TCU’s Cumbie explains why he went with wildcat offense on pivotal series

It’s a play call Sonny Cumbie would like to have back.

TCU had pulled to within 31-24 midway through the third quarter, and had momentum. The defense had just forced SMU to a three-and-out, and the offense was driving in the red zone.

Facing a third-and-4 from the SMU 13, TCU opted to go into its “WildFrog” formation. Fifth-year senior Alex Delton made his first appearance in the game and rushed for 3 yards.

On fourth-and-1 from the SMU 10, the Frogs opted to go for it instead of settling for a field goal. They stayed in the “WildFrog” formation, but had senior running back Sewo Olonilua taking the direct snap.

Olonilua faked a run and looked to pass, but SMU linebackers Patrick Nelson and Delano Robinson got in the backfield in a hurry for a sack and turnover on downs.

“For three years we’ve ran two plays out of that formation and we’ve had that play a long time and practiced it a lot,” Cumbie said. “The one time we call it they covered it. Those were one of the two glaring one’s you’d like to have back. They really hurt us and cost us.”

SMU scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive, and never trailed in what became a 41-38 victory over TCU on Saturday.

Here’s more reaction from TCU’s first loss of the season that will likely knock it out of the Top 25 --

Cumbie spoke to reporters for the first time in a postgame interview session following a regular season game. Coach Gary Patterson is usually the coaching voice afterward, so it was unusual to see Cumbie at the podium.

Asked why he made Cumbie available, Patterson said: “Because I knew you were going to ask quarterback questions, so I could have somebody that could actually answer them.”

Cumbie liked the competitive nature true freshman quarterback Max Duggan showed in his starting debut. Duggan got off to a forgettable start, going 1-of-10 passing for 22 yards. In the second half, though, Duggan went 15-of-26 for 166 yards with three TDs.

Said Cumbie: “He battled. We did not start the football game well at all and a lot of that is my fault not getting in a rhythm and getting completions. I thought he competed in the 2nd half and battled and made some plays to give us a chance to win. At the end of the day, I didn’t do a good enough job getting him in a rhythm early in the game.”

Cumbie and the offensive staff never thought about replacing Duggan for Delton. Cumbie felt Duggan has shown the better arm throughout fall camp and into the season.

“I thought throughout the course of fall camp and our weeks of practice all the way up to this game in terms of throwing the football he gave us the best chance; I felt like Max did that,” Cumbie said. “I didn’t do a very good job running the game and getting his feet under him and giving him some easy completions and allow him to get into a rhythm in the football game.”

TCU’s offense actually had more yards than SMU (424 yards to 406).

TCU rushed for 236 yards, losing for just the seventh time when having 200-plus yards on the ground (93-7).

Garret Wallow had a team-best and career-high 19 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. He surpassed his previous career-high of 13 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff this season.

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