All year long, people in Purple Nation—including yours truly—have been touting this TCU team as one ready to play with the big boys.
TCU’s performance during last night's 17-10 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl is unlikely to change any minds that they are, indeed, a “mid-tier” team. How did they fail to impress? Let me count the ways.
Their quarterback, who many including myself have touted for a Heisman candidacy based on his play this year, was horrible.
First series, throws a pass to a Boise defender that should have been intercepted. He corrected that in the second series, throwing an interception that was returned 51 yards for a touchdown. He also managed to drop a direct snap from center for a fumble two series later.
Dalton was never really in sync, and ended up throwing three interceptions, suffering two sacks, and never effectively running the option plays that were so effective against Clemson.
The Offensive Line
This highly touted unit boasts three, possibly four, future NFL players. Couldn’t tell it from last night. Boise’s defensive line simply dominated the Frogs.
As a result, the Frogs were never able to run, and Dalton was chased around the pocket and forced to make plays off his back foot too many times. Boise State repeatedly got penetration on the Frogs, shutting down running lanes and utilizing their speed to cut down anything outside.
Also, like Dalton, this unit appeared to by psyched out by the atmosphere. They managed to accumulate four offsides penalties in the first quarter, effectively putting the team behind the eight ball, and leading to a woeful performance of five punts and one interception for the first six possessions.
The Receiving Corps
Boise covered these guys like a blanket, and they could not get open most of the night. The few times they had a chance to come up with the big grab—they didn’t.
Gary Patterson has had a great year. But last night he was out-coached. When his team, especially his offense, was obviously out of sync in the first half, he failed to settle them down and help them find a rhythm.
TCU’s only TD drive was the result of a quick huddle offense right before halftime that prevented the various changes that BSU was executing. For some reason, Patterson never went back to this in the second half until game end.
Also, Coach Petersen’s gutsy call of a fake punt, which led to the game winning drive and touchdown, trumped the TCU coaching staff in a big way.
TCU managed to hang in, losing only 17-10 because their defense played well and Boise, at least in the first half, seemed to be intent on giving the game back to them. In addition to a missed field goal, Boise twice had a wide open receiver that normally accurate quarterback Kellen Moore missed for what would have been easy touchdowns.
I will say one thing for TCU, however. A quick analysis of sideline cheerleaders indicated that TCU had much, much better talent in this area.
But as far as reaching the big time with the guys on the field, TCU showed last night that they still have a ways to go.