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MMQB: A Tale of Two Lines

The Frogs fall short in their home opener but not all is lost.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Christian Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, well game one is in the books and while we lost not all was discouraging! We learned a lot about the team, and while not everything was roses, TCU did in fact play a full football game and for the most was fun. Let’s dive into the good and the bad.

The Good:

-Max Duggan: I’m sure it will be discussed to death as to why he did not come in and play earlier, and it is a good question. Matthew Downing wasn’t bad and I am not entirely sure that it would have changed the result of the game (which I’ll speak on in a bit). With a half to work with, Max went ahead and threw for 241 yards, 3 touchdowns and one incredibly flukey/meme worthy interception. 1 touchdown and 32 of those yards were from essentially a hail mary that ended the game.

For someone that hadn’t played football in a long time, has had a heart procedure, and missed a lot of practice time...our boy looked pretty good! He didn’t show a ton of signs of rust in terms of passing the ball which totally proved me wrong. I thought he was going to come out not looking very good, because I mean how could he? Sure enough Duggan came out and looked better(?) than he did last year. Looked calmer in the pocket, when he had a clean one, and didn’t miss open receivers! Two of the three touchdown throws were beautiful passes to an open TE when Lynn broke free up the middle of the field, and Taye Barber when he snuck free behind the defense for Max’s first TD of the season.

The Offensive play calling, especially the second half - While the offense in the first half didn’t score a ton of points, it was able to move the ball down the field. Not to play the what if game, but we could have likely scored more points in the first half had Max played
This game was maybe the first time in 2 and a half years where I did not notice a frustrating moment from the offensive play calling. In fact, in the second half I was all about our play calling! Meacham may not be able to return to his 2014/2015 form but man it was SO ENCOURAGING to see TCU attack the middle of the field and not just go and try to bubble screen and tunnel screen a team to death. Meacham back baby.

Quentin Johnston - The true freshman hauled in the first touchdown of the season for TCU after breaking away from a defender and trotting into the endzone. Welcome to the next level young fella.

The Bad

-The offensive line for the most part: Now I know that there were 5 new starters on the offensive line in this game, and growing pains are to be expected. However, for the 3rd year in a row it’s looking like TCU is going to struggle on the offensive line and that’s half the reason why TCU lost the game. The Iowa State D-Line consistently got to BOTH QB’s with just a 3 man rush. The O-line consistently missed one on one blocks that ended up in QB hurries, a sack, or a no gain. See the center below:

Again, I’m not expecting the Dallas Cowboys “Great Wall” from the 90’s - especially with a bunch of new starters on the line...but we are once again not going to win many games when we cave up front to such a soft blitz over and over.

Not to mention the two bad snaps that were basically drive killers where the ball soared over Max’s head resulting in a 10+ yard loss. If our offensive line can grow together and consistently execute just a little bit better then I’m hopeful for the season.

The Defensive line: Similar to the problems from last year, the Frogs could not really get a bunch of pressure on ISU QB Brock Purdy (who played like Brock Purdy average - puns!) and their offensive line bullied our front seven. Perpetual defensive king Garrett Wallow couldn’t really make a huge impact in this one, the safeties got sucked in on a couple of run plays, but other than that I am really hanging the other half of the loss on the defensive line.

The Iowa State offensive line kicked our defense’s you know what for the entire 60 minutes. While TCU did get 2 sacks and have a HILARIOUS turn over gifted to us from Brock Purdy, he had a clean pocket to work with for the most part, and had the secondary not played really well the game is probably a lot uglier. This was the glaring issue with the TCU defense last year and it seems little to no improvement has been made, and more than likely our run defense is going to take a dip since Blacklock is now playing on Sundays.

A note on Hodges-Tomlinson: The true sophomore got beat a couple of times in this one, but I don’t want to put him in the “bad” section. He’s a young TCU corner who doesn’t have the height to win with his physicality AKA every TCU corner ever. He’s going to be asked to play on an island a lot this season and it’s likely he’s going to get beat as he continues to learn. This reminds me a lot of Texada back in 2014 who started to piece it together by the end of 2014 and came back from injury strong in 2017. Time will tell how he develops, but hopefully he’ll get more safety help when other teams throw it deep to his side.

Play of the Game:

I mean come on, while we didn’t win the game this is the one play that we will all for sure remember:

Next week: On the Road Against the Horns

The Frogs are looking to bounce back against a Longhorn team that escaped Lubbock with a win by the skin of their teeth. The UT defense could be vulnerable to a Duggan led offense (with Doug calling plays), but if the D line doesn’t show up and the O line gets worked again then it could be a LONG game for the Frogs. We all know this one means a lot to Gary, so I’m sure it’s going to be...interesting.

Let’s take it one game at a time.