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Oklahoma Sooners Football vs. TCU: Q&A with Frogs ‘O War - Zach Evans, keys to the game and realignment talk

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Melissa Triebwasser of Frogs O’ War drops by to talk about Zach Evans, Max Duggan and the TCU Horned Frogs.

TCU v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

After an incredible win over the Texas Longhorns in Dallas , the Oklahoma Sooners will need to avoid any kind of letdown as Gary Patterson’s upset-minded TCU Horned Frogs come to town. Here to talk about OU’s opponent is Melissa Treibwasser of Frogs O’ War.

Gary Patterson’s gamble on Zach Evans has paid off big time, as the former five-star running back is clearly thriving in Fort Worth. What should OU fans know about him entering Saturday?

Zach came in with a lot of questions, but the kid has been awesome on and off the field. He’s an absolute delight to talk to, he’s doing great in the classroom, he’s always looking to build up his teammates. You hear a lot of things about kids in the recruiting process, but the person we are getting to know at TCU is pretty special. I hope that whatever it was that was getting him to make some bad decisions is eradicated because his future is so bright. He’s got the speed, power, and explosiveness to make a lot of money playing football, and it’s not inconceivable that he could be a first or second round draft pick 18 months from now.

What I love about watching him play is that he seeks out contact, can break tackles, and can run by guys. Evans has a high football IQ, understands where the holes are and can make a lane when the o-line fails him. He’s a pretty good receiver, too. He really is the whole package. We have yet to really see TCU lean on him offensively, and Saturday — if he’s healthy — could be the first time that happens. I’m really interested to see what he can do if the governor comes off.

Speaking of the offense, junior QB Max Duggan seems to improve a little as time goes on and is now one of the better QBs in a league that knows how to produce great QBs. Which aspect of his game seems to have improved the most since the last time OU fans saw him?

Well, umm... that’s a great question, because there’s a prevailing thought around the fan base is that he hasn’t really improved much since his freshman year. Duggan still struggles to complete passes, especially the deep ball, and whether that’s something to do with him or a failing of the play callers remains to be established. But even when he was given a call sheet that focused on intermediate balls in the middle of the field against Texas, the results weren’t great. What Max does well is will his team in tough situations: he’s unquestionably a great leader, he makes tough plays with his feet, and he’s good for a couple of “wow” pass plays a game. But it’s the simple things that he continues to struggle with, setting TCU up to need that grit down the stretch. I still think Max Duggan can be a really good QB, but at some point he has to prove that he can indeed win games with his arm, and we haven’t seen that in 2021.

Speaking of Duggan, which of his weapons should we be most aware of coming into this weekend?

Well, if Quentin Johnston is still out, that hurts a lot. But I love what Taye Barber and Derius Dvis have brought to the table as veterans, and Blair Conwright has had some nice moments in his sophomore campaign. Savion Williams and Quincy Brown are the two elite athletes that haven’t quite gotten in a regular rotation of making plays, but when they get the ball they make big things happen. I am kind of banking on Conwright to be a surprising star Saturday night in Norman — Duggan is developing a nice repoire with him over the last few weeks.

Defensively, things have surprisingly been less than smooth up to this point. What seems to be the biggest issue for this group?

Can I say all of it?

CB2 is a huge problem; Trevius Hodges Tomlinson is awesome but it’s been a sieve on the other side with Noah Daniels out or limited since early last season. The safeties haven’t been much better — though TJ Carter played well at Tech — and the linebackers, outside of Dee Winters, look overmatched. But it all starts with the pass rush and the front line against the run. We thought the defensive line would be the defense’s biggest strength, but injuries to Khari Coleman and Corey Bethley have apparently been too much to overcome. Coleman has returned and shored up the pass rush, but you or I could probably average four yards per carry on the ground up the middle. Which is totally fine because it’s not like there are any good running backs in the Big 12 this season.

How are TCU fans feeling about the future of the athletic department in light of the departures of Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12? Are people excited for the new chapter with the new members?

From a pure football entertainment factor, I love it. You’re telling me OU, which has absolutely dominated the conference for the last half a decade, is going to leave, we are going to replace them with three really fun football programs and Holgo, and they’re going to take those a-holes in Burnt Orange with them? Sign. Me. Up.

But do I think that this is the death of college football as we now know it and will also absolutely destroy women’s and non-revenue sports? Yeah, we are screwed. I don’t blame Oklahoma for taking the SEC paycheck: the Sooners win. A lot. The next logical step is joining what will soon be the football version of the G League. But what it’s financially going to do to the remaining eight member’s athletic department budgets is concerning.

Who is your favorite Oklahoman of all time?

Okay I will admit I did some googling, but apparently Ron Howard was born in Oklahoma, and as a huge fan of his movies — and Arrested Development — I will choose him.

What does TCU have to do to pull the upset this year?

I’m titleing my “Keys to the Game” piece this week “Thoughts and Prayers”, if that tells you how I am feeling about this thing.

But seriously, GP will need to come up with the game plan of a lifetime against a true freshman QB, pull out all the stops on the blitzes, and hope for a few turnovers and a lucky bounce here or there. Maybe Max can finally connect on a few of those deep balls, and Zach Evans can help the Frogs control the clock and keep OU off the field on offense.

How do you see this one playing out? What’s your score prediction?

I’ve said it a few times now, but I think these two teams trade scores on their first drives, the Frogs pull ahead thanks to a turnover, and it’s all Sooners from there. OU 41, TCU 31. (we cover! yay!)