Wide receiver Quentin Johnston and running back Darwin Barlow get loose before TCU's 2021 Spring Game. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Triebwasser, Frogs O' War)
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For the first time since 2018, TCU football put on a spring game at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, giving fans a glimpse at a highly-anticipated Horned Frog squad five months before they kick off their season this fall.

Several thousand fans showed up to the event.

The contest held an air of normalcy to it, as the fans that attended were allowed to pack into the lower bowls, and head coach Gary Patterson even did his first in-person interview since the start of the pandemic.

After only getting four practices last spring before getting shut down, the Frogs got all 14 of their allotted spring practices before the scrimmage concluded their spring season.

“We got better on offense. Defense–we’re going to be a lot better, and we’re working on that,” Patterson said of the spring. “That’s why I’m doing this [interview] before because nothing that happens in this scrimmage is going to have any indication [on our season].”

Defensively, TCU remained thin throughout the majority of the spring, as several players missed significant time or even the entirety of the spring with injuries.

Despite being thin in several areas, the Frogs looked sharp on defense for much of the game on Saturday, consistently putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing two fumbles on the day.

“We were able to throw out the young guys for a lot of reps,” Patterson said. “We wouldn’t have been [able to] if we had guys back.”

Memphis transfer T.J. Carter, who was Honorable Mention All-AAC last season, caught some eyes at safety in the game, which is a good sign for a TCU team who lost its two starting safeties to the NFL draft.

Playing in his first-ever spring game in his first-ever normal offseason as a starter, quarterback Max Duggan saw only a few drives in the scrimmage, failing to score a touchdown.

The junior signal-caller did look to have improved chemistry with wideout Quentin Johnston, who should be one of the Big 12 Conference’s top threats at receiver after a breakout freshman season (487 yards receiving and 4 total touchdowns).

Wide receivers Derius Davis and Savion Williams, who are expected to hold important roles in the TCU offense this fall, missed the game with injuries.

Backup Matthew Downing threw the lone passing touchdown of the day on an out-route to receiver Blake Nowell, who made one cut and ran 70 yards to the house.

The game’s second and final touchdown came late in the game, as running back Zach Evans exploded through the defense for a 75-yard touchdown that got the fans excited.

Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris was the third signal-caller to see the field for TCU, giving Frog fans a taste for what life could be like post-Duggan.

Along with the upperclassmen, freshman quarterbacks Trent Battle and Alex Honig also saw time under center in the contest, with Honig showing off his arm on a 20-yard completion to receiver Nick Busa with a few minutes remaining.

“Quarterback play–we feel better about [that]. Offensive line–we’re going to be better there,” Patterson said. “Really, offensively as a whole, everything’s going to be better.”

Featuring four 15-minute quarters and a running clock, the game finished in just around an hour.

Looking to bounce back from what has been somewhat of a disappointing three-year stretch, the Frogs open their season at home on Sept. 4 against Duquesne University.

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Colin Post is a journalism major from Houston, Texas. Hoping to find a career in sports writing post-grad, Colin has covered TCU Athletics for TCU360 for four years. Gary Patterson even blocks him on Twitter (which you can find at @colinp_3). Colin enjoys watching and discussing sports, listening to music, and going to Starbucks.