Nov 20, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell before the game against the Washington Huskies  at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado, TCU each open season with QB choices to make

After weeks of training camp and evaluating players at every position, Colorado and TCU are going into battle Friday night with an air of mystery.

Both schools have capable quarterbacks but neither head coach will reveal who will start the opener for both teams.

So, the first-ever game between the schools will have some added anticipation attached to Friday’s meeting in Boulder, Colo.

The Buffaloes have two candidates to start Friday. Brendon Lewis is the incumbent but J.T. Shrout was ready to lead the Colorado offense last year before a knee injury in camp ended his season. He transferred to the Buffaloes in January 2021 after three seasons with Tennessee, but he did not play as a true freshman.

While Lewis is quicker and has more running ability, Shrout has the stronger arm.

“We feel good that they kind of feed off each other,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said. “They understand what we’re trying to do from a game plan standpoint. Just like I told them, they’re both going to play.”

Dorrell is in his third year at Colorado while Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes is in his first season with the program. This will be his 13th year as a head coach, with the last five at SMU where he was 30-18, including an 8-4 mark in 2021.

Dykes takes over for Gary Patterson, who led TCU for nearly 21 years, a 2010 Rose Bowl win and a shared Big 12 title in 2014.

The new coach’s first big decision is choosing between three-year starter Max Duggan and Chandler Morris, who played four games last season and led the Horned Frogs to an upset of then-No. 12 Baylor.

“For us it was a very important decision to make, and it’s a decision we needed more evidence to be able to make it,” Dykes said. “I felt like if you put on the Baylor game last year and watched Chandler play in that game, you’d go, ‘Well, this guy has to be a starting quarterback.’”

–Field Level Media

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) carries the ball forward in overtime during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.  Kansas won 57-56 in overtime.

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Coming off shocking upset, Kansas visits banged-up TCU

The stunning upset Kansas pulled off at Texas led to a difficult decision on the status of a key performer.

The Jayhawks (2-8, 1-6 Big 12) will now retain Jalon Daniels for the remainder of the season and not redshirt the player who engineered the overtime win that snapped a 56-game Big 12 road losing streak and an 18-game losing streak overall in conference play.

Daniels, who has played four games after being summoned because of injuries, will be in the lineup Saturday when Kansas faces TCU (4-6, 2-5) at Fort Worth, Texas. That will put him over the redshirt limit of games played.

“He sees the momentum of what this team is doing, what it’s done for our locker room,” first-year Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “He’s all in to help us build the program, and he wants to play.”

Devin Neal impressed Leipold enough for him not to press a freshman redshirt and instead play the prize recruit in the Jayhawks’ 2021 class. Neal recorded 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Texas win. Kwamie Lassiter had eight catches as Kansas enjoyed a rare day where skill players performed consistently well across the board.

Can the Jayhawks play at that level against TCU? Perhaps.

The Horned Frogs could not build on an upset over Baylor on Nov. 6 and will be coming off a humiliating 46-point loss at Oklahoma State, allowing 682 total yards in their worst defeat since 1993.

Defending the pass has been a significant challenge for TCU, which allows a league-worst 9.5 yards per attempt. Offensively, TCU scored its only touchdowns in the final quarter of the Oklahoma State blowout and converted just 2 of 13 third downs.

The Frogs hope Chandler Morris regains the form he showed in his first start, when he totaled 531 yards against Baylor. Morris should play against Kansas, but not at 100 percent, said interim coach Jerry Kill, who provided a grim injury report. Max Duggan, TCU’s regular quarterback, could be available too, but is dealing with a broken foot.

Elsewhere on offense, Kill said “we don’t have a running back that is healthy,” noting ailments bothering Zach Evans, Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado. A converted defender, Ahmonte Watkins, could get carries.

“We’re decimated by injuries,” said Kill, a Kansas native. “I mean, there’s no excuses. I’ve never had (an excuse) in my life, so you’ve got to find a way to get it done. But I’ve never seen anything like it and it continues to get worse.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg (23) is brought down by the Baylor Bears defense during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

First test for TCU post-Gary Patterson is No. 14 Baylor

TCU and No. 14 Baylor will renew an old rivalry Saturday under anything but normal circumstances.

The surging Bears head to Fort Worth looking to collect their fourth win in a row. They will take on a Horned Frogs’ team under new leadership for the first time in 21 years after the school and longtime coach Gary Patterson mutually parted ways on Sunday.

TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) is on a three-game skid that has dropped the Horned Frogs to ninth place in the standings. The last loss, a 31-12 setback at Kansas State, prompted a meeting Sunday that ended with Patterson walking away from a program he has guided since 2000.

Jerry Kill, a former head coach at Minnesota and Northern Illinois and a longtime friend of Patterson, will be the interim coach the rest of the season.

“I think the kids here respect me,” said Kill, who joined the TCU program as a consultant last season. “I’ve been around them enough, we’ve got a good game plan and we’ll go to work (Tuesday) and get after them. Nobody’s going to be Gary Patterson. I don’t claim to be Gary Patterson.”

On the other side of the field on Saturday, the Bears (7-1, 4-1) will focus on continuing what has propelled them into the hunt for a spot in the conference championship game.

Baylor owns the Big 12’s second-best offense, averaging 465.5 yards a game, and third-stingiest defense (339.4 yards allowed per game). Abram Smith has rushed for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns (116.3 yards per game), while quarterback Gerry Bohannon has been a major key with 1,753 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 203 pass attempts.

As effective as the Bears’ offense has been, defense has been at the eye of the storm — especially the last three weeks against foes with dangerous running attacks. Facing West Virginia’s Leddie Brown, Tyler Allgeier from BYU and Texas star Bijan Robinson, Baylor has been tough-as-nails — surrendering 120 yards total to that trio.

With running the ball a chore, the Bears’ foes have been forced to lean on the pass, and Baylor has recorded 13 sacks in the same three-game span.

“Change is different, especially when you’re pass-rushing to play the run, and now you play the run to get the opportunity to rush the passer,” second-year Baylor coach Dave Aranda said.

“The buy-in, the work, the grinding, has got it to where we’re winning the line of scrimmage.”

Those little battles have been tough for TCU in Big 12 play, where the Horned Frogs’ only victory is a 52-31 decision against Texas Tech.

The Horned Frogs’ defense — which was what Patterson built his legacy on — has been gashed for 443.3 total yards a game. Until last week, five foes in a row had rushed for 214 yards or more and each of the last four has thrown for 242 yards or more.

The abrupt change makes any wholesale changes difficult, but Kill said he and the remaining staff will focus on finding ways to help TCU get back on track.

“We’re not stopping trying to help TCU,” Kill said. “That would not be fair to Gary. We’ve got to carry on his legacy. … Everybody thinks everybody is out looking for a job, but that’s not happening right now. We are working. If you work and you do well, then if you’re out of a job, you get a job a lot quicker, if you’re doing your job here.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA;  TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson reacts during the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

TCU, Gary Patterson agree to part ways

TCU has “mutually agreed to part ways” with coach Gary Patterson after 21-plus years with him at the head of the Horned Frogs’ football program.

Assistant Jerry Kill will serve as TCU’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.

TCU is 3-5 overall (1-4 Big 12) and has lost five of its past six games. The team could finish with a losing record for the third time in six seasons.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said in a statement that he and Patterson agreed a new voice was needed in the program. Patterson is the program’s all-time leader in victories with 181.

“The story of Gary Patterson and the rise in the fortunes of the TCU football program over the last 20 years is clearly one of the most remarkable in the history of college football,” Donati said. “We are grateful to Gary and Kelsey Patterson and appreciate everything they have meant to TCU and the Fort Worth community.

“Under his leadership, TCU has become a nationally recognized brand name in football and in collegiate athletics. Chancellor (Victor) Boschini and I met with Coach Patterson today and mutually agreed that the time has come for a new voice and leadership in our football program. We asked him to continue on as our head coach for the remainder of the season, and take on a different role in 2022, but he believed it was in the team’s and TCU’s best interests to begin the transition immediately.”

Patterson took over as the Horned Frogs’ coach starting with the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl. He led the program’s transition from Conference USA to the Mountain West, turned it into a perennial power and then helped them make the jump to the Big 12.

Under Patterson, TCU appeared in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, which they lost to Boise State in a matchup of undefeated Group of Five teams, and then the 2010 Rose Bowl, where they defeated Wisconsin.

Patterson, 61, was 181-79 all-time as TCU’s coach. He guided the Horned Frogs to 10 or more wins on 11 occasions.

Kill’s head-coaching stops comprise Northern Illinois (2008-10) and Minnesota (2011-15). He is 60 years old.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (91) celebrates the sack of TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Felix Anudike-Uzomah records 6 sacks as Kansas State beats TCU

Felix Anudike-Uzomah tied an FBS record with six sacks to lead Kansas State to a dominating 31-12 victory over TCU on Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.

Anudike-Uzomah, who became the fourth FBS defender with six sacks, also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter with TCU driving.

Kansas State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) showed up defensively in the clutch. TCU came into the game perfect in 25 red-zone possessions (18 touchdowns, seven field goals), but the Horned Frogs managed one touchdown and one field goal in four red-zone possessions.

KSU quarterback Skylar Thompson was 13-of-21 for 242 yards with two total touchdowns. Deuce Vaughn rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) has lost five of its last six games.

Anudike-Uzomah passed Chris Johnson (four sacks vs. Missouri, 2000) for the school record. TCU had allowed eight sacks through its first seven games.

Kansas State got on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown run by Thompson. The seven-play, 78-yard drive was keyed by a Thompson-to-Vaughn 41-yard pass that put the ball on the 4-yard line.

TCU responded with a 24-yard field goal by Griffin Kell. Kansas State then scored on a 42-yard touchdown run by Vaughn. Kansas State faced fourth-and-1 just across midfield, but Vaughn went off-tackle and raced untouched to the end zone.

TCU had a chance to get back into the game when Kendre Miller raced 61 yards to the Kansas State 1-yard line. But the Frogs couldn’t score in four plays from a yard out. The defense stopped Vaughn for a safety on the next play.

Vaughn redeemed himself on the next possession, leaping high over a pile of linemen to score a 1-yard touchdown to give Kansas State a 21-5 lead right before the half. Vaughn’s touchdown was set up by a Thompson-to-Phillip Brooks 37-yard pass.

TCU was stopped on fourth down inside the 5-yard line again in the second half.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Thompson hit Daniel Imatorbhebhe for a 73-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach. Chris Tennant’s 42-yard field goal capped the scoring.

Emari Demercado scored TCU’s only touchdown with 15 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Tony Mathis Jr. (24) runs the ball and is tackled by TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Dee Winters (13) and TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Wyatt Harris (25) during the first quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Brown, defense carry West Virginia past TCU

Leddie Brown carried 24 times for 111 yards and scored on three short touchdown runs and the West Virginia defense pitched a shutout in the second half as the Mountaineers defeated TCU 29-17 on Saturday evening in Big 12 play in Fort Worth, Texas.

West Virginia (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) snapped a three-game losing streak and beat TCU for the fourth consecutive time. The Mountaineers forced three TCU turnovers in the second half.

Jarret Doege was 21 of 28 passing for 257 yards for West Virginia as eight different receivers caught passes. The Mountaineers, who came in averaging 108 yards rushing per game (last in the conference) rushed for 229 yards in the win.

Max Duggan passed for 244 yards and a touchdown for the Horned Frogs (3-4, 1-3) but was intercepted twice in the second half. TCU has lost four of its past five games.

Derius Davis opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown that gave the Horned Frogs a 7-0 lead before most of the crowd was settled in its seats.

West Virginia answered with a 27-yard field goal from Casey Legg on its first possession. Brown then put the Mountaineers on top via a 5-yard TD run that culminated a 15-play, 94-yard march that consumed almost eight minutes of the first quarter.

Legg added a 38-yard field goal at the 9:07 mark of the second quarter that came four snaps after a 67-yard zone-read run by Garrett Greene, the Mountaineers’ backup quarterback.

TCU regained the lead on Duggan’s 5-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Taye Barber with 5:17 to play in the first half.

Brown scored on a 1-yard run with 2:51 to play in the second quarter, but TCU answered with a 24-yard field goal by Griffin Kell with 14 seconds remaining to move to within 20-17 at the half.

Legg nailed a 49-yard field goal with 3:56 to play in the third quarter that pushed the West Virginia lead to 23-17. Brown rammed into the end zone from 3 yards out early in the fourth quarter but failed on a two-point conversion pass.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws during the first quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

TCU, West Virginia look to get back on track

TCU and West Virginia will look to return to their winning ways and begin the second half of their seasons on a positive note when they square off Saturday evening in a Big 12 Conference game in Fort Worth, Texas.

It will be a battle between two of the conference’s most disappointing teams.

The Horned Frogs have dropped three of their past four outings, and West Virginia has lost three straight and shares the bottom of the league standings with Kansas and Kansas State.

The Horned Frogs (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) head home after a 52-31 loss at then-No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday. TCU fell despite career-best performances from quarterback Max Duggan and wideout Quentin Johnston.

Duggan threw for a career-high 346 yards and four touchdowns, while Johnston had personal-best totals of seven receptions, 185 yards and three scores.

Johnston said the Horned Frogs learned from the loss and that the team would go “back to the drawing board.”

“You can’t go off last week’s performance, so win or lose, we just have to keep looking forward and fight like we are 6-0 even though we are not,” Johnston said. “We’ve just got to keep moving forward, leave the past in the past, and worry about the future.”

Duggan had been listed as “week to week” because of a foot injury, but TCU coach Gary Patterson said Monday after Duggan played hurt against Oklahoma: “If he can (play), he will.”

The Mountaineers (2-4, 0-3) will return to action after an open week and following a 45-20 loss at Baylor on Oct. 9.

West Virginia ranks in the bottom half of the conference in most significant offensive categories, including rushing offense (111.8 yards per game, last).

The Mountaineers’ problem running the ball is a huge concern, especially since Leddie Brown, who ran for 1,010 yards last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection, is rushing for an average of just 70.3 yards per game this season.

“I think [it’s] a little bit of everything,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “I still think Leddie is a really good player. The defenses we’ve played are quality defenses; I’ll say that. But we’re not doing a good enough job creating movement for him. For us to be successful, we have to make sure he’s more productive.”

West Virginia spent its bye week in plenty of self-evaluation and knowing it easily could have a much better record – three of the Mountaineers’ losses have been by six points or less.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Henry Colombi (3) throws a pass during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech picking up steam entering TCU matchup

Texas Tech has played two very different roles against opponents with varying frames of mind in the first two games of the Big 12 Conference schedule: underdog at Texas, wounded animal at West Virginia.

Another new test awaits the Red Raiders on Saturday when TCU visits Lubbock.

Although Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) is a slender underdog, the Red Raiders are the team with a head of steam in a showdown dubbed “The Battle for the Saddle.”

A 23-20 victory at West Virginia last week helped Texas Tech chase away the aftertaste of a 70-35 loss at Texas the week before. TCU is in a different kind of mood after its comeback bid against the Longhorns fizzled in a 32-27 setback last week.

The Horned Frogs (2-2, 0-1) are on a two-game skid, as they fell to rival SMU 42-34 on Sept. 25. TCU is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since October 2018.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” TCU junior quarterback Max Duggan said. “Going in two weeks straight with a loss is going to suck, but nobody is going to feel bad for us. Texas Tech isn’t going to feel sorry for us.”

Nor are the Red Raiders likely to underestimate TCU.

In a strange series that saw the home team lose five games in a row until last season, TCU has won five of the past seven meetings, including the past three in Lubbock. Last year in Fort Worth, Duggan ran wild in a 34-18 triumph with 154 rushing yards and three touchdowns — featuring an 81-yard backbreaker in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

That was part of a 270-yard rushing performance by the Horned Frogs, whose offensive coordinator that day was Sonny Cumbie. He left in the offseason to take the same spot at Texas Tech, his alma mater.

“That will be, I’m sure, a storyline in the media all week,” third-year Red Raiders coach Matt Wells said of the connection. “It really doesn’t need to be. This game is about the players. Certainly, he was part of that (TCU) offense for seven years, so they’re not going to completely change. I think you see some things that are similar in ours to theirs.”

Henry Colombi will start at quarterback for Texas Tech with Tyler Shough out several more weeks with a broken collarbone. While filling in the past two weeks, Colombi threw for a combined 590 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson and his team before the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Duquesne Dukes at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Patterson: SEC schools trying to poach with NIL

One of the new realities with name, image and likeness (NIL) rights in college sports is the potential for that source of income to influence players’ decisions of where to play. According to TCU head coach Gary Patterson, that kind of recruiting is already going on — and it’s being aimed at players already on campus.

Patterson made the case that his own program should step up its efforts in encouraging NIL deals for his players, saying at a school-sponsored event Wednesday night that several SEC schools are trying to poach one of his players already.

“There’s five SEC schools calling him and telling him, ‘Here’s what we’ll give you if you come here and not stay at TCU,’” Patterson said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“At the end of the day, that’s just real life. … The rules have changed. There is no wrong anymore.”

Patterson’s stated objective is for business leaders in the Fort Worth, Texas area and other school supporters to step up and help his players more.

But the anecdote also calls into question the problem of coaches trying to poach from other programs, an occurrence liable to become more and more likely without further reform of the existing rules.

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated reported that the NCAA is investigating giving schools a one-year waiver on class size limits, giving schools the option to replace up to seven players who leave in the transfer portal.

That could help provide relief to schools that suffer attrition, but it wouldn’t curtail said attrition either.

“The bottom line to it is I can lose 25-30 guys on scholarships by January,” Patterson said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2019; Stillwater, OK, USA; TCU Horned Frogs safety Trevon Moehrig (7) turns to run after an interception during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated TCU 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

TCU S Moehrig to enter NFL draft

TCU safety Trevon Moehrig has played his last game for the Horned Frogs, as he announced on social media Saturday that he is forgoing his senior season to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

Moehrig, who finished tied for second in the Big 12 with 11 passes defended, recorded two interceptions and nine pass breakups to go along with 47 tackles. He is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive back.

The two-time All-Big 12 first team selection also received All-America honors from multiple outlets, including the Sporting News, The Associated Press and ESPN.

“Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of playing in the NFL, and taking care of the ones I love most. After much prayer, thought, and talking with family I’ve decided that it is best for me to forgo my senior season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft. I will cherish all the memories I’ve made at TCCU and I will always be a Frog. Thank you for the support over the past 3 years,” Moehrig tweeted.

At 6-feet-2 and 202 pounds, Moehrig is expected to be an early round pick, though no safeties were taken in the first round of last year’s draft.

The NFL draft will take place April 29-May 1 in Cleveland.

–Field Level Media