The first Big 12 Conference game of the season took place on Saturday night in Houston, Texas as the Cougars hosted their first-ever Big 12 game taking on the TCU Horned Frogs in an old Southwest Conference match up.
The Horned Frogs took care of business for their second-straight win, while Houston lost its second game in a row. Here are three thoughts on the game.
Defense Wins for TCU, or Offense Loses for Houston?
TCU’s starting unit kept its second straight opponent’s offense out of the end zone. TCU also sacked Houston quarterback Donovan Smith six times and held him to a 50% completion percentage on the night. The Horned Frogs also held Houston to a measly 1.5 yards per carry.
While TCU should feel good about its defensive performance, alarm bells should be going off for Houston regarding its offense. Houston had some miscues and drops early in the game that could have changed the tone early on. Also of note, if you take away the 21 points they scored in the fourth quarter against Rice last week, the Cougars have scored 37 points in their other 11 quarters. That’s a serious concern for Dana Holgorsen’s staff and it needs to be figured out ASAP.
TCU scored on its opening drive with ease and led wire-to-wire. Reading the box score won’t suggest any issues for the Horned Frogs on offense.
However, Morris threw an interception on fourth down in the red zone late in the first quarter as the ball bounced off Jared Wiley’s hands, taking points off the board as TCU was looking to take a dominant early two-score lead. TCU also found themselves in several third-and-long situations, which led to the team only going 6 of 15.
TCU did have 10 players catch passes and racked up over 564 yards of total offense, plus Emani Bailey has been the stud in the backfield thus far after another 100-yard rushing game, so there is a lot to feel good about. However, there are things that need to be cleaned up as TCU takes a break from conference play next week (SMU) before diving back into it in Week 5.
Dana’s Rude Awakening
Dana Holgorsen and the Cougars may be in for a rude awakening this season in the Big 12. Houston has not looked good at all the last two weeks and they’ve had issues on both sides of the ball.
Donovan Smith was sacked six times, while Houston also allowed eight tackles for loss against the Horned Frogs. It’s hard to figure how much in on Smith, who as I noted earlier dealt with some drops and miscues from his teammates as well. That being said, we have an idea of what Smith is from his time at Texas Tech, but now his supporting cast doesn’t appear to be as talented as it was in Lubbock. That’s a bad combo.
After the game, Holgorsen called the offense “embarrassing” and said he’s not “ruling out” changes on offense.
Meantime, Houston is now giving up over 175 yards per game on the ground after allowing 250 rushing yards to the Horned Frogs.
Houston can win some Big 12 games this year, but this team looks like it has a ways to go to be competing for Big 12 titles.