TCU’s first bye of the season comes neatly at the halfway point, six games in, which makes it easy to think about numbers over a 12-game season.
The 4-2 record, for example, projects to an 8-4 finish, which would mean a bowl, but no conference title.
Defensive end Josh Carraway could match his career high in sacks, and the Horned Frogs could have more than 40 in all. But points and yards allowed are on pace for the second most in 20 years.
And Kenny Hill could throw for 4,200-plus yards, which would be a TCU record. But 16 interceptions would be the most for a quarterback since Gary Patterson became head coach.
So there was good and bad in the first half of the season for the Frogs, who started ranked 13th in the Associated Press and coaches polls but now go into their first off weekend unranked.
It gives you a little bit more opportunity to get better at a couple things, come up with some new ideas.
TCU coach Gary Patterson, on the season’s first bye
“It gives you a little bit more opportunity to get better at a couple things, come up with some new ideas,” Patterson said of the bye. “It gives you an opportunity to catch your breath, think about some things that maybe you didn’t have time to think about.”
Another bye comes in four weeks, giving the chance to break up the second half of the season also neatly in two.
“What I told them is it’s two three-game seasons,” Patterson said.
Before that begins with next week’s trip to West Virginia, we take stock of some of what went right and some of what went wrong.
5 Things That Went Right
1. Sacks are up. Carraway had three last week and has a team-high 4.5. The Frogs have two five-sack games. Through six games, they’ve gotten to the quarterback 21 times. They’re halfway to a 40-sack season, which they’ve done six times under Patterson — in 2014, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2003 and 2002. Ten players have gotten at least a share of a sack. The second-leading sack total belongs to a defensive tackle, Aaron Curry.
2. Kyle Hicks. The head coach hasn’t had one bad thing to say about him, and how often can you say that? The junior running back from Arlington Martin leads the Frogs in all-purpose yardage. He’s No. 1 in catches. He’s run for seven touchdowns. He’s second in the Big 12 in rushing yards. His nine total touchdowns tie him for seventh in touchdowns in the country. He recovered a fumble to save the game-winning drive against Kansas. His contributions are plentiful, and he’s touching the ball fewer than 20 times a game.
TCU’s best percentage for field goals made in a season since 2001 is 84.6 percent in 2010, when Ross Evans made 11 of 13 kicks. Last season, Jaden Oberkrom was 84.0 percent (21 of 25).
3. Field goals are going through. This had the potential to be a shaky part of the team when Jonathan Song was hurt in preseason camp. Projected to take over for four-year kicker Jaden Oberkrom, Song did not play in the first six games. But in his place, Ryan Graf and Brandon Hatfield have missed only two kicks. They are both 5 for 6, and Hatfield hit a game-winner last week against Kansas.
4. Ty Summers. The sophomore linebacker made a bid for a starting job last season with 23 tackles against Baylor. Now he’s got it and leads the Frogs in tackles with 64, with three tackles for loss, a shared sack and two pass breakups. He hasn’t been perfect — Patterson said earlier in the season he still gets fooled on occasion — but he’s only two years removed from being a high school quarterback. His development appears on track.
5. The Big 12 is still tight. The loss to Oklahoma means TCU does not control its destiny. Even winning out, TCU couldn’t win the Big 12 title without Oklahoma losing twice. But nobody has run away, and the Frogs kept pace with the field thanks to last week’s close-shave 24-23 victory at Kansas. And except for OU, TCU still has a chance to play all of the league unbeaten or one-loss contenders — Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech.
5 Things That Went Wrong
1. The blocked field goal. If Ryan Graf’s 28-yard attempt in the final seconds of regulation gets over the hand of Arkansas’ Dan Skipper, TCU starts 2-0 and very likely gets to 4-0 before Oklahoma. From that point, even carrying a loss to OU, the Frogs are probably a top-15 team with an outside — very outside, yes, but not zero — chance at the College Football Playoff. Instead, they’re a two-loss team, unranked and tied for fourth in the Big 12.
2. The KaVontae Turpin injury. It’s not the only injury — cornerback Jeff Gladney, receiver Ty Slanina and center Austin Schlottmann have also missed games — but it’s the headliner. Turpin is a home run threat. He led the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage when he was hurt in Week 3. He almost won the Arkansas game with a kickoff return in the fourth quarter. He already had a punt return for a touchdown in Week 1. The offense misses a dimension without him.
3. Eight interceptions. That’s the total from Kenny Hill, most among Big 12 quarterbacks and more than all but four of the top 50 passers in the country. A few have been very costly. A pick-six against Arkansas put TCU down 13-0 in the second quarter and tilted the game the rest of the way. One in the red zone against Oklahoma led to a 7-7 tie after TCU had started fast with its own takeaway. Hill came to TCU from Texas A&M with a reputation for interceptions, and it hasn’t gone away.
115 Penalties accepted against TCU in 2008, the most under a Gary Patterson-coached team. The yardage total was 1,000, also the highest under Patterson. At the halfway point in 2016, TCU has 50 penalties for 478 yards.
4. Penalties. This could be one of Patterson’s most heavily penalized teams. The Frogs have had 50 penalties accepted against them, which puts them on pace for 100. They’ve had only four 100-plus penalty seasons since 2001, and none in the past seven years. The count includes 14 holding calls (10 on the offensive line), nine false starts and seven for pass interference.
5. Points allowed. TCU gave up 41 points in the opener to South Dakota State, which should have been a warning sign. Then 41 again the next week, when Arkansas scored three touchdowns in 11 plays of the fourth quarter and two overtimes. There was a rebound against Iowa State and SMU, but Oklahoma scored 42 points in the second and third quarter alone the following week. The average points allowed through six games is 30.0.