Slow Start Downs Frogs in Norman

TCU fell to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Big 12 conference play with a 20-17 loss to #11 Oklahoma on Saturday night.

The TCU (2-3) offense made history Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma. But, it was not the kind of history you want to make.

For the first time in 77 years, TCU did not gain a first down in a half. In the first half, seven offensive possessions ended the same way: three plays and out.

The Frogs ran 24 plays before gaining its first first down. In real time, it took the offense two hours and three minutes to get a first down.

Against a disciplined Oklahoma (5-0) team that refused to beat itself, TCU again fell just short 20-17. For the third time this season, the Frogs lost a game that head coach Gary Patterson says they should have won.

"All three losses that we've had, we've been in positions to win ballgames," Gary Patterson said. "The LSU game, the Texas Tech game, we've been within five points with less than five minutes to go, so we've got to learn how to finish."

The TCU defense held the Sooner offense to just 13 first half points and as they have all season, kept TCU in the game.

Unfortunately, slow starts are becoming too common for the TCU offense. In their last three first halves, the Frogs have scored a combined 7 points. That's an average of 2.33333 per half.

Refusing to lay the blame on anyone, Patterson offered a simple explanation for his offense's struggles after the game.

"Oklahoma's good on defense. If you try to play at 3rd and 8, people can pin their ears back. We have to play better on first down," Patterson said.

Like they have too many times this season, the TCU offense gets in its own way. A comedy of errors victimized the Frog offense in Norman as well.

"It's like the third and two before the half when we fumble the football," Patterson explained. "At some point in time, you have to create luck. We gotta execute. It's plain and simple. We can't go down and score as many points as we did in an eight minute period and not do anything the other 52."

"We've got to start practice faster, and we have to start games faster. They've got to start believing they can be in a ball game."

The Frog fans that made the trip to Norman were believing late in the second half. Down by three, TCU had the ball near midfield with a third and three. Cue a mental error.

Brandon Carter ran the wrong route, and TCU was forced to punt. Two plays later, the Sooners' Brennan Clay scampered 76 yards for the game-winning score.

"I love it," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "I think it shows character and the fact that guys are in shape and ready to finish. I'm proud of Blake [Bell] the way he ran. Brennan [Clay] with his big run and then Blake comes back and he's able to eat up the clock on a couple of big runs."

TCU should have known a slow start would damn them Saturday. Oklahoma is 137-9 when leading at the half under Stoops. They have won their last 38 games when leading at the half.

The Sooners have now started 5-0 for the ninth time under Bob Stoops.

Knowing that fans are frustrated, Patterson acknowledged after the game that his Twitter would have plenty of tweets asking him to fire someone. He says he will wait until after the season to evaluate such a move.

"I'm not one of those where you start playing the blame game. I'm sure my Twitter mentions will have 150 of them saying fire somebody or do something," Patterson said. "The bottom line to it is, we're going to play to win, and I'll worry about all that other stuff after the season."

Perhaps Patterson could use the Sooners' to teach a lesson. Maintaining an even-keeled demeanor is important to win on the road.

Bob Stoops spoke about his team's mindset even as the opponent seems to grab momentum.

"It doesn't change, everybody is just determined, whoever's chance it is, now it's the offense's chance, now it's the defense's chance," Stoops said. "Let's execute. Let's make sure our assignments are right; let's continue to play hard and let's make something happen."

TCU will take on Kansas next weekend at Amon G. Carter stadium. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.

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