It hurts pretty hard when your team loses games it feels like they could have won. For TCU, it feels like they could have come out on top against Iowa State and Kansas State, as they lost those games by a combined 10 points.
Nevertheless, what hurts worse is when your team loses games it feels like they SHOULD have won. After being plagued by such games in 2019, TCU has gotten the job done in that area this year.
The Frogs have now won two-straight games for the first time since September of last year. Their wins come against teams with a combined three wins (Baylor, Texas Tech); but regardless, a win is a win in 2020.
With that in mind, here’s your three up, three down for the week.
1. Max Duggan’s Legs
Max Duggan did not make my list this week, but different areas of his game did indeed. While his passing was as poor as we have ever seen (more on that to come), the sophomore’s rushing effort deserves a spot in the Louvre.
All four of TCU’s touchdowns on the day came on the ground, and three came from Duggan himself. While the quarterback’s first score was business as usual for him (three yard scramble), the final two were works on art.
Nearing the end of the third quarter, TCU ran a QB draw for Duggan, who proceeded to cross safety Thomas Leggett into next week. Then, Max turned on the jets and outran the Texas Tech secondary for a 48-yard score.
What’s crazy is that wasn’t even his most impressive run of the game.
One quarter later, the Frogs ran the exact same play, this time faking the sweep to Taye Barber. Mad Max then took it himself and hopped on his Fury Road, putting the nails in the coffin for the Red Raiders with an 81-yard score.
“He’s a freak athlete,” safety Tre Moehrig said of Duggan. “I know we’ve got a QB who’s an athlete, who’s a competitor and just wants to win.”
Once Duggan took off, I kept thinking someone would catch him; but it wasn’t until he dove for the goal line that a member of the Tech secondary reached him.
The play was the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in TCU history and a deafening reminder to everyone in the Big 12 just how valuable Max Duggan is for the Horned Frogs.
Duggan finished with 19 carries for 154 yards to go with the three scores. He now leads the Frogs with 329 yards and six touchdowns on the ground for the year.
After the game, Derius Davis even said Max would beat him in a race. Duggan humbly denied it (Moehrig also went with Davis), but who knows, maybe we will see it in the 2021 spring game.
2. Ochaun Mathis
Man, this dude is a beast. Members of the Texas Tech offensive line probably had nightmares about Ochaun Mathis on Saturday night.
Honestly, someone should probably check on those guys.
Mathis wasted no time getting going on Saturday. On third down of the Red Raiders’ opening drive, the defensive end patiently waited for seam, found one, and exploded through it to sack quarterback Henry Colombi and force a punt.
Just over a minute later, Mathis got to Colombi again, and Tech would soon after punt for their second-straight drive.
Three drives later, the Red Raiders till had zero total yards of offense, and Mathis put them back in the negative. The sophomore collected his third sack of the day under a minute into the second quarter.
Tech would do what they needed to contain Mathis from there, but his monstrous start helped keep TCU stay afloat while their offense was struggling to get going.
Ochaun became the first Frog to record three or more sacks in a game since Josh Carraway did so against Kansas in 2016.
After the TCU defensive line started 2020 about as bad as possible, performances like that of Mathis on Saturday are signs of clear improvement.
“Even last week, he [Mathis] was really starting to cause problems.” Patterson said. “The more confidence he grows with it, the better he’s going to become, to be honest with you.”
3. Gary Patterson
Ole’ Gary collected his 200th win while coaching with TCU on Saturday. I rag on the dude a lot, but that’s pretty cool.
That win total includes Patterson’s time as the Frogs’ defensive coordinator (1998-2000), during which TCU won 25 games.
Nevertheless, the 175 games GP has won as head honcho is by far the most in program history and third nationally among active coaches. Only Nick Saban (249) and Mack Brown (250) rank higher in that category.
Look, Gary can be frustrating. In fact, he’s often very frustrating, but one word you could never describe him with is “arrogant.”
After Saturday’s win, GP credited others, not himself, for his success.
“That’s just a lot of good players over 23 years,” Patterson said. “Lot of good players. Lot of good coaches. Lot of good fans. It’s everybody.”
Especially with TCU falling short of expectations in the last three seasons, it’s easy to take Gary Patterson for granted.
May we never fully forget why TCU erected a statue for the man PRIOR to his retirement.
Three (for Four) Down :
1. Max Duggan’s Arm
Max Duggan makes his money on efficiency. Prior to Saturday’s game he had thrown just one interception and had completed 75 percent of his passes.
Well, Duggan started the game 0-for-1…with an interception. The Frogs thought endzone on their first offensive play, but Duggan’s pass was short for Blair Conwright, and cornerback Zech McPhearson snagged the pick.
From there, Duggan looked out of it, missing reads and overthrowing receivers. It didn’t help that probably his best throw of the day was dropped after contact by Quentin Johnson, but the sophomore did not look himself in the passing game.
While Max made up for it with his legs and got the job done, he is now 15-for-46 in his last two games. That is uncharacteristically poor efficiency from the young QB, and he will need to sharpen that up if the Frogs want to keep their win streak alive.
2. C.J. Ceasar II
This won’t be long, because the dude was literally making his first career start at cornerback. Prior to the contest, Ceasar had typically only seen time in special teams.
Nevertheless, like his predecessor Kee’Yon Stewart, Ceasar got embarrassed by Tech wide receivers on Saturday.
The sophomore gave up a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter then a 57-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, both of which gave Texas Tech undeserved confidence.
After the game, GP even said he might have to start playing at corner if TCU couldn’t avoid more injuries/get it together in the secondary.
That’s tough, but it’s no surprise. Once again, Ceasar was new to the starting role. Plus, he did record a pass defense.
Keep your head up, C.J.
3. The Refs
Big 12 referees, objectively, have to be the worst in the country.
We saw it last year when they gifted Jalen Hurts a yard. We saw it in September when TCU and UT were flagged 13 times in the first quarter. We also saw it on Saturday.
In the Tech game, the refs appeared to be new to the job. Maybe they were. It’s not like the Frogs vs. Red Raiders matchup was a prime time game.
The crew was continually having to confer with one another, typically making far too long to make decisions. Also, I know every ref trips up on his words every once in a while, but it felt like the head ref on Saturday did it far too often.
Don’t even get me started on the play where they awarded Tech the ball AFTER blowing the play dead following Kendre Miller’s recovery of a (borderline) backwards pass.
Thankfully, they reversed that call, but it was atrocious, nonetheless. Someone get those guys jobs at Footlocker or something.
4. Matt Wells
Texas Tech kicked a field goal on 2nd-and-4, down nine, with 2:44 left to go in the game.
That’s all I need to say about that.