If you’re like me, your pulse on Saturday from 2:30 to 6:30 looked like a roller coaster at Six Flags.
It was Cal out fast, then TCU playing catch up, then Cal not going away, then TCU scoring twice-in-a-row, then Cal almost tying it, then Max Duggan was throwing a ball into the stands, and all was well with the world again.
So much happened, and all that really matters is that TCU is 2-0. With that in mind, though, here is my three up, three down for the week.
1. Zach Evans
“Runzekerun01” is Zach Evans’ Twitter handle for a reason. This dude can ball, and that has never been more on display than on Saturday.
His 22 carries, 190 yards rushing, and a touchdown stand out, but it was the more detailed things about Evans’ game on Saturday that confirmed just how good he can be for TCU.
Facing a 12-point deficit and needing life, the Frogs turned to Evans in the waning moments of the first half of Saturday’s game.
The former 5-star recruit took that challenge and ran with it (no pun intended), taking a handoff 51 yards to the house with just 11 seconds left before halftime.
The run displayed two of the three things that make Evans special and one of the country’s best running backs.
First, the burst of speed he showed to get to the endzone basically untouched is something that makes the sophomore look Darius Anderson-esque with the football.
Second, Evans’ field vision and maturity in his cuts and decisions separates him from backs TCU has had in recent history.
Near the 20-yard line on his impressive run, the Houston native chose to cut outside instead of in, turning California cornerback Collin Gamble on his heals and giving Evans the angle. Though it seems like a small thing, this moved showed off just how advanced Evans is compared to most at his position.
Finally, what wasn’t necessarily displayed on that run but countless other moments in the game was Evans’ durability. Not only did the rising star average 4.5 yards after contact in the game, but he also finished with an 80.7 run block grade, per pro football focus.
To put it simple, Zach Evans has everything you would want in an every-down back, and his performance against the Golden Bears was the proof.
Also, the dude has a 3.75 GPA since being in Fort Worth and thanks Gary Patterson every day for the opportunity to play here. Chill out with that “troublemaker” talk.
2. Quentin Johnston
Should it be a surprise that the two most talented blue chip players on the TCU roster played the best for the Frogs on Saturday?
No. Not at all, but they still deserve the recognition they earned.
Alongside Evans, Johnston, who was the number 14 receiver in his class out of high school, played like a grown man at Amon G. Carter Stadium this weekend.
The sophomore finished with five catches, 95 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in the win.
The first touchdown showed off both Johnston’s abilities to gain separation from defenders (something he struggled with in 2020) and be a leader on this TCU squad.
The wideout burst by California’s Chigozie Anusiem, cut inside, and used his 6’4” frame to snag an 18-yard pass from Duggan for six. Johnston immediately then got hyped with his teammates, setting the tone that TCU was not going to let Cal come in and steal this game.
The second score for Johnston was even more impressive, as he caught a 14-yard pass from Duggan off of a curl and immediately spun inside for a move that mirrored those of NFL star DeAndre Hopkins. Six seconds later, Johnston was strutting into the endzone after shaking and baking any help the Golden Bears had back.
Sure, Johnston looked like raw potential in 2020; but now, the wide receiver looks polished and sharp, making NFL-type moves and using his speed, size, and voice to his advantage.
The TCU media also got their first chance at talking with Q this Saturday, and let me tell you, the guy is as upstanding and articulate as they come (Tre Moehrig type vibe).
3. John Lanz
For those of you who don’t even know who John Lanz is, he has started at guard for both of TCU’s games this season.
A redshirt junior, Lanz did not see the field in either of his first two years with the program due to injury.
The Argyle, Texas, native finally made his TCU debut in 2020 against Kansas State before eventually starting the final seven games of the season.
Lanz’ 2020 campaign was not poor, but he showed the need for growth that most of the Frogs’ offensive lineman showed in what was a pretty pathetic showing from them all season.
Whatever Lanz did over the offseason clearly worked, as he has been outstanding in 2021 so far. The guard posted grades of over 80 in both pass blocking (86.8) and run blocking (82.0), per Pro Football Focus, against the Golden Bears following a similar performance against Duquesne.
What’s more, Lanz has not given up a sack, hit, or even a hurry on Duggan this season. Hopefully, the seasoned veteran will set an example for the rest of the offensive line as the Frogs schedule starts to heat up.
1. C.J. Ceasar II
I didn’t want to put Ceasar on here again, but I would be doing this article a disservice if I did not.
To put it frankly, C.J. was a wet piece of paper in coverage on Saturday, and TCU needs to figure something else out FAST if Noah Daniels is unable to return.
The junior gave up receptions on four of the six times he was targeted, two of which went for 28-plus yards. This all resulted in an atrocious (emphasis on atrocious) coverage grade of 50.1 on the day that I’m almost certain Gary Patterson in coverage could’ve topped.
This season, Ceasar has a coverage grade of 50.7, which ranks 466th out of 502 cornerbacks graded.
All due respect, GP, it’s time to move on from C.J. Ceasar. He has a family.
2. Tre Tomlinson
It pains me to do this, but Ceasar isn’t the only member of the secondary who deserves to receive some flack.
Overall, Tomlinson’s day was pretty good. He had six total tackles and a pass breakup, while only giving up two catches over the seven times he was targeted, though.
The problem is that the two catches Tomlinson gave up were both 42-plus yards, with the second of which setting up the touchdown that gave Cal an opportunity to tie the game.
Especially with it left to be determined whether or not the Frogs will have a capable corner alongside Tomlinson, TCU will, frankly, need the talented junior to be much sharper going forward.
3. Doug Meacham
TCU faced a 3rd-and-16 on their own five-yard line in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and Meacham called for Duggan to throw horizontally to Johnston.
California’s Daniel Scott read the play like a billboard and picked it off for an easy house call, leaving us all questioning what the goal was there.
Yes, Duggan needs to read that situation better and not throw that ball, but that play call makes no sense to me when backed up to your own endzone on third and long.
Somewhere, Sonny Cumbie is laughing while eating a tortilla.