A 54-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter by Kansas was wide right, and TCU (4-2, 1-1) escaped Lawrence with a 24-23 win on Saturday. The Frogs were a 28-point favorite going into the contest, but whenever these two teams meet the unexpected can happen. The last four contests have been decided by just one score, despite TCU being heavy favorites in most of them.
Longtime head coach Gary Patterson’s mantra for quite some time has been - get the win, even if only by one point. The Frogs now enter their bye week with a chance to rest and refocus – with the Big 12 Conference title still in reach.
“We are just glad to get a victory,” said Patterson on the TCU post-game radio wrap-up. “We are a tired football team. We said going into this week that we were and we have things we need to work on. We need to play better.”
Here are some quick observations from today’s matchup...
HICKS WITH ANOTHER BIG PERFORMANCE
For the second time this season, TCU running back Kyle Hicks went over the century mark with 104 rushing yards – 46 of them came in the fourth quarter. Hicks averaged 5.8 yards per carry on Saturday and proved to be TCU’s most reliable offensive weapon. The output begs the question – is 18 rushing attempts (career high) enough for the junior? Hicks is averaging nearly 5.65 yards per carry this season. With an offense that has gone cold at times in the passing game and a defense that has struggled in the secondary, giving Hicks the football seems like a decent option going forward. There is something to be said that the passing game opens up running lanes for the Arlington native, but at this point Hicks is the best offensive weapon TCU has. He needs touches and not just dump down passes. Hicks needs carries.
THE PASSING DEFENSE IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
After giving up 52 points to Oklahoma last week, including 390 passing yards, the Frogs continued to give up yards through the air on Saturday. Ryan Willis, who made his first start for Kansas this season, threw for 348 yards, but was picked off three times. The Frogs also forced a fumble. It was another bend, but don’t break defensive performance by TCU.
“I think they are starting to play with some more confidence. We still have to play better on third downs,” said Patterson, who saw Kansas go 8-of-19 on third down.
It wasn’t just Hicks who came up big in the fourth quarter. On Kansas’ final drive of the game, defensive end Josh Carraway recorded two sacks, which stalled the Jayhawks’ offense and eventually led to them trying a 54-yard field goal for the win.
“Your good players make plays,” said Patterson on the radio.
Carraway had three sacks in the game and four total tackles for loss. The three sacks were the most by a Horned Frog since Devonte Fields had three against Grambling State in 2012. Carraway now leads TCU with 4.5 sacks on the season.
TCU QB KENNY HILL STRUGGLES
The Frogs entered Saturday with the nation’s No. 3 passing offense, but quarterback Kenny Hill struggled to push the offense down the field through the air. The junior finished 17-of-32 for 206 yards with three interceptions to just his lone touchdown pass. It was his lowest output of the season. The former Southlake Carroll quarterback has thrown 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions this season.
Hill didn’t always get a ton of help. One of the interceptions was deflected by wide receiver Emanuel Porter – it wasn’t a great pass but catchable. Hill was also running for his life at times.
Patterson is 5-0 as a head coach versus Kansas and improved to 33-11 in the regular season following a loss under Gary Patterson.
Next up for TCU is a matchup with West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 22. The Mountaineers are off this week, but play Texas Tech next.