TCU Sinks Buffaloes With Big Second Half In Season Opener
BOULDER — Colorado's offense never found a rhythm and the Buffaloes defense faltered in the second half Friday night as Texas Christian took a 38-13 win in the season opener at Folsom Field.
CU's offense couldn't produce anything resembling consistency all night. With quarterback Brendon Lewis getting the start, the Buffs drove inside the TCU 20-yard line on their first two possessions, but came away with just one field goal for their efforts.
CU's defense, meanwhile, shut the TCU offense out in the first half, but the Buffs still trailed at intermission, 7-6, after giving up a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The Horned Frogs, though, caught fire in the second half, putting up 31 unanswered points behind a run game that averaged nearly 10 yards per carry for the game.
Lewis finished 13-for-18 for 78 yards. Shrout, who came on late in the first half and then made another appearance in the fourth quarter, finished with 13 completions on 23 attempts for 157 yards and one touchdown.
The Horned Frogs, who had just 67 yards offense in the first half, finished with 413 for the game, including 261 yards rushing in the second half. Five different TCU players ran for at least 40 yards in the game.
Colorado, meanwhile, finished with 348 yards total offense, but just 136 in the second half, and CU did not reach the end zone until just 1:13 remained in the game. Lewis led Colorado rushers with 42 yards on eight carries.
"I wasn't expecting that type of game," CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. "We played decently in the first half … But apparently they made better adjustments. We couldn't stop what they were doing."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs trailed just 7-6 at halftime after outgaining the Horned Frogs in the opening half but coming up short in the red zone. CU had to settle for a pair of field goals while TCU's only score came on a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
"We've got to get better with the rhythm offensively," Dorrell said. "That's an area that is really important for us to address this week."
Bur while the Buffs couldn't find that rhythm, the Horned Frogs had no problem doing so in the second half. TCU threw just 10 passes the entire second half and turned to a run game for which the Buffaloes had no answer.
The Horned Frogs took the opening kick and marched 75 yards to the end zone, capping the drive with a 43-yard Emari Demercardo run up the middle for a 14-6 lead.
With Lewis back at quarterback Colorado then went three-and-out and the Horned Frogs answered with a 55-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal and 17-6 lead.
Colorado then had one more chance to get back in the game, but the Buffs elected to punt from the Texas Christian 41-yard line on fourth-and-5 and the Horned Frogs answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive. Kendre Miller wrapped up the march with a 3-yard scoring run and with 10:55 left in the game TCU held a 24-6 lead.
"We didn't have the answers," Dorrell said. "They had the better adjustments in the second half. We have to put our guys in better position."
If there was any doubt about the outcome, the Horned Frogs erased it on their next possession after Colorado failed to convert a fourth-and-long from inside CU territory. TCU needed just two plays to go 32 yards for a touchdown and 31-6 lead, then added one more score to bump the margin to 38-6 with 3:15 remaining.
The Buffs finally found the end zone in the final minutes when Shrout engineered an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, finishing the march with a 23-yard scoring pass to freshman Jordyn Tyson.
"There's a lot of work to be done and that starts with me," Dorrell said. "I'm not pointing a finger at any of our players. Our coaches and I have to get this thing done and I'm very confident this group of coaches will do that."
Colorado opened the game with promise. After coming up short on fourth-and-1 from the TCU 15 on their first possession, the Buffs got on the board first on their second try with a 37-yard Cole Becker field goal.
CU drove 43 yards in nine plays before stalling again in the red zone, then settling for Becker's kick. The Buffs caught a break on the drive when a TCU interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty, and they followed it up with an 8-yard run from Alex Fontenot and an 11-yard Deion Smith run to put them in field goal position.
Colorado's defense played well the entire half, limiting the Horned Frogs to just 67 yards total offense. But the Buffs made maybe the biggest mistake of the half when a low, 39-yard Ashton Logan punt gave TCU's Derius Davis a chance at a return, and he took advantage, racing 60 yards to the end zone for a 7-3 TCU lead.
The Buffs did manage to cut the deficit to 7-6 on their next possession. CU drove 50 yards in 12 plays to reach the TCU 20, but the drive stalled there and Colorado took a 43-yard Becker field goal.
Colorado's defense continued to keep the Horned Frogs in check and the Buffs had one more opportunity before halftime. Shrout took the reins with the Buffs at their own 1-yard line and took CU into TCU territory but a holding penalty nullified a pass completion that would have put the Buffs at the Horned Frogs 31 and in field goal range. Colorado then finished the half with a Hail Mary that fell incomplete at the goal line.
"That first half I was disappointed because we weren't getting points in terms of touchdowns," Dorrell said. "There's a lot of things in this first game that were exposed and we need to get it shored up pretty quickly."
TURNING POINT: After not scoring an offensive touchdown in the first half, the Horned Frogs opened the second half with a long scoring march to seize control and the Buffs never answered.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs yielded 261 yards rushing in the second half as the Horned Frogs averaged more than 9 yards per carry … The Buffs averaged just 3.9 yards per rush … CU finished just 6-for-15 on third-down conversions and 0-for-3 on fourth down tries.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs must regroup and shore up their rushing defense, as they hit the road for their next two games, beginning with next week's contest at Air Force.
NEXT UP: The Buffs head south to the Air Force Academy next week for a Saturday (Sept. 10) matchup with the Falcons (1:30 p.m., CBS).