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5 Keys: How the Frogs can win in Manhattan

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Can TCU right the ship against Kansas State? Sure they can.

Kansas v TCU Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

TCU is 3-2, and if you check with the average Frog fan it seems like the sky is falling. That loss to Iowa State was rough, and it took the chatter about the state of the program to another level. I’m certainly responsible for part of that, because I was frustrated as hell.

BUT. Two weeks will do wonders for the psyche. The Frogs are coming off a bye week to get things pulled back together again, and they head to Manhattan to square off against the 3-2 Kansas State Wildcats.

Can TCU win on Saturday? Absolutely. Should they? Grant McGalliard sure things so, as he told Parker on this week’s Stats O’ War podcast “TCU should win this game easily.”

But how do they get the W? A few things stand out.

Establish the Pass

Yes, the pass. TCU had a dynamic run game, for sure. But trying to establish the run has led to first halves of football that resemble...well, something not great. Why this is can be put up for debate, but I’m of the opinion that it’s because opposing defenses don’t fear TCU’s passing game right now.

But this is an opportunity for TCU to start making teams reconsider that. Taye Barber and Mikel Barkely return at wide receiver for the Frogs, giving Duggan a few more targets with top end speed to whom he can throw the ball. With their return, plus the budding relationship between Duggan and Reagor, this is probably TCU’s best opportunity to get the ball going through the air early. Let’s hope they do.

Secondary Assertion

TCU’s defense was embarrassed two weeks ago. There’s really no other way to put it. But good defenses lay eggs sometimes, and now that game is behind them. Patterson noted afterward that the secondary played especially poorly, even with the return of Vernon Scott and Julius Lewis from injuries.

Now Kee’Yon Stewart is also back, adding secondary depth, and the guys have had two weeks to get some confidence back. I’m expecting TCU’s DB’s to come out ready to prove that Iowa State was a fluke.

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

Where is the pressure from the defensive line? Where did it go? With Ross Blacklock getting at minimum double-teamed nearly every play, other guys have to start stepping up. Specifically Ochaun Mathis, Shameik Blackshear, and Parker Workman. Those three guys have received the most snaps at DE this season, and they’ve combined for a total of 1.5 sacks this season.

Kansas State has a very sturdy offensive line, so this will be a huge task for TCU. But the Frogs absolutely have to get pressure on Skylar Thompson - who has struggled in his first two Big 12 games.

Convert in the Red Zone

TCU has struggled in the red zone this season, kicking field goals instead of getting in the end zone far too often. Against a defense like Kansas State’s, and considering how much KSU controls the ball when they have it on offense, every drive is going to count for TCU on Saturday. They absolutely must finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals.

Don’t be afraid to go fast

Gary Patterson said earlier this week that TCU doesn’t have the personnel to go fast like they did with Boykin under center in ‘14-’15. From an experience perspective I absolutely agree with him, from a talent perspective I have questions.

The Frogs are absolutely capable of picking up the tempo on occasion - the’ve shown that against SMU, Kansas, and Iowa State in spurts. The real question is: how can they do that more consistently?

Kansas State is going to move slowly with the football, so it’s not a question of putting the defense out there for 100 snaps on Saturday. Realistically, it’s about how TCU can get Duggan into a rhythm, and also how they can put the ball in the end zone. Tempo has worked for TCU in 2019, and it can again against Kansas State.