January 5, 2016

5 thoughts on TCU-Oregon

“Next man up” is a nice slogan. But not every program can pull it off. The Frogs surely did.

TCU sideline reacts when the Horned Frog defense stopped Oregon on fourth down in the third overtime of the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

January 5, 2016

5 thoughts on TCU-Oregon

“Next man up” is a nice slogan. But not every program can pull it off. The Frogs surely did.

1. Character revealed


TCU celebrates its most unlikely victory in program history. The 31-point rally was the largest in 120 seasons of Horned Frog football. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

A year ago, the Horned Frogs ferociously demolished Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, raising eyebrows and commanding respect. TCU was a program that should have been in the College Football Playoff and played like a team fueled by frustration and anger. The Frogs rightfully gained a No. 3 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. A year later, TCU garnered national attention again at the Valero Alamo Bowl, but this time in a different way. The news of quarterback Trevone Boykin’s arrest and suspension cast a pall over the game locally and nationally. Murmurs around the Alamo City on New Year’s Eve lamented that the Frogs’ first appearance in South Texas in decades was tainted. What had been billed as one of the bowl season’s best matchups now appeared to be a mismatch. To their credit, the TCU faithful turned out in force, filling up 70 to 80 percent of the Alamodome, but they were quieted when the Frogs woefully sleepwalked through the first half, trailing by five scores. But that deficit and all that baggage made the team’s historic comeback even more remarkable. With a Saturday night primetime TV slot, the game was every bit the national stage as this season’s New Year’s Six bowls and the team’s game in Atlanta last year. For the program to exhibit such strength of will, such never-say-die heart, the players and coaches sent a tremendous message about the stuff Horned Frogs are made of. Amid all the injuries and high expectations, it was a season of not-quitting. Coach Gary Patterson and the players may have shown more character in 2015 than the Rose Bowl and Peach Bowl years. The Alamo Bowl game was just the last moment of an entire year of intestinal fortitude.

2. Bram the torpedoes!


Bram Kohlhausen dives for the end zone in the second half during the Horned Frogs’ rally. Kohlhausen was named the Offensive MVP of the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

The central character in all these storybook doings was second-string quarterback Bram Kohlhausen, who incredibly made his first career start in his final game in college. How he got to that point is part of the story. The fifth-year senior walked on at TCU in 2014 after two seasons at Houston and a year at Los Angeles Harbor College. In 2015, he played mop-up duty against Stephen F. Austin, one snap against Texas Tech and a series against Texas. Kohlhausen’s father Bill, who passed away in early November, last saw his son play in TCU’s 50-7 win over the Longhorns. A week after his father died, Kohlhausen replaced an injured Boykin in a home game against Kansas, but he and the Frog offense struggled. Third-string Foster Sawyer moved ahead of him on the depth chart. But after Sawyer stumbled in the first half at Oklahoma, Kohlhausen rallied the Frogs in the fourth quarter to nearly pull a massive upset of the Sooners. With Boykin back against Baylor, Kohlhausen returned to role as backup. That lasted until about 63 hours before kickoff in San Antonio, where Kohlhausen had one practice and a walk-through to prepare as the starter. At halftime in the Alamo Bowl, the sentiment on social media and in the press box was that TCU would give Sawyer a chance to give the team a spark. While Coach Patterson changed his wardrobe in the locker room, he stuck with the fifth-year senior. All Kohlhausen did in the second half and overtimes was throw for 255 yards and two touchdowns and rush for another two scores. His daring runs added first downs or scores at five key moments of the game, including a Boykin-esque flip near the goal line and the final touchdown of triple overtime. The game’s Most Valuable Player was the hero, and in the press conference after, he gave credit to Boykin for inspiring his fearless performance, even acknowledging that he had TB scribbled on his wrist tape. By Monday, Kohlhausen had interviews with The Dan Patrick Show, SportsCenter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and NBC Radio. All of them well-deserved! Also hard-earned: Kohlhausen will be on scholarship for the spring semester — his last at TCU.

3. More than a slogan

After the game, Coach Patterson admitted that the bowl win and the whole season wasn’t easy, but it was clearly memorable, more so than other higher-profile years. He acknowledged the fact that, through attrition, the Frogs had played 30 freshmen or redshirt freshmen, most in his 15 seasons as head coach. Others have noticed too. Before the game, commentator Mack Brown agreed that Patterson’s best coaching job was in 2015, not the years that ended in the Fiesta or Rose or Peach bowls. This year included the two biggest rallies in program history – from down 18 at Kansas State in October and down 31 to Oregon at the Alamodome. Beside Boykin, TCU played without starting center Joey Hunt and left guard Jamelle Naff. Those were the latest in a string of injuries and adversity that defined the campaign. Still, the Frogs gutted their way to 11 wins. Contrast that with the way Oregon fell apart without its quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. and center Matt Hegarty, who missed the second half. “Next man up” is a nice slogan. But not every program can truly pull it off. The Frogs surely did.


The TCU defense held Oregon to 18 yards on 18 plays in the third and fourth quarters. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

4. Second-half shutdowns

The TCU defense held Oregon to 18 yards on 18 plays in the third and fourth quarters while the Frog offense got the team back in the game. Most importantly, the Frogs kept the Ducks off the scoreboard in the second half. The shutout continued a trend of TCU clamping down on foes after half time. The Horned Frogs yielded only 69 total points in the second half and overtimes of its last nine games. Since the Homecoming game against Texas, the Frogs basically have allowed only a touchdown per game after intermission against six bowl teams, four of them with nine wins or more. Changing from black to purple shirts at halftime was a funny sidebar (especially from the ultra-superstitious Patterson), but it took a lot more than new clothes to tighten up the defense. With four sacks of the Ducks, the defense also kept alive a streak of 30 games with a sack. That’s the second-longest active stretch behind Ohio State’s 35 in a row. And most of those Frogs return in 2016.

5. Climbing the polls

After all the heroics and celebrations, where does this leave TCU? Next week, the Frogs will surely find themselves in the Top 10 of the final Associated Press ranking. The No. 11 Frogs could jump several spots to No. 7 or 8. Teams ahead of them that lost: No. 10 North Carolina, No. 9 Florida State, No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 6 Iowa. That would give Patterson’s program its sixth finish in the AP Top 10 since 2008. Remarkable! What might we see in 2016? The Frogs say good-bye to tailback Aaron Green, wide receivers Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee, quarterback Trevone Boykin, offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, center Joey Hunt, offensive guards Jamelle Naff and Brady Foltz, defensive ends Mike Tuaua and Lamar Lathan, defensive tackle Davion Pierson, safety Derrick Kindred, place kicker Jaden Oberkrom and punter Ethan Perry. That’s considerable talent and leadership walking out the door. But the youngsters who played in 2015 amid all those injuries will provide good depth for the Frogs in 2016 and beyond. Also consider that the Frogs will welcome back the injured from the sideline: wide receivers Deante Gray and Ty Slanina, cornerback Ranthony Texada, linebacker Sammy Douglas, safety Kenny Iloka and defensive end James McFarland. TCU will have to find a new quarterback and rebuild its offensive line, but there’s a lot of skill returning. And we know all about their heart.


“Black wasn’t working,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told ESPN at halftime. The famously superstitious coach changed from a black mock turtleneck and visor to a purple shirt and visor for the second half. The Frogs rallied from a 31-0 deficit. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

5 stats that stood out

1. TCU was the first team to rally from a 31-point deficit in 1,464 NCAA games. The comeback matched the largest in bowl history (2006 Insight Bowl Texas Tech vs. Minnesota) and second-largest in any Football Bowl Subdivision game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Frogs’ chance of winning fell to 0.9 percent early in the third quarter. In the second half, the Frogs six possessions resulted in field goal, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, field goal. They never punted, never turned the ball over, never lost the ball on downs. They did convert all three fourth-down attempts. Two went for touchdowns.

2. Quarterback Bram Kohlhausen started off slowly, completing just nine of 19 pass attempts for 91 yards and an interception. In the second half and overtimes, Kohlhausen was 19-of-26 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. That was more passing yards after halftime than Trevone Boykin ever had in his career. Kohlhausen was especially clutch when it mattered most. On third and fourth downs, he completed 6-of-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown.

3. TCU set a series of school bowl records: total offense (545 yards), passing offense (371 yards), passing attempts (47), completions (28), points scored (47) and plays (94). The Frogs also saved the Las Vegas sportsbooks millions. Reportedly, a deluge of bets on Oregon came in over the last two days before the game. The Frogs’ rally wrecked a huge payout.

4. Running back Aaron Green, a San Antonio native, rushed for 101 yards to finish the year with 1,272 yards, most in a season by a Horned Frog running back since LaDainian Tomlinson led the NCAA with 2,158 yards in 2000. Green’s 2,427 career total – in just three seasons in Fort Worth – fell just outside the Top 10 of all Frog rushers, but he will be recorded in the history books as one of the greatest ballcarriers in TCU history.

5. TCU achieved the 11-win plateau for the eighth time in the last 11 seasons and ninth time overall in 15 seasons under Gary Patterson. Prior to the Patterson era, TCU had only two seasons (1935 and 1938) of 11 victories or more in a year.


Senior tailback Aaron Green, a San Antonio native, rushed for 101 yards on 25 carries in the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

5 tweets (plus one more) that told the tale

Your comments are welcome


  1. So much press on this football journey of 2015. Will you do a special edition to cover all the “adventures” this year? I’d love a special collectors edition about 2015 Frog Football.

  2. In athletics there are defining moments and defining games such as Baylor and Oregon. The 2015 may be a defining season for the football program of a small private school in Ft. Worth, Texas as it fought to maintain its place on the big stage of college football.

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