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Quick Thoughts: TCU 33, Baylor 23

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The Frogs won, but played an incredibly disappointing second half.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

TCU rolled into Waco looking like a team that didn’t know who they were or who they wanted to be. They finished the first half feeling like a program on the rise and left the game with yet more questions.

Sure, Baylor has been bad these season — really bad. But there was little in the way of hope from Frog fans, what with a mass exodus to the transfer portal and the loss of four starters due to season-ending injury before kick-off. But that changed in a hurry — it was obvious early that the Horned Frogs came to play, and play they did. For 30 minutes. Then all hell broke loose and Baylor looked like the team that wanted it more. Thankfully, the Frogs were able to hold on, though not without some tense moments.

Here are my quick thoughts about the Frogs’ 33-23 win over Baylor.

  • When the Frogs throw on early downs, good things happen. Duggan got in a rhythm early by going to the air on first and second down, keeping the Baylor defense on it’s heels and opening up big play opportunities.
  • In that vein, it turns out getting the ball to your best players is a good strategy. Wide receiver Quentin Johnston had three catches on five targets for 64 yards. That’s not enough. He’s good, and TCU needs to keep finding ways to use him more.
  • Zach Evans is going to be a star. His 30 yard touchdown run in the first half showed that special gear that elite players have, and when he bounced off a would-be-defender in the third quarter to turn a short gain into 33 yards, he showed he has the toughness, too. The fact that he can catch the ball out of the backfield doesn’t hurt, either.
  • The Frogs ran the ball really well Saturday in general; Darwin Barlow broke free for 74 yards and finished with 117, the first TCU player all season to crest the century mark. If I were going to complain, though, it would be Meacham’s continued fixation on giving the ball to the same player, two, three, four times in a row. Barlow got the next touch after his 74 yard pickup and predictably was stopped for no gain (he was gassed), and Evans touched it three straight times on a drive that ended in a turnover on downs. Late in the third, a Davis jet sweep was followed by a Davis end around... and Baylor wasn’t fooled. I am all for riding a hot hand, but a little creativity would be nice.
  • Pro Wells needs more targets. That’s it.
  • The TCU defense looked like they were taking things personally Saturday. We haven’t seen that kind of fire from them in a long time.
  • Dee Winters is a baller. The linebacker recorded eight tackles, a sack, and broke up a pass. He was a bright spot, especially in the first half.
  • I don’t understand why the TCU coaching staff is so insistent on stopping what works. From the time they hit 30, they completely took their foot off the gas, settling for predictable plays, on fourth and short and third and one, and shifting course on the strategy that had been so effective early. They let Baylor think they were back in the ball game, and they were, getting within two scores. TCU scored a field goal on their first drive of the second half, then managed just 71 yards on their next four drives. That’s not great!
  • The second half was near-disasterous for TCU; Baylor outscored the Frogs 23-3 from the last drive of the first half through the remainder of the game, and played with all of the fire and heart we saw from the Frogs through the first two quarters. This team isn’t good enough to rest on a lead, and it nearly cost them Saturday.
  • Beating Baylor is always better than not beating Baylor, but the win did little to quell the concerns of fans. GP says win by one, but Saturday, winning by 30 would have felt a lot better.