Kansas native helps TCU turn the table on KU

Kansas native helps TCU turn the table on KU

Published Sep. 15, 2012 7:56 p.m. ET

LAWRENCE, Kan. — As Blaize Foltz parted the sea of purple, bouncing from hug to hug, his father Roger stood a few feet away, thought back to Wednesday, and cracked a knowing smile.

See, father and son have a weekly ritual during football season: On Wednesday nights, Blaize, a hulking senior guard on the Texas Christian offensive line, will call his Dad back in Rose Hill, Kan. They'll kibitz about life, about the week that was, and the next opponent on the dance card. Then they say a little prayer, and that's it until the Saturday postgame.

When the subject this past week turned to Kansas, Roger noticed something unusual. Suddenly, the voice on the other end became very quiet. Almost reverent.

"I think I could tell Blaize was a little bit more focused, maybe," Roger recalled after the Horned Frogs dispatched the Jayhawks, 20-6, in the program's first-ever Big 12 conference game. "And I could see before the game, he was very … intense."

Like his coach, Kansas native Gary Patterson, the younger Foltz and the Jayhawks have something of a history. Blaize grew up a little south and east of Wichita, adoring KU basketball the way many kids growing up a little south and east of Wichita often do. As a 6-foot-2, 250-pound prep lineman, he'd attended football camps in Lawrence. Roger, Blaize's high-school line coach, would send Mark Mangino's staff game tape after game tape. Thanks, but no thanks, they said.

Too short.

Too light.

Not Big 12 material.

"Well, it's just at that timeframe, the staff that were there had different priorities, out-of-state recruiting for linemen," Roger said. "And they explained that to us. We just never let it bother us. We just kept moving forward to other things."

Patterson called, the Foltzes answered, the rest is history: Blaize got on a steady diet of turkey sandwiches and midnight peanut-butter runs, blossoming into a 6-foot-4, 310 man-mountain that benches 580 pounds and squats a cool 800. After blowing out a knee in 2010, he scratched all the way back to first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors last fall. While Blaize's Frogs are a fixture in the Top 25, his beloved Jayhawks are 6-28 over their last 34 games and into their third coaching regime change in the past four seasons.

"So it worked out really good," said Roger, who sent a second son, Brady, to TCU a few years later. "They're exactly where they need to be."

The same can't be said for the Frogs, who won in spite of themselves, celebrating their Big 12 coming-out party by handing out gift after gift. TCU's offense averaged 7.2 yards per play and ate up 11:02 of the fourth quarter, which was expected. This wasn't: The visitors also turned the ball over four times, with each giveaway coming in Kansas territory — two within the Jayhawks' 10-yard line.

"Having turnovers in the red zone absolutely can't happen," Blaize said. "And four turnovers is just despicable."

No, nobody walked away all that happy from this one. TCU drove as far as the Kansas 32-yard line on eight different occasions, any one of which could've blown things wide open. Instead, those trips amounted to two touchdowns, two field goals, a missed field goal, and three fumbles lost. By the middle of Saturday afternoon, the Frogs were running out of toes to shoot off.

"You can't just move the football," Patterson groaned, "and take for granted that you're gonna score."

Yet the Jayhawks could do precious little with the charity provided them: After the four TCU fumbles, these were Kansas' direct responses: Field goal, interception, punt, fumble lost. Four presents, and only three points to show for it.

"Too many missed opportunities," Kansas coach Charlie Weis said.

"The whole game was just back and forth," Jayhawks receiver Andrew Turzilli said.

More back than forth, but you get the idea. If the Frogs bring that same song into Stillwater or Morgantown, they won't like the last verse.

"I've told people all the time, ‘Anytime I cross the Kansas line, I feel a lot safer — I'm about 30 minutes away from somebody that I can call that will come get me some help,'" chuckled Patterson, a native of Rozel, Kan., whose uncle, Hal Patterson, was a three-sport star for the Jayhawks back in the 1950s. "Now if we keep winning games in the state of Kansas, I'm not sure that's going to be true."

Patterson had a cheering section of family and longtime friends on hand at Memorial Stadium; The Foltzes brought a posse that Roger estimated to be at least 110 voices strong.

"I heard 'em, that's for sure," Blaize would say later. "I have a bunch of friends that go to Kansas that you could definitely hear in the student section."

In the back of his mind, Foltz could hear those old Kansas coaches, too, sowing the seeds of doubt.

Too short.

Too light.

Not Big 12 material.

Which led a reporter to ask: After all you've been through, where does this rank? How does this feel?

"Feels good," Blaize said.

The voice was quiet. The grin was intense.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com