If you were a TCU fan that made the trip to Minneapolis, congratulations. That takes dedication and you witnessed your team respond to its highest preseason AP ranking with a win. It wasn't a pretty win but it was a win. Fortunately the Horned Frogs have two tune-up games against Stephen F. Austin and SMU before starting Big 12 play in Lubbock. Let's do a quick recap.
What happened to the offense? This was a squad returning TEN starters. This offense scored 82 on Texas Tech. They put up 58 in a loss to Baylor. Oh, and of course, they utterly decimated a supposedly strong SEC defense when they scored 42 on Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Last night was supposed to be the showcase of what another off season of fine tuning could produce. The result? TCU scored 23, a touchdown less than they did last year against Minnesota.
Maybe that lone score was the difference of home field advantage for the Golden Gophers. That seems fair. In reality, this year TCU had more offensive yards, a more balanced attack, less penalties and better time of possession. In reality, TCU squandered multiple scoring chances including a missed field goal and overthrown wide receivers near the end zone. In reality, the TCU defense, not at full strength played a great game minus one 80 yard drive late in the fourth quarter. In reality, this game was just a few moments away from being a blowout.
Does that mean this looked like the number two team in the nation? No, it decidedly does not. The TCU we saw last night would have almost certainly lost to Baylor. They probably would have lost to the Sooners in Norman. It even seems likely they would have struggled with Kansas State and, this may seem silly, they would have likely struggled with Texas. Yes UT, a team they beat by 38 last year. But isn't Texas something like the Minnesota of the Big 12? A strong defense that keeps people in check. An average offense, led by a giant quarterback who has decent running abilities and is looked to as more of a manager through the air. Both the Longhorns and the Gophers are built to keep the game close deep into the fourth quarter and see if they can make some magic happen.
Now on the flip side of the coin, will TCU lose those four games? No, they will not. They might drop one, the Big 12 is a fighters conference after all. It is much more likely, that Patterson has the defense fully developed by the time any of these games occur and their strong performance last night will be their foundation. The offense has work to do but we witnessed what they are possible of last year as they broke the lights on scoreboards around the country. As easy as it is to remember TCU as an unstoppable force at the end of last year, it is just as easy to point out this - they beat OU by four, WVU by one and Kansas (yes, KANSAS) by four. Last year's team had hiccups and this year's team will too. We shouldn't judge the Horned Frogs after one night but TCU should also know other Big 12 teams watched that game and they liked what they saw.
The second Texas FBS game of the night came when UTSA faced #22 Arizona in Tucson. This was a fun ball game to watch. If you're a fan of defense, you almost certainly shut this off at half time as the two squads had combined to score 41. By the end of the game they had combined to score 74. Of course, maybe none of this should be a surprise. UTSA only lost to Arizona by three last year. Then again with that game in San Antonio and this one in Tucson, it seemed home field advantage and a more experienced Wildcat team would make this year's outcome different. Well, it didn't.
Not to beat the same drum but if you just looked at the Box Score you probably would have picked the Roadrunners to win this game. UTSA outgained Zona 525-392. UTSA had more rushing yards, more passing yards and more first downs. Of course, the two stats that really tell what decided the game were penalties and turnovers. While the Wildcats were penalized eight times for 76 yards, the Roadrunners had 10 penalties for 114 yards. To compound that problem, UTSA had two turnovers to Arizona's one (one of those UTSA turnovers led to a scoop and score by Arizona).
While UTSA may feel disappointed and that they left something on that field in Tucson, they should be really happy with what they accomplished. This team seems to become more and more dangerous ever year. Blake Bogenschutz looked phenomenal. He finished 25 for 43 passing with 332 yards and two touchdowns. For good measure he took another one in for a rushing score. In a game that is currently dominated and dictated by quarterback play this is a great sign for UTSA.
The rest of the offense performed great as well. UTSA had four receivers who caught at least three passes while averaging over 12 yards per catch. In the backfield, UTSA had Jalen Rhodes display some big play ability while averaging over five yards per carry and the Roadrunners had Jarveon Williams who showed a great ability to grind as a runner with over 20 carries.
While a loss is a loss, this team shows great potential. UTSA will play the Kansas State Snydercats next week which promises to be another great game. If UTSA makes it through the K-State and Oklahoma State games 1-1 or better, they will launch into their Conference USA schedule with a talented roster and great momentum. This Roadrunner team is one to watch.