Here are five things to know about the lopsided Saturday contest between the Horned Frogs and the Tigers.
Kenny Hill shows improvement, but he is still prone to throw a big mistake
The Horned Frog offense was clicking from the get-go for Kenny Hill and company, as Hill completed his first eight passes of the game and finished with 206 yards to along with 4 touchdowns, the second-most of his TCU career.
“He runs the offense, I think his teammates trust him,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said.
Hill was able to succeed because of the familiarity in the Horned Frog attack, and the depth at wide receiver with Ty Slanina, Shaun Nixon and KaVontae Turpin all returning from injury-plagued seasons last year, as 14 different receivers caught passes.
“I’m continuing to get more comfortable in the offense and the game plan,” TCU quarterback Kenny Hill said. “Everything flowed well, but the one thing we need to work on is tempo, I think we need to go even faster. That’s something we need to work on.”
Another thing Hill needs to improve on in order to leave Fayetteville, Arkansas unscathed after next week’s matchup with the Razorbacks is avoiding the big mistakes: interceptions. He lead the Big 12 in interceptions last season, but he showed progress in not throwing one in the first half against Jackson State.
However, Hill relapsed to a tendency he had last season, which was forcing tough throws.
Saturday’s tough throw was down the left sideline to KaVonte Turpin, who was double-covered. The result was an interception, which ended up being the Horned Frogs sole turnover against Jackson State.
“I didn’t like the interception to start the second half,” Patterson said. “We just need to drop back, throw quick, run the offense, and do what we need to do.”
The defense excelled
After allowing Jackson State to reach a first and goal on the TCU five, the Horned Frogs didn’t budge. They forced the Tigers all the way back to the 35, courtesy of a forced fumble by cornerback Ranthony Texada. After that, TCU surrendered just 25 more yards all night.
A lot of the success defensively can be credited to the depth Gary Patterson has at his disposal: TCU is tied for second nationally with 19 returning starters, including seven on defense.
That experience showed in play’s like Texada’s, and the play of Ty Summers, who played at defensive end for the first time after playing his first two seasons at linebacker. Summers was outstanding at defensive end, totaling 4 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
“I thought Ty Summers was exactly what I thought he’d be,” Patterson said. “He helped us there.”
Even though five Horned Frog defenders were making their first starts Saturday, the defense worked as a cohesive unit, as a Summers forced fumble resulted in first-time starting linebacker Arico Evans’ scooping up the fumble and returning it to the house for six points.
Even though Jackson State doesn’t nearly have the same firepower across the board as TCU, shutting out an opponent utilizing different players up and down the depth chart reveals a lot.
“It’s fun watching guys have a good time playing,” Patterson said. “It was just as important to the one’s as it was to the two’s and three’s to keep the shutout going.”
After defensive play like this, the Horned Frogs felt a lot differently heading into their matchup against Arkansas, compared to the last season opener when they allowed 41 points against South Dakota State.
Kennedy Snell’s performance gives TCU another all-purpose weapon
Running back Kennedy Snell made a big impression in Fort Worth Saturday, scoring on his first touch of his collegiate career.
They were not bringing this man down.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 3, 2017
Snell finished with 40 total yards on five touches and a touchdown, flashing a lot of natural talent.
“There’s a lot of potential with Kennedy Snell, like a KaVontae Turpin, like a Deante’ Gray,” Patterson said. “He’s got wiggle, he can play out wide and he can play in the backfield.”
However, players like Snell, Turpin, and Desmon White need to be kept on snap-counts in order to preserve their health. All three playmakers weights range from 153 to 170 pounds, and their heights range from 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches. They’re not every down players, but if offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie can build a rotation so that one those three players is on the field at all time, that will make the Horned Frog attack extremely potent.
Shawn Robinson flashes potential
After winning a state title at DeSoto High School in December, expectations were sky-high for the true freshman quarterback. His time on the field Saturday illustrated both the tantalizing talent and the growing pains he’ll experience.
“I think Shawn Robinson was a little bit deer in the headlights, fumbled a snap, but the more he plays the better he’s going to get,” Patterson said. “I thought the slant was a great throw to TreVontae Hights on the play action. As he learns, you’ll see him make big strides into next weeks.”
Gary Patterson earns win No. 150, continues to understate his accomplishments
TCU’s victory over Jackson State pushed Patterson’s win total in Fort Worth to 150, second-most in the country behind Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, with 203, for head coaches at their current school.
Patterson took his accomplishment with a grain of salt.
“That means I can get to 151,” Patterson said. “Getting to 160 at the end of the season will make me even more excited. It’s a lot of long nights, lot of recruiting, a lot of heartaches, and I’ve been around TCU for a while. For us, that means we have a chance to stay here a little bit longer.”
In the two previous seasons his team was coming off a non-winning record in his 17-year tenure as head coach, TCU went a combined 23-2 en route to a pair of conference championships: the 2005 Mountain West title and the 2014 Big 12 title. The Horned Frogs were 11-1 in 2005 after a 5-6 campaign in 2004, while going 12-1 with Big 12 and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl championships in 2014 after a 4-8 season in 2013.
With the 21 scholarship seniors on the roster this season, nearly three times the total of eight from last year, Patterson has the potential to turn TCU around once more.
TCU hits the road next Saturday to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.