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Three up, three down: in the arms of the angel

Shoutout to our four-game losing streak to powerhouse football school West Virginia.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Christian Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

In the arms of the angel, fly awayyyyy from here.

You know if I’m back quoting “Angel” that we are at a rough point in the season. I’m also positive I used that lyric after the West Virginia game last season too. Yikes.

Saturday was tough, man. As a TCU senior who has watched and covered this team for four years, I’ve never been more sad about a game than the Frogs’ loss to West Virginia.

In fact, I even left the press box for an hour and watched most of the second half from the student section. I also did not go to the postgame press conference. It was quite a night.

How are we on a four-game losing streak to West Virginia?

Regardless, as the lead optimist for TCU football, I will have a three up for this week. We still have five games left, which means we could still finish 8-4. If that happens, I’ll venmo one of you $100.

With that in mind, here is my three up, three (should be ten) down for the week:

Three up (this section is going to be short):

1. Derius Davis

Shoutout to D. Davis for the most electric play of TCU’s season so far. To be honest, it might have been one of the most electric plays I’ve seen a Horned Frog make.

After fumbling three times in three previous games, Davis caught the opening kickoff at the goal line, weaved through nine different Mountaineers, and beat everyone to the house.

The 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown not only tied the TCU record, but it was also the Horned Frogs’ first kickoff return score since KaVontae Turpin did it against Oklahoma in 2018.

Thanks to Davis, just 14 seconds into the game, the Frogs had taken a 7-0 lead over the Mountaineers, and Amon G. Carter Stadium was absolutely rocking.

Several students told me that the student section was at an all-time high after Davis’ return.

The play not only represented a boost of confidence for a guy who can have a strong impact on this team, but it also was the type of play to swing all momentum towards the Frogs for the rest of the game.

As we know, the score did not help lead TCU to victory, but it was great to see Davis get some mojo back.

The senior currently has 16 catches, 194 yards, and a receiving touchdown this year to go with the kickoff return; and I’d expect that Saturday won’t be the last time he makes a big play for the purple and white in 2021.

2. Wyatt Harris

If you’ve read any of my three up, three downs this season, you’ll know I’ve had beef with the TCU linebacking corp. They’ve been the Frogs’ worst overall position group this season.

In his first game back from injury, Wyatt Harris actually played pretty well against the Mountaineers.

Leading TCU with a 73.5 overall defensive grade on Pro Football Focus (yes, that was the highest), Harris recorded four tackles and missed none.

Though he did give up two catches on two targets, Harris only gave up nine receiving yards, which is an upward trend from some of his past performances.

If the Frogs are going to get to the six-win mark, the linebackers are going to have to step up, so hopefully, this game from Harris is a sign of change.

3. Taye Barber

There are few people on this TCU team that I want to succeed more than Taye Barber. The dude comes to work every day and never complains, even when his playing time is cut.

Even Saturday, Barber only played 27 snaps and got two targets, but he made the most of what he got.

The veteran wide receiver caught both targets for 28 yards and a touchdown. His score late in the second quarter gave TCU their final lead of the game at 14-13.

There were not many positives to take away from Saturday, but it’s great to see hard-working, humble guys like Barber and Davis succeed.

Three down:

1. Quentin Johnston

So. Much. Pain.

There is no athlete at TCU that I see more potential in than Quentin Johnston. Literally, his physical gifts and, at time, dog mentality could make him a top five receiver nationally.

Plain and simple: QJ was not good enough on Saturday. There are no “ands,” “ifs”, or “buts” about it.

Despite 113 yards receiving, Johnston’s night was plagued by two big mistakes.

The first came in the third quarter. On TCU’s second drive of the second half, Duggan hit Johnston on arguably the best throw of his career on a ball that, per Statsowar, was in the air for FIFTY-EIGHT FREAKING YARDS.

The ball hit Johnston in the breadbasket, and he dropped it. The Frogs would then gain five yards on the next two plays and be forced to punt.

Later in the fourth quarter, TCU was trying to make a late game push, and Johnston fumbled on a 29-yard pass and run.

That’s bad, man. Mistakes happen, but when you’re someone with All-Big 12 and even All-American potential, you can’t be making two crucial errors in a must-win game.

I don’t blame Quentin solely for the loss, but that drop may have been the biggest momentum killer that the Frogs saw all game on Saturday.

2. La’Kendrick Van Zandt

Now in his fifth year with the program, La’Kendrick Van Zandt had a ton of promise entering this year. In 2020, he showed up in some seriously big moments, but he’s been largely mediocre in 2021.

Saturday was Van Zandt’s worst game, though.

Recording the second-lowest defense grade on the TCU roster (sorry Josh Foster), per PFF, Van Zandt gave up three catches on each of the three times he was targeted for 20 receiving yards.

What’s worse, the safety tied for the team-lead with three missed tackles, tying with the missed-tackle king, T.J. Carter. This continues to an issue that has ailed the Frogs all season, as they totaled 17 missed tackles as a team against West Virginia.

With Van Zandt’s addition, I’m pretty sure every member of the TCU defense has now been on my three down list (Ochaun may be safe). Sad, but not surprising.

3. Max Duggan

To be honest, Max did not have that bad of a game. He threw for 231 yards and a score while completing 62 percent of his passes, and that would have been closer to 300 yards and 70 percent if the two drops that his receivers committed had not happened.

His two interceptions are why Duggan is on this list, though. Ironically, this was his first time to throw multiple picks since that horrendous loss to West Virginia to end the 2019 season.

What’s worse is that both of these interceptions came on balls that Max telegraphed and threw from a clean pocket. There is no blaming the offensive line on these ones. These were on Max.

What is even worse is that both of these interceptions came while TCU was trying to force the ball to Quentin as the Frogs were driving with a chance to take the lead.

I’m actually all for giving Q a chance to make plays, but let’s do that when he’s running a go route not a 10-yard out route or across Max’s body in the middle of the field where the safety can make a play.

Talk about taking the wind out of your own sails.

Duggan is QB1, and he should be for the rest of the season. Stuff like this should be below his maturity as a third-year starting quarterback, though.