Since the early 2010s, when TCU was considered one of the better college football programs in the nation, Horned Frog Nation has gotten a little spoiled.
I said it.
From the start of the 2018 season to now, TCU is a combined 12-14. After missing bowl eligibility last year, it would appear that the Frogs are headed for that same fate in 2020.
In light of this, I’ve heard a lot of “Are you kidding??” “Fire Gary!!!” “What are we doing?” “Why do we suck?” and more.
Now, this is a conversation for another day, but what else should we expect from a school that boasts under 10,000 undergraduates (seventh-smallest of Power 5 schools) and has just one true 5-star recruit in program history?
Regardless of what happens this season, I look at 2020 and see a massive “W” by TCU’s games against Texas and Baylor.
*Hopping off my soap box*
Here’s your three up, three down for the week:
1. Darwin Barlow
This dude is legit. All season, I’ve felt like he should be TCU’s number one option at running back; because, to put it simply, good things happen when Darwin Barlow touches the ball.
On Saturday, the redshirt freshman only made that more evident.
After TCU was abysmal in the run game against Oklahoma (25 carries for 75 yards), they picked up the pace against the Bears, taking 44 carries for 247 yards
By himself, Barlow took 16 carries for 117 yards and a score. The game was his first-career 100-yard performance on the ground and the first by a TCU player since Oct. 19, 2020 (Duggan, 115 yards).
The bulk of the back’s yardage came on one play in the third quarter. Barlow simultaneously showed off his speed and decision-making, bursting left through the defensive line and exploded for 74 yards before getting taken down.
Barlow now leads the Frogs with 228 yards and is tied with Duggan for the team lead with three rushing scores. His 5.8 yards per carry put him in the top 25 nationally.
True freshman Zach Evans is an honorable mention for my list this week. The five-star came right behind Barlow with 81 yards and his first career score on seven carries.
While I love Evans and his blindingly bright future in the purple and white, I like Barlow for now in doing the bulk of the work.
Of course, all Gary really had to say about the way his backs played was, “They ran hard.”
2. Derius Davis
Nebraska transfer J.D. Spielman has given the Frogs good field position via the return game several times this season; but with him out on Saturday, it was unsure whether or not TCU would get much positive action in that area.
Derius Davis shut that thought down real quick.
After Baylor went three-and-out on their second drive, the junior diced up the Bears special teams with a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The score gave the Frogs a 14-0 lead and seemingly the most momentum they had possessed in a game all season.
A few minutes later, Jalen Reagor shouted Davis out on Twitter for his electric play. Reagor returned two punts to the house last year, with the most recent of which coming in TCU’s 2019 season-ending loss to West Virginia.
“You know, Jalen was a great returner, he’s like a brother to me,” Davis said. “I appreciate the shoutout, much love.”
What I like most about this score is that it was Davis’ first touchdown since 2018, when he had three in his rookie campaign.
When a lot of guys have seen limited time and bounced from the program, Davis has stayed true to GP and the Frogs, and it paid off in a big way against the Bears.
3. The Defensive Line
Hallelujah! TCU got to the quarterback on Saturday!
Patterson said after the game that he had talked with the Frogs all week about putting pressure on Baylor QB Charlie Brewer, and his words certainly came to fruition.
Entering the game with five sacks on the ENTIRE SEASON, the Frogs doubled their 2020 production with five total sacks of Brewer this weekend.
I almost shed a tear.
As Baylor had just three sacks of their own, TCU recorded more sacks than their opponent for the first time this season.
Perhaps what makes this stat best is that the sacks came from five different Horned Frogs. Dee Winters, Terrell Cooper, Khari Coleman, Earl Barquet, and even Kee’Yon Stewart got in on the action.
At times, I almost felt bad for Brewer. It felt like he had nowhere to go and that his football career literally might have come to an end at some point during the first half.
Now, don’t get confused. The Frogs still rank 8th in the conference with just 10 sacks, but it’s a start.
4. The Baylor Press Box
Yes, this is the first-ever edition of four up, three down.
I cannot fail to mention the Baylor press box in this article. Their performance was quite phenomenal on Saturday.
With Coronavirus going on, press boxes have had to change their approach on food. For Texas, this meant simply providing water bottles…seriously?
Baylor, on the other hand, gave out burgers, chips, cookies, popcorn, coffee, drinks, and more. The burger was a little burned, but it was a substantial and tasty meal nonetheless.
Well done, Baylor.
1. Kee’Yon Stewart
Look, I kept it anonymous last week, but it was Kee’Yon who deserved most of the blame for Marvin Mims’ trouncing of TCU.
Well, it happened again.
With Noah Daniels out, Stewart started in his place at corner; and, honestly, he did fairly well on paper.
The sophomore had three tackles (one for a loss), a sack, and a pass defense. Not bad. Right?
Late in the third quarter, Stewart had a blatant pass interference penalty that moved Baylor into TCU territory.
Minutes later, Baylor faced a 4th-and-three situation at the TCU 38 yard line. The Bears went for it, and the Frogs’ defensive line blew up the play, forcing Brewer to roll to his right and chuck up a prayer to the sideline.
Well, his prayer was answered, and I don’t think it’s because Baylor is a Baptist school. Bears running back Trestan Ebner boxed Stewart out and simply out-worked him to the ball.
To make matters worse, Stewart was so lost that Ebner turned around and ran into the endzone. Replay showed that he had stepped out after making the catch, but it was an atrocious play by Stewart nonetheless.
I like the guy. He’s from my hometown of Houston, and it’s not like anyone expected him to play like Noah Daniels.
Nevertheless, he entered the contest with 13 games played under his belt. At that point, you just can’t be letting dudes Moss you left and right.
2. The Second Half Horned Frogs
To start the second half, Baylor went three-and-out, and Barlow took off for a 74-yard carry. I literally thought TCU might win 50-7.
Well, the Frogs had to settle for a field goal on that drive, and things made me clench my teeth from there,
For an eight minute period from the middle of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth, Baylor scored 16 unanswered points as part of a 23-7 run.
Following their field goal, TCU saw a turnover on downs and three-straight punts.
Fortunately, the Frogs were able to run off 6:24 on their final drive thanks to a strong rushing effort, and within ten is the closest the Bears would get.
Nevertheless, a 33-23 win over a struggling Baylor team is not what you like to see after starting with a 30-0 lead.
This team clearly has a lot of work to do.
3. Jalen Pitre
I don’t need to say much here.
Midway through the first quarter, Baylor’s Jalen Pitre put the hit stick on Max Duggan after the QB handed it off to Daimarqua Foster.
Pitre’s helmet collided with Duggan’s, and the linebacker was ejected for targeting. I was expecting for Max to be dazed and shaken up, but he got up right away.
After the game, Duggan shouted out his O-line for taking hits all game for him, saying him taking one pales in comparison.
That’s a warrior.