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Three up, three down: Zeke and THT provide a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel

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It turns out that the two best players at TCU played like the two best players at TCU.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What does TCU football have to live for if not beating Texas?

The thought of rounding out a decade of playing the Horns in the Big 12 with a win and 8-2 dominance was ripe in all of our minds on Saturday. Thanks to Bijan Robinson and a couple of gut-wrenching turnovers, though, the Frogs just couldn’t get it done.

If y’all want the real culprit, blame Melissa. She flew from California to cover the game and couldn’t even get a TCU win over Texas?? Shaking my head…

With that in mind, here’s my three up, three down for the week:

Three up:

1. Zach Evans

If you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, you’ll remember the scene late in the movie when Thor arrives to the battle in Wakanda with a surge of lightening and basically saves the battle for the Avengers after things looked grim.

Well, that was Zach Evans pretty much all game on Saturday, and he made that pretty clear right away.

Following J.D. Spielman’s electric opening kickoff return, Evans took his first carry of the game from the Texas 12-yard line. Despite the fact that a trio of Texas defenders read the play perfectly and blew past the offensive line, Zach shook all of them off and burst into the endzone.

It was, by far, the most impressive play that a Horned Frog has made this season on either side of the ball, and it got everyone’s hopes up that the TCU offense might run over the Texas defense all game long.

We now know that didn’t happen, but Evans was outstanding, even outshining Bijan Robinson in some harder-to-see ways.

On just 15 carries, the sophomore would go on to record 113 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and a touchdown as well as three catches for 11 yards in the pass game.

Not only did Evans’ 7.5 yards per carry top Robinsons’ (6.2), but his 6.33 yards after contact per carry blow Robinson’s 3.94 out of the water.

Am I saying that Zach Evans is concretely better than Bijan Robinson? Of course not. Robinson has been the best player in college football this season, but Evans went toe-for-toe with him with on Saturday what little he was given.

Does Zach Evans deserve more carries? Objectively, yes, but something tells me there is more than meets the eye in this situation.

2. Tre Tomlinson

You know when someone talks about themselves super highly, but you cannot even deny it because of how factual they are being?

Tomlinson literally called himself a “baller” at least twice at Tuesday’s media availability, and I can’t lie, he’s without a doubt correct.

Since an uncharacteristic performance against Cal (3 catches given up for 98 yards), Tomlinson has been balling out like the All-American corner we know and love.

In his last two games, Tomlinson has given up just two catches (one was a screen), while recording 15 tackles. In fact, he’s actually tied with Dee Winters for the team lead in tackles (22).

Though Patterson did say that a defensive back leading your team in tackles is “probably a bad sign,” it’s undoubtedly true that Tomlinson has been reliable, especially in the open field.

What was most impressive about Saturday’s game for Tomlinson was his move from corner to safety at a moment’s notice. Yea, he played safety in high school, but it had been three years, and he just jumped out there and looked like Tyrann Mathieu right away.

While playing safety, Tomlinson only gave up one catch (that he almost knocked out) and missed two tackles. He tied for a team-high nine tackles in the game and prevented completions on the other two passes on which he was targeted.

Tomlinson’s mentality of doing everything in his power to help TCU win is something that really could help the Frogs turn things around. He’s, without a doubt, one of the most influential players on the team, and it would appear that he’s using that influence for good.

3. Dylan Horton

First, I want to shoutout Jamoi Hodge, who established himself as TCU’s second linebacker on Saturday with nine tackles (tied for team lead with THT) and zero tackles missed. The Frogs still need more from Winters and Hodge, but I think Jamoi will likely be getting more snaps than Wyatt Harris going forward.

Dylan Horton had the game of his life on Saturday, though.

Heading into the game, TCU had gotten just one sack on the season from their defensive line, with zero sacks as a team period coming against SMU.

Horton changed that on Saturday, getting to Thompson twice for just his second and third sacks as a Horned Frogs (transferred from New Mexico after the 2019 season).

Overall, Horton had seven total quarterback pressures in the game, with four hurries, one hit, and five total tackles to go with his two sacks.

With all of the hype that Patterson gave Horton over the offseason combined with the defensive line’s struggles so far this season, it was great to see the veteran defensive end creating some serious pressure in the backfield.

Now, with Horton trending upward and Khari Coleman back, hopefully, Ochaun Mathis can start feasting on Big 12 quarterbacks again.

Three down:

1. Derius Davis

This one really hurts. Few dudes on TCU’s roster work harder on and off the field than Derius Davis, so it was tough to see him struggle against the Longhorns.

On an inexplicably weird reverse call in the first quarter, Davis mishandled a handoff and gave the ball away to Texas. Under five minutes of play later, Davis would muff a punt, gifting the ball away yet again.

Though the defense held strong and forced the Longhorns to kick a field goal after each of these turnovers, the six points they produced turned out to be enough to win the game.

Later in the fourth quarter, Davis bobbled a catch on third down that would’ve moved the chains for TCU. Thankfully, the pass wasn’t intercepted (because multiple Longhorns fought each other for it), but it was a crucial play in the Frogs’ attempt to come back and win.

As one of TCU’s most versatile weapons, Davis needs to be better. Knowing what I do about Derius, though, I wouldn’t expect anyone on the team to be more focused going into the Tech game than him.

2. Dee Winters

What is going on with this dude? With all of the experience he got alongside Garrett Wallow, we all expected him to be Wallow’s heir.

Winters was pretty bad on Saturday, though. Despite having a team-high 78 snaps on defense, the junior only recorded two tackles while missing a team-high five.

This led to him having a team-low 24.3 tackling grade on PFF, which is just not what you expect from your veteran linebacker.

Winters has now missed eight tackles this season and recorded overall defensive grades below 60 both of in TCU’s two-straight losses.

An upward trend starts with your leaders, and Winter needs to wake up and help lead that charge.

3. The refs

This was one of the worst performances that I’ve ever seen in person from an officiating crew, and the bad calls happened on both sides.

Two stand out that went against TCU. First, the targeting call was pretty poor, especially given that it was only reviewed because a time out had been called. Don’t blame TCU for taking the timeout. That’s not how football should work.

Second, the pass interference call on C.J. Ceasar was also extremely weak. That ball could not have been caught by Calvin Johnson. Regardless of contact, referees cannot punish Ceasar if the ball lands ten yards in front of the receiver.

In all, 16 total penalties were dished out in the game. That feels way too high.