Questions, we’ve got questions.
TCU 24, Kansas 23 in Lawrence Saturday brings up the following points to ponder:
- Why do the Horned Frogs struggle against the Jayhawks (five Big 12 wins by average margin of seven points and the last three meetings have been decided by four, six and one point.))?
- Does Kansas hanging tough at Texas Tech and coming within a point of TCU indicate that the Jayhawks are making progress in David Beaty’s second season?
- Or considering the first question, is a one-point victory by the apparently disinterested and distracted Frogs merely an indication of some strange football karma in this series?
- If Notre Dame-North Carolina State and Virginia Tech-North Carolina can each play in a monsoon and combine for nine turnovers, how come TCU and Kansas combined for eight turnovers in pristine conditions? (The answer to this … it’s COLLEGE FOOTBALL, FOLKS.)
TCU’s two losses have come at home but the Frogs have often played better on the road (12-8 in Big 12 road games). They won Saturday but didn’t play well. Quarterback Kenny Hill was sacked three times, threw three picks and lost a fumble but he made the plays needed to go to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play.
“He’s poised. He’s not beating himself up. He’s ready for the next play,” said TCU running back Kyle Hicks, who had 104 yards rushing on 18 carries. “That’s what I like about him. He’s not on the sideline beating himself up, pouting, you know, causing a big scene. He’s like, ‘My bad, we’ve still got time to go out there and correct it, I’m ready to go.’”
Hill’s mistakes kept the Frogs from gaining momentum and allowed Kansas to hold a second-half lead until Brandon Hatfield’s 34-yard field goal with 1:21 remaining put TCU ahead. On third-and-five before that kick, Hill scrambled and fumbled but TCU was able to fight in the pile and retain possession.
“Every time we’re in Lawrence … The bottom line is Kansas has always played us well,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We are two to four plays away from being 6-0.”
And against a huge underdog, just a few plays from dropping to 3-3.
The most Kansas of Kansas plays involved a heads-up play by Hill. The Jayhawks led 23-14 going into the fourth quarter and appeared to have sacked Hill on a third-down play. The ball popped free and a facemask penalty was called. There was no whistle. KU players stopped, Hill picked up the ball and ran for 34 yards. The 15 yards for the penalty set up a TD pass that pulled TCU within 23-21.
“I’m so fired up that we’re starting to grow as a team,” said Beaty, whose team dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12; KU’s losing streak in Big 12 games is at 14.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win. But, man, I am burning inside with the fact that we weren’t able to get the win, because I feel like we gave it away in a lot of ways. So we have to go back to the drawing board and not just let some self-inflicted things keep costing you.”
Beaty also pointed out a missed opportunity in the third quarter. Kansas trailed 14-13 and had first-and-goal at the 2 but had to settle for a field goal and just a 16-14 lead.
Matthew Wyman had field goals of 50, 29 and 21 yards but in the fourth quarter he missed from 37 and 41 yards before his final play 54-yarder sailed wide right.
“Fighting tooth and nail is not the goal. The goal is to go win the game,” Beaty said. “Fighting tooth and nail, that’s the minimum expectation – that’s the price of admission. That team (TCU) fought tooth and nail, as well. You’re gonna get that week in and week out in the Big 12.”