I reached out to Melissa Triebwasser of Frogs O’ War to learn the details and the realities of our opponent tomorrow.
Wide Right Natty Lite: Max Duggan is coming back to play in front of his home state, how did Patterson pluck him out of western Iowa?
Melissa Triebwasser: Gorgeous campus, pretty girls? Can’t hurt at least. Sonny Cumbie has had his play-calling ability questioned, but no one ever doubted that the dude can recruit, especially at QB. I think Max saw a chance to play early in a system that is a good fit for him and pounced on it. He also spoke of some of the programs TCU offers as a lure when I talked to him at an Elite 11 event. Duggan also has family in the area - I think he uncle - so he had a built in support system while still being out on his own.
WRNL: Darius Anderson is the top offensive threat that I know of, but what are some other names I should be concerned about in the student section Saturday on offense and defense?
MT: Well, wide receiver Jalen Reagor should be THE guy, but he has struggled to get rolling in 2019, after being pretty much the only player left standing on offense a season ago. Sewo Olonilua is the thunder to Anderson’s lightning (at 6’3. 235), and a pair of true freshmen running backs (Darwin Barlow and Daimarqua Foster) have looked like anything but freshmen when they have gotten on the field. Hopefully, Lucas Niang (who has been banged up) will also see the field - the gigantic right tackle is really fun to watch on the offensive line. I also really like Pro Wells - TCU hasn’t used a tight end in basically forever, but he’s been really good this season and forced the offense to look his way.
WRNL: How is the secondary holding up with the absence of Julius Lewis?
MT: Hopefully Lewis returns this weekend, but it’s been a mixed bag in his absence. Against SMU, TCU was without Lewis and safety Vernon Scott, forcing them to start a freshman, a redshirt freshman, and a sophomore in the secondary. It didn’t go well. LAst week, Scott returned, but our starting freshman corner (the freshman) was out - meaning a third string former safety started. But that was fine because Kansas. Jeff Gladney is elite and Innis Gaines is generally a difference maker - and we have seen that as long as Scott is also in the lineup, they can survive without Lewis. That being said, if Julius returns, that’s huge for the Horned Frog defense.
WRNL: Ross Blacklock and Garret Wallow, which name will Cyclone fans remember most following Saturday?
MT: I’m thinking Wallow will have a big game. Blacklock has done great things this season, leading the team in sacks despite being double and triple teamed most weeks. But with Purdy being so mobile, it’s doubtful he gets taken down often behind the line of scrimmage, meaning that Wallow will likely be the more active on the field and in the stat sheet Saturday.
WRNL: Gary Patterson is 117-5 when his TCU teams allow less than 17 points, the last game at Jack Trice Stadium was one of those five losses. Do you see Saturday going to be that low of scoring?
MT: Oh for sure. Between the weather and the caliber of defenses, this has the makings of a defensive battle for sure. Which means it’s going to be a 100 point shootout, right?
WRNL: TCU has been squeezing the air out of the ball with a TOP of 35:30 a game, how can Iowa State bring that time down?
MT: You have to get the Frogs behind the chains early and force them to throw the football. I would be stacking the box defensively and daring Patterson and Cumbie to trust their freshman QB on the road in a tough environment. If that happens, though, don’t be surprised to see Alex Delton get more snaps and use his feet to help move the offense down the field. I don’t think TOP is going to be the biggest factor in the game though - it’s going to be which team can turn red zone opportunities into points.
WRNL: What’s it like to have a stadium host a bowl game? I could never imagine Jack Trice hosting a bowl.
MT: Amon G. Carter is an absolute gem of a stadium and Fort Worth is an attractive destination for fans and tourists. It’s pretty cool to see all these fans from other teams and all the pageantry that comes into bowl season at your home stadium, though the one time we played in that bowl totally sucked.
WRNL: Speaking of, how was the Cheez-It Bowl? It seems like a most perfect bowl sponsor, and I’m glad you all pulled it out in the end.
MT: It was amazing. I spent most of the first three quarters super mad that I spent the money (and left my family at the holidays) to go watch that train wreck. But, by the end, I knew I had been a part of something special lol. It really was such a weird experience and such an odd game - I think I will remember it for the rest of my life. Also the media hotel totally slapped.
WRNL: Finally, what final score do you expect for our matchup?
MT: I have been saying 17-13 Cyclones all week, so I will stick with it. But as everyone keeps saying ugly defensive game, I am convincing myself that you’re going to need 35+ to win.
Thanks to Melissa for letting me be in her ear about all things TCU. She can be found on Twitter @TheCoachMelissa.
See you tomorrow @FrogsOWar!