Fort Worth, Texas - TCU fell to 0-1 after a 37-34 loss to Iowa State on Saturday afternoon. It was a frustrating day for Frog fans, who walked away with some significant questions following the loss.
Why didn’t Max Duggan play in the first half? Why did the defense seem out of sorts at times? What is an offensive line?
Yes, it was a frustrating first game of 2020 for the Horned Frogs, and there are both some big questions and bright spots for us to look at as we prepare for Texas in a week.
Downing stayed in too long
Matthew Downing started the game for TCU, and for a moment it looked like he was going to lead the offense well. But every drive stalled out, he took a few unnecessary sacks (and was hit a few more times), and he ended the half having produced zero points for the Frogs.
Downing’s final line: 11-21, 151 yards, 1 TD.
The defense gave up too many big plays
They gave up touchdown runs of 75, 49, and 32 on the day, and the last one was particularly egregious. With under 4 minutes left in the game and TCU down 2, Iowa State lined up for a 3rd and 3. Everyone knew who was getting the ball, and yet Breece Hall went untouched into the end zone for the game-sealing touchdown.
All of TCU’s defensive stars showed up at one point or another, but it was far from a complete performance for a unit we’ve come to expect so much out of.
The offensive line struggled all day
Iowa State runs a three-man front. They still managed to record six sacks on the day. Yes, two of those were on Downing’s lack of awareness, but TCU’s line, especially the tackles, were run over for most of the day in pass protection. It’s just game one for this unit, but things need to improve quickly with Texas up next week.
Duggan looked like an improved Duggan
His final line in one half of play was 16-19, 241 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception that hit both of Taye Barber’s usually-sure hands and a knee. He delivered the ball on time, mostly accurate, and he saw his receivers help him out along the way.
You have to wonder how this game ends if he plays in the first half.
The receivers really did have a good day
People are going to focus on Barber’s drop-turned-interception, but overall the receivers had a good day. They adjusted well to the ball, showed good hands, and made plays after the catch. Both Artayvious Lynn and Quentin Johnson hauled in long touchdown passes in which they shook a defender, and Taye Barber and Blair Conwright both made good adjustments to balls in the air to haul in touchdowns of their own.
Along the way, 10 guys caught passes for 400 yards of offense and four touchdowns.
Noah Daniels looked fantastic in coverage
In what was probably an overlooked performance, Daniels’ first game back and starting was a great one. He was lockdown on his side of the field, and eventually Purdy just stopped looking in his direction. His health will go a long way to filling the void left by Jeff Gladney.
No Zach Evans sightings
Nine players had at least one rushing attempt for TCU and none of them were TCU’s surprise 5-star signee. Emari Demercado led all backs with eight carries, while Darwin Barlow and true freshmen Kendre Miller both had three.
Iowa State was favored by by 3.5, and TCU scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to make it a 3-point final deficit. Take that, Vegas.
TCU heads to Austin next weekend to face off against the Longhorns. Kick time TBD.