Tiki's Game Analysis: TCU

We lost. Bad. Again.

But, we weren't expected to win. TCU may not be as good as they've been the past few years due to their youth, but they are still a very good team with a very good QB and they were at home. Everybody needs to relax. We're 2-2, which is exactly where most people thought we'd be right now. The season basically begins now.

This week, I saw an improved OL opening up some running lanes for us to rush for 160 yards at over 5 yards per carry. I saw an improved DL getting pressure on TCU QB Casey Pachall and holding TCU to just 4.3 yards per carry. I saw a secondary that had good coverage on most plays. And other than a late garbage time TD, we were right in this game until the end.

The problem, once again, was 3 turnovers and some poorly timed penalties. At least, that was one of the problems.

The Hoos were 3-16 on third downs. That's 19% conversion. Last year, the Hoos were 41% for the season. This year, even with a stuggling offense, the Hoos are at 43%. Nineteen percent isn't going to get it done. Two of the 3 conversions came on our lone TD drive. The other was a 49 yard rush by Kevin Parks on 3rd and 2. Let's take a look at some of the failed 3rd down plays.

Yards to Go

Field position

Result

10

Minus-49

5 yard pass to Mathis

6

Minus-16

Incomplete pass to Jennings

13

Minus-28

Incomplete pass to Jones

12

Minus-40

Rush by Kevin Parks, fumble

14

Plus -33

Interception

9

Minus-4

7 yard pass to McGee

4

Plus-32

Interception

6

Plus-12

Incomplete pass to Jennings

10

Minus-22

Rocco 7 yard rush

7

Minus-23

Incomplete pass to Terrell

Some of these plays you can live with. The second one the list was a deep pass that Darius Jennings could've pulled in. He was tripped up by the CB, and was looking up into the sun, but that was a ball he should've caught. There were a couple of other plays where a pass was incomplete past the first down marker. That happens, and you punt the ball knowing you gave it a good shot.

Furthermore, sometimes on 3rd and long, you just hand the ball off and hope for the best. Maybe your RB makes a play and picks up a first down. But it's a safe call. You simply can't fumble on that play. That one is on Parks.

But when you repeatedly have passes being completed short of the first down, you get frustrated. Again, sometimes this happens. If coverage is good, sometimes you have to dump the ball off and pray. But this can't happen over and over again, because it doesn't work.

The Hoos have some talented WRs. We all know that. Defenses know that too. TCU rarely brought pressure beyond the front 4, which is why Rocco (and Sims) was largely untouched (just 1 sack for TCU, and that came on the last play of the game). If the QB is going to have time, and Rocco did on most occasions, he needs to be able to find a guy 10 yards downfield.

I don't actually know if guys were open downfield, because TV coverage doesn't really show enough. I don't know if Bill Lazor is calling plays that are getting guys open. All I know is that Michael Rocco is repeatedly checking down and making easy throws that aren't picking up enough yards.

I know that there are a lot of people calling for Phillip Sims to be given a chance to start. Michael Rocco played very well last year, but he hasn't been sharp this year. His decision making hasn't been good and his passes haven't been very accurate. But most importantly, we aren't scoring points. It isn't entirely on Rocco. Guys aren't making plays. There have been missed blocks and dropped passes. There have been bad penalties. But, ultimately, the success of the offense is on the QB.

I like Rocco, and I think he can be successful. But, right now, we need Sims. We need something to wake up this offense. We need a QB who will make the throws that Rocco isn't making. Maybe Sims doesn't know the entire playbook. He clearly knows some of it, because he's been somewhat successful when he's been in. Obviously, most of his playing time has been in garbage time, against teams playing softer defenses. Teams are going to throw everything at Sims that they can. Disguising coverages, sending pressure. Sims will see it all. And maybe he won't be any better than Rocco. It would be hard for him to be worse.

As always, some notes:

  • On the first TCU TD, it looked like Brandon Phelps got beat. Most QBs aren't able to make that pass. If the pass is thrown a bit lower, it's a pick. And if it's thrown a bit higher, it's incomplete. Thing is, Phelps needs to know that there is nobody behind him. He needs to know that he can't let the WR get by him. When the defensive playcall is a big blitz like that was, the DBs need to be playing a little bit off, and make sure to keep things in front of them.
  • Personally, I think we are blitzing too much. Some may say that we need to generate pressure on the QB in order to cover for an inexperienced safety. I say that sending pressure is putting even more pressure on that secondary. I'd rather play it safe and force teams to make plays over and over again, rather than give them the chance to get big plays. We almost got beat a couple of other times on blitzes. And for all that pressure we are generating, we accumulated all of 0 sacks. We drew a few holding penalties, but those were all from the DL. If our DL can't generate pressure on its own, we're in trouble. Bringing a LB occasionally helps keep the offense honest. But sending 6 or 7 rushers is just asking for trouble.
  • I liked what I saw from a number of young players on defense. Chris Brathwaite, D.J. Hill, and Maurice Canady all impressed me this week with their play. Canady, in particular, made a couple of nice plays. We are going to have some pretty good CBs for the next 2 years with him and Nicholson. Combined with the other young defenders who are getting solid playing time (such as true freshmen Demetre Brim, Anthony Cooper, Eli Harold, Kwontie Moore, Mike Moore) and things are looking bright for the future of our defense.
  • Some young guys on offense are getting run, but I've been somewhat less impressed by them overall. Guys like Connor Davis, Cody Wallace, Adrian Gamble and Canaan Severin may have some potential, but I haven't seen much out of them yet. Wallace only played a handful of snaps as he returns from an injury Tim Smith didn't have a catch. He didn't play last week, and I'm not sure what his status was for this game. But he started. And didn't have a catch. That shouldn't happen. Hopefully, next week Smith will be at 100%, and we'll get LaRoy Reynolds back and this team will begin building itself back up to what we all thought it could be before the season began.
  • I want to reiterate that I do not solely blame Michael Rocco for our offensive troubles. I think that any quarterback would likely be struggling right now, because the OL has been struggling and guys simply aren't making plays. But the hard truth is that Rocco isn't getting it done.
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