TCU head coach Gary Patterson refused to comment on the officiating after Thursday night’s loss to Texas Tech, making him about the only person watching the game who didn’t.
“I can’t talk about the officiating,” Patterson said, “but I will watch it.” The coach waited a moment before conceding, “I’m not happy.”
Unhappy may be an understatement. Patterson’s team lost to Texas Tech 20-10 after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, and a few key calls by the referees affected big plays for the Horned Frogs.
After a Jaden Oberkrom field goal in the third quarter made it 10-3, Brandon Carter returned a punt 69 yards for what appeared to be a touchdown in the fourth. It was ruled, however, that Carter had called a fair catch, which resulted in the ball being spotted where he caught the punt.
Replay showed that Carter raised his right arm slightly, then his left arm to shoulder level, but he never raised either arm over his head.
“I still have to see that because nobody [with the team] has seen it,” Patterson said of the catch.
After that ruling, TCU began the drive at its own 26-yard line. B.J. Catalon evened the score at 10-10 on that drive with a 17-yard touchdown run. Texas Tech scored on the following drive on a 19-yard touchdown catch by Brad Marquez to make it 17-10.
TCU punted on its next drive, and during the ensuing Texas Tech possession, players on TCU’s defense thought they had stripped the ball from Raiders running back Kenny Williams and gained possession of the ball. The officials reviewed the play, but ruled that Williams was down before the ball came out. Texas Tech went on to kick a field goal on that drive to put the game away at 20-10.
Patterson made it clear, however, that his team’s mistakes also contributed to the loss.
“You can’t have as many penalties as we had,” Patterson said. “You can’t be second and 15 in somebody else’s house and get an opportunity to win. So it’s a real easy concept. You have to have attention to detail and you’ve got to go play.”
TCU had 13 penalties for 115 yards. False starts and holding calls often put the offense in a hole on early downs. The problem was exacerbated by two turnovers committed by the Frogs in crucial situations.
Quarterback Trevone Boykin, making his first start of the season for TCU after an injury to Casey Pachall, threw two interceptions on drives where the Frogs had begun to gain momentum.
“We can’t throw the ball to them,” Patterson said of Boykin’s play. “We didn’t win. That’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do. They’re supposed to win. Last year, when we turned the ball over, we didn’t win ball games. When we didn’t turn it over, we did. And we turned the ball over tonight.”
The offense eventually began sustaining drives, finishing with 401 total yards. The team’s offense had the most success when it kept the ball on the ground. The Frogs ran for 207 yards as a team, including 141 in the second half. Boykin ran the ball 20 times for 101 yards. Catalon had 59 yards and Waymon James had 51. All three players averaged over five yards per carry.
“We just need to get in a rhythm,” said guard Eric Tausch, “and playing offense, that’s what it’s all about, playing in a rhythm, and finding that rhythm so we can score points.”
“At the end of the game, we found it, and just wish we could have gotten it early in the game,” Tausch said.
That rhythm came with runs by Catalon and James and quick passes and screens from Boykin, things the offense did not try as much in the first half. But when asked about how the offense’s play could improve, Tausch pointed not to the play-calling, but the attitude of the offensive line.
“Play with our heart,” he said. “There is a point in time in the game where you’ve got to overcome everything and play with your heart and believing in yourself with the ability of your teammates and knowing that my guy to the left, my guy to the right, is going to have my back no matter what.”
The offense’s miscues took the spotlight away from a stellar performance by TCU’s defense for much of the game. Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield led the Red Raiders to 10 points on their first three drives, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Williams, who broke multiple tackles before sprinting down the sideline. But after the first quarter, the Horned Frogs made things difficult for the freshman walk-on.
TCU intercepted Mayfield three times over the course of the game. Cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Kevin White played lockdown coverage, forcing Mayfield to target Williams, slot receiver Jakeem Grant and tight end Jace Amaro instead of Marquez and No. 1 receiver Eric Ward. At one point, the Frogs forced three-and-outs on four straight Tech possessions in the second half.
“We had to challenge them,” Patterson said of how his defense improved following the Raiders’ first three drives. “Nobody had challenged them.”
TCU faced its own challenges on Thursday. Turnovers, penalties and missed tackles are all things a team has to prevent in order to win.. As in any game, some calls could have gone either way, but the Frogs realize that their own mistakes had just as much to do with the loss as anything else.