The Horned Frogs improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 41-20 win over Iowa State in TCU’s homecoming game, but the 21-point margin of victory was not without cost.
The Frogs lost standout wide-receiver KaVontae Turpin early in the second half to what appeared to be a left knee injury. He was not alone either, as defensive end Josh Carraway also exited in the second half due to injury. Neither returned to the contest.
“We didn’t play with the emotion that I wanted to see,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “When you don’t play with emotion, guys get hurt.”
Neither injury has been disclosed in full detail, but even with integral players getting hurt in the contest, the Frogs were able to conclude a three game stretch at home with a seemingly routine victory.
Coming off an excruciating loss to Arkansas, the Horned Frogs were able to get on the board first when Ryan Graf executed a 37-yard field goal early in the first quarter, and they would build on that lead when Kyle Hicks recorded a 64 yard rushing touchdown late in the quarter to give TCU a 10-0 lead. The score would hold into the 2nd quarter, marking the first time this season that the Frogs had shut out their opponent beyond the end of the first frame.
Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning would get Iowa State on the board when he took a keeper eight yards up the right side for a touchdown, making it a 10-7 contest early in the 2nd quarter. Beyond that slip though, TCU never looked back. Rushing touchdowns from quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Derrick Green gave the Frogs a 24-7 lead heading into the half.
The Frogs would face a serious scare coming out of the half though, as Turpin went down grabbing his left leg following a fourth down reception. Turpin was assisted by trainers off the field as he headed to the injury tent, and was seen walking on his own headed to the locker room.
The injury wouldn’t slow down the Frogs’ momentum though, as Hill found Hicks for a 25 yard touchdown pass on the ensuing play, making it a 31-7 TCU lead.
After Iowa State converted on a 25 yard field goal attempt midway through the third quarter to make it 31-10, the Frogs padded their lead even more with a two yard rushing touchdown by tailback Trevorris Johnson, giving TCU a 38-10 lead as the entered the fourth quarter.
Hill would be replaced by backup quarterback Foster Sawyer. Joel Lanning would record another rushing touchdown for Iowa State with 6:41 to play and Cole Netten tallied on 30 yard field goal with just over a minute to play in the game, but the Frogs would win comfortably by a score of 41-20.
Hill finished the day with 219 passing yards for TCU, completing 19-of-30 attempted passes. The Frogs would go on to record 481 total yards of offense.
“Even with the loss last week we knew that we had to bounce back in the next game to have any chance of winning the conference, and accomplished that first step today,” Hill said.
While the Frogs recorded 252 yards through the air, the team was also incredibly effective at moving the ball on the ground, totaling 229 rushing yards in the win. Running back Kyle Hicks recorded a career high 117 yards in his two touchdown performance.
“It was nice to have the ball,” said Hicks. “Whenever my time is called upon, I’m ready to go.”
Of course, any numbers today could be overshadowed by Turpin’s injury, which appeared to be serious as did not return to the game. Turpin has shined as a kick/punt returner with his speed. If he is out for an extended period of time, it could be a major blow to the Frogs’ special teams and receiving corps.
“We hope for the best for Turpin. We have his back,” Hicks said.
Thus far in 2016, Turpin has caught for a team-high 188 receiving yards over 14 receptions. Taj Williams sits in second with 171 yards.
Saturday’s game was a clean one as there were no fumbles or interceptions on either side. While TCU’s defense got the job done in terms of holding their opponent a low point total as the Frogs pulled away, there were still concerns to be had.
As the offense lost Turpin, uncertainty now looms with Carraway following is second half injury. The senior defensive end is one of the more experienced players on TCU’s defense, and if the injury is severe enough to sideline him, Carraway’s absence will force others to step up. As the case with Turpin, no further details have given on the extent of the injury.
Aside from Carraway’s scare, the Frogs allowed the Cyclones to convert on eight of their 22 third down attempts, and the fact that Iowa State even had 22 third down attempts says something in itself. The Cyclones out-possessed the Frogs 32:52 to 27:08 on the day, and Patterson didn’t hesitate to criticize his team for allowing Iowa State to get so many downs.
“We shouldn’t have let that [Iowa State] offense run more than sixty plays,” Patterson said.
If anything, missed tackles continued to plague the Frogs once again, evidenced by Lanning escaping at least four defenders on his keeper touchdown in the first quarter. Middle linebacker Ty Summers didn’t let up though, recording five solo tackles in the game and combining for 16 total.
One big change on defense Saturday was the move of receiver Deante Gray at cornerback. Gray recorded two tackles and one broken up pass.
“It was a fun change. I had the whole week to prepare. The coaches helped me a lot and I just tried to play as hard as I could and have fun,” Gray said.
In total, the TCU defense surrendered 355 yards over 83 plays in the win.
“There are still small things that we need to tweak up and get better at, but we’re just happy we got the win,” Gray said.
The bottom line is that the Frogs got the job done on Saturday. It’s easy to say that the offense still needs to find it’s rhythm and that the defense needs to eliminate those missed tackles, and certainly there is a point where repeated miscues end up biting you in the foot. The injuries to Carraway and Turpin area also unnerving, especially in the coming days as we wait to learn more. But pretty or ugly, the Frogs found a way to come out on top Saturday, and they exit their first conference game of 2016 with more positives to look at than negatives.
“It’s a win. I’m not happy about it, but it’s a win,” Saturday said. “On to SMU.”