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2020 Game II: Iowa State at TCU Football Preview

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Time to go on the Road and take on Gary Patterson and Horny Toads!

Ole Sweaty Ball Coach will be in for a treat in his first game of the season. Watch out for the Cyclones!
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

2020 Game II: Iowa State (0-1) vs. TCU (0-0)

Date: Saturday, September 26, 2020

Time: 12:30 P.M. CST

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX

Capacity: 50,000, (but only 12,000 can attend)

Line: ISU -2.5 (opened at TCU -3)

Television: FS1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

TCU Game Notes

SB Nation Website –Frogs O’ War

And we are back! After a much-needed bye week, Iowa State and Matt Campbell have eaten (swallowed) their crow, and are ready to set sail towards a new horizon. Don’t worry – we are not bailing water out of the boat quite yet.

One game at a time.

One week at a time.

I know its coach speak, but this season is not lost. The conference opener begins on Saturday and this team has enough talent to compete with every single program in the Big 12.

When we last left off….

I’ve seen a lot of deflating season openers in my day, but trust me - that was one of the weirdest. Our good grace from above was looking out for us, as we fans are GLAD we didn’t watch the game in person.

You’ve read all the articles, listened to the podcasts, and harped on the coaching staff. The fact that Pre-Season All-American tight end Charlie Kolar and two of our offensive linemen were hurt was not the main reason why we lost.

The story is much larger than that. And I guarantee you this coaching staff will get it fixed. They have been known to make changes faster than Batman disappears, and will not take this TCU team lightly.

Relax Cyclone fans – at least your head coach doesn’t strum a guitar and sing songs around the campfire.

TCU Tidbits

Led by that country folk-singin’ southerner with a barrel for a belly is Gary Patterson, who enters into his 20th season, good for 2nd longest tenure in the nation.

He is known for defense, defense, defense.

In fact, since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012 (8 seasons), they have led the conference in total defense FIVE TIMES. They have even been first in total D each of the last three years, and run a vaunted 4-2-5 scheme that allows them to utilize all the speed at their disposal. Linebackers play as defensive ends and safeties play as linebackers – this is the future of football, and Gary Patterson is truly an innovator when it comes to DE-FENCE.

The other side has turned a new leaf since Sonny Cumbie became OC in 2014, and produced record-breaking feats with Trevone Boykin at the helm. Walking back with his tail between his legs is his former Co-OC in Doug Meachem, who left for lowly KU, (yes that Kansas a few yrs ago). TCU ran the ball stubbornly on 56% of their plays in 2019, and ranked third in the Big 12 in rushing yards.

The Horny Toads are a bit wet behind the ears, as 65% of the roster is freshmen and sophomores. On paper they have probably one of the fastest and most talented teams in the conference, but were picked to finish 6th in the Big 12 preseason polls.

The Series

Even though ISU stomped the Frogs a year ago in Ames, TCU leads the all-time series 8-3. TCU held 11 of their 12 opponents in 2019 below their season total offense and scoring mark, and ISU was that one team.

Iowa State Offense

Oh boy.

To say Brock Purdy had a bad game was an understatement. Purdy was not pretty, and it was due to a multitude of things – poor pass protection, below-average footwork, and most importantly lack of separation from his receivers. Xavier Hutchinson has all the tools in the toolbox to succeed, he just had first game jitters week one. Not having Kolar at our disposal took away Brock’s safety blanket for the middle of the field and on crucial third downs.

After re-watching the film, I noticed the timing was off (worse than picking a fight with the bartender), as #15 was very indecisive, and that correlated into making careless throws and bad ball placement. Word on the street was that the game plan was conservative as vanilla ice cream for week one. Lets hope we get some chocolate chip cookie dough mixed in with fudge on top for Saturday. And we need to see some designed runs from Purdy to keep this offense clicking on all cylinders.

First Key To Victory – Gain Quality Yards on Early Downs

Anytime we were able to get chunk yardage, we sped up to fast tempo (which kept the opponent on their heels), but it just wasn’t there against Louisiana. That needs to continue if ISU wants to score against this strong TCU defense. It will be ever-so-important to succeed on first and second downs, as TCU was one of the best in the country in 2019 at 3rd down defense.

The lack of explosive plays was a shock to me (especially against Sun Belt competition), as our receivers failed to make guys miss, and create in the open field. You better believe TCU will play man-on-man and press with their corners, so it will be important for our big targets (Hutchinson, Shaw and Scates) to play their best form of basketball. That means boxing out, and pinpoint the ball at its highest point.

If Kolar can play, look for him to get a bevy of targets, mixed in with play-action throws to Tarique Milton down the seam (now that he’s in slot), and screen passes to get Brock going on the outside.

TCU v Iowa State
It’ll be good to have our All American back!
Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The offensive line had one of its best outputs in the first half, as the talent is there to succeed. The injuries are what they are – our backup guards are serviceable and will do their job, but having Downing and/or big Rob Hudson back is just plain old gravy on top.

I thought running back Breece Hall played great – as he continues to make guys miss and is elusive in the open field. Coordinator Tom Manning needs to continue to get him the ball in space and let him fly!

TCU Defense

I’ll say it again: this team’s bread is buttered on defense. And boy do they have a ton of young talent. Gone are their best defensive lineman and cornerback (who are playing on Sundays), but they have two of the strongest safeties in the country.

Led by Pre-Season All-Americans Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington in the defensive backfield, both of these studs were named to Bruce Feldman’s College Football Freaks List. In fact, TCU’s secondary graded out as one of the top units in the nation in 2019, and will play three safeties on the field at all times in their 4-2-5 scheme. Washington (last year’s Big 12 Freshman of the Year) has tremendous ball skills, and led the team with 5 interceptions in ’19.

The defensive front is led by Terrell Cooper and Corey Bethley, and they will send pressure on the outside from Ochaun Mathis. The ends are undersized, but tremendously quick. The biggest wildcard is 5-star LSU transfer Marcel Brooks, who could see time at defensive end, but may also be sitting out due to “eligibility” reasons.

Leading Big 12 tackler from 2019 Garret Wallow (10.5 per game) anchors the linebacking crew, as big #30 led the team in stops, sacks and tackles for loss. FIVE different true freshmen started a game on this side of the ball last year, as only three seniors are starting on the unit this year.

The corners are solid, as Noah Daniels leads the group, but upcoming sophomore Tre’Vius Hodges Tomlinson mans the other side (and is only 5-foot-9). I bet Cyclone receivers are licking their chops!

The Verdict – TCU

I’m in the prove me wrong camp here with Purdy and company. The track record is clear that TCU will shut down the passing lanes, stop the run, and most importantly – get stops on third down. This is no knock on Tom Manning and his boys, only a spark which can hopefully light a fire under their you-know-what.

Iowa State Defense

If there was a beacon of shining light from game one, it was the defense. Jon Heacock’s crew came to play, and absolutely shut down a vaunted Louisiana rushing attack. Were there missed tackles – yes, but all in all, a very solid performance.

Probably the brightest spot came from the defensive line, as Will McDonald and Jaquan Bailey forced pressure, and even the other Bailey (Joshua) got in on some plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Second Key to Victory – GOT TO F-O-R-C-E Turnovers

Its been an Achilles heel for this defense going back the last two seasons, as ISU has been unable to nab interceptions or force fumbles. The tackles-for-loss are there, its just that the quarterback pressure is not enough to cause errant throws or as the famous Al Michaels puts it – get a sack-fumble!

I see a big day from Mike Rose, as he will be all over the field on Saturday. I also expect the top three linebackers to play most of the way, as Campbell knows his reserves are a step slower than the first stringers.

Isheem Young was flying all over the field, as you couldn’t help but be impressed by the redshirt freshman. Greg Eisworth fills the holes in this defense, and there is no one I feel more comfortable tackling in space than #12.

I was also excited by the play of cornerback Tayvonn Kyle, as he made some plays on the outside, and was not afraid to lower his pads and get dirty. Anthony Johnson was never talked about in week one, which for your top cornerback – is a good thing.

I expect some exotic blitzes against a young quarterback, but also a shorter box up front to maintain the rushing attack.

TCU Offense

Council Bluffs, IA native Max Duggan was the quarterback of the future for the Horned Frogs, all up until he had a procedure to correct a congenital heart issue in the offseason. That allowed time for Georgia transfer turned walk-on Matthew Downing to get reps. Up until he got COVID and had to sit out the last few weeks. Jeez. Downing has been named the starter, but I would bet my life savings that Duggan sees the field at some point.

Both are solid playmaking dual-threat options, who can sling it, but also run. Duggan had some issues with accuracy a year ago, but really came into his own in the last seven games, namely as a run threat. He went from 46 yards in his first seven contests, to 509 in his last seven.

Regardless of which quarterback sees the majority of the snaps, this TCU offensive line is a big question mark. They only return 21 starts amongst the top-5, with newcomers at multiple positions, and not a single game to prep before they see the field against the Cyclones.

TCU runs a shotgun spread primarily with four receivers, but like to stack the backfield with two backs at a time. OC Sonny Cumbie loves to run wildcat in the red zone, and has a stud tight end now turned receiver in Pro Wells, who had five touchdowns a year ago.

A smorgasbord of receivers with very few receptions from last year return. Their top target is Taye Barber, who ended the season on a streak – catching 29 balls in his last 7 games. Nebraska transfer JD Spielman was productive in Lincoln, but apparently tired of Husker land. He is lost in the shuffle of the depth chart (listed as a third-stringer), but should see the field.

Third Key to Victory – Contain the Running Game

This is where the game will be won right here. TCU loves to dominate time of possession and carry the momentum in the running game. They have one of the most talented stables of running horses, er backs we have seen from a 247 recruiting profile, and it will be important for Cyclone defenders to wrap up in space, and flood the gaps up front against an inexperienced offensive line.

Based on seniority, Emari Demarcado is listed as the starter, but he has many men breathing down his neck. Redshirt freshman Darwin Barlow (4-star, #27 ranked RB), redshirt frosh Daimarqua Foster (4-star, #7 RB), and true freshman Zach Evans (5-star, #2 RB) all will see the field on Saturday, and all of them are bruisers who can break away for the big on.e

The Verdict – ISU

A new quarterback with an inexperienced offensive line, AND playing in their first game of the season? This one is all Iowa State, as it takes time for an offense to gel, and this Cyclones unit is stout.

Special Teams

I think of Special Teams as a curse word in the athletic offices. It has been an issue going on the last two seasons, and has to be fixed. I foresee more starters playing special teams, and probably a more conservative approach from Campbell.

With that being said, TCU has always has a dangerous return man – and JD Spielman is just that. The punt returner/wide receiver has two returned for TDs in his career, and honestly, I could see Campbell doing all he can to not let him touch it.

TCU’s kicker has some experience, making 3 of 4 field goals a year ago, and their 27-year old SOPHOMORE punter is a good one. He is from, you guessed it – Australia.

I’m not even sure what to say here about Iowa State. I’ll just leave it at that.

Verdict – TCU

See my last sentence…

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

I think this will be a good bounce back game for the Clones on the road (in a quiet environment). Not that TCU gets many fans to games anyway, but 12,000 fans is better than none… Vegas swiftly moved the line from TCU minus-3 to Iowa State minus-2.5, as the general feeling is a game under ISU’s belt gives them the upper hand.

With that being said, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being William Hung’s performance on American Idol, and a 10 with that of Susan Boyle’s on Britain’s Got Talent, I give Iowa State a Gary Patterson country song shot at winning this game.

It gets me every time!

Final Analysis

This one might be ugly. Not in the sense that it will be a blowout, but a lot of punts, followed by lack of yards, and finally a lot of field goals. Both of these teams have strong defenses, and TCU will do all they can to run the clock and keep it out of Brock Purdy’s hands.

I like the fact we are playing on the road, and our backs are against the wall. I would also guess that these last two weeks have been some of the hardest and most productive practices that Matt Campbell and his coaches have ever had.

TCU is against the 8-ball, and the fact that they haven’t played plays largely into our favor.

I expect a low-scoring affair, and the first team to 20 wins. Give me the Clones by a field goal!

Final Score

Iowa State 20

TCU 17

Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!