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MMQB: Too Early To Tell

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How much can we learn from week one? It’s more about setting the expectations than getting fired up over the results.

Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson and the TCU defense shined in their 2021 debut.
Melissa Triebwasser

TCU won handily on Saturday, but there is still a long season ahead

Well it’s that time of year to make sure my fingers still work...the Frogs wrapped up their first game of the season in nice fashion, but it is always hard to take much away from week 1 let alone when your first game is against a team that you just have a significant talent advantage over. Now that I read that out loud, that must be what Alabama fans get to think like almost all season long.

Alright, let’s jump into it - this week’s is going to be a bit different from our normal MMQB format for those that are long time readers of the MMQB.

THE GOOD:

-Just about everything: It was against Duquesne, who’s two most well known alumni are Art Rooney and my mother, so I am not going to praise all the good things individually since we just dominated a lesser team. However I did want to shout out the running back unit that looked ready to compete all season long. Those are some dudes in the backfield.

Also special shout out to THT, even though he was without his supposed starting partner Noah Daniels tonight he balled out, got an interception and shut down his side of the field. He’s knocking on the door of the “Ross Blacklock zone” where he can do no wrong by me.

THE BAD:

There is not a ton, especially because that game flew by due to the 12 minute quarters in the second half, has anyone seen that happen before? If you’ve read my previous work from the last two seasons you know that I love Max Duggan, and I have only pinned him for a few flaws here and there but…

The interception: That was such a lazy throw that got picked off. I get it’s Duquesne and honestly we could’ve spotted them probably 10 of those and we still would have won, but he either didn’t see the safety and threw it into double coverage. Either that or he thought his receiver could catch the ball in double coverage regardless. I just don’t like seeing that week one, hey work the kinks out by all means - but that’s not going to fly against teams like OU, or Iowa State... hell even West Virginia and Kansas State with the way we’ve played against them the past couple of seasons.

What I am looking for this season:

Again, this isn’t going to be the normal MMQB format, but since it is week one against an opponent that we knew we would beat and beat handily I want to look ahead for this week and set some expectations/the things I want from the Frogs this year.

-Wins against WVU and Kansas State: With the way that Matt Campbell has gotten Iowa State in shape, I have no real problem losing to them twice in two seasons (hopefully not three even though that game at the end of the season in Ames is looming in the back of my head). However, with the shape of the TCU program and the talent, there is no reason to lose to the two programs above for a third time in a row.

Last year we played like cheeks against both of those teams, with the offensive line showing one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a TCU unit in my life against Kansas State...and frankly we should have won that game after coming off that exhilarating win against UT in Austin. I can live with regular losses to OU, OK State, and even Iowa State but I am pretty fed up with watching us struggle against the conference teams that we should beat (not named Kansas).

No disrespect to WVU or Kansas State fans but TCU should not be losing to your teams three years in a row.

-Vast Improvement on the offensive line: Ooooooooooh BUDDY is this the one that I am going to be eyeing like a dang hawk. Because the minute, THE MINUTE, that the offensive line farts and gives another 2020 KSU or 2019 SMU performance where they just let the QB get knocked down, give up tons of pressure, and just for lack of a better word...suck a** I am going on here, twitter, Facebook, instagram, HELL EVEN LINKEDIN and I am going to get #FireAnderson trending. Because that would be 4 consecutive years of bad offensive line play.

Name me one job or results based business where one department repeatedly underperforms and is not overhauled let alone no changes are made to improve performance. I cannot think of one. The O-line essentially dictates the flow of the entire game, and if TCU’s doesn’t improve from the last handful of years then prepare for a lot of the same from 2020 in 2021. A rushed QB, a defense that has to come back out on the field a ton to bail out the offense despite the best efforts of the QB who is running for his life.

But to bring it all back, if that happens this year then you already know I’m going to be ready to talk about #AndersonOut like Drake is ready to talk about how unsure he is about his friend group.

-Who will be the next great TCU linebacker: I’m not super worried about this one, especially with the rate that Gary produces solid college linebackers. I know he did not start, but with the way that he is undoubtedly going to get incorporated more and more into the defense, I am very excited to see what Shad Banks is capable of come the end of the season. Yes he is a true freshman and Gary probably still has nightmares about Mike Freeze so starting a true freshman week 1 was a pipe dream. That being said, I just feel like at some point the talent is going to overtake the politics and we’ll see 19 at the Mike spot sooner rather than later.

Of course I cannot go without mentioning Dee Winters who led the team in tackles. We’ve seen him flash his potential last year, and here’s hoping the JR takes that leap this year. Jamoi Hodge also shined - though he didn’t start, he might have earned that opportunity this week. Hey if all 3 end up being great, that’ll be excellent because that means Gary can move one to safety or defensive end (or WR) like he’s known to do :).

-QB Progression: And of course the big one. With a full healthy offseason and hopefully (OH GOD HOPEFULLY) a deeper and more improved offensive line Duggan should take another step forward this year. Last year was a little bit more of the same as 2019 but the offensive philosophy got figured out by the end of the year and we were able to kill single high safeties with the QB run up the gut.

He’s got the skill position players around him, and a deep stable of hungry young running backs. If the offensive line holds together then he has no excuse to not have a big season (unless we run the Wisconsin offense). Making smart decisions, adding touch on his throws, and hitting players in the hands instead of above their helmet are the things that I am looking for specifically. We all know what 15 can do with his legs so I’m hoping that this year he becomes just as dangerous with his arm if not more.

Next Week: The Golden Bears Go East.

Even though they are coming off a loss to Nevada, this Cal team is nothing to sleep on. Their defense can take advantage of a sputtering TCU offense and next thing you know we’re going into a double overtime game again with them a la the Cheez-it Bowl.