AUSTIN — Consider TCU very thankful on this Thanksgiving day in Austin.
The Horned Frogs came into DKR with a No. 5 ranking and Texas-sized chip on its shoulders. They took prayer throws from the much-improved Trevone Boykin, and its defense was as stellar as expected forcing Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes into mistakes and six Texas turnovers.
They had no problem convincing the Texas faithful of its Big 12 dominance as they defeated UT, 48-10, in front of 96,496 fans at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
TCU (10-1, 7-1) started strong and finished even better. When Boykin flipped into the end zone and scored at the 7:01 mark of the 4th quarter, the Horned Frogs were well on their way to their first 10-win season in the Big 12. Then it snowballed.
An Aaron Green 5-yard score followed by a Josh Carraway 33-yard interception return for a TD sealed the victory for the foes from Fort Worth giving Texas its worst home loss since UCLA in 1997. It was also the first time since 1933 that Texas lost to Baylor and TCU at home in the same season.
Boykin, junior, finished with 20-of-34, for 234 yards, two TDs, while rushing for another 59 at 4.2 yards per carry. Not a bad day at the office considering the beating he took for them Texas defenders. He was hit on numerous occasions yet, like a prizefighter, kept getting up and delivering blows.
For Texas (6-6, 5-4), they get the next month to practice and figure out how to generate points before its bowl matchup. It could be the Texas Bowl in Houston or Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Either way, and SEC opponent awaits. But for now, there’s reflection and facing some hard truths.
“Whenever you play a football team like that (TCU), you have to play clean football,” said Charlie Strong. “We didn’t do that tonight. Too many turnovers in the half, a collapse of the game, just didn’t see it coming. You feel like, well, we played up until this point knowing what was at stake for us, and that we would have played better.”
TCU got on the board early behind great field position and solid defense. Place kicker Jaden Oberkrom kicked a 42-yard FG after losing yardage on its opening possession, and staked a lead they wouldn’t relinquish thanks to a Cameron Echols-Luper 53-yard punt return.
More great field position led to another Oberkrom field goal, this time from 29 yards, despite only gaining 12 yards on the drive.
“Defensively, we were that at 6-0, and 13-0,” Strong said. “But it’s not a complete game. The guys have to understand that they’ve got to finish their game no matter what happens. I just know this is a better football team than we showed. We have to make it a physical game. We weren’t physical tonight.”
TCU’s defense got into the scoring act late in the 1st quarter when Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes was sacked and fumbled the ball falling to the ground. Horned Frogs’ LB Terrell Lathan scooped up the early Christmas present and went 40 yards to paydirt and a 13-0 lead after one period.
Texas answered with a 9-play, 36-yard drive, where Swoopes mixed in runs (20, 9) with shots to Johnathan Gray out of the backfield. Nick Rose connected from 47 yards out as UT got on the board, down 13-3. That’s about as good as we witnessed Swoopes tonight. He finished 20-of-34, 200 yards, one TD, and four INTs. He added 110 yards on the ground in the losing effort. Strong wasn’t passive in regards to his sophomore signal-caller.
“I just told (Swoopes) he has to play,” said Strong. “You can’t turn the football over. You can’t get down on yourself. It’s all about his demeanor. I said let me tell you this, ‘The only way we’re going to drive the football, the only way we’re going to score, is you have to make it happen.'”
Texas QB coach/ OC Shawn Watson says the best thing for Swoopes in the offseason will be competition and that he hasn’t given up on him by a long shot.
“We’ve got to stay with (Swoopes),” said Watson. “Got to keep hanging in there with him and keep growing him. And I think one of the biggest things that will happen for him and our future here is we’ll have competition too. That helps a quarterback grow. You need it in your classroom. You’ve got to have it. You’ve got to have people here to push the classroom because when the quarterback’s right, the team’s right.”
Strong agrees, even saying he considered pulling Swoopes for a few series.
“Competition’s going to help with his confidence,” said Strong. “Right now, there’s not somebody else to go compete with.”
Swoopes was also critical.
“I just couldn’t get a rhythm going,” said Swoopes. “I was doing things to try and get it going, but I just couldn’t find that rhythm. I don’t know really what else it was. I’ll just have to watch it when we get back and see what happened.”
TCU ended the 1st half with a 9-play, 63-yard march where, despite constant harassing from the Texas defense, Boykin hit Doctson for a 38-yard jump ball in front of the end zone for a 1st-and-goal with just under one minute to play until intermission. Doctson at 6-foot-4, out-jumps Quandre Diggs at 5-foot-9 in the biggest mismatch of the night. When Boykin hits David Porter in the back of the end zone, it was 20-3, and TCU was in complete control at halftime.
Boykin would find Doctson again at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Another jump ball over Diggs was all it took. Doctson corralled the air ball for a TD, his 7th catch, as he finished with 115 yards on the night. It was a mismatch with Diggs that TCU exploited.
On a positive note, WR John Harris’ 39 yards on five grabs brought him to 1,010 yards for the season becoming the 6th Longhorn in Texas history to eclipse the 1000-yard mark. It was bittersweet for the senior pass-catcher.
“It feels good to get 1000 yards but I wanted a win,” said Harris.
Texas showed a glimpse into the future when freshman WR Armanti Foreman took a bubble screen 73 yards to the house. It brought Texas within 17, 27-10, but it was too little, too late. He replaced Jaxon Shipley, who Strong said is “injured and unsure for the bowl game.”
More competition and players buying-in will benefit Texas more as the Strong regime takes hold. At least, that’s the plan.
“Some guys may not like it,” Strong said. “They may not want to be here. That’s fine. But we’ve gotta get this program back.”
Senior Jordan Hicks said it best.
“I think after a loss like this, people will be fired up,” said Hicks. “We just have to regroup, watch the film, take it full on goal and continue to work and get better. With every game, there has always been things we can do better. Obviously with this game, there is a lot of things we can get better with. We just can’t stop swinging.”
Said like a true heavyweight.