Big 12 Sports Articles

Is it time for a quarterback change at TCU?

kenny hill tcu spring practice

After losing to Texas Tech on Saturday, the TCU Horned Frogs have now dropped 3 of 4 games. Earlier in the season, in games against South Dakota State, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, the concerns were primarily focus on a defense that was unusually leaky for a Gary Patterson led squad. But, since then, the offense has become the primary culprit, especially the quarterback position.

TCU averaged 43.4 points through its first five games of the season, but since then that number has been cut by more than half, to 19.3. To make matters worse, the Frogs offense has produced only four touchdowns in its last 10 quarters of regulation play. Enter: Foster Sawyer. The sophomore was beaten out by Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill in the offseason. But, Sawyer got the call on Saturday in the third quarter with the game tied at 10.

Hill had just tossed his 10th interception of the season and his struggles in conference play were continuing for a third-straight week. Over the past 3 games against Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech, Hill has averaged 170 passing yards per game while throwing just two touchdowns to five interceptions. When compared to the start of the season, the numbers are even worse. Through the first five games of the season, Hill averaged 387 passing yards per game with 11 touchdown passes to 4 interceptions.

Coincidentally, this trend is almost exactly what happened to Hill during his 2014 season in College Station. Over his first five games with the Aggies, Hill was 5-0 and had thrown 17 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. These games included opponents such as Rice, Lamar and SMU. Then, the schedule got tough, playing Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama, where Hill went 0-3 and threw 6 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.

When asked on Saturday about pulling Hill for Foster Sawyer, head coach Gary Patterson said, “I didn’t pull him. “Sonny [Cumbie] did. We weren’t playing very well, so … .”

That answer said it all and was a bit of a cop out by Patterson. Clearly, he is in a tough spot as he recruited Hill with the expectation the local product would have a leg up to be the starting QB. But, the issues that hurt him at A&M have come back to bite him with TCU. A team that expects to win conference titles cannot have a QB who can only beat the cupcakes on the schedule. Hill is undersized and his accuracy leaves much to be desired. Despite being considered a dual-threat QB, Hill has only rushed for 245 yards this season, with over 30% of them coming in one game against Arkansas.

Meantime, Sawyer looked very rusty on Saturday after replacing Hill, going 6/17 for 86 yards and a touchdown. But, what more can you expect from a guy who has played so few in-game snaps since graduating high school in 2014? I would give Sawyer another look over these final few games. Incase you forgot, Sawyer was a four-star prospect and rated by as the No. 2 quarterback in the state of Texas and No. 13 nationally. He chose TCU over Alabama, Baylor and UCLA. It’s entirely possible that if Sawyer doesn’t get a legitimate shot over these next few weeks, he transfers. Why wouldn’t he consider it? He has two more season of eligibility and if the TCU staff lets Hill continue to play the way he’s playing, when there is no chance of a Big 12 title, then Sawyer would be wise to explore options.

TCU has four games left at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma State, at Texas and vs. Kansas State. The Horned Frogs are possibly going to be underdogs in all of them. This is not the TCU’s season, but there are many reasons 2017 can be special. 4/5 of the offensive line is juniors, RB Kyle Hicks is a junior, Kavontae Turpin is a sophomore and some nice pieces come back on defense. But, as is always the question in football: Who’s the QB? TCU doesn’t know, but it should spend the next 5 weeks trying to figure it out.

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