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MMQB: Kell Yeah

The Frogs won a thriller over the Bears thanks to a walk-off winner from Griffin Kell.

TCU v Baylor Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

TCU is now 11-0 after another come-from-behind victory against the Baylor Bears in a thrilling Revilvalry game. The Frogs escaped with a one-point, 29-28 win in Waco on Saturday thanks to a cold-blooded, game-winning, 40-yard field goal from Griffin Kell. The Frogs continued to maintain composure in extremely close games and continued their success against Baylor in recent years.

The Good:

Griffin Kell: Stud. Cold-blooded killer. Kell cemented himself as a TCU legend for life with the biggest kick by far in the season and probably his career on Saturday. What was most impressive was his ability to mentally reset from a missed extra point earlier in the game to drill the game-winner through the uprights. This kick was reminiscent of a Jaden Oberkrom game-winner on the road in Morgantown against West Virginia in TCU’s excellent 2014 season and Kell gave Oberkrom credit in the post-game press conference as a mentor. Both are certified Frog legends in my book after this game.

Max Duggan: The Frogs came into the game missing probably their second-best receiver in Derius Davis due to injury and lost their star running back and their projected first-round receiver in Kendre Miller and Quentin Johnston respectively to injury over the course of the game. Despite all of this, Max Duggan was able to lead two scoring drives in back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to bring the Frogs within 2 points and then set up the game-winning field goal. Duggan finished with 327 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception through the air to go along with 50 yards and a touchdown on the ground. One thing that Duggan has always had throughout his career at TCU is intense competitiveness and a desire to win. That was on full display on Saturday as Duggan constantly made the effort plays to lead TCU to a win. Whether it was diving to get out of bounds and stop the clock on the game-winning drive, sticking in the pocket and taking a hit after throwing a dart to Taye Barber for a huge gain, or being comfortable taking hits on scrambles to pick up yards, Duggan was giving everything he had to win. Duggan has not panicked in the face of numerous late-game deficits this year and found a way to bring his team back every time and Saturday was another example.

Clutch Defense: The Frog’s defense faced a very tough challenge in the Baylor running game on Saturday as Dave Aranda and the Bear’s coaching staff used a number of different run concepts on Saturday. The Bear’s have a talented group of running backs led by Richard Reese and the variation of run blocking schemes used presented an even tougher problem for the TCU defense. Baylor had success on the ground and through the air, but when it mattered the most, the Frog defense stepped up. Bud Clark made an incredible interception in the end zone just before halftime, securing momentum for the Frogs going into the lockeroom by preventing a Baylor score. When Baylor had the ball, up by 8 points, late in the 4th quarter, the defense held them to a 3 and out. After a touchdown and a failed two point conversion by the TCU offense, the Bears again had the ball, up two, where a first down would seal the game, the Frogs again held them to a 3 and out. The defensive performance was far from perfect, but the defense stepped up in a big way, multiple times on Saturday to give the offense a chance to go win the game at the buzzer.

Taye Barber: With Derius Davis and Quentin Johnston out with injury and the Baylor pass rush having a solid amount of success, Taye Barber helped carry the depleted receiving corps by creating separation quickly to give Duggan a target before the pass rush was able to hit home. Barber has been incredibly consistent for the Frogs this season as he has the best set of hands on the team and a knack for finding holes in zone coverage and an ability to create separation against man coverage from the slot. Against Baylor, Barber flashed his explosiveness as well, with a 77 yard catch where he almost outran the entire Baylor secondary for a score. Duggan has immense trust in Barber when the Frogs need a first down or a big play and Barber again came through in a big way for TCU this weekend.

Sonny Dykes: Sonny Dykes deserves a lot of credit getting his team in the right mindset all year to not panic in the face of adversity and simply focus on the next play. The players have completely bought in to Dykes’s plan for success even when down in games and it has paid off as Dykes continues to find ways to lead his team to victory. The perfect execution of the “bazooka” fire drill field goal to win the game was a perfect example of improbable odds being overcome by calmness and focus by the Frogs and Dykes was the impetus behind the success by cultivating the right mindset in the team. Dykes trusts his players to execute and the players trust Dykes to put them in posisitons to succeed and both sides have held up their end of the bargain this season. Props to Coach for the incredible job building that trust in just 1 offseason, leading to this incredible 2022 season.

Baylor-TCU games: The Baylor-TCU rivalry has produced some absolute thrilling games since the restart of the rivalry in 2010 and this weekend was no different. This rivalry has all you can ask for with both schools in state, both around the same size enrollment, the game generally has big stakes for conference standings, and incredibly close games. I dislike bayLor strongly but I enjoy the fact that the Revivalry is an excellent rivalry game.

The Bad:

Injuries: Although the Frogs did a good job finding ways to move the ball without Kendre Miller, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis, getting healthy is a necessity for the Frogs moving forward. The early bye week that TCU had this year might be coming back to haunt them as multiple players are dealing with nagging injuries. Max Duggan has been banged up for a few weeks now and Quentin Johnston has had problems with his ankle since the West Virginia game. Josh Newton even missed a few snaps against Baylor as he had to go get worked on by the training staff during the game. TCU also had a small flu outbreak leading up to the Baylor game with about 12 players getting sick according to Sonny Dykes. Hopefully, the Frogs can get healthy this week before Iowa State and be at or near full strength for the rest of the season.

Defending counter: As mentioned earlier, Baylor deployed a number of different run designs against the Frogs but one that had a ton of success was the counter. Lincoln Riley has made a living running GT counter runs paired with play action passes and Baylor took a play out of his book against the Frogs. The misdirection part of the counter was very effective at freezing the playside linebacker, allowing the pulling lineman to easily climb to the second level and seal the edge. The explosive running backs for the Bears had plenty of room to work with a clean corner to turn on the outside. This inability to slow down the counter runs led to TCU safeties having to play the run, opening up the play action pass for the Bears. There were a number of Baylor wide receivers left wide open off of play action as the Frogs were very concerned with stopping the run. This is a weakness that needs to be fixed as future opponents will see this as an obvious way to attack the TCU defense in future games.

Offensive line: The strength of the Bears defense is their defensive line with a deep group of talented defensive lineman, led by star defensive tackle Siaki Ika. That group gave the TCU offensive line fits on Saturday as for the first time all season, the Frogs were not able to find much success in the running game at any point in the game. TCU running backs were held to under 4 yards per carry on the day for a total of 67 yards on the ground. The pass protection was not great either as Max had to bail from the pocket numerous times before he had a chance to go through his reads. The offensive line did a good job of not giving up on the play and Duggan did a good job navigating the pocket as the Bears did not have a sack on the day, but the pressure was certainly a factor. It impacted TCU’s playcalling and play design as the very capable receiving tight ends in Jared Wiley and Geor’Quarious Spivey were neutralized as receiving threats as they had to stay in and help the offensive line in pass protection. The injury to Miller also might have played a role in this as TCU was not able to sub in running backs as much as they might have wanted to and running back pass protection couldn’t be counted on as much. Either way, the Frogs need to be better up front moving forward.

Jumbotron: The Baylor jumbotron looked a bit small on Saturday and was sorely lacking in distracting videos of hypnotic amphibians which might have influenced opposing kickers. This had a huge impact on the game of course helping lead to a Frog win.

Play of the Game:

Ice. In. His. Veins.