The old adage says that teams improve most from week one to week two. TCU has a chance to extend that improvement over ten practices between game one and two. In addition to receiving more time to gameplan for Minnesota, the Frogs have a chance at further study of their first game film -- that’s something Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie’s offense should benefit from immensely.
Let’s take a look at some of last week’s most significant statistics.
The stat sheet says the Frogs averaged 4.3 yards per carry, but without Trevone Boykin’s 10 carries for just 29 yards, that average would look much better. The Frogs running backs were more effective than a first glance at the stat sheet would suggest. On the flip side, Samford averaged just 1.9 yards per play on the ground.
TCU possessed the football for over 32 minutes. Since TCU’s Rose Bowl year, the Frogs are nearly impossible to beat when they win the time of possession battle. Last year the Frogs struggled win that TOP battle, but even though the Frogs place an emphasis now on playing fast, it’s a stat to keep an eye on moving forward.
The Horned Frog Blitz team decided to rewind the tape and pick two surprises and two disappointments from last weeks game. Then we flipped the clock forward and discussed two unknowns going forth.
Jeremy Clark: The first surprise is Trevone Boykin. I doubt anyone could have imagined he would go and have game he did against Samford. He put up the second highest career total with 321 passing yards. That earned him Big 12 player of the week.
Alex Apple: My first surprise was the maturity shown by Trevone Boykin. He appeared to be a more poised leader for the offense, and that was something I had never seen from the junior signal-caller. I’m sure other programs are already wondering when Boykin is going to graduate because he has seemingly been around “forever.” However, Boykin still has two years to improve, and I believe we’ll see significant improvement still lies ahead of Boykin.
My second surprise was also on the offensive side of the ball. That was Kolby Listenbee. Listenbee’s success shows that the new offensive staff can get players in positions to use their best assets. Listenbee is a speed receiver with only decent route running skills, so the Frogs will use him as a deep threat; I expect a lot of big plays from him are still to come. Listenbee had three catches for 76 yards, and he was really the best playmaker on the offense.
Jeremiah Glenn: Kolby Listenbee - It's hard to call a kid that received a ton of pre-season hype from Gary Patterson a surprise, but that's just what Listenbee was to me. With 3 receptions for 76 yards and 2 TD's, Listenbee proved that he has the potential to be TCU's much needed deep threat. Can he do it consistently? That's the question, but the way it looks now, the potential is there.
Trevone Boykin - Again, the definition of surprise here depends on who you ask. I think the surprise for me with Boykin was how much of a leader he looked like on the field. His hard work in the offseason and quick grasp of the offense proved what the coaching staff had been saying about him was correct. Still, to see him perform at the level he did on Saturday was certainly a surprise to many.
Jeremy Clark: Defense giving up scrambling yards. As good as secondary played, the front seven broke down allowing Michael Eubanks to get majority of their yardage by scrambling. The Frogs must get that fixed.
Secondly, the offensive line was lackluster. Granted they didn’t have any false starts and they limited penalties, but Tayo had a string of three bad plays cost them a scoring drive. Chop blcok, hold, shut down a drive. Overall, the offensive line played okay, but Fabuloje needs to step it up a little bit.
Alex Apple: As Jeremy mentioned, Tayo Fabuloje was a disappointment. He failed to play with good leverage for violent hands. Patterson even said after the game that he needed to lose some weight.
But I’ll change gears just a little bit, I was disappointed Frank Kee, Bobby Thompson and Joseph Noteboom did not show more in fall camp to earn playing time. Kee and Thompson were the presumed starters at guard after spring practice. In no way did I expect Brady Foltz to earn the start. Improvement is still needed along the offensive line.
My second disappointment was TCU’s punt return team. The Frogs seemingly failed to give Cameron Echols-Luper much running room. When the Frogs were rolling from 2008-2011, Jeremy Kerley and the punt coverage teams gave the Frogs a chance to score on every punt. It’s a so-called “little thing,” but effectively blocking on punt return could make the difference in some tight Big 12 conference games.
Jeremiah Glenn: Tayo Fabuluje - The big lineman was touted as an improvement to the offensive line this year but looked slow and out of shape. Run blocking is his strength but speed rushers will continue to give him trouble until he sheds another 15-20 pounds and builds his agility back to pervious levels. He can be an asset or a liability, the choice is his over the net few weeks.
Brady Foltz - By all accounts, Foltz isn't anywhere close to where he needs to be. Looking slow and unathletic, Foltz needs to add a little fire to his game. The size is there, and apparently the staff has seen enough to give him his shot, but it's time the big guard put his tools together and begins to attack to the defensive lineman with an attitude.
Two remaining unknowns:
Jeremy Clark: Running game on offense -- TCU showed flashes against Samford, but they didn’t gain a whole lot of yardage per carry. We haven’t seen what the running game can do yet.
Also, the secondary hasn’t been tested although Kevin White and Ranthony Texada had great games; they were only tested one time a piece. Safeties were not tested. Samford’s lack of passing game means secondary is talented but untested. I need to see what they can do when they face good QB and WRs.
Alex Apple: I’m still waiting to see what the TCU offense will look like when they play at top speed for all 60 minutes. Against Samford, TCU tapped the breaks on its tempo in the second half. The burden falls on Boykin’s shoulders. He’s the one that has to push the offense and push the tempo.
In my mind, the second unknown is whether the offensive line is still a liability or if it’s just simply average. The o-line was unquestionably a liability last year. From what I saw in week one, there is still a chance it remains just that. All Spring, Patterson harped on how the line would be bigger, but then he did not start many of his biggest linemen (Kee, Thompson, Noteboom, Pryor). If I was making a prediction based off what I saw in week one, I’d say the offensive line is still a liability.
Jeremiah Glenn: Aaron Green - The former 5 star recruit and Nebraska transfer is still an unknown at this time. Although his opportunities have been limited, his production hasn't been where you want it to be when his number is called. Green is a team leader and by all accounts, an outstanding young man. Now it's time to put it together on the field.
Josh Carraway - He's shown flashes, and the physical build is now there, but how good can he be? At 6'3" and 260 pounds, it's Carraway's time to shine if he chooses to seize the opportunity. Minnesota and their mammoth offensive line will be a big challenge for the speed rusher. How will he respond? His response to this challenge will go a long way toward to the type of season he can ultimately have.