The Horned Frogs were looking to rebound from a bad 49-24 point loss headed into Manhattan, where they were actually favored by over a field goal. With two teams who had strong defenses and struggling offenses coming in, this was thought to be a hard fought, defensive battle, and for the most part, it was.
Even though quarterback Max Duggan had a strong day picking up yards on the ground, to the tune of 13 carries for 115 yards, critical mistakes ultimately doomed the Horned Frogs on the road. TCU never lead in this game, and started off in the hole when the Wildcats blocked a punt to set their offense up on the 20 yard line of the Horned Frogs.
As was the case all day, the defense for TCU was unable to come up with a big stop when they really needed it, and Kansas State slowly began to take the momentum from the start. Max Duggan did more than his part to try and get it back, having the highlight of the day when he ran broke out of the pocket, somehow kept his balance despite taking numerous hits, and dove for the pylon. The 46-yard touchdown run tied it up at 17-17 with 8:42 left in the third quarter.
Both teams would trade punts until midway through the fourth quarter, when quarterback Skylar Thompson took the Wildcats on a 95 yard, 11 play drive that ate up over five minutes worth of clock. Down 24-17, the Horned Frogs had 2;45 left to drive for the winning score.
Duggan led TCU down to the 36 yard line of Kansas State, where he was sacked for a nine yard loss on first down. Ultimately, the Horned Frogs would be unable to gain first down yardage, and turned the ball over on downs. Even though TCU competed in this game, the Wildcats were able to make a few more big plays when they needed them.
Things To Work On
Special Teams: With TCU having struggles on both sides of the ball, the third phase of the game has to be a strength for them. The blocked punt early in this game set up Kansas State for their first touchdown, and it might as well be counted as a turnover for TCU. Patterson’s teams are usually solid there, and it’s worrying that they wouldn’t have that more buttoned up.
Defensive Consistency: Giving up 24 points and holding your opponent to under 300 yards is pretty good defense in the Big 12, but the issue for the Horned Frogs is that they make some of the big plays look too easy. On Kansas State’s first two touchdown passes, for example, Thompson found receivers who were way too wide open, and it happened because of a misunderstanding in the back seven.
Max Duggan’s Still The Guy: The true freshman season that Duggan is having for the Horned Frogs is going to pay off dividends in the future. It probably doesn’t seem like it now, but the fact is that Duggan has showcased many of the attributes necessary to be a winning quarterback at the college level. If his ability to push the ball down the field can progress, his dual threat capabilities will benefit TCU in a big way on down the line.
Jalen Reagor Might Coming Along: Headed into Manhattan, Reagor had been having a fairly underwhelming season, giving that he is one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12. Against one of the more proven pass defenses in the conference, though, he finally put up some numbers more reminiscent of what a Jalen Reagor performance looks like.