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December 4, 2017

5 Thoughts on the TCU – Oklahoma Rematch

TCU had high hopes for the Big 12 Championship game rematch against Oklahoma. Despite a strong effort, the day didn’t go as planned.

Jalen Reagor's 29-yard touchdown reception was TCU's first scoring drive. His catch tied him for the most in the nation by a true freshman. Photo by Leo Wesson

Jalen Reagor's 29-yard touchdown reception was TCU's first score. His catch tied him for the most in the nation by a freshman. Photo by Leo Wesson

December 4, 2017

5 Thoughts on the TCU – Oklahoma Rematch

TCU had high hopes for the Big 12 Championship game rematch against Oklahoma. Despite a strong effort, the day didn’t go as planned.

5 Things We Noticed

1. Count on Them

KaVontae Turpin had a team-best six receptions for 39 yards in the Big 12 Championship game. Photo by Leo Wesson
KaVontae Turpin had a team-best six receptions for 39 yards in the Big 12 Championship game. Photo by Leo Wesson

As the dust settles on the 2017 regular season, an honest offensive assessment probably has to tab the corps of wide receivers as the collective MVP. Saturday was no exception. TCU’s shining moment was John Diarse’s deft touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone, which made ESPN’s list of best plays on a big football day. But the senior leader was clutch for more than the one catch, hauling in a team-high 66 yards. Jalen Reagor’s 29-yard touchdown grab was his seventh on the year, good for first among the nation’s freshmen. KaVontae Turpin’s six gritty catches brought the fiery attitude needed to spark TCU to keep fighting despite the game-long score deficit. This time last year, TCU fans were singling out the receiving unit as one in need of major improvement, so the reliability and gamesmanship displayed by this year’s wideouts were quite impressive.

2. Impeccable Improvement

Quarterback Kenny Hill catches a snap before handing the ball off to Sewo Olonilua in the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium. Photo by Leo Wesson
Quarterback Kenny Hill catches a snap before handing the ball off to Sewo Olonilua in the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium. Photo by Leo Wesson

Kenny Hill has come a long way. No, we’re not about to tell stories from his A&M days. A lot of people probably know what it’s like to bring home a friend or significant other … and all their parents want to do is share embarrassing stories about life mishaps. As far as numbers go, Hill’s completion percentage this season (without the upcoming bowl game) is 67.2 percent, compared to last season’s 61.1 percent. That might not sound like much of an improvement, but his interception numbers were cut by more than half from the 2016 to 2017 seasons. Hill might not be on the Heisman ballot, but his 21 scoring passes surpassed TCU legend Davey O’Brien’s 19. Not a bad place to be in the record books.

3. Too Hot to Handle

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it a million times: Momentum is everything in football. The ability to shift fortunes with a lightning strike is one of the reasons Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners are so dangerous. Mayfield only out-threw Kenny Hill by nine yards on the day, but the OU quarterback’s four touchdown tosses doubled what TCU accomplished. Worse, Mayfield’s second-half touchdown throws included killer strikes of 55 and 52 yards. Those two long scores sucked the life out of the Frogs, who probably thought they were in good position to win, having run to the halftime locker room only down a touchdown.

4. Wrong Rhythm

TCU defensive powerhouses fought hard against Oklahoma offense in the league's championship game. Photo by Leo Wesson
TCU defenders fought hard against the Oklahoma offense in the league’s championship game. Photo by Leo Wesson

The same downfalls that contributed to TCU’s losses during the regular season re-occurred at AT&T Stadium. The Horned Frogs needed to come out of the gate firing, but TCU was shut out in the first quarter, just like in the Iowa State game. TCU had only been shut out in the first quarter by two other teams: Texas Tech and West Virginia. But the second quarter showed a renewed fight. At halftime, it was entirely possible that the purple squad would barrel back out of the locker room rejuvenated from a Patterson pep talk and take home the championship trophy. But instead, TCU’s seven-game streak of not allowing a second-half touchdown was broken. And it unraveled from there.

5. Please Don’t Go

We could go on and on about the accomplishments and character of TCU’s 2017 senior class. From Desmon White and Mat Boesen to Kyle Hicks, Austin Schlottmann and Nick Orr, fans are going to miss them all. The group of 2017 seniors still has the Alamo Bowl left to play, but it’s time to accept that some great players are about to move on. One of the biggest questions to ponder in the break before the bowl game: Who on next year’s squad is going to fill the big shoes of linebacker Travin Howard? His number of total tackles ranks first among TCU players in Coach Patterson’s era of forbidding defenses. Howard logged 15 tackles in an otherwise frustrating game against Oklahoma, his 15th career game with double-digit stops. TCU may be Linebacker U, with a string of outstanding athletes at the position, but still, there’s only one Travin Howard.


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