Baylor takes on TCU at 2:30 on Saturday in Waco. The game airs on ESPN2.
I exchanged questions and answers with Melissa Triebwasser of Frog O’War, TCU’s SB Nation site. My answers are here.
How’s the QB situation at TCU?
I think that’s the one area I am not at all worried about this year and into the future. Well, as long as Max Duggan is healthy, that is. Duggan is the truth — the kid oozes swagger, plays with a toughness that has you questioning his sanity, and has improved his biggest weakness — accuracy — to the point of being top 10 in the nation in adjusted completion percentage. He runs the ball incredibly well, understands the offense, and when he’s not getting absolutely obliterated behind his swiss cheese offensive line, looks like a legit star. He’s great and he is absolutely not the problem with TCU’s offense.
Behind him? We got bupkis (do people still say bupkis?). You know the saying “if you’ve got two quarterbacks, you don’t have any?” What does it mean when you have 11? The Frogs have a bunch of former walk-ons and a juco transfer that can’t beat the walk-ons. God forbid we lose Max again... it could get ugly (uglier? I don’t know what could look work on offense).
I put the offensive impotence at the feet of an abysmal offensive line and play calling that is inexcusable at best and downright offensive at worst.
Do you think TCU’s performance against Oklahoma speaks to any deeper problems, or is that indicative of Lincoln Riley doing well with good players against Gary Patterson? Or something else?
Oh we have problems. In addition to the offensive line and the play calling, there’s just not a lot of... heart? on this team. If you watched the Cowboys game Sunday (first of all, I am sorry) and you saw Andy Dalton get nearly decapitated while his teammates stood around with their hands in their jocks? Like it’s not that bad, but it doesn’t feel that far off. Max got up and chirped after big hits last weekend and has no problem bowing up to someone twice his size. He just seems like the only guy doing it. This team loves to get penalties for stupid things like false starts, blocks in the back, and celebration penalties when they’re down three scores, but it would be nice to someone draw a flag after a cheap shot against their teammate. They are young, we keep hearing it, but at some point — you’ve played five games, grow up a bit.
If it was just Oklahoma — and it was OKLAHOMA not this version of oklahoma — losing 33-14 wouldn’t feel awful. But the Frogs were never really in that game and the Sooners aren’t exactly dominant on D. I don’t know who the leader of this team is. After the game last week, Taye Barber, a junior wide receiver said “we have to hate losing more than we like losing”. Statements like that are indicative of youth and immaturity, and I think/hope that’s what we are suffering from in Fort Worth. The talent is there, the defense has been fine to good to occasionally very good — this team just has to grow up. The future is (should be) bright, from a talent perspective.
From the outside some seem to think Gary Patterson might have peaked. Do you think he can get back to the level of 2014?
Man, I have been around TCU Football for a long time. My freshmen year, the year before GP arrived as Fran’s DC (good god I am old), we were 1-10 and got pepper sprayed for tearing down the goal posts after beating SMU at home in the last game of the season. The program was in the most dire of straits, and had Patterson not jumped in the driver’s seat when Franchione bolted for Bama, it might never have left that valley. So I do feel like Horned Frog fans owe him the world when it comes to football, and the right to walk away however he wants (and however wrong it might be). I don’t think anyone with a sense of reality is happy with the direction of the program; you can’t recruit at the third best rate in the conference and finish in the bottom third of the league for 2-3 straight years and feel like things are working. But it is a little soon to call up the glue factory, too. There have been REASONS for the struggles since 2017 — the QB triage unit in 2018, the massive turnover and QB issues in 2019, and the youth and whole global pandemic thing in 2020. But if 2021 doesn’t bring a truly competitive team that is competing for a conference title and NY6 Bowl? TCU fans might find their patience waning.
That being said — the dude did get a statue by being mediocre. I don’t think he’s completely lost his touch, I just think his loyalty has become a hindrance instead of a positive character trait. There ought to be some house-cleaning this offseason, as much as I hate to say it.
What did TCU do to beat Texas?
That’s a great question. I think mostly they just waited for Texas to suck? Oh and we didn’t punt it from their 30 ;) (though we did punt it from inside the OU 40 four times last week so I can’t wait to see the special teams battle we are in for in Waco). I think we opened up the playbook in a way we haven’t before or since, we had some explosive plays on offense, it was a weird game with literally one hundred thousand penalty yards, and Patterson just loves screwing with Herman in a way that truly gets the best out of him. Max was absolutely on fire in that game too, and that certainly helped. Oh, and karma came in and knocked that ball loose at the goal line because Keontay Ingram gave me serious knee and ankle injuries at the game last season when he ran me over while I was taking pics on the sideline and never apologized. Pay back, baby.
Where do you think TCU matches up the best with Baylor?
I haven’t watched Baylor much yet this season so I will honestly admit that I’m not exactly sure where the weakness lies. But I will say this — I like TCU’s skill position players a lot in this game, and if the offensive game plan isn’t god awful, I think the Frogs have a better shot of pulling off explosive plays in this game more consistently than the Bears do. The secondary for TCU is so dang good and Baylor lost so much at receiver, if they can contain Brewer and keep him from making plays with his feet, I think the Frogs can outscore the Bears. But with these two offenses, outscoring the the other might not be a high bar.
Who wins and why?
I really want to pick TCU because I am so desperate to see them play well, but I also kind of love the idea that ODB is picking TCU and FOW is picking Baylor. Well, well, well, how the turns table...
Honestly, TCU is so bad at home, maybe this being a weird game in Waco on Halloween favors the Frogs. But, I think Baylor got caught napping in Austin after their three week or whatever forced hiatus, and they’ll be ready to play. I think Aranda absolutely relishes the opportunity to match wits with GP, and will have a great defensive game plan for an offense that he so aptly characterized as “It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that” before saying it was his goal to keep the Frogs searching for another week. Unless the Bears turn it over more than once, I think they outlast TCU in a defensive (boring as 2018) slugfest 16-13. There will be a defensive score in this game, and it will likely be the difference.
I hate it here.