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TCU Debriefing: What Can We Learn from the TCU Loss?



Oh, the highs and lows of college football. One week after Oklahoma State whooped up on Pittsburgh in the Steel City, it was at home in front of a sellout crowd of fans in orange with more hope than ever. A couple hours later, the Cowboys’ were handed their first lost and expectations and hype took a hit. There is a lot to dissect from the series of train wrecks that occurred inside Boone Pickens Stadium. Let’s take a look.

The Short Story

This was a trap game for those of us who circled Bedlam as the Cowboys’ first real threat. Whether or not it ensnared the Cowboys is not exactly clear. It’s easy to say yes given the result but costly mistakes and penalties drove the narrative of this game. As well as an inability to slow down Kenny Hill and Co. The good or bad thing about it is that most of these mistakes are correctable. This team didn’t play up to its potential and had far too many errors to expect a win.

Who won a Marshal Badge?
Offense: OSU’s senior receivers

James Washington and Marcell Ateman combined for 253 yards and a score. Washington caught six of his seven targets for 153 yards, including an 86-yard score. Ateman caught six of his ten including several for key third downs. He seemed like the only option at times with TCU’s coverage and the offensive line’s struggles at keeping a clean pocket.

Defense: Chad Whitener

It’s hard to give out a lot of gold stars when your starting center has an many total and solo tackles as either of your starting defensive ends. In six red-zone trips, the Cowboy defense gave up three touchdowns and three field goals and was not any good on third downs. TCU completed 11 of 19.

But regarding Whitener, the senior leader of the defense lead the team in total tackles (nine) and solo tackles (six). He also added a tackle for loss. TCU’s defense put a lot of stress on OSU’s front seven with an obviously improved offensive line and Kenny Hill’s ability to take off with the run. Whitener and Co. did a decent job of containing Hill on the ground. The Frogs rank it for a lot of yards but a lot of that was an attempt to run the clock and (again) OSU facilitated that with a bunch of silly penalties.

It was over when

I had about three or four times that I thought it was over. Going down 20 is not great but we’d seen this team orchestrate similar comebacks. The McCleskey interception on the double pass felt like a coffin nail at the time but OSU was able to finally get a stop and score quickly.

It was definitely over when OSU allowed touchdown No. 3 to Darius Anderson on a third and 4. A stop there gets them the ball back with around two minutes to play. But the previous kickoff to KaVontae Turpin on that drive after pulling within six and then to allowing him to return it for 42 yards was another fatal error. Matt Ammendola sent three of his six kicks into the end zone. A fourth one there would have been huge.

Questions for Week 5
O-line depth/health

This is the most urgent concern moving forward. Mental errors can be corrected. Turnovers can be avoided. But you can’t grow offensive linemen on Mike Gundy’s farm in one week. Junior college transfer Shane Richards, who the coaching staff would like to redshirt this season, still remains an option but his immediate impact is unclear. You’d have to think that if he was that much better than Teven Jenkins, Johnny Wilson or Dylan Galloway that he would have seen the field in such a crucial game. Mike Gundy burned Rudolph’s extra year just to keep his bowl streak alive. 

Defensive identity

After allowing 11 of 19 on third downs to TCU, the Cowboys’ defense is ranked 113th in the nation with opponents averaging a 47.1-percent success rate on the money down. And after forcing just one turnover (and committing four), OSU has a negative turnover margin through four games. In order for this team to have a shot at a Big 12 title, some drastic changes are going to have to take place. This team will have to improve on third downs and be able to force turnovers at a higher clip. On top of that you have a young group of corners that Kenny Hill was able to pick on. What is Nic Shimonek going to do to them?

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