TCU Q&A with Geoff Mitchell

Eric Nahlin

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Both UT and TCU are coming off of close, emotionally draining games. Texas won a close one in Lubbock and TCU lost a close one at home to Iowa State. The Cyclones benefitted from having already played a game, while this was the Horned Frogs’ opener. TCU showed real signs of life when sophomore Max Duggan assumed his first team snaps at quarterback. But the defense showed serious cracks. Could it be first game miscues that will be corrected? That’s very possible. Texas has some second game miscues of its own to clean up.

This sets up to be an intriguing game, worthy of reaching out to our friend on Twitter, Geoff Mitchell.

Mitchell has been with 247 Since 2017 and launched The FrogCast podcast in 2015. You can find him at @TheFrogCastTCU. He is not a Heisman voter.

Inside Texas: Iowa State held the advantage having already played a game, even if it was a bad loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. What were your first impressions of TCU in the close lose last Saturday?

Geoff Mitchell: TCU was weak where I expected them to be, that is the offensive line. Duggan not playing the first half clearly had an impact, but I hang this loss on the OL, as well as a rusty secondary.

IT: Despite the OL, TCU still managed almost 500 yards, with 400 through the air. What did you notice that was different, or maybe similar from years gone by, with Doug Meacham returning to the coaching staff?

GM: With Meachum’s return, and Max’s return in the second half, there was an assumption on every snap that the entire field, including downfield, could be attacked at any time. When Max played well last year, as he did against Texas, he was able to throw the ball deep. With Meacham calling plays and Max’s ability to throw, it did feel as if scoring as needed- the ability to actually compete in a shootout, was once again within the realm of possibility for the Frogs.

IT: Yeah, he had a tired arm at times last year but you couldn’t tell versus UT’s secondary. Even with the loss to Iowa State, there were positives to take away and the late interception was just bad luck. So this is officially his team, now, right? Also, discuss the skill players he has to work with. The running game is missing something or someone…

GM: This is Max’s team- no doubt. On offense, Taye Barber (see freak interception) is going to be the primary target this season. But one player who did not see the field is who I am also excited about, which is TE Pro Wells. He led the team in touchdown receptions last season. He should play Saturday and I expect he will be targeted several times. In terms of the running game, something or someone is missing. Of course most want to talk about Zach Evans, but count me as a massive Darwin Barlow fan. The Newton native will likely get the most carries this season and I expect a heavy dose of him this weekend. We all want to see what Evans can do, but he was out almost a month with contact tracing and such and was just not ready to go. By all accounts, he has really taken to the program but he was just not ready yet. Will he play Saturday? Info is very hard to gather at Fort Patterson.

IT: That ‘and such’ is doing a lot of work after contact tracing, ha ha. I think you’re wise to bet on Barlow being the bell-cow for the season. It’s interesting to see TCU utilize the TE. Artayvious Lynn had a nice touchdown last week and Wells is a good one. UT has a good player to help neutralize him in Chris Adimora. One player UT fans are certainly aware of is Quentin Johnston. He only had two receptions last week but both were impressive. I had heard he was impressing in camp.

GM: I have heard the same thing. Johnston was the biggest recruit of this class, and that includes Evans and Garrett Hayes. He did play well but was curious why he was not targeted more and not on the field at key times. Johnston has digested the offense I am told and I would expect to see him featured more and more as the season goes on. It is hard to overstate how delighted the staff and fans were when he flipped to TCU.

IT: You guys should keep him on the shelf another week...Switching to defense, Gary Patterson’s defense gave up some plays on the outside as well as yards in the run game. I’m sure the latter will lull Tom Herman into feeling he should load up on 13 personnel and “control the clock.” Have you seen much of UT this year, and how do you feel the TCU defense matches up to Ehlinger and the guys?

GM: My biggest frustration last Saturday was the “celebrated” secondary. Their inability to play run defense simply crushed the Frogs at key moments. I am not a fan of calling out players by name but I have to say Tre Hodges-Tomlinson had better improve this week or he will be watching from the sidelines. I am sure his uncle might have placed a call to him. TCU was missing Terrell Cooper, starting DT this last week. He is expected to be back. We are all curious if Marcell Brooks will see the field more this week as well. How does TCU match up against the Texas offense and Ehlinger? To be honest, I am lacking confidence that they can stop Sam’s ability to throw after he takes off running. Give him time and they are in deep trouble. Get in his face, see Brooks, and I will feel better.

IT: To me it shapes up to be a high scoring game, but with each offensive line struggling, the defense should make some plays. What’s the story with the TCU bookend OT’s?

GM: Austin Myers is a fifth-year senior with the program. He has bounced back and forth between guard and tackle, starter and back-up. He is cursed with potential that has never really been able to make the impact I am sure the staff desired. Can I call a 320 pound man a softy? Andrew Coker plays right tackle and is a sophomore out of Katy. I felt better about his play than Austin’s. The TCU OL has been a recurring issue since 2018 and has to be addressed unless the Frogs are ok with another .500 season. The Frogs played for the Big 12 title in 2017. Every member of that OL in on an NFL roster. That is the difference.

IT: I remember Myers and Coker well. UT went late on Coker and couldn’t get him to budge. I thought he showed a ton of improvement as a high school senior. UT is in a similar situation on the right side of its line with fifth-year senior Denzel Okafor, a one-time TCU priority, and Christian Jones. Let’s transition to recruiting. Right now TCU has a top 100 class in the nation, currently ranked 99th. What’s going on there? Only 8 commits.

GM: This is going to be a SMALL, I repeat SMALL, class. Maybe 12-14 kids in the 2021 class. With those kinds of numbers TCU has a much more narrow focus. I also think they are learning how to manage the roster in a transfer portal world. TCU picked up several players that they would not have room for if they maxed out the roster in February. TCU will not have a highly rated class by volume, and I would look for that trend to continue. A few years ago they were caught with a full roster, unable to take a few transfers they really wanted. I think they learned from that. Plenty of kids might want to come home to DFW and TCU is the perfect spot.

IT: I totally agree on the portal, especially for positions like OL who take up space for three years before they’re ready to play. TCU has had two of the best transfers I can recall in the region; Josh Doctson was before the portal but still a transfer. And then Ben Banogu was good for TCU too. Of the small class so far committed, who do you think is underrated?

GM: Don’t forget about Aaron Green who bailed the Frogs out in Lubbock years ago! I really like Alabama QB Trent Battle. He has a strong arm and I believe will enroll early. He is ranked 732 nationally but really should move up. Noah Bolticoff is an OL from Kansas. He is 6-5, 265 but moves really well. The most recent commit is Jasper Lott from Argyle. We are not sure if he will play tackle or tight end. His dad is the Chargers strength and conditioning coach. Let me also mention Alexander Honig who is a QB from Germany!

IT: Green was great for TCU. I watched Battle today and like him as well. Makes different throws from different arm slots, keeps his eyes downfield. He had a decent WR too, Crum I think. Lott has to be an OT, imo. That’s where his upside is. What is it about Chargers’ S&C coaches and Big 12 football sons? The Chargers use to employ Clay Johnston’s dad, if I’m not mistaken. The guy I like most, based off tape, is Chris Murray. That guy’s going to grow into a 3-tech and wreck shop. I think Landyn Watson made a wise decision to commit to TCU. They’ll get the most out of him.

GM: Chase Jackson is a WR from Oklahoma. He was recently injured…

IT: I forgot to mention Jackson. Sneaky good take with genuine upside. Great change of direction for a taller receiver with some acceleration. Could be a steal. I know it’s a small class but who are some of the remaining targets and who is TCU battling them for?

GM: I know the Frogs really want Savion Byrd, but my hunch is the feeling is not mutual. Curious to see how that unfolds, but the Frogs will be on the outside looking in. Lyrik Rawls from Marshall is also someone the Frogs are high on. There was a rumor he was about to commit but that has cooled off, even though I still like the Frog’s chances.

IT: I quit paying attention to the Byrd recruitment a year ago. Have heard everything from OU, to LSU, to even SMU in recent months. Do they like Rawls on offense or defense?

GM: I stopped paying attention to Byrd, but like cheap bourbon, it brings me back. I believe they like Rawls on defense.

IT: I appreciate your time. Before you go, care to offer a score prediction for the game?

GM: TCU is 6-2 against Texas since joining the Big 12, with all but one victory being double digits. Frog fans have a sour memory, because of Shawn Robinson, from their last visit to Austin. That said, I think Texas is the team to beat in the Big 12, even though no one will run the table. Give me 48-45 Frogs in what might be the only loss for Texas this season.

IT: Whoa whoa whoa, cheap bourbon? What’s your favorite one?

GM: Old Tub!

IT: After watching the UT/Tech game, I could easily see your prediction coming true. Good luck, cheers, skol, and all of that. We’ll both be drinking regardless of outcome I’m sure. Thanks again.

GM: Thanks so much for having me. I always enjoy chatting it up with Texas fans. I am just glad we have football. Enjoy the game.

 
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bHero

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Good stuff. I'd tap the brakes on TCU busting out 48 points in Austin though. I didn't see coverage breakdowns (I might have seen 1 on a tempo play where BJ Foster cleaned it up), as much as pursuit breakdowns. This isn't like the Orlando defense and offering unsound backend D so we can blitz some gaps.

Tech was around 6.4 ypa through the air, but it's worth noting that it's much closer to 5 ypa before MOFTs. I suspect we'll clean up the angles a bit this week, as will TCU's defense. Still a close game, but I'd put it in the 30's.
 
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WilliamsDavid

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If TCU scores over 35 this week, we are a 3 loss team.
I think Texas can hold TCU to 24 points, if the team tackles well. I wouldn't be surprised if the team loses 3 games anyway. I at least expect the team to lose 2 games. What is really ridiculous though, is that they might win the conference with those 2 losses.
"Hook Em"
 

napaak

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I think Texas can hold TCU to 24 points, if the team tackles well. I wouldn't be surprised if the team loses 3 games anyway. I at least expect the team to lose 2 games. What is really ridiculous though, is that they might win the conference with those 2 losses.
"Hook Em"
We definitely could, and it would be really interesting to see how everyone would react to that.

Big 12 champs, yay, but people will still think Tom isn't the guy if he can't win 9 this year against this competition. The Tech game was a very negative data point.
 

sherf1

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Very interested to see how Ossai does against the TCU OTs.

I think after last week the focus has to switched to helping the inside guys fight the quick RPO passes and making plays develop further downfield, giving us time to attack the pass protection. if the ball is coming out quick every snap, that's probably a bad sign for our defense again.
 

Manhorn

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In a season that was compressed COVID-19, I predict the most improvement in the team will be from game 2 to game 3. Also, I am taking my two sons to the game this Saturday, and the Longhorns have never lost a game when all three of us were in attendance.
 

napaak

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Very interested to see how Ossai does against the TCU OTs.

I think after last week the focus has to switched to helping the inside guys fight the quick RPO passes and making plays develop further downfield, giving us time to attack the pass protection. if the ball is coming out quick every snap, that's probably a bad sign for our defense again.
Every OC will scheme the ball out quick against us from now on.
 
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sherf1

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Every OC will scheme the ball out quick against us from now on.
Which isn't the worst development in the world for us if we can tighten it up a bit and make tackles, while we're going bombs away on offense (hopefully).

Lets not forget Tech had 6 punts, a long FG, 3 turnovers and easily could have had more. The defense played pretty well in aggregate, it was just too many mistakes that allowed big plays or Tech off the hook in unfavorable situations (3rd and 16, RPO TD on 2nd and 14, etc).
 

becook3108

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Interesting. Going to take the transfer portal route each class. It is a lot better than going the Juco route. Perfect for a team like TCU. They have Dallas/Ft Worth, nfl development history, and decent success
 
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napaak

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Which isn't the worst development in the world for us if we can tighten it up a bit and make tackles, while we're going bombs away on offense (hopefully).

Lets not forget Tech had 6 punts, a long FG, 3 turnovers and easily could have had more. The defense played pretty well in aggregate, it was just too many mistakes that allowed big plays or Tech off the hook in unfavorable situations (3rd and 16, RPO TD on 2nd and 14, etc).
Agreed. we simply tackle at an average level, we are up 17-24 in the 3rd quarter and the nuttiness' doesn't happen. We have the DB talent. Its on the coaches.
 

patentjt

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Ash has now been baptized in Big12 football, so I think we will know what we have in Ash based upon his adjustments and any improvements made by the D against TCU.

If we look bad again on D then we are basically OU now and have to win in shootouts all the time.
 

gohorns8

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Ash has now been baptized in Big12 football, so I think we will know what we have in Ash based upon his adjustments and any improvements made by the D against TCU.

If we look bad again on D then we are basically OU now and have to win in shootouts all the time.
Outside of maybe Oklahoma State, I don't think any team in the Big 12 will go as up-tempo as Tech. Half the battle on Saturday was guys getting set.
 

gohorns8

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Also, did I read that correctly that Meacham is calling plays even with Cumbie still on staff? I remember the historic horrific OC search of 2015 when most people (including myself) had him as the top choice.
 

rodofdisaster

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Which isn't the worst development in the world for us if we can tighten it up a bit and make tackles, while we're going bombs away on offense (hopefully).

Lets not forget Tech had 6 punts, a long FG, 3 turnovers and easily could have had more. The defense played pretty well in aggregate, it was just too many mistakes that allowed big plays or Tech off the hook in unfavorable situations (3rd and 16, RPO TD on 2nd and 14, etc).
Bill Belichick designs his defense around the concept of making you put together long drives because the odds of you dinking and dunking your way down the field are smaller than downfield passing.
 

sherf1

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Bill Belichick designs his defense around the concept of making you put together long drives because the odds of you dinking and dunking your way down the field are smaller than downfield passing.
Which is ironic given hes won a bunch of Super Bowls with the check down master, but yeah agreed
 
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