After big wins for both of these teams, Micah Allen caught up with Melissa Triebwasser of Frogs’ O’ War to talk the TCU O-line with Lucas Niang, match ups and more! The game on Saturday should be pretty interesting given the recent development that Tylan Wallace is out for the season. ( For the record Melissa sent these in Friday morning but Micah didn’t have time to put this together before the news broke regarding the injury.)
Micah Allen: How much does losing Lucas Niang for the rest of season impact TCU’s offensive line?
Melissa Triebwasser: It’s a huge loss, obviously, for a TCU line that has been up and down most of the season. Niang is a first or second round draft pick; a guy that can anchor an entire unit and makes everyone better. The only silver lining is that he has been battling injuries all season, and has been in and out of the lineup as a result. So other guys have gotten enough snaps to at least be comfortable. Saturday will be the adjustment game, but David Bolosomi is an experienced guy, and Quazzel White could rotate over from left tackle and be successful -- he has started some games this year and is a really talented young player.
MA:What matchup are you most curious to see Saturday?
MT:I really wanted to see Tylan Wallace and Jeff Gladney go at it, but if Wallace is indeed injured (there are so many rumors swirling that I have no idea what’s going on), then it comes down to Chuba Hubbard vs Garret Wallow. The insanely talented running back will give TCU’s star linebacker fits, but I have a feeling they’ll be meeting quite a few times Saturday. If Wallow can stay in his lanes and play for the stop instead of the big hit, then TCU has a shot of at least slowing Hubbard down a tiny bit. Maybe.
MA: This is going to be a matchup of young quarterbacks, how do you see that impacting the game?
MT:It’s going to come down to which of these first year starters makes the least amount of bad mistakes. Duggan threw his first interception of the season against Texas, but bounced back well and played clean the rest of the game. He still misses seeing some wide open receivers and doesn’t always make the right read in the zone run game, but his improvement has been noticeable week to week. Sanders has struggled turning the ball over, but is probably the best running quarterback in the conference, so whether or not the Frogs can keep him in the pocket probably ends up being the x-factor in how successful the passing game is for the Pokes. Both of these guys can be difference-makers with their feet, but I think it’s the one that makes the most plays with their arm that leads their team to victory.
MA:Oklahoma State’s defense has had issue with running backs this year, do you think that impacts how TCU uses running back Darius Anderson?
TW: If we use him. Anderson had the third most carries of anyone Saturday, behind Max Duggan and Sewo Olonilua -- and Sewo was the preferred back down the stretch. Jet has been so good when he’s been given opportunities in 2019, yet the offense still goes away from him for chunks of time for no explainable reason. Anderson broke out against the Pokes as a sophomore in Stillwater and is due for a big game -- but whether or not he gets the carries remains to be seen.
That being said, I feel that the Frogs will need him more in a tough environment on the road with a true freshman quarterback, and I expect a pissed off and motivated DA to deliver a really good game.
MA: Speaking of defenses, Gary Patterson tends to roll out some good defenses year after year, who are the biggest threats on that side of the ball?
Jeff Gladney is probably the best cover corner in the conference and one of the top at his position in the country. He’s put together an all-conference season and is a guy that really makes the whole system work on the back end. The combination of Ross Blacklock and Corey Bethley on the interior defensive line is downright horrifying -- that’s like 650 pounds of freak athlete clogging up the middle and making things miserable for a QB. I already talked about Garret Wallow, the Frogs’ leading tackler, and a guy who can be a little hit and miss when it comes to making the big play or the big hit. And then on the back end, sophomore Trevon Moehrig has developed into a really great safety and redshirt freshman Ar’Darius Washington leads the team in interceptions despite being a rotational player.
MA:What about on the offense?
MT: Taye Barber getting healthy changed everything for the TCU offense against Texas -- he had 94 yards receiving and forced teams to try and cover Jalen Reagor one on one -- which didn’t work. Having a second guy who has speed to burn and can make tough catches allows TCU’s best receiver to make plays, and Duggan’s comfort level with both of those guys is improving weekly. We already talked about Anderson as well, who needs to get a chance to string together a few good series. And a guy that not many people know about but has been good in games TCU has won is Pro Wells, a massive tight end that has helped Frog fans remember that good tight ends are really nice to have, especially for young quarterbacks.
MA:What do you think TCU does does to try and stop Chuba Hubbard?
MT: Keep him on the bus? Food poisoning? I don’t know, got any ideas?
Really, this is kind of Gary Patterson’s favorite thing, to face a super elite offensive player and see if he can figure out a way to contain him. Chuba is going to get his -- this won’t be a repeat of last year in Fort Worth. But the question is can you prevent the big play, the long run, and the three touchdown game? If Hubbard has over 100 yards but averages around 4.0 per carry, I think the scoreboard favors the Frogs. But if he goes off for 170+ on closer to 6.0, then TCU goes home unhappy.
MA:Prediction and a final score?
MT: This isn’t all contingent on the health of Tylan Wallace, but if he doesn’t go, I think I like TCU’s chances better. That being said, I have picked against the Frogs all week, and picked against them last week, so I am not changing what works. Give me the Pokes 27-24, in a back and forth game that comes down to a late field goal. I think it will be a fun one!