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SMU 42, TCU 34: The Skillet stays in Dallas

The Ponies came to play. TCU? Not so much.

Photo courtesy of @TCUFootball on Twitter

TCU Football has now lost two consecutive games to SMU for the first time since 1992-93. The ponies came to play today, stunning the Horned Frogs defense for a 42-34 win.

Injuries, depth chart rearrangement, chemistry - there is no excuse for this kind of loss, especially after having an extra week of preparation with last Saturday’s bye week. You can blame Duggan for missing throws, you can blame GP for the atrocious defense, hell you can even blame the officiating if that’s your thing.

Regardless of where you focus your frustrations after today’s loss, the bottom line is TCU lost this ball game because of:

  • Atrocious defense
  • Non-existent tackling
  • Numerous missed throws
  • Avoidable penalties
  • Communication issues in the secondary
  • Questionable play-calling

After an outing like today’s, this list could go on and on, but these were certainly the key downfalls in the Frogs game plan today.

Starting with the defense, TCU allowed 595 total yards on offense, including a lights out performance by SMU running back Ulysses Bentley IV.

Coming into this ball game, all the focus was on the Frogs’ secondary unit after a strugglesome game against Cal a couple weeks ago. With OU transfer Tanner Mordecai under center for the Mustangs, everyone thought the passing game would steal the show.

Don’t get me wrong, the secondary didn’t play well either, but the defensive line was non-existent for the majority of this game. Bentley IV ran for 153 yards and a TD himself, while the Mustangs as a whole put up 350 yards on the ground - the most TCU has given up since Oklahoma had 366 in 2019.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve given up almost 600 yards now. Like I told them, there is only one person in charge that takes the blame on that, that’s me right now. I’m the one that’s supposed to fix it,” said Head Coach Gary Patterson.

Even with three interceptions, the Frogs had nothing to show for it. Although one of the picks came as time expired in the first half - three points off three turnovers is less than ideal to say the least.

TCU’s defense has been as reliable as gravity for two decades now, so this type of performance is extremely concerning heading into conference play.

Generally speaking, this is probably the worst performance in terms of effort that I have witnessed in all my 21 years as a Horned Frog fan. In the post-game presser, Gary Patterson was surprisingly calm when he stated:

“Bottom line to it is, they wanted it more than we did today. It’s pretty simple. This has been a war no matter what the records have been since the beginning of ever playing SMU,” said Patterson.

As much as it hurts, it’s true.

Regardless of all the trash talk on social media prior to the game, regardless of what we as TCU fans think of SMU as a whole - the Ponies wanted it more, and it wasn’t even close.

Now I know I’ve been somewhat of a debby downer throughout this recap, but it’s not like the Frogs were blown out of the water (even though it may feel like it).

At halftime the game was 21-21 and the Frogs were set to return the 2nd half kickoff. It was a scary first half, but momentum ended in the Frogs’ favor after Deshawn McCuin came down with an interception in the endzone as time expired in the 2nd quarter.

All signs were pointing towards a better 2nd half, but that hope lasted a solid seven seconds. On the first play of the 3rd quarter, Max Duggan dropped back from the Frogs’ 9-yard-line and was caught by a fumble-forcing sack and SMU took over on the 3-yard-line.

Two plays later, SMU had a 28-21 lead and the entirety of Amon G. Carter stadium was in disbelief.

That play set the tone for the rest of the half, as TCU was only able to knock through a couple of field goals before a garbage-time TD with 4:05 remaining.

“Offensively we’ve got to play better and score more points,” said quarterback Max Duggan. “We can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot, can’t turn the ball over, got to hit deep shots, got to do a lot of things to be better. All in all, it sucks”

The only highlight of the Frogs offense, and I truly mean the only highlight, was Zach Evans. The illustrious 5-star recruit finished with 173 yards from scrimmage, a receiving touchdown, and an absurd 7.5 yards per carry.

Call me crazy, but if Zach Evans is putting up numbers like that on a weekly basis - why in the world is he only getting 18 touches?

Between the undefined running back committee, the scattered secondary, and the missed throws; the Frogs have A LOT to improve upon if they want to compete with Texas next Saturday.

Of course, we have the Longhorns number (7-2 in the last 9 years), but if the Frogs defense plays like that against Casey Thompson and Bijan Robinson, Texas will put up 100.

After an incredibly disappointing weekend for TCU football, there is some hope for next Saturday: Since joining the Big 12, TCU is 2-8 in games the week prior to their UT matchup.

We can hope the Frogs pull a miracle out of their ass all we want, but the fact of the matter is that TCU needs to make some major adjustments in practice this week if they want to start conference play with a win.

The Horned Frogs will take on Texas next Saturday for another 11 a.m. kickoff at Amon G. Carter Stadium.