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Keys to the Game: We want to see the backups

How do the Frogs win Saturday night? By not needing much from their starters.

Keys to the Game Melissa Triebwasser

TCU Football plays this weekend. And it should be a nice, easy opening matchup.

We think.

Frankly, if the Frogs can’t make quick work out of Duquesne — a solid FCS program, but an FCS program — we have bigger problems on our hands.

Regardless, they’ll need to execute to pull off a win, so here’s what we are watching for Saturday night.

Max Duggan: Get in, get out, get on to Cal

We want to see Max work this weekend, that’s an absolute in my book. Year three — and the first year with a full offseason and full camp of taking the first team reps — is the prove it year for Duggan, the established and unquestioned leader of the TCU offense. I would love to see Max establish a solid rhythm and chemistry with his receivers — maybe a deep ball or two to QJ? — and begin to unveil a hopefully more efficient passing attack. I don’t want to see him run the ball unless he can get out of bounds without taking a hit, and hope he takes a seat shortly before halftime.

Saturday night is about shaking off the rust and connecting with the receivers to showcase some chemistry and getting out of there no worse for the wear for Cal.

Let’s get the running backs on the field

We know that Zach Evans is going to sit a couple of series Saturday for what I have been told is a very minor violation that has no long-term ramifications. GP is keeping the bar set high for his young star, a kid who has by all accounts done almost everything right since arriving on campus. I am fine with that. I imagine Emari Demercado gets the start, and I am going to predict he gets the most reps too. Yes, I want to see Kendre Miller have a big game and Daimarqua Foster return from injury, but I think Demercado will do the heavy lifting in relief of options 1A and 1B in Evans and Miller.

We don’t need to put too much on tape and give Cal a whole lot to look at, so a few big plays and a heavy dose of the run might be just what the doctor ordered.

Yeah, I don’t like it either.

Find some backups on the outside

If I have a chief concern this season it’s the depth at cornerback: Tre Tomlinson is really the only sure thing at this point, and while he has been tough as nails and able to stay on the field, he’s not exactly a big guy and I don’t have a ton of faith as far as what happens behind him.

Noah Daniels is the most NFL-ready player from a projectable standpoint, but there are so off the field things going on. Gary Patterson has said that he may or may not play this weekend, and while there are no clear reasons as to why, we know it is not injury-related and Daniels himself posted on social media Wednesday that he was being “escorted” to class by four coaches this week. Yeah, that doesn’t sound good.

With Kee’yon Stewart not expected back until late September at the earliest and Patterson claiming that TJ Carter will not be taking reps at CB despite playing that position exclusively at Memphis, things are looking a little thin. CJ Caesar will likely start opposite THT Saturday night, and behind them it’s...

  • Tony Wallace, who is, according to GP “banged up”
  • Sophomore Keontae Jenkins: talented but has yet to record a stat collegiately
  • Sophomore Donavann Collins: played in seven games last year but mostly on special teams
  • True freshman Ahmonte Watkins, who played running back and safety in high school
  • Many, many walk-ons

Yikes. Hopefully Gary has something up his sleeve, Noah has his head on straight, and Collins is the guy we all kind of think he can be. Oh, and nothing but health for Tre. We need you, bud.

New play caller, who dis?

What does the Doug Meacham/Jerry Kill/seven other offensive decision-makers version of the TCU offense look like and how much of it will we actually see Saturday? I am mostly interested to see if that side of the ball appears to be on the same page — do the plays come in on time, is the offense lined up, are there limited unforced errors on that side of the ball? It’s really a pretty experienced group, so several false starts and holding flags would be disappointing, as would the fumble issues that plagued the running backs at times a season ago.

I don’t we get the full Meacham Monty (wait — that doesn’t sound right) Saturday night, but I hope he at least gives us a feel for what we can expect against the tougher competition coming down the pipe this month. And I want to see the protections that they set up in front of Duggan and whoever else is taking snaps.

And, really, not to be greedy or anything — can we throw the ball to a tight end or two? I am just so curious.

Injury free is good for you and me

Here’s the number one thing: get a win and get out healthy. The Frogs have been snake bit in these early season games over the years, and the depth has already dwindled through fall camp. I want a win, I want to see a ton of third and fourth string guys in the fourth quarter, and I want that damn injury tent to stay down and the crutches to stay on the cart. Nothing but good clean football and a clean bill of health, please and thank you.

What are your keys for Saturday night? Let us know in the comments!