Fans had plenty to say about the TCU offense after the Horned Frogs failed to gain a first down in the first half against Oklahoma last Saturday, but junior defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said the defense takes just as much responsibility for the loss.
“We let them score,” Hunter said. “So if we could’ve shut them out, it would have been 0-0 [at halftime], you see what I’m saying? So we win as one team, we lose as one team.”
That’s the mindset TCU (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) has as it prepares to face Kansas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday. The Horned Frogs should be focused on playing a complete game as a team instead of assigning blame to one group or one person.
“It’s a lot easier when you get on a roll and everybody’s playing well,” head football coach Gary Patterson said. “And there’s nothing worse [than] when one side’s having more success than the other side. That’s when you have to have great chemistry, because you can’t point fingers. That’s not how teams do it.”
This week the team stood together, even after the offense gained only 210 yards against the Sooners. The Kansas defense, on the other hand, gave up 518 yards in a loss to Texas Tech last week, so the TCU offense may have a chance for a big game. Junior wide receiver Cam White said the unit needs to stay relaxed in order to find a rhythm.
“We know that we can do stuff,” White said. “We just kind of get antsy. So we have to just keep our composure.”
White said the key to the passing game is for the receivers to communicate with Boykin and with each other. White has led by example in giving advice to freshman wide receiver Ty Slanina, with great results. Slanina has 9 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in his last two games.
“He’s very smart. As a freshman, just knowing stuff, he’s smart…and he’s fast,” White said.
The passing attack for Kansas has been problematic. Kansas is ranked No. 99 in the country in passing yards per game, and, to make matters worse, the Jayhawks' leading receiver, junior running back Tony Pierson, may miss Saturday’s game after leaving the Texas Tech game with a head injury.
Without him on the field, Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps will have to find new targets who can make plays against a TCU secondary that has played very well this season. With nine interceptions, the Frogs are tied with Oklahoma State for most interceptions in the Big 12. They also lead the Big 12 in sacks with 18, which is tied for third in the country, something Patterson attributes to how well the back end of his defense is playing.
“We lead the league in sacks,” he said, “and I’d probably tell you that at least 50 percent of them have been coverage sacks.”
The defense will try to continue to play at a high level as the offense attempts to find momentum, because ultimately, both sides of the ball are in it together.
“When we lose, we’re all hurt,” Hunter said. “When we win, we’re all happy."