It’s December. TCU just finished over .500 in conference play for the first time since 2017. Forty-five days ago they were 1-3. What is life?
Now, the Frogs have a winnable game against LA Tech and a bowl game left this season (assuming Coronavirus does not extinguish it). Winning out means TCU finishes 7-4, which is pretty dang good for a team that, according to its critics, had a bad quarterback, poor coaching, lame effort, and basically every other complaint in the book.
I get it. It’s more fun when the Frogs win the Rose or Peach Bowl; but face it, this TCU squad has been pretty successful this season all things considering.
Did they beat either of the top two teams in the conference? No. But they beat (almost) everyone they should have beaten and collected two ranked wins. I’ll take it.
With that being said, here’s my three up, three down for the win over No. 15 Oklahoma State.
1. Trevon Moehrig
Gary Patterson addressed this a few weeks ago, but the expectations for Moehrig (and Ar’Darius Washington) were just plain too high going into the season.
Yes, they were the best duo at their position last season in the nation, but nine combined picks for a second-straight year is just unrealistic, considering the circumstance and some luck that must go with skill for that to happen.
Because of those expectations, Moehrig’s start to the season felt a little underwhelming; and in some ways, it was. In TCU’s first few games, he recorded just 13 tackles and zero pass defenses.
Since then, though, the junior has reminded the nation why he will play on Sundays in the very near future.
In TCU’s last six games, Moehrig has 31 tackles, 9 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. His 11 passes defended are tied for second in the conference, behind only his teammate Tre Tomlinson (coming later on this list).
On Saturday, the safety was the definition of clutch for TCU. First, he swatted a Spencer Sanders pass down in the third quarter to force Oklahoma State’s seventh punt of the day.
Then, Moehrig had one of those “Imma show you how great I am!” moments.
Late in the fourth quarter, Sanders thought he had scored the game-tying TD for the Pokes, but review showed he had stepped out well before the goal line. OSU players didn’t like something about how Moehrig hit Sanders out, so they got in the safety’s face.
Moehrig walked away from the scuffle motioning that Oklahoma State’s toughness was “all-talk.”
A few plays later, the junior proved that his bite was harder than his opponent’s bark, intercepting Sanders in the endzone with an insane one-handed grab to give TCU back the momentum.
The moment was a microcosm of the entire game, with the Frogs’ defense “bailing out” the Frogs’ offense (Derius Davis’ words, not mine) with a timely play.
Including Saturday, Moehrig has spoken with the media several times this year. He’s a nice guy who is also the definition of class, dignity, and respect for his teammates and opponents.
On Monday, Moehrig was named a semifinalist for both the Chuck Bednarik (nation’s top defender) and Jim Thorpe (nation’s top defensive back) awards. Neither award has ever gone to a TCU player.
2. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
Not only is cornerback the hardest position in football (in my opinion), but playing corner at in the Big 12 with “Tomlinson” on your back is quite the tall task.
As a true freshman, THT looked like a rookie, but he showed signs of the speed and high football IQ that would grow into an elite pass defender.
Well, his sophomore campaign has been pretty elite.
That was clear as day on Saturday, as Tomlinson put Tylan Wallace, one of the nation’s best wideouts, on LOCK.
The sophomore finished with six tackles and three pass defenses. When guarding Wallace, he only allowed a handful of catches and under 40 yards.
Tomlinson’s 13 passes defended rank first in both the Big 12 and the entire Power 5, tying for fourth nationally.
Especially with Noah Daniels out for the season, THT has been a breath of fresh air for a TCU defense that has had serious soul-searching at corner all year.
Will he be an LT? Time will tell, but Tre Hodges-Tomlinson is surely keeping respect on the Tomlinson name down in Fort Worth.
3. The Q and D. Davis Duo
Five years—it’s been five whole years since TCU had two receivers top 100 yards in one game. I literally almost missed the Moehrig interception, because I spent basically the whole fourth quarter looking for that stat.
It, hopefully, won’t take as long for the next person who looks for that, because true freshman Quentin Johnston and junior Derius Davis got it done on Saturday (I bet you can’t guess who the last two to do it were).
At 6’4”, Johnston represents a Julio Jones-like presence on the field, especially as a deep ball threat. TCU took full advantage of that on Saturday,
The rookie finished with just three catches, but those three catches went for a career-high 114 yards in less than three quarters. He also added a nasty grab to convert the two-point conversion for the Frogs late in the game.
His day would have been even bigger had he not stepped out on yet another deep ball that he grabbed over the outstretched arms of a defender.
Johnston now leads the team with 354 yards with a mind-blowing average of 20.8 yards per catch (first in B12 and 9th nationally). He will most certainly be a must-watch in the coming years.
Typically known for his threat in the return game, Davis also showed out in the pass-catching game on Saturday. He finished with six catches for a game-high 139 yards, but two of his catches were the most crucial of the day for the Frogs.
Near the end of the first half, TCU elected to throw on 3rd-and-1 deep in OSU territory. Davis held on to a contested catch to put the Frogs on the one, giving way for Max Duggan’s TD run one play later.
Later in the game, Davis scored the game-winner, reading Duggan’s motions on a broken play, running under the quarterback’s bomb of a throw, and sprinting into the endzone.
He honestly looked like Tyreek Hill out there. If this duo can keep it up, the TCU receiving core could be disgusting next year.
1. The Running Back Core
As always, the down section will be short, because a ranked win shouldn’t merit too much hate.
This group has been a bright spot for most of this season. Redshirt freshman Darwin Barlow has been the most consistent, with five-star Zach Evans providing raw excitement for the future and rookie Kendre Miller coming really out of nowhere.
Nevertheless, three fumbles from three different backs is *typically* not a recipe for success at any level of football.
It was for the Frogs on Saturday, but ball control is certainly something TCU needs to work on.
Granted, the review crew was pretty poor all game, so maybe a few of the miscues should have been overturned. Regardless, the Frogs need to hold on to the football.
I will note that Max did also turn the ball over twice, but we won’t go into whether or not those were completely his fault.
2. C.J. Ceasar
TCU was so, so, so close to shutting down Tylan Wallace on Saturday. I mean, I was beginning to taste it.
Then Wallace saw a one-one-one with Ceasar, burnt him like toast, and scored a 55-yard touchdown on OSU’s first play of the drive.
The corner was in an extremely tough position against a guy who will likely be doing that to NFL corners in nine months.
No sweat. TCU won, and that’s all that matters.
3. OSU Receiver Tay Martin
Late in the fourth quarter, Martin got in Moehrig’s face to talk trash. Moments later, Moehrig got the last laugh by essentially ending the game for the Pokes.
ESPN College Football tweeted a video after the game of Martin and others standing up to Moehrig followed by the interception. It got over 2,000 likes.
Martin has six catches for a whopping 48 yards this whole year, acting like he’s earned the right to fight someone (see my Nov. 14 tweet by C.J. Ceasar).