There were less than two minutes left on the clock when TCU true freshman QB sliced through the center of the Texas defense and landed in the black paint of his endzone.
As he rose from the turf, draped in teammate support, he held up a frog sign that should serve as a symbol of the next 3 years of TCU Football and the origin of its solidification. The run capped a near-five minute drive that put the frogs up two scores on a Texas squad that held the upper hand in the first half and refused to die after relinquishing control in the second half. A scoring drive that cut the remaining time by two thirds and put the game out of reach is exactly what TCU needed but not what fans expected.
Up to this point, the Quarterback battle was less of a competition and more of an easing of Duggan into the position. Injuries and eligibility whittled it down to two in the fall, but Duggan seizing the reins from Delton in the first half of the season doesn’t exactly grab headlines. What grabs national attention is eliminating a Texas squad who’s competed with the top competition in the nation, who generates a ton of revenue, and who had high expectations coming into the season. All the while, the win comes on the shoulders of one of the team’s youngest members.
Rounding into Form
It helps to have back Taye Barber, who broke out of his injury slump to catch 5 passes for 98 yards. Trusty end zone target Pro Wells found the paint on a post route in the first that didn’t hurt the Frogs chances. It also helps when Jalen Reagor can run by D’Shawn Jamison for the easiest 44-yard score of Reagor’s Horned Frog tenure. Texas was well aware of the potency of TCU’s backfield of Anderson and Olonilua, as they sold out to stop the run and dared the pass. TCU picked the right time to get on the same page as an offense and have potentially found the rallying point they needed to get back on the right track.
The offense didn’t do it alone, as the defense nabbed four interceptions from Sam Ehlinger. The common theme with every turnover was anticipation, something TCU hadn’t shown since their loss to SMU in week 3 when Ar’darius Washington intercepted a Buechele pass in the back of the endzone.
Soon-to-be all-conference linebacker Garrett Wallow stepped in front of a shallow cross that he saw the whole way, aforementioned Washington sat on a similar deep cross in the 3rd, and breakout safety Trevone Moehrig played the sideline on a patented Ehlinger rollout that led to another. In the waning minutes of the game, Innis Gaines sat on a route as Ehlinger held the ball and played the zone he knew the Tight End would end up at.
I’m sure that Gary Patterson has the UT game circled on his calendar, going 6-2 against the Horns since entering the Big 12. It doesn’t seem to be out of rivalry, but more rooted in the knowledge of recruiting impact and garnering media attention. Something that you don’t coach is identity. A group that plays well together and becomes unified is something that must grow organically.
The first sign that this defensive unit had played with identity was after their last pair of interceptions, they ran to the nearest sideline cameras and posed. This behavior is practiced more widely in the NFL when a defensive unit gets a turnover and is regarded as a group celebration for an individual effort. Coming together as a group to celebrate an individual play shows that this accomplishment will galvanize the TCU secondary.
The moral victory of this game will be noticeable in the coming weeks when we see a TCU defense that plays more dependent on each other, and less of trying to do someone else’s job.
Featured Photo: TCU Athletics