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Keys to the Game: Frogs look to pass their first test of 2021

Gary Patterson has raved about this Cal D — will it live up to the hype?

Keys to the Game Melissa Triebwasser

The Frogs took care of business last Saturday, fulfilling the main obligations of winning a game against an FCS opponent. As Jamie addressed in his Unlocking the Keys recap Sunday, TCU checked a lot of boxes against Duquense.

But Cal is a whole different animal, and game two should present a much stiffer challenge, even if the Bears dropped their opener in heartbreaking fashion to a pretty good Nevada team. So how does TCU Football get to 2-0? Let’s dig in.

Max needs to dominate

Duggan did a lot of things well Saturday night, and outside of one bad interception, looked the part of a veteran, experienced QB primed for a solid season.

That’s not enough for me.

After Gary Patterson raved about how good this Cal defense is, I need Max to dial it up to 100, throw for 300+ yards, run for another 60, and get his team in the end zone three times himself. You and I could have made some of those throws against Duquesne, it’s time to unleash Duggan and let him shine. If Max can have a big game against the Bears, well, fire up the hype train because we will be rollin’ coal through the winter.

Cut Zach (and Kendre!) loose!

You know who else needs to be unleashed? Zach and Kendre. These two are too damn good to not get the bulk of the carries Saturday afternoon, and while I love me some Demercado and want Daimarqua to go nuts, we know who 1A and 1B are when it comes to running backs that can make life hell for a defense.

Ochaun Mathis is hungry. Let him feast.

The Frogs’ star defensive end looked frustrated Saturday night; it’s hard to say whether Mathis was corralled or whether GP called off the dogs after Joe Mischler went down in the first quarter of the opener.

Well, we know that Patterson will keep his foot on the gas against a P5 opponent — and one from a conference that didn’t think TCU warranted looking into expansion — Saturday afternoon, so Mathis and co should be full bore against the Bears. With Khari Coleman not expected to play this weekend, and the timeline on his return firmly in the TBD category, it’s beyond crucial that Mathis gets that dog in him champing at the bit. The Bears o-line is a strength for their offense, but led by Ochaun, TCU’s defensive front should still have the advantage.

Who rises to the top amongst the WRs?

Quentin Johnston was the lead target in week one, as Duggan looked for him eight times, connecting four. On third and fourth down it was Q Max was seeking, and it’s obvious that the sophomore is the receiving half of a potential deadly connection for the Frogs.

But TCU used a lot of dudes Saturday night, and I’m curious as to who rises as the primary threat next to Q, and who Duggan trusts in big spots when Cal — who has an elite CB in Mike Williams — tries to take Johnston out of the game. We all kind of figured Taye Barber would rise to the top as the most experienced player in the unit, but he was targeted just one time — for a big play — as Meacham was seemingly drawing more things up for Savion Williams and Derius Davis. Duggan also seemed to have a lot of faith in JD Spielman as a guy that can make a lot of things happen after the catch and in key spots.

The Frogs talent at wide receiver abounds, but it’s always great for a QB to have a guy — or two — who he knows can make a play when the situation demands it. Who that guy is remains to be discovered.

Send a message.

Sure, TCU looked great Saturday, but we all know that the competition isn’t great and Patterson wasn’t looking to step on anyone’s neck. Cal is different. I don’t know how truly talented the Bears are, but this is a P5 foe and if the opportunity arises, TCU Football should absolutely, positively run it up.

After this game, the Frogs get their first and only bye week of the season, and will be sitting on the result for two weeks before facing a tough SMU squad. I want confidence that borders on cockiness, I want some terrifying offense on tape, and I want a team that is ““receiving votes” to be ranked heading into the Iron Skillet.

And frankly, I want the Pac-12 to suck it.