Turned Over

Turned Over

Listen to the press conference

Coming off the heels of a career-best performance five days earlier, Andy Dalton might not have expected Thursday’s game to be one of his worst.

Dalton’s four interceptions helped contribute to the Frogs’ 27-20 loss to the Utah Utes on Thursday night at Amon Carter Stadium. The loss not only dropped the Frogs to 4-4, but put them at 1-3 in conference – a loss that could eliminate any chance of the Frogs winning the Mountain West Conference championship.

Dalton went 20 for 45 through the air for 159 passing yards – a week after his 344-yard, two-touchdown performance at Stanford.

Head coach Gary Patterson said there was discussion amongst the coaches on whether to keep Dalton in the game.

“We discussed it,” Patterson said. “He had a handle on the game. That was just the offense’s decision.”

After a 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Chris Manfredini brought the game to 27-20, it had looked like the Frogs had recovered an onside kick before an illegal touching call reversed the play and effectively ended the game since TCU had no timeouts remaining.

A fourth-quarter field goal by junior kicker Louie Sakoda, who has now hit his last 13 field-goal attempts, gave the Utes a two-score lead with less than eight minutes to go.

Following a first half that kept the scoreboard operators busy with the teams combining for 41 points, the third quarter was a defensive standstill with miscues on both sides. Manfredini, who would hit a 37-yard field goal heading into halftime, missed a 22-yard field goal that would have pulled the Frogs within four points. Utah junior quarterback Brian Johnson had a miscue of his own, throwing an interception to senior cornerback Torrey Stewart.

Less than three minutes after the Utes regained the lead in the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass by Johnson, Dalton’s first-half woes continued in the form of senior defensive end Martail Burnett’s 55-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Burnett touchdown would give Utah 24 points heading into the locker room – the most first-half points allowed by the Frogs this season and the second consecutive week TCU has given up 21 or more points before halftime.

Utah got off to a quick start, snagging an early 10-0 lead going into the second quarter on the physical running style of junior running back Darrell Mack and his 1-yard touchdown run. Mack would go for 100 yards on 32 carries.

Coming into the game, Patterson said he had a gut feeling his team was not as energized as they should have been.

“I thought we came out flat,” Patterson said. “I thought the fans were flat. I thought the band, the cheerleaders and the student section were great. Outside of that, everybody waited around and it was 10-0.”

With the early stages of the game in Utah’s favor, sophomore linebacker Darryl Washington blocked a Sakoda punt that was lifted about four seconds into the Fort Worth sky before dropping onto the field, and into the arms of Stephen Hodge. The junior strong safety would return the recovery for a 31-yard touchdown to inject life into Amon Carter Stadium and pull the Frogs within three points at 10-7.

Patterson said with six conference teams battling for four bowl bids, the remaining games will decide whether the Frogs deserve a postseason bid.

“They got a choice,” Patterson said. “You’ve got two weeks off. I’ve seen teams do it one way or the other. They act like they don’t care, they don’t come out and get better or they act like they care and they come off the break, and they go play. That’s what I’m looking for.