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MMQB: Cooked in the Iron Skillet

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We reflect on TCU’s first loss of the season.

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday after the game, after standing outside and sweating out all of the weight I had gained from the previous week, I opened up a bottle of bourbon and that’s how I coped with what I had watched. Obviously, I will write more and better fleshed out thoughts below, but think of this. If everything that had happened in this game had been against...let’s say Oklahoma, we’d be ecstatic that we were able to play them so close. Unfortunately this was not Oklahoma, it was SMU.

Now the reason I even bring up Oklahoma is because this game reminded me so much of the 2016 game where Oklahoma came in to town and beat us by 6 points (52-46). The way that this particular game had gone, we outplayed Oklahoma for two quarters - the 1st and the 4th - but they absolutely kicked our teeth in during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. That team was not good enough to overcome 2 really awful quarters with 2 good ones. THAT is why I bring up the previous Oklahoma game, because on Saturday the Frogs laid an egg in the first half and didn’t really come to play until the second half. Alright, now let’s get into it, since it’s the first loss of the season, we are going with the bad section first:

The Bad

-The first half offense - The only person that showed up to play on offense during the first half was Darius Anderson. We were all a backpack that sat on the shoulders of that man, and I am truly sorry that we dropped this one after the monster day Jet had. 19 touches, for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. I don’t know why I am apologizing, probably because part of me feels personally responsible because I did the classic no-no of wearing a brand new polo to the game the day I bought it.

Anyways, you know it’s really alarming when your starting quarterback goes 1/10 in a HALF. This isn’t the Cheez-It Bowl where that is just highly comical and entertaining. This was painful to watch. The passing game was not good, and sure part of that can get placed at the feet of the coaching staff for not getting a QB into rhythm early...I don’t really buy that, but I’m willing to split the blame. More on the QB play later in everyone’s favorite segment.

I will say, SMU’s receivers made ours look like they play different sports. I don’t know why SMU’s players were all able to make contested catches while ours dropped almost all of them, but hey sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. You know it’s just not your day when Jalen Reagor isn’t able to haul in at least one contested catch on the day. I believe he had 2 or 3 broken up/couldn’t bring down. Again, I don’t hold anyone on the team to the standard of being able to make those catches other than him because I have seen him DOMINATE defensive backs and make those catches. Ugh, I feel bad having to see him only average like 3 catches a game. He deserves better too.

The 3 fumbles that we gave SMU in the first half, due to poor hand offs and Sewo catching a case of the butterfingers, really gave us all the ammo we needed for the gun that we were using to repeatedly shoot ourselves in the foot.

-The first half defense - The only person that showed up in the first half on defense was Garret Wallow. He finished his day with 19 tackles, 11 of them solo. Of all the upper classmen NOT on the defensive line, I feel like Wallow was the only one that made an impact today. Innis Gaines didn’t do much for me, and the same goes for Jeff Gladney who’s only play of the game seemed to be a break up where he was turned around and I truly have no idea how he did it. That being said, I expect WAY more of those two in the secondary. Again, not sure if SMU just had our number in combination with this truly not being our day, but if this is a sign of things to come then let me spam the eject button know because my eyes can’t take it.

With those two players not being factors, more pressure was put on the younger guys, and I do feel like Kee’yon Stewart got picked on a little bit. That’s not me saying he’s not good, or not a playmaker, but he is a young guy and it’s only natural that SMU went after him time and time again.

We gave up 31 points at the end of the 1st half, large in part to our defense getting put in bad situations thanks to our offense either A) giving SMU the ball on our side of the field, often times right in front of our own end zone and B) our special teams game didn’t really help, specifically that time they gave SMU prime field position right before the end of the half that allowed the Ponies to score.

-The fumbles in the first half - there were 3 of them and they are a primary reason why we lost this game. Our offense put up 38 points, but it didn’t matter because we basically gifted SMU 17 points from turnovers. These half to stop or we are going to go 4-8.

NEW CATEGORY: The Awful

-That 4th and 1 Sewo Pass attempt - Look, there has already been an in depth piece written specifically about this play, as if it blew up the freaking death star. It didn’t, but that being said it is still in the running for the worst play I’ve ever seen TCU call in my entire life as a fan. If not, it is certainly the poorest called during my time as a TCU fan, and I’ve seen 3 double reverses in a row.

Max Duggan finally gets in a rhythm, so we take him out and put in Delton which is telegraphing our play call, but I can still ration that one out since we can just average 3 yards per run. On 4th down and 1 yard to gain, literally just have Sewo fall down. JUST HAVE HIM FALL DOWN AND HE PICKS UP 2 OR 3 YARDS. With the momentum all going our way, we decide to leverage it on a play we have never run before, that to be fair probably doesn’t get covered 2 out of 3 times but if it is an unknown then I don’t know what to even say. I’m not calling the plays, I have no experience calling plays, but I will call that for what it was...a dumb play call. Even if it works I am probably still mad that we ran that play due to how many years off my life it would have taken - and how foolishly risky it was.

There’s a lot more bad that I could write about, especially the bitter fan side of me that really wants to embrace the dark side of the internet and go in. But all I’ll say is, that this game was tough to watch and the heart break of it all was that despite emptying a full 6 shooter into our foot, we still were driving to win the game there at the end.

Okay on to the good.

The Good:

-Darius Anderson - Darius...you are truly a gem and a gift to us all. You have been so much fun to watch, and for your sake (and Reagor’s) I pray, and am willing to do some sacrilegious things for us to win out just so I can see you play as many games as possible in purple.

-The Second half defense - The defense only allowed 10 points to the Ponies in the second half, and that’s when the Frogs really began to put pressure on SMU’s QB Shane Buechele and we began forcing 3 and outs.

Props to Gary and the defensive staff in the second half for making those adjustments and being more PROACTIVE instead of reactive, at least that’s what it felt like to me. The Ponies had to punt 4 times in the second half, and the Frogs made a huge stand late in the game to hold SMU to a field goal. Had the defense played like this the entire game, then I’m pretty certain that the Frogs would have been able to put this one away by the end of the 3rd quarter.

Alas, they did not.

-The Second half offense - We began running more tempo, and it was clear that getting Duggan comfortable was a priority. He went 15/26 in the second half and was hitting most of his intermediate throws (again more on the QB play in a minute) and showed a lot of maneuverability.

We scored not one, but two tight end touchdowns in this game and on that note I think that is more than we have scored in the past 3 seasons combined. Yay for tight ends! In all seriousness it is encouraging to see us get those big guys who can block also out there running routes and catching passes. Pro Wells, tip of that cap to you for making plays. Sewo also had a receiving touchdown, and while he was in the dog house for most of the game after that early fumble, he still did what he could when he was asked to run or catch the ball. Still love you big boy 33.

The offensive line - The big boys up front opened up lanes for the backs to run through and also gave Duggan so much time to work with in terms of passing protection. They only really did a poor job on 3 plays that I can think of. Other than that, this is a total turn around from last year where I was basically blaming every poor offensive performance on them. Having a good OL makes life so much easier...except for when almost every other part of your offense can’t function for 4 quarters.

-The Uniforms - The Uniforms are still undefeated.

The Rational Quarterback Analysis Manifesto:

After this game it seems pretty clear that the QB competition is over and Duggan is the starter and Delton is the backup. That’s okay with me since that means the internet can take a breather from debating who it should be...and surely on to if we should bench Duggan, is Duggan ready, is Duggan good, etc. Well I can’t answer any of those questions, but what I can say is that Duggan has a lot to learn.

Duggan’s first half was bad. It was really bad. I’m talking chipotle queso bad. He held onto the ball for too long, couldn’t hit his receivers, and when he did he threw about 1 yard above their heads. He needed to be more calm in the pocket, but he also needed to not hold onto the ball for so long. The latter is a totally normal thing for true freshman to do. They want to make a play on every single down, and sometimes it’s just better to throw it away. That is exactly what should have happened when he got strip sacked within our own red zone in the first half.

I am not putting this loss entirely on him for countless reasons, but going 1/10 in the first half is just painful, especially when you have receiving GAWD Jalen Reagor lining up on the outside.

I don’t know why we didn’t run more tempo, especially once we were down by 18, but it was clear that our quarterback was uncomfortable in the entire first half and our offensive staff - specifically the ones calling plays - need to improve almost as much as the QB. That’s a little unfair for me to say since the poor passing performance pretty much made our offense one dimensional in the first half. But still, if something isn’t working it is their job to find a way to at least make it serviceable.

I am not going to be out here on #FireCumbie Twitter, nope you can’t force me to, but I will admit he’s got to get better. Last year the whole offensive staff was in a tough spot with injuries to the top 2 RB’s, an offensive line that couldn’t block traffic, and a turnover machine at QB (at least until he transferred out). The year before (2017 season) we were methodical and made almost every drive count. Cumbie has shown that he can get the most out of a team’s offense when he is calling the plays, but he has also shown that he can be suspect to being inconsistent. I don’t know which one is closer to who Cumbie really is as a play caller, but I will say this, I love him as a recruiter and as a QB development guy.

If we’re riding with Duggan, we will have to weather the ups and downs (just like Cumbie) of having a green as grass true freshman QB throwing the ball around. We are probably going to have to wait a little bit longer until he shows how good he can really be.

The Play of the Game:

Once again, Darius Anderson ladies and gentlemen. The caption says it all.

Next Week: Operation Beat Kansas

Well, this one is a revenge game and we have so much to work on between now and next week. Hopefully this was the game that we shouldn’t have lost that we did and got it out of our system early.

At least, that’s what I’m hoping for, and as fans that’s all that we can do right now. God speed and Go Frogs.