Josh Hoover was forced into action vs. Iowa State due to a Chandler Morris injury and would make his first career start at QB for the Horned Frogs vs. BYU on Saturday. Hoover dazzled in his debut as the TCU gave him the keys to the offense and let him cook. It seemed the BYU defensive strategy was to give the TCU receivers big cushion and throw defenders in the box to stop the run, looking to force Hoover to beat them; he was happy to oblige. Hoover carved up the Cougars all game, taking those easy throws the defense was giving on quick outs and slants, but also hitting the tough throws on the run or into seemingly impossible windows to the sideline. He was cool under pressure and patient in his progressions, taking drop offs to RBs when necessary or finding Warren Thompson waiting in the endzone. He even showed the wheels to escape the pocket or scramble for a big play when the moment called. His final stat line: 37-58 (64%) for 439 yards with 4 touchdowns, plus a 26 yard run to pick up a 3rd-and-10. A phenomenal debut performance deserving of an encore in Manhattan next week.
Frogs, You Look Good When You Back That QB Up
OK, one more on Hoover, because his game was so outstanding today that it earned many “first, since” praise. There is some kind of magic when a backup QB is called into action to make a start for the Horned Frogs. Hoover’s 439 yards is the first 400-yard game for a TCU QB since since Chandler Morris got the start vs. Baylor in 2021, replacing an injured Max Duggan. Hoover’s four touchdown passes is the first time a TCU QB has thrown for 4+ TDs since Max Duggan got the start vs. Tarleton State in 2022, replacing an injured Chandler Morris.
It wasn’t just the offense showing out in Fort Worth on Saturday, the defense owned the day from drive one. BYU QB Kedon Slovis’ first pass of the day was intercepted by Millard Bradford and returned 35 yards for the game’s opening points, giving Hoover and the offense an early cushion. TCU brought pressure from more places and more effectively than we’ve seen previously under Joe Gillespie, with 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 5 QB hurries while disrupting anything BYU attempted. TCU forced two turnovers, two turnovers on downs, four 3-and-outs while holding the Cougars to 3-17 on 3rd & 4th downs and under 250 total yards. The defense has been stout since the Week One debacle, but this was close to its perfect form.
Welcome to the Big Leagues
It was never the expectation that the four newcomers to the Big 12 would step in and compete for a conference title in year one, but the roster disparity has been quite stark through four weeks of conference play and it definitely showed on the field in Fort Worth on Saturday. Thus far, the only new member victory over one of the 10 legacy members was Thursday’s Hail Mary from Houston to down the West Virginia Mountaineers. UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU are a combined 2-10 in Big 12 play so far. These teams will climb the mountain to eventually become competitive, but it might be a steeper climb than they all expected.