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New battle of Texas starts on Thanksgiving day 2012 as TCU replaces the departed Texas A&M as the new rival of Texas Longhorns.
The Horned Frogs have waited for years to finally take their place next to their big brother Texas. Finally at the big boys table TCU looks to prove they belong, first year in the Big 12 for TCU can end on big upswing if they pull out upset of rival Texas. Coming off a bye week TCU should be 100% healthy for this battle of Texas. Offense has had seen improvements as Freshman QB Trevone Boykin has gained experience the last few weeks. Consistency has been main problem for TCU offense, still they have been able to average 31.5 points per game. Horned Frogs Coach Patterson has built this TCU program on great defense, but first year in BIG 12 the defense has struggled. TCU defense is allowing 24 points per game but has given up over 36 points in all but one BIG 12 game this season.
Just looking at the 8-2 Texas record you would think Coach Mack Brown and the Longhorns are having great season, but with only one ranked win this season its deceiving. Texas has two tough games remaining starting with this Thursday Thanksgiving match-up with TCU and Kansas State next weekend. Offense has shown big improvements over the struggles that plagued them in 2011, on the season Texas offense is averaging 39.6 points per season good for 13th best in College Football. Biggest problem for Longhorns has been their porous defense, Texas defense is giving up 29.1 points per game including over 48 in three games this season.
Recent Betting Trends:
Horned Frogs are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a bye week.
Longhorns are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
Over is 10-3 in Horned Frogs last 13 games in November.
Under is 5-2 in Longhorns last 7 games following a bye week.
When comparing yards per rush on offense, the better numbers belong to Texas by .9. As far as passing yards per completion on the offensive side of the ball, the upper hand is for TCU by .8. According to yards per point, the more efficient offense is Texas by 2.2.
Defensively the more stingy team based on yards per rush is TCU by 1.9. The superior defense in terms of passing yards per completion is Texas Christian by .2. The yards per point statistic used by the best sports handicappers says the superior defense is Texas by 2.4. The turnover department upper hand belongs to Texas by three.
Patterson is 13-9 against ranked teams in his time at TCU and the Frogs have played better football on the road than in Ft Worth this season. They're not going to be intimidated, despite their youth. The best descriptor for TCU's overall performance this season would be "erratic", which isn't surprising given their overall youth and the offseason scandals that rocked the program. 70% of the TCU team that will see action on Saturday will be comprised of freshmen and sophomores. As I wrote above, get your licks in now.
Bryan Harsin and the Texas offense have the tougher draw in this game. TCU's defense leads the Big 12 in rushing yardage allowed (98.1 yards per game), total yards per game allowed (326.3 ypg), and 3rd down defense (only 28% conversions allowed). TCU is allowing 24 points per game, but feel free to shave a full touchdown off of that average if they were paired with a relatively mistake-free offense like Texas.
TCU starts only one senior on defense and 7 of their 11 starters are underclassmen. As always, they're a base nickel defense and the ease of Patterson's defensive install means a unit almost entirely comprised of new starters is already one of the best units in the Big 12. Using supposedly second tier talent. The contrast to the Texas D is fairly obvious and I won't belabor it.
One of the best units in the league. And everyone is a baby.
At DE, Devonte Fields - the true freshman 6-4, 240 pound pass rushing terror from DFW, leads the entire Big 12 in tackles for loss (15.5) and leads TCU in sacks (8). Devonte was a Barking Carnival favorite as a high school senior and the staff's failure to adequately target him is an oddity. Junior Stansly Maponga is back from injury and with Fields, forms what is now the league's best DE combo. Fields is the knockout artist, Maponga is the body puncher.
TCU plays a number of young, talented players at DT. All are cut from the same 6-2, 290 to 305 pound mold and they're exactly the profile of DT that has embarrassed us when we base block and don't get our pads down. Hopefully, we continue to move in the OL and attack with angles, even at the risk of falling prey to TCU's LB stunts.
Senior Kenny Cain is their best LB and he's particularly adept at operating in space. Very effective in pass coverage (2 interceptions, multiple break ups) and he's a true 3 down LB.Joel Hasley is the other LB and he's currently leading the Frogs in tackles. Cain and Hasley are undersized (225 and 220, respectively) and they tend to get by with quickness and instincts rather than destroying pulling guards in the hole. TCU LBs are all allowed to be instinctive, are well taught, and freelance when they think they have a read on your play call. That can be a strength and weakness. Hopefully, Harsin has some things for them.
Sophomore safety Sam Carter (6-1, 220) is their version of Demarco Cobbs, a former high school QB turned hybrid safety/LB, but Carter got coaching. He's 3rd on the team in tackles and has 2 interceptions. 5-10, 190 pound Elisha Obode is the 2nd leader tackler on TCU's squad and he's adept at forcing turnovers with 3 picks and 2 forced fumbles.
The best player in the Frog secondary is CB Jason Verrett - he has 5 picks in his last 7 games and he could be a problem for Shipley or Davis and as a playmaker in TCU's zone schemes.
Jason Hackett is an inexperienced safety who can struggle in coverage at times and CB Kevin White is the guy that teams typically target in the passing game.
Right now, it's Trevone Boykin. Read my breakdown of Boykin and you'll get a taste for how much they rely on him. And that's not good for the Frogs if Texas can follow some of the basic gameplanning that previous opponents have used successfully on the young signal caller.
TCU has an extremely talented group of WRs, average RBs, and a shaky OL - particularly at the OT position.
Josh Boyce, Brian Carter, Ladarius Brown, and Skye Dawson form one of the best units in the league, but the Frogs - because of QB inexperience and OL issues - have had trouble getting the ball to them as often as they'd like. Boyce leads the Frogs in receiving (56-753) and he's a NFL quality dude with good size and strength. LaDarius Brown is a man-child mismatch 6-4, 220, but he lacks the polish needed to fully exploit his physicality. Watch for him in the red zone or if we're dumb enough to put a LB on him. Skye Dawson is their small, track star version of Marquise Goodwin and, finally, Brian Carter, is a reed-thin playmaker with great balls skills from Euless Trinity who I've followed since high school. Their TE is primarily a blocker.
Absolutely the strength of their offense.
Weak at OT (they start a true freshman and sophomore) with a strong interior OL led by Blaise Foltz (this freak of science nature benches 580 and squats 800). Because of their inconsistency running the football, TCU wants to put their four quality WRs on the field at once and use Boykin's athleticism to create time and make plays downfield, but their total inability to block outside rushers prevents it. They can't take free hits on the QB in exchange for 12 yard gains. The Frogs have given up 22 sacks on the year, but 12 of those have come in their four games.
They lost their two best RBs and it shows. Tucker is the big back (6-1, 230, 30 career touchdowns, 410 yards rushing this season) and freshman BJ Catalon is the team leading rusher (445 yards) and scatback (19 catches). No TCU rusher averages more than 5 yards per carry and though they are capable of running the ball in spurts (and so, consequently, can probably run it on us) they haven't shown the ability to really murder a team when they overplay TCU's talented WR corps. Former Katy product Aundre Dean is the #3 RB.
Punter Ethan Cole averages 44.5 per kick. TCU averages 15.4 yards per punt return and they're fantastic at choreographing the blocking. Fortunately for Texas, Alex King has been a punt return neutralizer all season long. TCU place kicking is fair to middling, but they do consistently win in the kick return game (TCU's kick coverage is very good). In short, it's what you'd expect from a Patterson team and if Texas screws around here, we'll give life and confidence to a TCU offense that isn't really capable of extended 80 yard drives.
TCU is a well-coached football team with a bunch of young talent. Unfortunately for TCU, some of those players were pressed into action a year early and it shows on the field. Similarly, inexperience and deficiencies at some key spots mean that teams who game plan well against them are able to pick on those weaknesses, bypassing TCU's strengths.
TCU also lacks depth (because some of their depth is now starting) and that doesn't bode well for them if they don't have a lead on the Longhorns heading into the 4th quarter.
Defensively, Patterson understands that Texas does its worst damage to defenses throwing the ball downfield in play action. I don't think he'll concede the running game - as it's not a part of his constitutional make-up - but he will caution TCU's safeties to linger back one extra beat on 1st and 10. Texas should make it a point to run right at Devonte Fields and TCU's LBs - as there's a good chance that TCU's secondary can be punished if they start to cheat in response.
Can Texas run against a stacked front? Just as the philosophy of Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is to establish the running game to make everything else work, Gary Patterson's defensive philosophy is to stop the running game, regardless of the cost.
The numbers back up the eyeball test on film -- TCU has only allowed one 100-yard rusher this season, when Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle went for 126 yards, but needed 32 carries to get there. Overall, the rush defense gives up less than 100 yards per game, which is tops in the Big 12 conference and seventh in the entire country, exactly the same ranking afforded by S&P+ for run defense.
Nickelback Sam Carter is an impressive athlete on film at a stacked 6-1, 220. In some ways, he's the key to the entire defense because he has so many run/pass responsibilities -- used often as a strongside edge player, the former high school quarterback has 6.5 tackles for loss this season because he's often slicing into the backfield from that position on running plays.
Texas will have to scheme to have a blocker for Carter in the run game and know where he is at all times. The new wrinkle using an H-back to trap block a backside defender on inside zone might be one solution. And Ash will also have to account for him on bootlegs to his side of the field, an action that TCU seems to deal with well by blitzing whatever edge run defender happens to be on that side of the field.
The offensive line is playing some of the best football Texas has seen there in recent years, especially on the edge in the pin-and-pull game, with the ability and open-field efforts of center Dominic Espinosa standing out, but the group struggled against Oklahoma and may do the same at times against a front that ranks right up there in terms of the best Texas has faced this season.
Happy thanksgiving everyone from the whole gang here at Bangthebook!
TCU VS TEXAS PICK:
I am taking TCU and the points—the pros beat this number down earlier in the week so now it is below 8 but it won’t matter.
Texas has been inconsistent all season and they have a very beatable defense. Gary Patterson finally had extra time to prepare this season after having the bye week early in the season and knows this game will raise his stock as a head coach and recruiting for the school.
Texas has Kansas State on deck and if they are not careful they lose this week. TCU +7
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