Frog fanatics should reminisce on this weekend with pride. First, we should prioritize celebrating a sport in which I still can’t explain an offsides penalty. TCU women’s soccer secured their first Big 12 conference championship in program history with their home victory over West Virginia last Friday night. Muted by the rancor of COVID-college football season are our ladies, who have been dominant. Excluding their tie with Baylor in the opening match of the season, our lady Frogs are unbeaten and have climbed to third in the national rankings. The conclusion of conference play would ordinarily be the time for NCAA tournament seeding and bracket construction, but the Division 1 council has approved the postponement of postseason tournaments until the spring semester at the earliest. There are no definitive reports on how bracket sizes and regions might be modified. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a collegiate soccer match, it resembles men’s football more than one might imagine. The most notable difference is the men are protected from angry elbows to the nose.
TCU’s second championship was solidified on Saturday evening by Gary Patterson’s footballers. Wait, what!? These Frogs have won only three games and those have been in frustrating fustication. Patterson’s boys hadn’t won a home game before beating Tech in more than a calendar year, yet they are champions of Texas Big 12 football mediocrity. The Longhorns, Bears, and now Red Raiders have fallen to our Frogs. In a season where there may not be much more to celebrate, I’m going to officially christen this a championship all its own. Maybe this should be a yearly tradition in which a giant Texas-shaped waffle iron is awarded. Patterson also celebrated a milestone as he rode home on the West Texas Championship Saddle Trophy during his 200th win as head coach of the Frogs.
I didn’t have much confidence in our boys moving into this game. Not surprisingly, none of my Red Raider frenemies did either. I engaged in more than one Saturday morning conversation where the debate centered on whose team was less consistent. Honestly, the whole game was a bit of a shit show. TCU’s defensive line must have started reading their own press clippings because in the first half, they played like a pissed-off hornets’ nest. Ochaun Mathis (#32), who possesses the strength to bull rush blockers complemented by his closing speed, had been mostly quiet this season before ripping through the Tech line for three first-half sacks. After stonewalling Tech on their opening drive, Max Duggan (#15) was picked off in the endzone when he attempted a deep pass on the first play. In fact, Duggan didn’t complete many passes or look especially comfortable in the passing game at all. His habit of overthrowing and bulleting passes too tall for receivers has returned and is something the sophomore will need to exterminate to reach the level Funkytowners hope he can. That said, Duggan is hereby exempted from any wind sprints and should be the first person selected if picking teams for a playground-style relay race. The Redhead Rocket proved himself faster than any Raider secondary defender on Saturday. Duggan’s hat trick of rushing touchdowns included a 48-yard TD sprint to start the second half and an 81-yard dash to paydirt when Tech looked to be clawing themselves back into the game during the fourth quarter. With only 73 passing yards on 11 completions, Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie might be better served to adopt the playstyle of the military service academies to better utilize the Hydra of rushers pounding the rock. Duggan, redshirt freshman running back Darwin Barlow (#24), and true freshman Zach Evans (#6) combined for 39 rushes and 253 yards, though Duggan himself accounted for 154 of them.
Too often overlooked, but almost impossible to on Saturday, are special teams. Placekicker Griffin Kell (#39) wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to split the uprights in two of his three field goal attempts while adding four extra points to reach double digits. Junior Derius Davis (#12) is continuing a great tradition of electric kick returners at TCU. Davis, who returned a punt for a touchdown in his first collegiate game in 2018, should inspire future opponents to punt the ball to the boundary or face the consequences. Davis helped keep his Frogs in advantageous field position with 103 yards on four returns, including a 50-yarder in the third quarter which led to a Kell field goal despite negative offensive yards on the drive. The punt unit as a whole shone bright, deflecting a punt for short yardage early in the first quarter and blocking a Tech punt on the first play of the fourth. Defense, overall, played acceptably, as the pass rush improved by leaps and bounds. The defensive line improvement was none too soon, as TCU is calling on their third-string cornerbacks in some cases as injuries mount in a secondary that was supposed to anchor the team.
There’s definitive hope for these Frogs to finish with a winning record with three games remaining, two of them against lower-tier Big 12 squads. Patterson and compadres visit West Virginia for a Saturday morning spat this weekend. The Mountaineers narrowly fell to the Longhorns last week but have one more win in the left column than our Frogs thanks to an opening-season victory against their paid opponent, Eastern Kentucky. The couch burners’ marquee win occurred two weeks ago when they trounced visiting Kansas State 37-10 but have fallen to both UT and Tech and required overtime to outlast Baylor. That said, I encourage fans to approach the upcoming matchup with skeptical optimism. (That’s a thing, I think.) West Virginia, like in the past, will anchor their offense with a vaunted passing attack. Redshirt junior quarterback Jarret Doege (#2) — a native of Lubbock — is a talented system passer who’ll attempt between 40 and 50 passes. If the D-line we witnessed last week can return in Northern Appalachia, then good things can happen. If Patterson’s corners are abandoned on islands and Doege is awarded time in the pocket, then the potential for a somber afternoon in coal country awaits.