Like last year, TCU’s big two receivers came through. Reggie Harrell did what Reggie Harrell does – five catches, 95 yards and two TDs. Cory Rodgers also added four tough catches for 51 yards and a TD. However, the night also showed the possible breakout of Michael DePriest, who had 3 catches for 125 yards, including an 82-yard bomb for a TD. DePriest is one of the faster Frogs, and gives TCU another home run threat.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+
No Chase Johnson, no problem. The TCU line gave Gunn all the time he needed, allowing just two sacks totaling seven yards. The line also opened some nice holes for Hobbs, and allowed Gunn to utilize some screen passes. When Johnson’s replacement in the lineup, Stephen Culp, went down, Ben Angeley was right there to pick up the slack.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C-
Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez may have helped in the counting of the game’s attendance, because he had all the time he needed in the pocket. Basanez was rarely pressured, and threw for 516 yards, the second most ever for a TCU opponent. His four passing touchdowns equaled his entire total from last year. The Frogs lost all four starters from their line last season, but it’s hard to imagine not one person breaking through the line for a sack.
This may have been lower if not for the stop Martin Patterson made against Basanez on fourth down in the third quarter, after Gunn had thrown an interception that could have completely deflated TCU. Northwestern running back Noah Herron averaged 3.4 yards a carry for 94 yards, but had some larger gains in the second half. Patterson finished second in tackles with 10, while other starting linebacker Andrew Ward led the team with 12.
Simply put, it was ugly. Blown coverage. Bad tackling. You name it. Northwestern had three players with eight or more catches, including Jonathan Fields’ eight catches for 202 yards and three TDs. About the only thing worth mentioning positive was Marvin Godbolt’s interception in the fourth that led to the Frogs’ go-ahead score late in regulation.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
Nick Browne and his consistency spoiled Frog fans. Peter LoCoco missed his first collegiate extra point, and had a 25-yard field goal attempt to win the game in the first OT blocked. But he squeezed a 47-yarder over the crossbar when it mattered the most and finished the night two of three on field goals. John Braziel averaged 39.2 yards in his four punts, and Rodgers averaged over 22 yards on kick returns.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
TCU was lucky and won a game it probably shouldn’t have. Northwestern kicker Brett Huffman missed 5 of 6 field goal attempts, bailing out a porous defensive output that overshadowed the brilliant efficiency of the TCU offense. The Frogs now have 11 days to figure out what went wrong on D before welcoming cross-town rival SMU next Saturday.