Say your time is comin’ soon, but just like Oklahoma, mine is comin’ Sooner.
After hearing (and furthering) the thought that TCU’s time was coming all offseason, I feel Jack Harlow’s words a little too harshly here.
TCU’s time was, in fact, not coming soon. This year is not the year. No one was “doubting” us. They were just accurately assessing a mediocre football team.
Things like that are hard to swallow, but counting this season, or even the loss to Oklahoma, as a complete wash is a waste of time. Good and even great things have happened this year and happened last Saturday.
With that in mind, here is my *four up, four down for the week:
1. Quentin Johnston
I was at the game on Saturday, and Quentin Johnston’s receiving performance was the best performance that I’ve ever seen in person by any football player ever. I know I’m only a college student, but I’ve been to/covered dozens of games with dozens of elite performances, and Q’s in Norman was the best I’ve seen.
Let’s start with just the statistical impact of Johnston’s game. After an early drop (which was not even listed as a drop), Q popped off for career-highs with 7 catches, 185 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Not only were Q’s 185 yards the 9th-most in a game by a Frog in school history, but no TCU player had recorded that many yards receiving since Taj Williams had 210 in 2016 (ironically, also against Oklahoma).
What’s more, all three of Johnston’s touchdowns were contested, demonstrating the rewards of hard work he put in over the offseason to be better in that area.
“Especially as a big receiver, that should be almost a no-brainer: you throw it up, I should be able to go get it,” Johnston said after the game.
I think what was more important about Q’s game, though, was the leadership he showed. With TCU already facing a disappointing season and down early to Oklahoma, the sophomore stepped up and consistently did everything in his power to keep the Frogs in the game.
The most evident example of this was Johnston putting his hand down in cornerback Joshua Eaton’s face to tell him he was “too small” after ripping an interception out of his hands for a touchdown.
Some of you may write that off as “arrogant” by Johnston, but I see that as him being tired of the disrespect that he, and TCU as a team, has received this season. Q is not just cool with being a mediocre push-over. He wants to be great, and I think a few other members of the TCU team (including his head coach) could take a lesson from that.
2. Max Duggan
To be frank, if you think Max Duggan is the issue with TCU football, then you don’t watch enough TCU football or likely enough football in general.
Without a doubt, Duggan is good enough to lead the Frogs to a Big 12 championship appearance…IF he is paired with a top 30 defense, which has been almost annual for TCU.
The Frogs don’t have a top 30 defense this year, and Duggan could be better. Saturday night showed us, though, that the junior the capable of being good or even great in big games.
Against the Sooners, Duggan set career-highs with 344 yards and four touchdowns. Not only did he not throw an interception, but he also had an impressive adjusted completion percentage of 80.8 percent.
On top of that, Max added 45 yards on the ground on just 8 carries, including a gritty run for a first down that kept TCU’s first touchdown drive alive.
Oh yea, he did all of this with a broken bone in his foot.
After the game, Patterson said, “Anyone who thinks Max is the issue can…” He didn’t finish the thought, because I’m sure what he initially wanted to say wasn’t quite media safe.
So far this year, Duggan is completing passes a career-high 65 percent of the time, and he has only thrown two picks. He has made mistakes, but his undoubted desire to help TCU win and his clear improvement as this season has gone on makes him the Frogs’ best option going forward.
Especially after seeing the Sooners rally behind Caleb Williams and kick Spencer Rattler to the curb, it’s more evident that ever that starting the QB that your team is behind is best for your team.
“Max, his trust in me alone builds a lot of confidence in me,” Johnston said about Duggan. “He’s just a great person to be around on the field and off the field, so I feel like we’re growing a strong relationship where he can trust me.”
He’s no Caleb Williams, but Duggan has TCU’s trust. He should have ours.
3. Ochaun Mathis
It’s no secret that TCU’s pass rush is horrendous. Even beyond the conference scale, the Frogs have one of the worst pass rushes in the nation (108th nationally in sack rate).
Because of that, watching Ochaun Mathis record two important sacks on Saturday (his first since Duquesne) was a more-than welcomed sign for Frog fans on Saturday.
Both times, Mathis’ sacks forced Oklahoma into field goals, which is an absolute win for any team facing the high-flying Sooners. The first field goal was even missed, meaning the pressure from Mathis helped force Oklahoma into just 3 points when they were knocking on the door of 14.
Later in the game, Mathis got another hit on Williams, but one of many failures in the TCU secondary led to the pass still being caught.
The pass rush was held pretty quiet for the rest of the game, and Mathis did miss a tackle. Overall, though, his part in keeping the Frogs in the game early had been quite refreshing and another example of seasoned TCU players doing their part Saturday.
After the game, Ochaun said that his success rushing the passer against OU will propel him going forward, so it will be interesting to see how impactful he can be on Saturday against the Mountaineers.
4. The goal line ref that only gave Quentin a warning for his taunting of the Oklahoma defender
1. C.J. Ceasar
Despite the fact that he’s been here more than a few times, C.J. Ceasar belonged on my three down list this week more than ever.
Seriously, his performance on Saturday was the worst I’ve ever seen, on either side of the ball, from a TCU player in my four years of covering this team.
Over the course of the game, Ceasar was targeted five times. He gave up catches on all five of those targets for a whopping 104 yards, including a miserable 53 yards after the catch.
When throwing Ceasar’s way, Williams had an insane passer rating of 154.3. Not to mention, Ceasar then had his ankles broken by the young QB on his 41-yard touchdown run.
I’m thankful that he goes out there every Saturday and refuses to give up, but Ceasar might be the worst started in the Gary Patterson era.
Lord, help us.
2. The linebacking corp, again
This group makes my down list for the second-straight week, and they deserve it.
The middle of the field was consistently just wide open all game for Oklahoma. Some of this goes on the secondary, but Dee Winters and Jamoi Hodge need to receive blame as well.
Wyatt Harris did not even play, so we can’t excuse Dee anymore by saying that his fellow linebacker was continually getting switched.
Winters and Hodge gave up a combined four catches on the four times they were targeting, allowing a combined 59 yards through the air. They also each missed a tackle while combing for just seven.
The group of TWO linebackers recorded just seven tackles. To give some perspective, Garrett Wallow recorded nine-plus tackles in seven of TCU’s 10 games in 2020.
I’m not sure what is wrong with Dee, but he needs to get himself together and lead the linebacking corp to even a capable status. The TCU defense cannot consistently have both or all three of their linebackers looking lost for four quarters.
3. Derius Davis
I genuinely really like this dude. He can be such a massive weapon for TCU football, but he has to have better ball control.
Davis recorded his third fumble of the season on Saturday. Luckily, the Oklahoma defender fumbled it out the back of the endzone and back to TCU, but the Frogs need a higher level of play from Derius.
4. Gary Patterson
Look, man. If you can look your players in the eyes and tell them that punting on your opponent’s 38 while down 21 was for them and not an act of surrender, that’s all you.
Couldn’t be me.