There were two exciting moments in TCU’s game against Louisiana Monroe Saturday: Greg McCoy’s 94-yard kickoff return and Casey Pachall’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Josh Boyce.
That’s it. Two
Apart from those 20 seconds, the rest of the game was a dud.
Sure, TCU won 38-17 and yeah, they may have held ULM to scoreless in the second half but the best way to sum up Saturday’s home opener is this:
TCU played a mediocre game against a mediocre team in a mediocre stadium in front of a mediocre crowd.
Granted, the construction going on Saturday isn’t anything permanent and neither are the less than boisterous fans, who may have felt a bit out of place in the half finished, but soon-to-be state-of-the-art stadium.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the atmosphere inside Amon Carter Stadium Saturday was flatter than a Kansas highway. Empty rows of bleachers and patches of unoccupied seats were scattered throughout the stadium. Fans came late and left early.
Can’t blame the fans too much, though. Hard to stay at a game, much less stay loud at a game, when your team had a first half like TCU did Saturday.
ULM finished 5-7 last year and got beat 34-0 by Florida State two weeks ago. But somehow they managed to walk onto the defending Rose Bowl champions’ home field and take the lead on their opening possession.
They’d lose their early 3-0 lead only to get the ball back, drive 60 yards, then score a 23-yard touchdown on fourth down.
Next possession? Same story.
Down 14-10, ULM and quarterback Kolton Browning drove into TCU territory for the third straight time then Browning heaved up a 37-yard bomb to receiver Tavarese Maye, who fought off a Frog defender and dove into the endzone to make the catch.
ULM was held scoreless in the second half, but the bottom line is, and it was very clear Saturday in the first half, the TCU secondary has big problems.
And maybe not even Gary Patterson can fix them.
Patterson said in his post-game news conference Saturday evening that him and his coaching staff were well prepared for the ULM passing attack. But bringing the intensity and making the right decisions on the field is something his players didn’t quite do in the first half against the Warhawks, Patterson said.
“Their whole first drive was our fault,” Patterson said. “We have to make plays.”
The TCU secondary, with Patterson as the coach, may be one of the most well-prepared units in college football. Problem is, preparation doesn’t go too far without execution.
Cornerback Jason Verrett gave up two big plays against Baylor two weeks ago. He was pulled in favor of freshman Kevin White. White played well the rest of the game against the Bears and was solid early on Saturday until he gave up the long touchdown to Maye.
Same goes for safety Tekerrein Cuba. Cuba, a senior, was a bright spot, coverage-wise, against Baylor but he too gave up a big play Saturday when he let ULM tight end Brent Leonard slip past him and go untouched for the touchdown on fourth and down.
Patterson said the Frogs were lucky to come away with a victory.
“We learned a lesson today and we came out on top,” Patterson said. “If this would have been San Diego State or SMU, we wouldn’t have won the ball game.”
TCU has to play better or they won’t have a chance against the Aztecs or Mustangs. And God knows what Kellen Moore and Boise State will do to the Frog secondary.
Execution, that’s what TCU needs. Patterson and his staff can prepare their players, coach their players, and game plan for their players.
But they can’t play for their players.
That’s something they’ll have to do on their own.