TCU overcomes loss of DE Blake in shutout of Baylor

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- TCU students were already chanting "We Want Texas!" as the No. 22 Horned Frogs wrapped up a season-opening shutout of another former instate Southwest Conference rival.

Coach Gary Patterson insisted he was too drained to look ahead after a 27-0 victory Saturday night over Baylor without standout defensive end Tommy Blake.

"That has probably been the hardest 30 days I've been through. It's a very emotional day for me," Patterson said. "I don't even have one glimpse of Texas. .... all the turmoil they went through emotionally having Tommy here and Tommy not here."

After two extended absences from the team, Blake was held out and watched the game from a patio outside of Patterson's office above the south end zone.

Blake was away on a medical leave with an undisclosed illness last week before rejoining the Frogs for their walkthrough Friday. It appeared he might get to play 10-15 snaps, but doctors later decided to hold him out of the game.

The two-time All-Mountain West Conference selection and top NFL prospect has practiced only three times since leaving campus and going home for a week for personal reasons in mid-August.

Blake's status for next Saturday's game at No. 4 Texas is uncertain, and Patterson wouldn't elaborate.

Even without Blake, the MWC leader with seven sacks and 16 1/2 tackles for losses last season, TCU had seven starters against Baylor from the defense that ranked top three nationally in total defense, rushing and scoring last season.

The Frogs had three of their four interceptions and gave up only 78 yards after halftime on way to their first shutout of a Big 12 or former Big Eight Conference member since winning 42-0 over Kansas in their 1958 opener.

"Losing Tommy is tough. He's an unbelievable athlete," said linebacker Jason Phillips, whose interception in the fourth quarter set up a touchdown. "To do that without him is incredible. It goes to show how much better we'll be when Tommy comes back."

TCU's last shutout was a 52-0 win at home against San Diego State last November. Baylor was held without a point for the first time consecutive shutout losses to Texas Tech (28-0) and Texas (62-0) in 2005.

"It's really frustrating. I thought we were further along than that," Baylor coach and TCU alumnus Guy Morriss said.

Andy Dalton threw for 205 yards and a touchdown in his first college start, and Justin Watts (1 yard) and Ryan Christian (12 yards) ran for scores in the second quarter as the Frogs won their ninth straight game. Chris Manfredini kicked two field goals after missing wide right on a 29-yard attempt the opening drive.

Chase Ortiz, TCU's other All-MWC defensive end, got to quarterback Blake Szymanski and knocked the ball loose on the first play after halftime. The play was initially called a fumble recovered by the Frogs. Even though the play was overturned and made an incomplete pass after being reviewed, the tone was set for the second half.

Phillips made a nifty pickoff early in the fourth quarter, reaching back to grab Szymanski's pass that also thrown behind the intended receiver. Phillips returned it 34 yard to the Baylor 20, setting up Dalton's 14-yard TD pass to Ervin Dickerson that made it 24-0.

Dalton was 18-for-30 passing. But he had an interception and a fumble, losing the ball at the Baylor 1 on a keeper later in the first quarter.

Szymanski won a four-quarterback battle this fall, a competition that included a 25-year-old senior transfer from Kent State and a junior college transfer. He was 23-of-47 passing for 216 yards with three of the interceptions.

"I made three really bad decisions," Szymanski said. "I have to forget about this game."

Both teams had missed field goals on their first drives. Baylor's Shea Brewster also missed a 35-yard kick in the third quarter.

TCU has won its last five games against Big 12 teams, a streak that started with a season-opening victory at Oklahoma in 2005. But a week after that upset of the Sooners, the Frogs lost to SMU -- another old SWC rival and the opponent when they play their next home game in three weeks.

While TCU is favored to win its second Mountain West title in three seasons, Baylor hasn't had a winning season since the SWC disbanded after the 1995 season.