TCU turns it on: defeats South Dakota State 59-41

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TCU faced an unexpected scare from the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Saturday night. But, the Horned Frogs prevailed in the end, 59-41.

“I think you have to give a lot of credit to South Dakota State,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said.

While the defense surrendered 41 points, Patterson was pleased with the Frogs’ offensive output.

“Offensively, I think it was a great first game,” Patterson said. “Kenny managed the game after the first two turnovers.”

Quarterback Kenny Hill, making his first appearance for the Frogs, threw for 439 yards and totaled 45 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. TCU finished the night with 662 yards over 87 plays.

Hill became the first player with 400 yards passing, two touchdown passes and three rushing scores in a game since Michigan’s Devin Gardner against Indiana in 2013.

TCU running back Kyle Hicks also had quite a night. He notched his first two-touchdown game of his career, scoring one in the first quarter and his second touchdown in the third. Hicks now has five career rushing scores.

But, Patterson wasn’t impressed by TCU’s offensive statistics.

“It’s not about how many touchdowns or yards we throw, it’s about winning,” Patterson said.

A lot of Hill’s offensive production came after he threw back-to-back interceptions in the second quarter.

“We didn’t change the offense after the two picks, Kenny just played better, and he didn’t try and make things happen that weren’t happening,” Patterson said.

Another standout was junior college transfer wide receiver Taj Williams. Williams caught 11 passes for 158 yards and had an acrobatic touchdown catch on a deflected pass that bounced out of the hands of wide receiver Desmon White. Williams’ 11 catches were the most by a Horned Frog since Josh Doctson had 12 grabs against West Virginia last season.

“Playing with all those weapons is a quarterback’s dream,” Hill said.

Patterson chalked up TCU’s defensive miscues to a lack of communication, the number of players coming off injuries and overall lack of experience.

“We’ve got to get in playing shape, and we have to get better across the board,” Patterson said.

The play that turned the game around for TCU was KaVontae Turpin’s 81-yard punt return touchdown that cut the SDSU lead to three, 17-14.

Patterson said he was surprised that SDSU wouldn’t kick it to Turpin on kickoffs, but they would punt it to him.

Hill was confident Turpin was going to score on that return, he said.

“I knew Turp was going to score as soon as he hit that crease,” Hill said.

Patterson said he was pleased with the effort from special teams.

“We have to give credit to our punter [Adam Nunez] and our kicker [Ryan Graf],” Patterson said. “Graf made a 32-yard field goal on his first collegiate attempt.”

Patterson said that this game doesn’t determine the performance for the rest of season. It’s a week by week basis.

“We’ll see what happens next week,” Patterson said.

Next Saturday, Sept 10, TCU takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.