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Keys to the Game: TCU vs. Texas

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Max Duggan shined during the second half against Iowa State. Four quarters of solid play from the sophomore QB will be paramount for the Horned Frogs this weekend.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Texas at TCU Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite questions about his health, conditioning and number of reps in camp, TCU quarterback Max Duggan showed no signs of rust during the team’s season-opener against Iowa State. Duggan led the Horned Frogs on three scoring drives including a touchdown pass to Blair Conwright as time expired in a 37-34 loss to the Cyclones.

The sophomore quarterback looked confident in the pocket, showing good pocket awareness and maneuverability to avoid pressure and keep his eyes down the field. All three of Duggan’s touchdown passes went for over 25 yards, and those are the same big plays TCU managed to execute during the team’s 37-27 win over Texas in 2019, a game in which Duggan compiled 345 total yards and three scored including the win-sealing rushing TD.

Duggan has been working hard to condition himself for four quarter of football, and that’s exactly what the Horned Frogs will need when they travel to Austin for their annual showdown with the ninth-ranked Longhorns, who outlasted Texas Tech in a 63-56 overtime shootout in Lubbock this past Saturday. Here are three keys to this year’s TCU-Texas game.

Hit the Big Plays

As the intro to this article states, big plays downfield were paramount for the TCU offense to strike quickly against an inexperienced Texas secondary this past season. Those included a 24-yard touchdown pass to Pro Wells and two long connections with Taye Barber, who went for 94 yards on five receptions in the game. While the Horned Frogs no longer have Jalen Reagor, TCU still has the personnel capable of beating Texas defenders downfield including freshman Quentin Johnston, who did just that against Iowa State this past weekend.

Make Ehlinger Throw

TCU intercepted Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger four times, including three times in the second half, during last season’s matchup. Safeties Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington were responsible for two of those turnovers, and the Horned Frogs will need big performances from their premier defensive backs to pull off another upset over the Longhorns, who are 2-6 against TCU since 2012.

Run the Ball Early

Establishing the run will be equally as important as getting Duggan in an early rhythm this weekend. If conditioning is a concern for Duggan, then a strong rushing attack behind Darwin Barlow, Daimarqua Foster and Emari Demercado would take a heavy burden off Duggan’s shoulders and allow him to ease into the game. Texas struggled to contain Texas Tech’s SaRodorick Thompson in its season-opener, surrendering 104 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (6.5 yards per carry) to him last weekend.