We asked Melissa Triebwasser, the managing editor for our friends Frogs O’ War, to answer a few questions for us leading up to Saturday’s game.
1) Max Duggan had some health issues but is now clear to play but won’t start. Does he finish this game out for TCU?
I have a feeling that we will see Matthew Downing for the first series or two — and barring him completely lighting it up — Duggan from that point on. According to Patterson, Max has been on the field for the past two weeks, and his conditioning doesn’t seem to be an issue. If you want me to put a number on it, Downing throws < 8 passes against Iowa State Saturday.
2) It appears TCU has some questions on the offensive line like Iowa State does. Is it worrisome that a new offensive line has its first game against this Iowa State defense?
One of my favorite Patterson lines has to do with returning players: “The good news is, we have a lot of guys back from last year. The bad news is, we have a lot of guys back from last year.” After consecutive disappointing seasons in the trenches, the Horned Frogs are turning to a lot of new faces and old faces in new places this fall. While untested, I think most believe they can’t be worse than they were at the end of last year. Coy McMillon and Austin Myers are veteran presences, and Myers should start at RT. At LT, there’s a good battle going between transfer TJ Storment and redshirt sophomore Andrew Coker, and both are expected to see time. At guard, we are finally going to see Quazzel White in a major role — a guy that a lot of Frog fans have been excited for — while true freshman Altrique Barlow appears to be pushing Wes Harris on the other side. Center will come down to the incumbent McCoy and Estaban Avila, who has had a great camp by all accounts. All that to say, we haven’t seen this particular unit together, but the size and talent (on paper) is certainly there.
3) What is the best way to attack the TCU studs Ar’Darius Washigton and Trevon Moehrig?
Uhh... don’t? It’s probably possible to avoid one guy, but not both. But their effectiveness will come down to how well the corners play as anything else. If you were looking to exploit a weakness, Washington is obviously not a very big guy, and knowing ISU’s history of having gargantuan wide receivers, you could try to get him matched up on some 6’4” guy — a battle the receiver would probably win (but don’t doubt AD’s fight). The book on Moehrig seems to indicate that he’s not the best tackler, but I think that’s a little overplayed. Both guys are elite, talent-wise, and super hard workers.They are also really great leaders and exceptional human beings to boot. They won’t win every battle Saturday, but I wouldn’t take too many chances, either.
4) Iowa State has had experience in the past having their first game canceled and then going up against someone who played a game the week prior. It didn’t go well. Does that worry you at all about TCU facing Iowa State knowing they have a game under their belt already?
I definitely would rather have seen TCU Football on the field before playing a conference game, especially against a good program. There are definitely advantages to having been on the field — and in this climate, the ability to actually go through game scenarios seems especially crucial. Of course, it’s nice that Campbell and company haven’t seen the Frogs on film, and with lots of new faces on offense and a new play-caller, you would expect that there will be some surprises in store. That being said, ISU has had a chance to work through some things, identify issues, and actually see their team on the field — and that gives them a distinct advantage over TCU.
5) Besides the current big names at TCU who is going to be the next name that fans in the Big 12 know instantly from TCU that they may not already know?
Zach Evans is probably the guy that should be the next big name; the five star running back has one of the more “interesting” recruitments of the last several years, and him landing at TCU surprised everyone. But I am going to go with a different running back — redshirt freshman Darwin Barlow. Recruited by all the blue bloods, Barlow certainly looks the part of elite ball carrier, and he has a huge chip on his shoulder (especially with the addition of Evans). I expect him to start Saturday and split carries with Evans, but don’t be surprised if he’s the leading rusher in 2020.
Additionally, freshman Quentin Johnston is a four star wide receiver that the Frogs stole from Texas right before signing day, and he apparently has blown people away in camp. In a unit that hasn’t impressed recently, he has a chance to quickly establish himself as THE GUY. On the other side of the ball, corner Noah Daniels is a player that Frog fans have been waiting to see break out, but injuries have slowed his progress. He’s big, fast, and physical, and TCU will be counting on him to step into Jeff Gladney’s role and shine.
6) Give us a prediction on the game
Iowa State absolutely dominated the Frogs in Ames last fall, and mostly on the back — and legs — of Brock Purdy. Patterson should be ready for the QB run game this time around, and with the most talented defense — on paper — that he has had, hopefully contain him and the potent Cyclones O. TCU’s offense is a massive question mark, especially with the quarterback issues, but I think they will score enough to win some games. I am an unabashed homer, but I do like the Frogs in a close one — 24-21.
7) How many towels do you think Gary Patterson goes through in a day?
It’s a large number, but if you’ve spent early fall on a sideline in Texas, you understand how that heat and humidity do a number on the poor guy. I will say, he looks pretty fit and trim these days, and it’s supposed to be a fall-ish day Saturday, so maybe the towel girl will get light duty in the opener.