Dick Harmon: BYU Cougars' quest soundly crushed

Published: Saturday, Oct. 3 2015 10:31 p.m. MDT

FORT WORTH — TCU inducted BYU into the Club of Undefeated Top 10 teams Officially Undressed on Thursday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
It was the city of Take Your Lumps. Out of sync and not worthy? Get out of town.
Sick of losing twice to the Cougars, sick of taking a back-seat to BYU and Utah in the year-long, non-BCS chatter nationally, the Frogs simply came at the Cougars out-of the box like something mean, mad and radioactive.
For the first time this season, the alleged Super Cougars met up with a wheel barrel of kryptonite.
And they got crushed, 32-7.
When Dennis Franchione got hired away, TCU elevated Gary Patterson and, after he excelled and got the Frogs in the MWC, they made him the highest-paid coach in the league. On this night, you could see why: He mines speed from parts of talent-rich Texas.
TCU's speed smothered the Cougars' offense, pressuring Hall in a way he hasn't seen since the loss to UCLA in Pasadena last September. When Hall found his precious pocket time in deficit, he rushed his passes or tried to run. TCU defenders hounded, hit, sacked and forced him to run out of his comfort zone.
TCU's Jerry Hughes sacked Hall three times — in the first half. Hall had only felt that jarring feeling once before in six games.
BYU's pass catchers were shadowed and met with defenders at the intersection of the ball. TCU defenders came assaulting with hand-to-hand combat; BYU wore those pillow gloves.
The Cougars, unused to playing with borderline-crazy intensity for weeks, were met by a Frog team that must have spent the pregame dinner with Jeffery Dahmer. In the first 18 minutes of the game, they ripped off the helmets of Dennis Pitta (twice) and Fui Vakapuna.
Pitta found himself draped like curtain rod. Mike Reed never got untracked. Austin Collie, with four straight 100-yard receiving games, didn't catch a throw from Hall until 13:12 of the second quarter. He had just two catches by the half as the Cougars trailed 23-0.
The return of sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton also fired up the Frogs. Dalton came out on fire and his passing was something the Cougars may not have been counting on after watching his replacement, Marcus Jackson, struggle with the throw game on film.
Dalton started his comeback by completing three of his first four passes for 54 yards and a 25-yard touchdown to Jimmy Young.
Sizzlin'. Made BYU's secondary look silly.
BYU also had a tough time getting a handle on TCU receiver Jeremy Kerley, a QB in high school who scooted in for some direct snaps. On TCU's second touchdown, Kerley put a move on Cougar linebacker Matt Bauman that left the former Skyline star whiffing at air as he galloped 16 yards to paydirt.
TCU used the Kerly play more than they'd done all season.
The Cougars started the game showing a little hair with the run game, getting Harvey Unga involved on first downs, and it looked like a great game plan as he had 19 yards in the first quarter on a Frog defense that leads the nation in giving opponents just 20 a game.
But Unga's gains on first downs stopped fast when TCU showed it could move the ball and this would be a scoring race. BYU started flinging it to start drives, misfiring, and getting into second and third and eternity, right where TCU loved to oblige with the man-eater pass rush.
Simple, really. Execution. TCU had it, BYU did not.
Folks may argue the Cougars were finally exposed after looking pretty vulnerable the past couple games. And that might be true.
They finally played a ranked team, faced a real challenge. And they misfired and looked bad in the process.
It would be quaint in this space to make some reference to the Quest for Perfection after the dream of an undefeated season ended here in Texas, an easy lead-in to some commentary.
There was nothing perfect about the Cougars here, and it's been that way for a few weeks now.
In 1984, a perfect season, BYU had to come from behind in the closing seconds to win against Pitt, Wyoming and Michigan. And at Hawaii, the Cougars needed a miracle goal-line leap and tackle by safety Kyle Morrell to preserve a win.
Going undefeated is tough.
In this regard, it's the only thing TCU and BYU had in common on the night.

E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company