TCU quarterback Kenny Hill evades an Oklahoma defender. Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com

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The heart and soul of both the Horned Frog football offense and defense, senior quarterback Kenny Hill and the team’s leading tackler, senior linebacker Travin Howard, are two of four starters listed “between probable and questionable” by head coach Gary Patterson for No. 12 TCU’s matchup at Texas Tech Saturday.

The other two starters who are “game-time decisions” are sophomore linebacker Montrel Wilson and junior safety Niko Small. The leading rusher, sophomore running back Darius Anderson, has now been ruled out for the season, and sophomore kicker Jonathan Song couldn’t kick against Oklahoma last week.

“We’ve lost guys before and bottom line to it is, we have enough players to go win a ballgame,” Patterson said. “If I thought they were out, I would just tell you they’re out.”

TCU quarterback Kenny Hill attempts to pick up a few yards against the Sooner defense. Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com

On the bright side, the Horned Frog offensive line will receive a boost this weekend with the return of senior center Patrick Morris who has missed the last six games and will play a limited amount of snaps.

Now, the offense could be in the hands of freshman backup quarterback Shawn Robinson a year early, who was already in position for more play time for TCU in the final two games of the regular season.

“Here’s the thing — in at least three games, the next two games and a bowl game, whether we get a chance to play in the championship game or not, Shawn Robinson is going to be one of the guys we’re going to be looking at to change, to revamp our offense,” Patterson said. “So sometimes things happen for a reason.”

Hill has thrown only one touchdown pass in the past three games, so there’s a chance Robinson could provide a spark to the Frog attack.

“He’s fine because he’s played in a lot of big ball games,” Patterson said. “He won a state title, which means he played in front of 50,000. It’s not like he hasn’t played in front of a big audience. The players just aren’t as fast as they are on Saturdays at the college level.”

Robinson is a former 4-star recruit and was named the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year after leading DeSoto High to its first-ever state championship in 2016. He has 13 carries for 75 yards this season. Most of his action came in the season opener against Jackson State, where he threw for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5-7 passing.

Whether it’s Hill or Robinson taking the snaps, Patterson said the defensive maladies are most concerning.

“I’m more worried about the defensive guys, to be honest with you,” he said. “You know why? Offensive guys get to punt. If you don’t do well, it’s three plays and then it goes back to the other team. Defense doesn’t get to punt. When they’re running vertical routes and the guy’s standing in his end zone because you don’t cover, then it’s a problem.”

The Frogs will be the most injury-riddled they have been all season when they travel to Lubbock Saturday, needing to win there and at home the next week against Baylor to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Conference championship game.

“Not my first rodeo,” Patterson said. “If it was my first rodeo, then I might be sitting on the top of a building somewhere debating, but it’s not. You know, I’ve found out sometimes, guys step up that you never, ever thought they would because they know it’s their time.”

Patterson didn’t have any predictions on how Robinson will react to potentially his first collegiate start.

“If it does have to be his time, then we’ll see how that works,” he said.

Hostile Environment 

Every week Patterson lauds a road opponent as a “tough place to play,” and this week was no different.

“Tough place to play — Lubbock, Texas,” Patterson said Tuesday. 

The Horned Frogs’ last trip to Lubbock produced one of its more memorable wins. TCU running back Aaron Green caught a tipped pass off the fingertips of wide receiver Josh Doctson on a pass from quarterback Trevone Boykin in the back of the end zone on a 4th-and-goal at the 4 with 23 seconds to play to give the No. 3 Frogs a 55-52 victory.

TCU’s last trip to Lubbock also produced one of Patterson’s most memorable postgame experiences, courtesy of the Red Raider fans.

“Frozen water bottles hit Coach [Doug] Meacham and I upside the head,” he said. “Everyone else gets tortillas and we get frozen water bottles. It’s a lovely relationship we got.”
No. 12 TCU will face Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.