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MMQB Week 1: 1-0!

After a slow first half, the Frogs took care of business on the road in Colorado

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Frogs started off the 2022 football season with a resounding win over Colorado 38-13. The passing game struggled for most of the night but a dominant performance from the rest of the team showcased the talent that Frog fans have been waiting to see for years. TCU has the athletes to compete with anyone in the country and showcased that on Friday night in Boulder, Colorado.

The Good:

Damonic Williams: With the transition to 3-3-5 defense this offseason, a key to the Frogs’ success is going to be the defensive line play. On Friday, Williams balled out in both pass rush and run defense. He did an excellent job taking on double teams and keeping TCU’s linebackers free to make tackles and brought strong pressure up the middle. He recorded a sack but his impact extended much farther beyond that as he consistently made the Colorado quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket.

Dee Winters: Winters was all over the field in Boulder totaling 4 solo tackles, 2.5 of which for loss, and 1 sack. Winters’ athletic ability was on full display making multiple open field tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The physical tools have always been there for Winters and he flashed good instincts playing next to Garrett Wallow in 2020. In 2021, Winters was sometimes hindered by overthinking but appeared to trust his instincts and play free on Friday. TCU’s biggest weakness last year was their run defense and a step forward from Winters would go a long way to fixing it in 2022.

Offensive Creativity: On a night where TCU’s quarterbacks struggled in the first half, new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley found ways to get the ball to playmakers. While the passing attack was subpar for TCU, the offense played to their strengths on the outside in Quenton Johnston and Savion Williams. Offensive play calling had become very predictable for the Frogs in past years but on Friday when the passing game struggled, the Frogs still found ways to get their best players the ball. Derius Davis scored a game sealing touchdown in a two back set off of a reverse as just one example of the new offense’s willingness to be creative in personnel and playcalling.

Offensive Line: The fall camp darling for the Frogs showed up in a big way on Friday night, not allowing a single sack and leading the way for a rushing attack that averaged 9.2 yards per carry. The offensive line showed promise for the Frogs last year in the running game but struggled at times in pass protection. A solid performance against Colorado along with a strong fall camp suggests that the unit has taken a significant step forward with the addition of Alan Ali and will provide the time the offense needs to take advantage of a stacked skill position group.

Energy: A sign of a team with good leadership and strong coaching is excitement for others success and that was ubiquitous for the Frogs in Colorado. The team seemed to feed off each others’ good plays and success built on itself. The new regime in Fort Worth appears to have the full support of the players and the team looks to have bought into the new scheme. Belief in the system is very important during a regime change in college football and the Frogs seemed to have that in their first week of game action. The players seemed energized and ready for the game against the Buffaloes which is a great change of pace from last year.

Derius Davis: Davis stole the show on Friday night with a punt return touchdown and a rushing touchdown to go along with over 100 all purpose yards. Davis has world class speed and is very dangerous in the open field and demonstrated both of those abilities on Friday. The offense that Sonny Dykes and Garrett Riley ran at SMU gave slot receivers a chance to gain yards after the catch which fits Davis’ game perfectly. Expect many more big games out of both Davis and Taye Barber out of the slot this year as both are very explosive with the ball in their hands.

Sam Jackson: Jackson was a 4 star recruit from Illinois as a tremendous athlete that could play either quarterback or wide receiver. Jackson showed his incredible athleticism against Colorado with a 32 yard scramble and a touchdown run in the fourth quarter. With a great ability to throw on the run and an even better ability to make plays happen with his legs, Jackson has the highest ceiling out of all the quarterbacks at TCU and put the nation on notice with some highlight reel worthy plays against Colorado.

The Running Game: As previously mentioned, TCU averaged over 9 yards per carry against the Buffaloes and totaled 275 yards rushing with 4 touchdowns on the ground. TCU had the physical advantage and made use of it in large part leading to the blowout win on Friday. The offensive line did a great job springing holes for the many different ball carries that saw action and the play design made the rushing attack more unpredictable and dangerous than in has been in years. The combination of very athletic and dangerous ball carriers, a much improved offensive line, and a new, very innovative play calling style should elevate the TCU ground attack to the next level from a very good part of the football team in 2021.

The Bad:

First Half Passing Game: Chandler Morris got the start for TCU against Colorado and did not have a strong start to the season in the first half. Struggles with accuracy at all three levels of the passing game plagued the Frogs in the first half as they were limited to the running game for offensive success. Although Morris improved dramatically in the second half, the Frogs cannot afford to start off as slow as they did offensively against conference opponents. TCU simply had better athletes than Colorado and the coaching staff did a great job of working around the passing game struggles leading to the win. The Frogs will not have the luxury of the same talent gap against teams later in the year and will need their quarterbacks to have a much better performance than they did in the first half to have a chance to compete in Big 12 play.

Near Interceptions: The secondary for the Frogs came extremely close to multiple interceptions on Friday but were undercut by penalties and catching balls out of bounds. One pick was mitigated by a defensive pass interference call where the defender had no reason to make contact with the receiver. Much like the passing game, TCU will not have the luxury of being able to make these mistakes against better teams and will need to improve their situational awareness to ensure they take advantage of mistakes by opposing quarterbacks. Winning the turnover battle is one of the most important facets of a football game and giving away easy interceptions is a good way to lose that battle more times than not.

Chandler Morris injury: In the second half Morris went down with a left knee sprain and will miss the game against Tarleton State on Saturday and potentially more. For an offense trying to find its footing and starting quarterback, Morris missing a tune up game is not ideal. In-game reps are the best way to work out problems in an offense and the game against Tarleton would’ve been an excellent opportunity for Morris to get on the same page with his receivers.

The Lightning Delay: For all of us watching the game from the great state of Texas, it was scheduled to start at 9:00 pm. Unfortunately, lighting pushed back the start time to roughly 9:40 central time, extending the end of the game well into the late night for Texas residents. Doesn’t Mother Nature know the Frogs are playing?!?!? Frog football trumps rainstorms.

Play of the Game:

The play of the game has to be Derius Davis’ electric punt return for the Frog’s first touchdown of 2022 and the Sonny Dykes era. While the offense was struggling, Davis took matters into his own hands and made a house call from 60 yards out to give TCU the lead at 7-3.