What? Thought it was going to happen again? Thought six balls over the secondary was going to happen again? Thought 50 points and 564 yards of offense was going to happen again?
Maybe, but not this week.
This is Gary Patterson we’re talking about. This is three straight national defensive titles in a row.
This is Rose Bowls and conference championships and All-Americans.
Then again, this was Air Force.
The Frogs beat the Falcons 35-19 Saturday in a game not nearly as close as the scored indicated — Air Force tacked on a field goal and a touchdown in the game’s last eight minutes as TCU’s starters watched from the sidelines.
But for as good as TCU played – on offense and defense – they still have something to prove:
Can they stop a high profile offense?
The Air Force triple option attack is effective, not explosive.
Will it eat up the clock? Will it churn out rushing yards? Will it grind out eight, maybe even nine, wins a season?
Yes, yes and yes.
But it won’t send receivers vertical and it won’t go after cornerbacks and it won’t rack up 34 points in one half.
Baylor’s can, and did. Just ask Patterson
Even without linebacker Tanner Brock in the game, the Air Force offense played perfectly into the hands of the TCU defense. The Frogs were bigger and more skilled up front and their other linebackers – Tank Carder, Kenny Cain, Kris Gardner – were fast enough to contain the triple option.
Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson completed 9 of 15 passes for 83 yards, his longest throw an 18-yarder to receiver Mikel Hunter.
That’s a far cry from the aerial attack Robert Griffin and Baylor put on the Frogs in their season opener last weekend. Cornerbacks Greg McCoy and Jason Verrett were exposed throw after throw after throw against the Bears. Just because that didn’t happen Saturday in Colorado Springs, doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.
Until the TCU defense proves it can stop a high profile passing attack, it’ll still be the same defense, and secondary, that got rung up in Waco.
Luckily, though, the Frogs will have a month to continue to iron out any coverage issues, and they’ll get to do it knowing they already have one conference road win in the bag.
TCU plays Lousiana-Monroe Saturday and in two weeks will face Portland State. Both games are at home and both should be won on athleticism alone.
Rising program SMU comes to Fort Worth Oct. 1 but with them they might bring a quarterback controversy between week one starter Kyle Padron and recently named starter J.J. McDermott. Either one, Padron or McDermott, shouldn’t pose much of a threat, though.
But in four weeks the Frogs head west to face San Diego State and quarterback Ryan Lindley. Lindley and the Aztecs nearly spoiled TCU’s home finale last year, racking up 262 yards through the air before falling just short 40-35.
If Frog fans thought that game gave them a scare, wait until TCU has to face the same quarterback on the road.
But that’s a month and three games away. That means a month’s worth of practices and film sessions and growing up for a young team that still needs to do some.
And if you had to turn a young team over to a coach for a month’s worth of that then who’d it be?
Yeah, you guessed it.
This is Gary Patterson we’re talking about.