TCU senior defensive end Jon Koontz has been around to experience some of TCU’s greatest accomplishments, which is why Saturday’s game left him with just one emotion: frustration.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “To have been here for all that success that we’ve had, and we’re not getting the breaks that we’ve gotten in the past this year. It’s real frustrating. But you’ve got to keep getting better and put yourself in a position to win games.”
TCU (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) had a very sloppy performance Saturday in a 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1 Big 12), something Koontz did not experience in his first three years with the program. The Horned Frogs had ten or more victories each season and won a Rose Bowl during that time, but after an ugly loss in Stillwater, they simply want to get back to .500.
The Frogs committed four turnovers and could not sustain drives for most of the afternoon. Quarterback Trevone Boykin completed 17 of 35 passes for 188 yards and threw three interceptions. Head coach Gary Patterson put in redshirt freshman Tyler Matthews in the second quarter after Boykin’s second interception of the game.
“Trevone needed to watch the game,” Patterson said. “He needed to watch what was going on and get a chance to do what he needed to do, and you’re going to keep seeing [us use both quarterbacks].”
Boykin started the second half, but Matthews replaced him on a couple of occasions because the sophomore was dealing with a shoulder injury. Patterson said they would evaluate Boykin’s injury Monday.
The Cowboys did their best to keep the Frogs in the game, committing four turnovers of their own. In five possessions in the first quarter, they came away with just seven points, punting once and turning the ball over three times. Their lone touchdown of the first quarter came on a 95-yard punt return by wide receiver Josh Stewart.
Starting quarterback J.W. Walsh was benched in the first quarter after he threw interceptions on two of the Cowboys’ first three drives, including a pick in the end zone when Oklahoma State had the ball in the red zone. His replacement, Clint Chelf, did not fare much better when he first came into the game. On his first pass of the game, Chelf was hit hard as he let go of the ball and cornerback Kevin White grabbed the interception.
Oklahoma State would capitalize on its next two series, however, scoring 10 points on two drives that each lasted less than two and a half minutes to gain a 17-0 lead. Even then, however, the Cowboys helped TCU out, missing two field goals before halftime.
The Frogs made some adjustments at the half. Co-offensive coordinator Jarrett Anderson, who had been calling the offense, moved down to the field from the press box to work with the players, while co-offensive coordinator Rusty Burns stayed upstairs and took over the play-calling. The Frogs responded by getting into the red zone on two of their first three possessions after halftime.
“We come out in the second half with our backs against the wall,” said offensive guard Eric Tausch. “And that’s when we play the best football. And if we could only play like that in the first half, then the sky’s the limit for our offense.”
TCU managed only three points on those two possessions, failing to convert on fourth down on the first drive, and settling for a 35-yard field goal two series later to make the score 17-3.
Running back Waymon James made it a one-score game at 17-10 with a 14-yard touchdown run with 7:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys answered immediately, scoring a touchdown on a 7-yard run by running back Rennie Childs less than two minutes later.
The scoring drive took just four plays and was aided by good starting field position. The Cowboys got the ball at their own 47-yard line following an excellent kickoff return. Special teams play was a problem for TCU much of the day. The Cowboys had 124 punt return yards, including Stewart’s touchdown return, and 300 kick return yards.
“We definitely lost the special teams game today,” Koontz said. “With that kickoff return and the punt return that they took back. I mean, it’s huge. It’s just as big a part of the game as offense and defense is.”
It was another close loss for the Frogs, who climbed back into the game late, as they have in each of their losses. However, Patterson took no solace in that.
“There [are] no positives when you lose,” he said. “It’s like I told them, we don’t play as good football as we can. And you’re close, but close doesn’t count.”