The Frogs look to move to 4-1 with a win over Iowa State on Saturday morning. TCU took 2018’s matchup by the score of 17-14, after a last minute defensive stand helped the Frogs hold on. That win officially jumpstarted the Brock Purdy era at Iowa State, as the then-true freshman quarterback was named the starter the following week.
Now, Purdy is one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference, and Matt Campbell has him paired with a very solid defensive squad - meaning that once again in 2019 Iowa State will be tough to beat.
But, TCU is set up well to go up to Ames and get a W. Here are five things TCU can do to bring home the win against the Cyclones.
Defensive End Pressure
TCU defensive ends have yet to record a sack this season, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by most TCU fans. South Carolina transfer Shameik Blackshear has gotten close a few times, including for a half-sack. Ochaun Mathis has gotten close a few times too, but hasn’t tallied one yet.
DT Ross Blacklock and LB Garret Wallow are tied for the team lead in sacks with 2.5 each, while Dee Winters has two. No other TCU player has a full sack to their name.
With Purdy’s mobility, it’ll be important to contain him, but it will also be important to get him to the ground when given a chance. He’s shown an innate ability to elude the rush and break tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and that can get a defense in trouble if they don’t finish tackles.
Try Play Action, Just Try It
Parker mentioned it in his article yesterday, and we lamented about it together earlier in the week. TCU’s offense has been so bland and lacking in creativity this season, that it’s extraordinarily predictable right now. Here’s an example of what I mean:
TCU's early down passing rate in the year of our Lord 2019:— parker fleming (@statsowar) October 3, 2019
THIRTY-SEVEN POINT FIVE.
BUT, TCU can take advantage of their strong running game on early downs in a very strategic way! By pretending to hand the ball to Darius Anderson, faking out the defense, and then throwing the ball with Max Duggan. It’s called play action, and we don’t do it much around these parts.
It could be particularly useful against Iowa State, who has the second worst passing defense in the Big 12, just ahead of Texas.
The Return of Some Dudes
Julius Lewis and Tre Hights are both going to return from injuries this game, and that will help on both sides of the ball. True freshman Kee’yon Stewart has been great in Lewis’ stead early this season, but he’s banged up now too. Getting Lewis back means the Frogs have both of their senior corners back on the field, a huge comfort to TCU fans and a stressor for the opposing offense.
Tre Hights had a huge first game of the season, but got banged up in week two and hasn’t played since. His size and speed provides another big target for Duggan to throw to, and he may find himself open if Iowa State focuses on locking up Reagor and...Pro Wells. Speaking of Pro...
Go Back To The Well(s)
The big sophomore tight end is the only TCU player with multiple receiving touchdowns this season, with three. He’s got just six receptions this year, but he’s clearly turning into a favorite and reliable target for Duggan, and a major red zone threat. If TCU can continue to get him the ball, other options will start to open up in the passing game.
Also, here’s a fun fact for you: TCU tight ends have 10 receptions this season, through four games. Tight ends had seven receptions in all of 2018, and eight in all of 2017. So it’s clearly a tight end revolution for the Horned Frogs in 2019, with Pro Wells leading the way.
Let Max Cut It Loose
Max Duggan is TCU’s starting quarterback. He had just 11 passing attempts against Kansas, completing eight of them for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, the Frogs opened up a huge lead early, but it felt like the ideal situation to really try and get Max some situational reps. The fact that he didn’t, in favor of Alex Delton and Mike Collins getting time, shows that there’s still some hesitation on at least one of the coaches (read: Gary Patterson) to put all of the team’s eggs in one QB’s basket.
At some point that will have to change. Will this weekend be that moment? Who knows.