Talk about a tale of two teams. Both have to avoid a let down with an early start in Fort Worth, but for very different reasons. Last week the Longhorns fumbled away another opportunity to win a game at home against Oklahoma State while the Horned Frogs went into Lubbock and snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat on a play that will go down as a highlight we’ll see for years to come.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 3rd at 11:00 AM CST
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)
FORECAST: Mostly Sunny, Wind 5-10 mph, Game Temp 70°F
TV: ABC / Watch ESPN
BETTING LINE: TCU -15 (O/U 71.5)
TCU HORNED FROGS
To say that we are out of Gary Patterson’s perceived comfort zone would be an understatement. The Horned Frogs have been involved in shootouts the last two weeks and even though they’ve pulled out the wins in both cases, it’s not the way that Patterson is used to winning. If the Horned Frogs plan on being in the Big 12 title hunt for the rest of the season, they’ll need to start winning games by a healthy margin. The more they let opponents stick around, the more likely it is that they’ll slip up and lose a game to a team that they shouldn’t. This week provides a good opportunity for the Horned Frogs to beat up on a reeling Texas.
KEY PLAYERS FOR TCU
Trevone Boykin – The TCU quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate for a reason and last weekend’s shootout in Lubbock only solidified the idea that the Horned Frogs will only go as far as Boykin can take them. He is currently ranked fourth in the country in passing yards with 367.5 yards per game and he should find plenty of open targets this weekend against a Texas defense that was shredded by Cal’s Jared Goff who currently ranks 15th in passing.
Josh Doctson – Doctson was virtually unstoppable last week against Texas Tech with 18 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdown’s. To put that into perspective Texas’ leading receiver Daje Johnson has 13 receptions for 196 yards for the whole season. If the former two star recruit gets loose in the Texas secondary it’s going to be a very long day for the Longhorns.
TCU’S KEYS TO THE GAME
Next Man Up – The injury bug that ravaged the Horned Frogs defense took a bite out of the offense when wide receiver Ty Slanina went down with a broken collarbone which will cost him the rest of his season. The Horned Frogs will need for their replacement players to continue to step up in this game for the Horned Frogs to continue to have success. The silver lining to this cloud is that Texas’ offense currently ranks 111th in total yards per game, if there was ever a game for a unit to gain confidence this will be it.
Run It – In the fourth quarter of their game last week Aaron Green took over and ran over, around and through the Texas Tech defense. If the Horned Frogs build up a lead they’ll lean more heavily on Green to carry them to a victory in the second half.
Contain Heard – At this point it is safe to say that Jerrod Heard is the Longhorn’s best bet to deliver big plays through the air and on the ground. If the TCU defense can find a way to keep the Longhorn quarterback contained it’ll be a blowout for the Horned Frogs on Saturday.
WHAT HORNED FROG FANS WANT TO SEE
With each game the Horned Frog defense should continue to get better as their replacement players grow from the experience of each game. TCU fans will be looking for the offense to continue to put up stellar numbers and for the defense to show positive growth. In this game the Horned Frogs have an opportunity to put Texas down early and keep them down throughout the game, TCU fans are hoping to get their Saturday evening plans started early as this one shouldn’t be in doubt past the second quarter.
The last two games have been heartbreak for the Longhorns. In back-to-back weeks special teams mistakes have cost the them two opportunities to win. Going into this season there was a bit of optimism on the 40 Acres about what the second year under Charlie Strong would bring, unfortunately Texas is staring down the barrel of one of the worst starts in school history. Texas hasn’t started a season 1-3 since their 1956 campaign in which the team finished the season 1-9, that also happened to be the season before a guy named Darrell Royal took over the program. Texas’ defense currently ranks 115th and their offense ranks 111th in total yardage and the next two weeks won’t be kind to the Longhorns if they can’t find a way to sort out their issues on all sides, the light is fading fast on Texas’ hopes for a bowl game in 2015.
KEY PLAYERS FOR TEXAS
Jerrod Heard – At this point Heard constitutes most of the firepower for the Texas offense, he is the teams leading rusher and passer and will likely continue to be throughout the remainder of the season. The question for Longhorn fans this week is which Heard will show up, the one who three for 364 yards and rushed for 163 yards against Cal or the quarterback who has averaged 120 yards passing and 70 yards rushing in his other two starts. For this game Texas will need a reemergence of the Jerrod Heard who was on the field for the Cal game if they want to keep up with TCU’s amazing offense.
Malik Jefferson – When Malik Jefferson committed to play at Texas this past spring no one had any idea just how soon he would be making an impact for the Longhorns. The true freshman’s impact has been huge as he currently leads the team in tackles with 27, tackles for loss with 3.5 as well as quarterback hurries and fumble recoveries. Jefferson’s production has been huge and has helped to shore up gaps in the Texas defense. This game will be a test for the Longhorns but you can bet that Malik Jefferson will step up and make big plays.
TEXAS’ KEYS TO THE GAME
Big Plays – It’s asking a lot of the Longhorns to go to Fort Worth to face a top five team. Especially coming off their last two weeks. Making a few big plays early on would help to put Texas into a controlling position so they don’t have to play catch up or try to outscore TCU. The Longhorns have big play makers on both sides of the ball and they’ll need for them to shine Saturday in order to have a shot at knocking off TCU.
Slow Roll Offense – The Texas offense has to produce points and long drives that take time off the clock and more importantly keep the TCU offense sidelined. The long drives will do a couple of positive things for the Longhorns. First it will surely wear down an already thin TCU defense that has well documented injury issues which should lead to big plays late in the game. Second it will keep the Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frog offense on the sideline which is a huge plus.
Get to Boykin – The best and perhaps only way to shut down the TCU offense is by getting to Horned Frog quarterback Trevone Boykin early and often. If left to set up in the pocket and scan the field Boykin will systematically pick a defense apart. Texas doesn’t have enough fire power to get into a track meet with TCU so they’ll need for their defense to keep the Horned Frog attack contained by pestering Boykin all day long.
WHAT LONGHORN FANS WANT TO SEE
Texas fans will want to see Jerrod Heard in top form as well as the defense producing enough stops to slow down TCU’s offense. More importantly perhaps will be the desire to see fewer penalties and mistakes from the Longhorns. At some point Texas will pull together and have a complete game where they surprise a better team, Longhorns everywhere have to be hoping that the game this weekend is their teams moment to shine.
TCU is loaded with firepower on offense and their beleaguered defense is showing signs of improvement each week. Texas is 1-3 and hungry for a big win to help them right their ship in order to avoid a historically bad season. Unfortunately for Longhorn fans even a super effort from Jerrod Heard won’t be enough to keep TCU from putting the Longhorns in the rear view mirror. Texas might hang around for the first half but the Horned Frogs will pull away in the second half as they beat Texas in back to back seasons for the first times since 1958-59.