Thunderstorms rolled through the Metroplex Friday evening, suspending the Battle for the Iron Skillet by two hours.
Overcoming a shaky start, the Horned Frogs were able to regroup and rout the SMU Mustangs, 42-12, and keep the Iron Skillet in Fort Worth.
“[We have] a lot of work to do, keep working,” Head Coach Gary Patterson said. “Just got to keep getting stronger and better.”
Opening kick-off was delayed until 8:57 p.m., but the coaching staff anticipated the postponement and packed accordingly.
Patterson said the team bought extra food.
“I made sure, when they said we wouldn’t start at 7 p.m., that we went and passed out extra because we ate pregame at 3 p.m.,” Patterson said. “You kind of have to have a plan and do the things you need to do.”
The 8:57 p.m. kickoff time was the latest in Patterson’s 18-year tenure as the head coach.
The delay seemed to have an impact on the Horned Frogs early in the contest. SMU marched down the field in their first drive for 75 yards and scored in less than two minutes. Against North Texas last week, the Mustangs accumulated only 46 yards and scored zero points in the first three quarters.
Wide receiver Jaelen Austin knew the Mustangs would come out fighting.
“It’s an amazing rivalry,” Austin said. “It’s always going to be a Super Bowl atmosphere type of game. Both sides want to win that game. It’s an intense matchup.”
Quarterback Shawn Robinson was not on his game early, as well. The rainy conditions seemed to have an effect on the throwing game as Robinson could not connect with his receivers.
“It was tough but we practice with a wet ball,” Robinson said. “We’re used to it. Coach did a good job of keeping us focused.”
Robinson anticipated a strong start from the Mustangs, especially playing on their home field.
“Definitely on the road, you expect a team to come out like that,” Robinson said. “We took it and just kept working.”
Robinson spent the delay reading. He said he’s an avid reader and was reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter to keep his mind calm and focused.
After the first quarter, the Mustangs outgained the Horned Frogs 114-66 yards and outscored the Horned Frogs 9-0.
“We are young but mature minded,” Austin said. “Stay focused and locked in. We weren’t worried too much about it.”
The defense responded well to the adversity and buckled down, allowing only three points and 128 yards for the remainder of the game.
“We just got to understand that you have to run the whole plan when you’re playing people who are as good as you are,” Patterson said. “We were able to do more of that in our defense today. For us to be a dominant offense, we need to do much more than we did tonight.”
Robinson finished tonight’s game completing 15 of 28 passes for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but he was not content with his performance.
“I need to be more accurate and make plays,” Robinson said.
Robinson is confident his performance will get better with experience.
Of TCU’s 42 points, Robinson only accounted for 14. He recorded an 18-yard rushing touchdown and a 42-yard pass to wide receiver KaVontae Turpin.
Most of their points came off irregular plays. Austin recovered a fumble in the end zone by running back Sewo Oloniulua, linebacker Alec Dunham recorded a scoop-and-score touchdown after defensive end Ben Banogu forced a fumble and Turpin recorded a 78-yard punt return.
Patterson called the punt return a “game-changing” play that sparked the team’s turn around.
“You never know where your momentum comes from,” Patterson said. “He’s a difference maker. Every year he has one. He always practices hard, loves the game and always plays hard. You’re just looking for guys who love the games.”
With the victory, TCU opens the season with a 2-0 record for the 11th time in Patterson’s 18 seasons. The win was Patterson’s 15th win over SMU in 17 attempts.
The Horned Frogs will face their strongest opponent of the early season next weekend when Ohio State travels to Arlington, Texas. Defensive lineman Corey Bethley said the team is looking at Ohio State like they would prepare for any other opponent.
“To be successful, we just need to execute whatever’s called,” Robinson said.
Kick-off against the Buckeyes is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Saturday.