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TCU Football Spring Game: Quick Thoughts

We got our first look at the new-look Horned Frogs Saturday at The Carter.

Max Duggan and a revamped offensive line struggled some Saturday, but have been impressive throughout their first full offseason together.
Melissa Triebwasser

TCU Football had an open to the public spring game Saturday, allowing fans to get their first look at the Horned Frogs since last year’s season-ending game against Louisiana Tech.

The famously paranoid Patterson didn’t show many of his cards in a modified scrimmage that included four running 15 minute quarters and showcased five QBs competing, including four vying to back up Max Duggan this fall.

Patterson said pregame, “we got better offensively and defensively we are going to be a lot better.

Here are a few thoughts from the game:

  • We didn’t get many deep balls, but the ones that we did showed how this offense can stretch the field. Both Matthew Downing and Alexander Honig connected on long passes — to Blake Nowell and Nick Busa respectively.
  • Zach Evans is going to be a monster in 2021. The soon to be sophomore running back showcased the exceptional strength and agility we have come to expect from #6, and though he did fumble once, he also broke free for a 75 yard touchdown that got the crowd hyped.
  • Max Duggan and Quentin Johnston have some work to do to get back on the same page, but the Frogs’ QB is looking for his #1 target — A LOT. I have a feeling we will hear those names called together often come fall.
  • Defensively, there are a ton of injuries, but this unit has some studs. Mark Jackson — who at one point was rumored to be considering retirement — got a lot of snaps at DE and was all over Chandler Morris a couple of times. The defensive line was solid overall, even without Corey Bethley, who should have a big year.
  • We lost an all-time great #7 to the NFL Draft, but TJ Carter is looking like a guy who can make sure opposing offenses still know that number. The Memphis transfer was all over the field, and had a couple really nice PBUs. He is going to be huge for TCUs secondary next season.
  • Matthew Downing looked really good Saturday, but if Oklahoma releases Chandler Morris from his NLI, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Oklahoma transfer will be Duggan’s backup. Morris didn’t wow through the air a ton in the scrimmage, but showed his incredible footwork, speed, and ability to move in the pocket to find open receivers. Patterson praised him pregame, and it’s obvious why he was such a highly touted player coming out of Highland Park.
  • I also liked what I saw out of Alexander Honig and Trent Battle, two true freshmen that will have to bide their time but certainly have the talent to contribute down the line.
  • We have been told that Taye Barber and Derius Davis have had excellent springs; we didn’t see Davis Saturday but Barber was targeted multiple times in a myriad of ways. I expect him to be a big part of the game plan in the fall. Savion Williams, expected to start on the outside opposite QB, also missed the game due to injury.
  • There are so many good running backs on this team, it’s hard to know who is doing what until you look at the jersey number. Emari Demercado, Darwin Barlow, Kendre Miller, and the aforementioned Evans all contributed. Patterson said “having four guys that can all do some things means you have a better shot of keeping guys healthy for four years.” If this unit continues to be willing to share the rock, they can be elite for a long time.
  • There are many questions and concerns about the offensive line, but Patterson is convinced that things will be okay. “Offensive line, we are going to be better there. Offensively, as a whole, everything is going to be better, to be honest with you. More explosive.” He specifically mentioned Obinna Eze and Steve Avila. “I think Eze is really going to help us out at left tackle. Coker is now a sophomore.”
  • This is absolutely, unequivocally, 100% Max Duggan’s team. “In our program, it’s always been about development. Max didn’t get a chance to go through an offseason last year, so, I think — one of the things you have to do, and I think he has — you just have to keep progressing. His leadership qualities are unmatched. It’s his football team from the offensive standpoint.”
  • Lastly, it was just so nice to be back in the Carter watching TCU Football. Patterson said, “there’s nothing that’s going to happen in this scrimmage that is going to be any indication [of what will happen during the season]. This is for the fans, for the kids.” There is a lot that has to go right between now and September 4th, but this team certainly has a chance to have a special season. Can’t wait to see if it all comes together come fall.