They say all’s well that ends well, but I’m in a new hell.
Sure, Taylor Swift wrote this line in her 10-minute version of “All to Well” when referring to her devastating breakup with Jake Gyllenhaal, but it’s pretty much the best way to sum up Saturday in Stillwater.
Yea, I used a Taylor lyric in back-to-back three up, three downs. One, her version of Red just came out, so go listen; and two, this entire season has felt like a Taylor Swift song for TCU Football. Fire me.
I was one of two members of the TCU media at the game on Saturday, and it was really hard to watch. By the second quarter, the game was over, and it became increasingly clear that the win over No. 12 Baylor was not a turning point but an anomaly.
While a bowl is still possible for the Frogs, the lows of the Oklahoma State game were a brutal reminder that this season is over for TCU, and it is time to look forward to a new era of football in Fort Worth.
Regardless, as TCU’s eternal optimist, I will still have a three up this week. This article will be shorter than normal, though, as like you all, I’m just tired of this season.
With that in mind, here is my three up, three down for the week:
1. Emari Demercado
Is Emari Demercado TCU’s most talented running back? No, and he never has been; however, you have to give this man credit for putting his head down and staying ready for the last four years.
As a freshman in 2018, Demercado was the Frogs’ lone running back remaining near the end of the season and ran for a career-high 60 yards in an important 16-9 win over Baylor.
Three years later, the senior is facing a similar situation with Zach Evans, Kendre Miller, and Daimarqua Foster all out with injury.
On Saturday, Demercado had, by far, his best game as a Frog, recording 90 yards on 14 carries (6.4 yards per carry) and a rushing touchdown.
The Inglewood, Calif., native averaged 3.36 yards after contact and had three runs of 10 or more yards.
Especially given the struggles that the offensive line showed for TCU, Demercado’s effort was, honestly, a pretty good one.
What I liked most about Demercado’s day was how honest he was in the press conference after. He didn’t try to gloss over how hard this season has been for the Frogs.
“We all have to just have each other’s backs, hold each other accountable, and we can’t let anybody fall off the ship. We have to keep everybody looking forward,” Demercado said. “Obviously, it sucks, but it happened. We have to look forward on to Kansas and then Iowa State after that. There’s still two more games to be played.”
2. Dominic DiNunzio
Somewhere, Mark Cohen is laughing that DiNunzio is making my three up. If you don’t know, this fella is here on ROTC scholarship and walked on to the football team. He’s now playing in place of the injured Carter Ware.
After scoring his first-ever touchdown last week against the Bears, DiNunzio had an even better highlight against the Pokes.
Before the game got out of hand, DiNunzio caught a pass from Chandler Morris, stiff-armed safety Jason Taylor’s helmet off, and rumbled for 46 yards.
For a second, it almost looked like the tight end was going to make a house call, but he got caught from behind.
The play was, by far, the highlight of the game for TCU, though. You have to be happy for a guy who has worked his butt off with very little recognition.
3. Dylan Horton
Quietly, Dylan Horton has been TCU’s best defender this year, and I mean that seriously. Without asking for anything, the defensive end has just to work each week and, consistently, been pretty good.
Consistency has been anything but common for the Frogs’ defense this year.
Against the Pokes, Horton filed a defensive grade of 82.8, per Pro Football Focus. The next closest TCU player was 71.3.
There was not anything special about Horton’s game (three total quarterback pressures, six tackles), but he was the only Frog defender who did what he needed to do to stop the Cowboys.
1. The offensive line
I loved what Chandler Morris was able to do, with good protection, against Baylor. Against Oklahoma State, his dip in performance is a sign that the quarterback switch was not why TCU had success throwing the football.
A week after their best performance of the season, the TCU offensive line produced their worst performance of the season.
Morris was pressured on 32 percent of his drop backs and sacked four times. Backup Sam Jackson was then pressured and sacked on two of his three drop backs.
On average, Morris had just 2.38 seconds to throw on his drop backs, which is almost a second lower than the time he had last week.
Injuries have not helped, but, in general. TCU has done a poor job of recruiting and then developing talent on its offensive line. This will absolutely need to be a skill the next head coach has in his wheelhouse.
2. Tre Tomlinson
He’s shown sparks of greatness, but it just has not really been THT’s year, man. I thought he was going to continue on an upward trajectory throughout the season, but his coverage has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
On Saturday, Tomlinson gave up three catches on five targets for 47 yards. He also gave up 20 yards after the catch.
Though he did force a fumble in the first quarter, THT’s game, as many of his have been this year, was very underwhelming.
Yes, he’s the best member of TCU’s secondary, but the way he has played in the past shows that he can play much better than he has in 2021.
I guess this means he might stay for another year, which would be cool.
3. Quentin Johnston
Q had two catches for negative four yards on Saturday. There’s not much else to say.
I thought there was no way he could do worse than zero catches for zero yards against SMU, but he made it happen.
There are a lot of people to blame for this (coaches, offensive line, Morris, QJ), but that just cannot be the stat line you put together in a conference game as one of the Big 12’s best receivers.
I guess ~next~ year can be the year Johnston becomes one of the nation’s best.