FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jerry Kill notched his 153rd win as a head coach on Saturday, but he said this one might just mean the most.
"It's a big one," said Kill, who was a head coach at five schools, including Minnesota, where was named the 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year before having to retire in midseason in 2015 due to a history of epileptic seizures. "It's a big one, because it's really weird. I mean, all of a sudden, you're the coach and you've got four games left. And you know, you're told you shouldn't ever coach again six years ago."
To complicate matters, the Horned Frogs were without starting quarterback Max Duggan, who could not play due to a foot injury and were also down to just one scholarship running back, Emari Demercado, after injuries to Zach Evans, who did not play, and Kendre Miller, who left after two carries.
Chandler Morris made his first start and dazzled, going 29 of 41 for 461 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 70 yards and another score. He even caught a pass for 7 yards as the Horned Frogs rolled up 562 yards on a Baylor defense that allowed an average of 339.6 yards per game.
"[I've] had chances to carry the Brown Jug around Ann Arbor [after Minnesota beat Michigan in 2014] and that's pretty nice and beat Nebraska, all those people, at times, but with what these kids have been through? I don't know if they'll ever be anything that will be able to match what these kids did on this Saturday against Baylor University," said Kill, who humbly referred to himself as "the fill-in guy." "I just don't think there can be because I've never seen this much adversity in the middle of the year as I've seen this week and throughout the game. We came over a lot in that game to win it."
It was a big win for TCU in the middle of a frustrating season, especially after scoring 17 points against West Virginia in a loss on Oct. 23 and 12 points in the Frogs' Oct. 30 defeat by Kansas State.
"Does it surprise me that we won?" asked Kill, who praised the players' "relentless effort." "No. But does it surprise me how we won? A little bit, you know, because of all the people crawling off the field and stuff. I didn't want to play, but I thought I was gonna have to get in there and play a little bit."
He added that he didn't really consider how big it was to beat the No. 12 team in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings.
"I never have paid much attention to those rankings," Kill said. "But it's great for us that we did that and the kids did that."
Morris put the offense on his back with the injury issues at running back and Kill admitted that he was surprised by his quarterback's final stat line. Morris' 531 yards of total offense (the reception doesn't count in the official tally) was the second-best total in TCU history behind Matt Vogler's 696 against Houston in 1990.
"He did pretty good," Kill said, laughing. "We knew he was talented and everything, but until you put them in a game and they play a game, you don't know how talented. He played pretty good football, you know. He threw for 461."
Morris said he prepared in practice for the chance that he may have to throw it 40 times, and the team fed off the energy from Kill in practice.
"We deserved it," Morris said. "I truly believe that. Everything we've been through, this is gonna give us a ton of confidence. We know we can compete with anyone in the country. And we've just kind of been defeating ourselves. I feel like this was a great statement win and we've just got to build off of it."
Not to be outdone by the offense, Patterson's calling card, the Frogs' defense, ended Baylor's final drive with a game-saving interception by freshman linebacker Shadrach Banks, who had just five tackles and no INTs coming into the game.
Kill gave credit to his old friend and former head coach, and another longtime assistant Chad Glasgow, the Frogs' defensive coordinator who was a Patterson assistant at TCU for 20 seasons.
"It's Chad and his staff and Gary -- I can call Gary, Gary now," Kill said. "They've been trained by the genius of defensive football."