Horned Frogs show talent, strength

The Horned Frogs managed to put in a strong performance in the 2011 season, despite being labeled by many as a rebuilding year.

They showed their ability to fight back from behind against Baylor, SMU and Boise State, and they got stronger as the season wore on. The talent level proved strong enough to outweigh the lack of experience on both sides of the ball.

Casey Pachall proved he has the ability to be an incredible quarterback, something TCU fans are becoming accustomed to. He became more confident as the season continued, and his performance against Boise State may be the best in Horned Frog history. Look for his growing leadership and will to win to propel the Frogs past the Bulldogs.

Waymon James, Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley showed they make up one of the best running back combinations in the nation, each rushing for over 600 yards and at least five touchdowns. Each provides a different weapon that the TCU offense can unleash at any time. The depth at running back sets the Frogs apart from many other top teams in the nation.

Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson, Antoine Hicks and Brandon Carter did their part for the passing attack, making big plays consistently throughout the season. Boyce has averaged 16.6 yards per catch with 932 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, and the other receivers combine with the running backs to create mismatches all over the field.

TCU almost sneaked into their third consecutive BCS game, but the final rankings kept the Frogs from attending the Sugar Bowl. They could easily have been 12-0 this season if it were not for inexperience in big games early in the season. This season allowed the young team to learn a lot of lessons and make some big strides heading into the Big 12 next year. 

TCU Timeline

Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and the Bears jumped out to an early lead in the Frogs season opener. TCU quarterback Casey Pachall played well in his first start, throwing for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Baylor led 47-23 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Frogs posted 25 points in the final quarter. The Bears kicked the winning field goal to beat TCU 50-48 with just over a minute left.

TCU bounced back against Air Force to grab their first win of the season. Pachall threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns, throwing only five incompletions. Matthew Tucker added 95 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Frogs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, moving to 1-1.

Louisiana-Monroe proved a tougher opponent than expected, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. The Frogs struggled in the first half but managed to take down the Warhawks 38-17 at home. Josh Boyce led the Frogs with 134 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Waymon James rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Casey Pachall threw three touchdowns as the Frogs took down Portland State 55-13 in Fort Worth. TCU’s first quarter struggles continued as the Vikings took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter, but the Horned Frogs scored three touchdowns in a 1:18 span at the end of the first half.

The Frogs fell behind early, as SMU jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. The Mustangs were up 27-10 after the third quarter, but the Frogs relied on another big fourth quarter to get back into the game. Pachall threw three fourth quarter touchdowns, sending the game into overtime. SMU scored first in overtime, but TCU failed to match the Mustangs’ touchdown, falling 40-33.

TCU took advantage of four San Diego State turnovers and Ed Wesley’s 146 rushing yards, taking down the Aztecs 27-14 on the road. Casey Pachall threw two more touchdowns. TCU broke the Mountain West record by grabbing their 19th consecutive conference win.

The Horned Frogs scored at least two touchdowns in each quarter and allowed none as they shut out New Mexico 69-0. The Lobos were held to only 85 yards and five first downs, and TCU broke a school record by scoring 69 points, the most in almost 80 years.

BYU traveled to Arlington to take on the Frogs at Cowboys Stadium, but special teams miscues allowed TCU plenty of opportunities to put the game away. The Frogs scored touchdowns after each turnover on punt snap mishaps and took down BYU 38-28.

TCU’s running game led the Frogs to a victory over Wyoming, but it also kept the Cowboys within striking distance. Waymon James rushed for 181 yards, Ed Wesley scored two touchdowns on 120 yards.  Matthew Tucker ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns, but Wesley and Tucker both fumbled the ball twice. But 617 total yards of offense proved enough to win 31-20.

Pachall led the Frogs to a comeback win with 473 yards and five touchdowns, and Josh Boyce had 163 receiving yards and three touchdowns to go along with a two-point conversion catch and run to give the Horned Frogs the lead with just over a minute left. A last-second field goal miss by Boise State kicker Dan Goodale gave TCU a 36-35 upset on the Broncos’ home turf.

The Frogs clinched a share of the Mountain West title at home against Colorado State, beating the Rams 34-10. TCU took advantage of its scoring opportunities and a Tank Carder interception return for a touchdown to earn the victory. Running back Waymon James rushed for 108 yards, and Matthew Tucker scored a touchdown on 94 rushing yards.

TCU put in another strong defensive performance against UNLV to close out the season and earn their third straight Mountain West title. Greg McCoy returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and linebacker Kris Gardner returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown as the Frogs’ defense shut down the Rebels. The Frogs won 56-9.