I’ll admit it: I did not know the name Deuce Vaughn before Saturday.
Despite playing high school football at Cedar Hill Austin, the 5’5” freshman was probably not on the radar of many TCU Football fans. But heading into Saturday’s matchup with the 2-1 Wildcats, Vaughn looks like the guy you have to pay attention to — especially if Skylar Thompson is unable to play after taking a brutal hit last week and leaving the game in a sling.
Vaughn led the Wildcats with 194 total yards and two touchdowns, including a 70 yard scoring reception that sealed the game. Working alongside true freshman QB Will Howard, Vaughn put the team on his back against Texas Tech and kept the ball moving enough to allow the Cats D to hold.
Thompson had been solid through 2+ games, throwing for nearly 600 yards with an efficiency rating over 165. He has rushed for three touchdowns as well. If he is unable to go, Howard will be at the helm; the 6’4” Pennsylvania native has seen action each of the last two weeks, with his performance against the Red Raiders Saturday his biggest test yet. Coming in during the second quarter, Howard went 6-11 for 103 yards if you take out the one 70 connection to Vaughn.
Overall, the Wildcats are averaging 33 points per game, racking up nearly 400 yards of offense, and have yet to turn the ball over. They might not be the most explosive unit in the game, but they don’t make many mistakes.
This is a solid, ball-hawking unit that has already picked off five passes and forced three fumbles.
Senior linebackers Elijah Sullivan and Justin Hughes lead the team with 21 tackles apiece, and defensive lineman Wyatt Hubert continues to spend the majority of his time in the backfield. He’s not alone though, K State already has seven sacks and 18 tackles for loss.
This defense will give up points though, as opponents are currently averaging 30 points and nearly 500 yards per game. At 6.4 yards per play, there’s definitely opportunities to move the ball — if you can hang on to it. When they have needed to, they have clamped down, limiting Oklahoma a week ago and Texas Tech Saturday in the fourth quarter.
Always a strength of the Cats, 2020 is no different. Led by preseason All-Conference return man Joshua Younglbood, K State excels at flipping the field and putting their offense in good position. They have also blocked a punt in three consecutive games, something no other FBS team has done to open the season in eight years.
This is going to be a battle, as it generally is when these two purple powerhouses meet up. Chris Klieman has done an excellent job coaching up his program, and has recruited a really great freshman class that is impacting games already. Vaughn is legit, and there is plenty of talent at wide receiver to give a TCU defense that has been prone to surrendering plays fits. I expect plenty of scoring Saturday, and while it’s probably unfair to pick against the team that has won two games against tough opponents, I think TCU is finding their groove at the right time.
Give me TCU 34-30.