On a Saturday that featured plenty of drama across the nation, TCU’s home opener against Tarleton had very little as the Horned Frogs cruised to a 59-17 win at home.
Outside of the mystery surrounding starting kicker Griffin Kell’s absence, things went as expected as the Horned Frogs (2-0) jumped out to 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Horned Frogs generated more than 600 yards of total offense for the first time since 2019 and didn’t have to punt until the final two minutes of the game. Max Duggan set a career-high with five touchdown passes to four different receivers.
As the Horned Frogs head into the bye week here’s what we learned from the second straight blowout win:
A much faster start
TCU wanted things to change after the offense was held scoreless last week in the first half against Colorado. The Horned Frogs accomplished their mission with a brilliant first half of football. The first drive saw Quentin Johnston match his production against the Buffaloes as he was targeted three times and caught two passes for 22 yards.
Max Duggan then found a wide open Derius Davis for the first touchdown of the game. It was Davis’ third this year. Overall five different Horned Frogs scored touchdowns in the first half as TCU piled up more than 350 yards en route to a commanding 38-7 lead that was never challenged.
Passing game thrives
After having just 138 yards through the air against the Buffaloes, the Horned Frogs needed to get their passing game on the same page against Texans. Duggan was dialed in early finding a number of different receivers. His best throw of the day was arguably on a 31-yard fade route to Jordan Hudson. In his 30th career start Duggan also set a career-high in yards with 390 yards.
Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley also made life easy as TCU had receivers running wide open most of the game. The second touchdown of the game by Jared Wiley was another example. There was no drop off when Sam Jackson entered the game as the redshirt freshman completed a strike over the middle to Gunnar Henderson that nearly resulted in a touchdown.
Jackson finished the job on that drive with a one-yard touchdown that made it 35-7 just before halftime. Competition aside, it was a positive performance to build off of.
Newton’s big play
Defensively, TCU kept Tarleton (1-1) quarterback Beau Allen under duress most of the game. Early pressure forced Allen to throw an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Josh Newton. Newton, one of the standouts from fall camp, earned the starting spot at corner opposite Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and hasn’t disappointed yet after transferring over from Louisiana Monroe.
Newton returned the pick to the 11-yard line to set up Wiley’s touchdown. The Horned Frogs failed to generate a sack in the first half, but still supplied ample pressure with Dylan Horton and Dee Winters recording quarterback hurries.
Allen’s lone touchdown pass came with TCU’s reserve corners in the game as he connected with Darius Cooper for a 21-yard strike that made it 28-7. After building the big lead the defense took its foot off the gas in the second half as Tarleton used two big plays to score a touchdown on the opening drive of the half.
TCU started off sluggish in special teams as the Horned Frogs missed their first extra point and field goal of the game. Starting kicker Griffin Kell didn’t play in the game as freshman Luke Laminack took over his duties. Laminack settled down after the rough start and did hit a 36-yarder to make it 38-7 before halftime.
It’s unclear what Kell’s status is. He was on the sidelines dressed out, but never took the field. The kicking game was already a bit of a question mark and Kell’s absence only it makes things more difficult.
The youth movement shines
The best things about blowouts for coaching staffs is the ability to get younger players live game reps and TCU had a few that stood out against the Texans. True freshman receiver Jordan Hudson showed why those around the program are so high on him as he had five receptions, 76 yards and a touchdown. His first career touchdown came on a 29-yard strike from Duggan that made it 52-17 in the third quarter.
Blake Nowell also had a strong game with three catches for 60 yards. Running back Emani Bailey isn’t a young player, but the junior running back also flashed his big play ability with a 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Redshirt freshman corner Jaionte McMillan had an interception in the fourth quarter and defensive lineman Caleb Fox also had some good moments.