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MMQB: Country Roads, Take Me to Fort Worth

The Frogs won in Morgantown for the first time since 2014 behind an explosive offensive performance

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 TCU at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU came out victorious in a game that was closer than it probably should have been with a final score of 41-31 in favor of the Frogs. West Virginia has had a tough season so far but Morgantown is never an easy place to play and any road conference win is a good one in my book.

The Good:

Max Duggan: Max had another excellent game against the Mountaineers this Saturday finishing with 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. Duggan did throw his second interception on the year but it was on a 3rd and 10 50/50 ball to Jared Wiley that worked like a punt. Duggan threw his 3 touchdowns to 3 different receivers doing a solid job spreading the ball around. He was very accurate throughout the game and one throw stood out where Duggan threaded the needle over the middle between 2 West Virginia defenders to Derius Davis. This throw came on a third down on the last drive before halftime for TCU to keep the drive alive leading to an Emani Bailey touchdown run. Taye Barber was wide open when Duggan found him over the middle for a long touchdown, but the throw was still very accurate and hit Barber in stride allowing him to outrun the West Virginia secondary. Duggan also demonstrated a strong awareness of the situation on the 4th down touchdown to Savion Williams where a Mountaineer defender jumped offsides and Duggan knew he had a free play. Max should firmly be in the Heisman conversation right now as his excellent season continued this weekend in Morgantown.

Offensive line: TCU had two touchdowns on the ground on Saturday and on both scores, the ball carrier was barely touched on the way to the end zone. Some credit should go to Kendre Miller and Emani Bailey for reading the blocks well and outrunning the West Virginia defense. Most of the credit, however, should go to the excellent job the offensive line did on those plays and for most of the game on Saturday. The offense was incredibly explosive as usual and that was made possible by great protection up front allowing for deep passes to develop and excellent run blocking leading the way for TCU’s running backs. Max had plenty of time to throw on Saturday as the line held up against a West Virginia pass rush featuring Dante Stills who has caused TCU plenty of problems in the past. The touchdown pass to Quentin Johnston was on an over route where Johnston started outside the right hash and caught the pass outside of the numbers on the left side of the field. That route takes a lot of time to develop and Duggan still had a very clean pocket to make the throw. The Frogs’ offense was humming on Saturday and the offensive line was a big part of that success.

Dylan Horton: Dylan Horton had his best game of the season against the Mountaineers this Saturday as he finished with two sacks and 5 total tackles. The pass rush has not been great this season for the Frogs which is not all on the defensive line as the 3-3 stack defense that Joe Gillespie runs leads a lot of times to rushing just 3 defenders and dropping 8 into coverage. On Saturday however, Horton had no trouble creating pressure even when TCU only rushed 3 as he beat the Mountaineers’ tackle numerous times and created pressure even beyond his two sacks. JT Daniels was flushed out of the pocket due to a successful inside move from Horton creating havoc in the backfield multiple times. Horton has had a lot of success on inside moves this season as he shows very solid timing to go along with great strength to fight through any help the opposing team’s guard might give to the offensive tackle. Horton continuing this strong play would tremendously help a defense that has had to rely on a lot of blitzes to generate pressure this season.

Savion Williams: The receiving corps as a whole had a good game on Saturday, but the performance from Savion Williams stood out. Williams had 3 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown this weekend including a 57 yard reception that could have been longer if not for the turf monster tripping him up. Williams has shown tremendous improvement as a receiver this year and each of his 3 catches demonstrated that in different ways. The 57 yard catch was on a post route where he absolutely cooked the West Virginia corner with a mean rocker step and head fake to the outside before breaking back in. His second reception of the day was on a comeback route on 2nd and long where Duggan took a bit longer to find him but Williams kept working back toward the quarterback. Staying away from his defender by working back, Williams was able to give Duggan a target late in his progressions and then Williams made a nice catch on a ball that was thrown a little low. His 3rd catch was a touchdown grab over a West Virginia cornerback to seal the game where he simply out athleted the defender to make the catch. Williams is developing into a very good route runner to go along with his great athleticism and flashed both of those attributes on Saturday.

Kendre Miller: Kendre Miller was excellent on Saturday once again. He finished with 120 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries, torching the West Virginia defense. Miller continues to lead a dominating rushing attack for the Frogs that has kept the TCU offense very balanced this season. Miller is now up to 11 rushing touchdowns this season and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry on over 130 attempts for 851 rushing yards. Kendre Miller is incredible.

Griffin Kell: Kell was perfect again on Saturday, making all of his extra point attempts and going 2 for 2 on field goals with a long of 45. He has been great for the Frogs this year as he has yet to miss a field goal (knock on wood) and has made all but 1 of his extra point attempts.

The Bad:

Getting off of Blocks: The TCU run defense this year has been up and down but most of the problems have come from missed tackles or bad angles taken by TCU defenders. On Saturday, the problem was for the most part an inability to avoid and shed blocks from the West Virginia offensive line. The defensive line needed to do a better job taking on double teams and keeping the linebackers clean to make tackles and the linebackers needed to do a better job working around West Virginia blocks to make a play on the ball carrier. Mountaineer running back CJ Donaldson found a ton of success bouncing outside on runs because the linebackers for the Frogs were getting caught up on the offensive line and were unable to pursue to ball carrier outside. The linebackers and defensive line need to work better as a unit in stopping the run with games against two very good running backs in Bijan Robinson with Texas and Richard Reese with Baylor coming up soon. (Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson are two solid running backs for Texas Tech that could definitely give TCU problems as well but I am more concerned about the Tech passing attack in that game).

Offensive playcalling/execution in West Virginia Territory: TCU’s success on offense came through the explosive play on Saturday with big plays coming through the air and on the ground. The problem was that when those big plays did not end in touchdowns, TCU struggled to finish off drives in West Virginia territory resulting in a punt from the Mountaineer 35 yard line, a field goal from the Mountaineer 12, a field goal from the Mountaineer 28, and an interception thrown from the Mountaineer 44. These drives left a ton of points on the board and let the game stay very close until the end. The drive ending in a field goal from the Mountaineer 12 yard line was especially bad. The Frogs had first and goal from the 9 yard line and ran 5 straight run plays (got a first down off of a facemask) and netted negative yards on those plays. None of these designed runs involved getting the ball to TCU’s best running back Kendre Miller. None of these designed runs were the quarterback power run that has been tremendously successful near the goal line for the Frogs. Jared Wiley, who has been excellent especially in the red zone lately, was targetted only once this game and it was on a go route down the sideline resulting in an interception. Wiley has shown tremendous ability to make catches in traffic which is an especially important trait in the tightened passing windows of the red zone. He and Kendre Miller should both be getting opportunities near the goal line with the amount of plays that the Frogs ran inside the ten yard line. Overall the offense was good this weekend but the Frogs could have put this game away much earlier by finishing off a few drives with touchdowns.

Play of the Game:

Savion called game.