Fri Oct 19 01:26pm EDT
To get the scoop on TCU, we went to an expert on the Horned Frogs -- Ryan Osborne of PurpleMenace.com -- with five questions about the team and Saturday's game.
What are Trevone Boykin's strengths and weaknesses relative to Casey Pachall and to what would you attribute his improvement from the Iowa State game to the Baylor game?
RO: "Obviously, Boykin doesn't have the experience or pedigree Pachall did, nor is he as tall -- Pachall was around 6-foot-5, while Boykin is closer to 6-foot-2. Still, Boykin is much more mobile and can do a lot more with his feet. And that doesn't just mean scrambling for yardage. It means being able to get outside the pocket and make throws on the run.
"Although it was pretty good against Baylor, the Frogs' offensive line has struggled at times this year. Having Boykin back there takes a little more pressure of them considering he can improvise if the pocket collapses. Also, this might come as a surprise to some, but Boykin probably has a stronger arm than Pachall. Last week a few of his throws had plenty of zip on it, which helped when Baylor limited him to tight throwing windows.
"As for his improvement in between Iowa State and Baylor, I think it simply came down to him getting more reps in practice and more time to consciously assess a defense from the standpoint of a quarterback. Pachall was arrested on Thursday morning before the Iowa State game -- up until that point, Boykin had been working with the running backs all week. That's a big mental and physical adjustment to make in just a little more than 48 hours."
Even if you take out sacks as attempted rushes, Boykin has still carried the ball around 24 times since becoming TCU's starting quarterback. Are those mainly called runs or are they largely Boykin improvising when things break down?
RO: "I didn't notice an overload of more designed runs for Boykin. I think it's just a matter of Boykin improvising when things break down. When the pocket collapsed around Pachall he would either a) throw it away or b) throw under pressure into tough coverage. Most of the time, to the chagrin of Patterson, he would do the latter, which he could get away with against lesser opponents. As TCU moves deeper into the conference schedule, Boykin obviously won't be able to do that. And I think he knows that."
How does TCU's defense this season compare to some of their great units of the past?
RO: "From an execution standpoint, they're not on the same level yet as the 2009 and 2010 unit. But I'll say this: They've done a remarkable job at reloading at positions all over the field. Consider: TCU lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock (drug bust), then they lost Brock's replacement, Deryck Gildon (grades), then they lost Danny Heiss (concussions), who might have started at linebacker. And that's just at one position.
"Devin Johnson was one of their better safeties last year, and he, too, was part of the February drug bust. And this week, Stansly Maponga will be a game-time decision after injuring his foot against Baylor and even if he plays, Patterson said he'll likely need surgery at the end of the year.
"So no, this year's defense isn't the same lockdown unit the Frogs have had in years past. But they're a talented group, and they've progressed well, especially in the secondary. Shutting Baylor down, especially after the Bears went off at West Virginia, was a big confidence boost for the Frogs."
What individual or position matchup do you feel is most favorable to TCU on Saturday? Which matchup do you feel is least favorable?
RO: "I think this game can come down to two match-ups: 1) Trevone Boykin vs. Tech's linebackers and 2) Seth Doege vs. the TCU secondary. And I think there's favorable and not-so-favorable aspects to both of these matchups for the Frogs. Against Iowa State, Boykin struggled outside the pocket because, as the game went on, the Cyclones' linebackers keyed in on him and limited what he could do scrambling, forcing him into bad throws. Jake Knott owned that game. How Tech's linebackers adjust to Boykin when he gets outside the pocket could play a huge factor in whether or not he has a good game.
"As for Doege and the TCU secondary, the Frogs' safeties and corners are playing well and, for most the part, have done so all season. I think they can slow Doege and the Red Raiders down. That said, I also think Doege is playing well, and if he can carry that momentum over from last week then I see him making some throws beyond the Frogs defensive backfield. He might not do it often, but all it takes is a couple big plays to do some damage."
How do you see Saturday's game playing out?
RO: "I've tossed this around in my head for a few days and, really, I'm still not too certain. That said, I think Texas Tech is riding so much momentum coming off the West Virginia win. TCU has some momentum, too, both on offense and defense, but I think the Red Raiders' performance against Oklahoma was somewhat a fluke. I bring that up, because outside of that loss, they've been one of the best teams in the conference. On top of all that, TCU, for whatever reason, seems to come out flat at home. I think Tech will be able to control the game early, then fend off a comeback later in the game. Final score: Red Raiders 35, Horned Frogs 34."