TCU Football struggled to put away Texas Tech Saturday; after jumping out to a big first quarter lead, the Frogs fell behind in the third quarter before taking, and holding, the lead late.
Here are the best players and plays of an entertaining game in West Texas!
You’re a BAD Man, Mr. Barber:
Taye Barber struggled with injuries at the beginning of the season, missing a handful of games and not registering a catch in the first two he played. But it’s clear that the sophomore wide receiver has developed a strong chemistry with freshman QB Max Duggan, as it was Barber that Duggan targeted time and time again in big spots Saturday.
Barber was targeted 12 times, making eight catches, and racking up 137 yards. Duggan targeted Barber eight times on third down, turning six of those into first down receptions. Barber has speed to burn, and his re-insertion opens things up for the rest of the offense, including Jalen Reagor (who had a big game himself) and makes the running game more effective to boot.
If Reagor does what we all expect and leaves for the NFL at the end of this season, Barber will become the go-to guy in 2020. That should help salve the wounds of the loss of Reag.
RUN Out the Clock Award:
I don’t want to go all “establish the run” here and draw the ire of Parker, but it was nice to see Darius Anderson get the ball late in the fourth quarter and proceed to run out the clock. In fact, the Frogs’ last seven plays were Jet runs, and the senior running back rewarded Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper with 35 yards on the final two drives and 87 on the day. Anderson’s carries have been inconsistent, a rightful complaint amongst the fanbase. But on Saturday, he showed why he can be the guy when TCU needs to eat up yardage and run down the clock.
Vernon Scott Saves the Day:
The counter to trying to run out the clock is when it doesn’t work; on TCU’s second to last drive in Lubbock, the Frogs ended up in a third and long that led to an incomplete pass under pressure.
That put the Frogs’ defense back on the field with 2:23 to play and Tech needing just a field goal to win. Not a great scenario for a defense that had allowed the Red Raiders to climb back into the game over the course of the last three quarters. But Gary Patterson’s calling card was very good in the final frame, and his trust in them paid off when Vernon Scott came knifing in to make a tackle on McLane Mannix after a nine yard reception and jarred the ball loose in the process. After the game, Scott said “basically I just saw it, and I just reacted to it. Coach said we had to make a play, and I just put my hand on the ball, and it came out.” Out indeed. Sophomore safety Trevon Moehrig was there to scoop up the loose ball, and after “trying to give it away”, according to Coach Patterson, the defense stepped up and got a stop when they needed it most.
Scott added five tackles and a pass breakup as part of his solid all around day, and after missing a few games himself, the senior helped stabilize a secondary that gave up some big plays late a week ago.
Ice in His Veins and a Song in His Heart:
We are not giving enough love to Jonathan Song this season, but the senior kicker has put together one of the best seasons of any TCU kicker ever (not named Jaden Oberkrom at least). Song, a Lou Groza semi-finalist, is 21-22 on field goals and a perfect 34-34 on extra points in 2019, good for sixth best in the country (though he leads in attempts). He is fourth in attempts per game as well, and has handled kickoff duties from time to time this season to boot.
Song has been rock solid in big moments since hitting the game winner at the Cheez-It Bowl to close out 2018, and while he doesn’t have the biggest leg in college football, he’s been incredibly reliable. And in the world of #collegekickers, that’s not something to take for granted.
The Play-Calling Was... Good?
It wasn’t the most inventive game plan of all time, but the way the TCU offense came out was at least interesting and effective. Sure, as our friend Parker will point out, it took some Mad Max Miracles, but the Frogs accumulated 190 yards in the first quarter alone on ten pass attempts and 14 rushes. Sonny Cumbie opened things up, allowing Duggan to throw on first down, working in some play-action, and remembering that Jalen Reagor is very good.
It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t “forgive all sins” good, but it was a step in the right direction for a unit and a coaching staff that has come under fire a lot in 2019. And for good reason.
Youth Will Be Served:
On Saturday, TCU played the following first and second year players for significant snaps:
Max Duggan (FR) QB - 25/32, 323 yards, 2 touchdowns
Taye Barber (SO) WR - 8 receptions, 137 yards
Te’Vailance Hunt (SO) WR - didn’t have a catch, but made his bones last week
John Stephens, Jr (SO) WR - 3 receptions, 40 yards
Derius Davis (SO) WR - 2 receptions, 20 yards
Carter Ware (SO) TE, Pro Wells (SO) TE
Quazzel Whte (SO) OT
Trevon Moehrig (SO) S - fumble recovery
Colt Ellison (FR) DE
Josh Foster (FR) S
Wyatt Harris (FR) LB - interception
Ar’Darius Washington (FR) S - tipped pass that led to the INT
Ochaun Mathis (RS FR) DE
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (FR) DB
Ben Wilson (SO) LB
Nook Bradford (FR) S
George Ellis (SO) DT
Jody Sandy (FR) P
Nine of those players STARTED Saturday.
This season has been frustrating, but man, the future is BRIGHT. Maybe what we have seen these last few weeks is a glimpse into what this team can be going forward.