Behind Enemy Lines: TCU
1) It seems like TCU, more than any other Big 12 program, has been drilled by injuries and attrition. How have the Horned Frogs dealt with the loss of so many players before, and during, one season? Jeremy Clark: "In all of my years covering the team, I have never seen so many players that were expected to make key contributions lost to injuries or attrition. This season is special, I can't compare it to previous seasons because honestly it's just never happened. TCU has lost players in the past but if you look from the ending of last year to where we are now, the number of lost players to graduation, attrition or injuries is nearly unbelievable. The good news though is TCU has dealt with it and have managed to become bowl eligible. While Patterson and crew are never satisfied with moral victories, I do believe they that have earned the respect from the Big 12 fans and media alike for what they've been able to accomplish with such adversity." 2) One of the common narratives when TCU joined the Big 12 was that the Horned Frogs might be able to start off well because Gary Patterson's bunch plays great defense. How has the defense translated to the offense-happy Big 12? Clark: "Right now they rank #1 in total defense in the Big 12, surrendering just over 360 a game and third in pass defense. This is honestly the best I've seen the Frogs defense play the last couple of years which is pretty astonishing considering they only have one senior starter and seven of those starters are either freshmen or sophomores. The beginning of the season didn't start as well as expected defending the pass but with an improved pass rush the pass defense has really improved. Last week they held Kansas State to 145 yards and sacked Collin Klein three times. Stansly Maponga and Devonte Fields are arguably the best duo of pass rushers in the Big 12 combining for 11 sacks on the year." 3) Like Texas, TCU is a young team set to bring back a number of players next year. Who are some of the young, budding stars on the Horned Frogs' roster, and what are the expectations for next year? Clark: "The list is very long. Offensively, the Frogs have several freshmen that are making contributions. Obviously it starts at quarterback with freshman Trevone Boykin who has done an admirable job in his first year as a starter. The Frogs have also played three true freshmen along the offensive line with Aviante Collins, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Joey Hunt. Tight end Griffin Gilbert is another freshman expected to do big things. The Frogs also boast one of the top young receivers in the Big 12 with Ladarius Brown. "Defensively, several freshmen have seen playing time this season. It all starts up front with super-frosh Devonte Fields. As a freshman he already leads the Big 12 tackles for loss and is third in sacks. The Frogs have also played three additional freshmen on the defensive line with Terrell Lathan, Josh Carraway and James McFarland also getting playing time. Safeties Chris Hackett and Derrick Kindred are two more freshmen that have seen plenty of playing time this season. One name to closely watch that several folks are high on is Jordan Moore, a freshman who goes 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and has 4.4 speed. He will run hurdles for TCU's track team in the spring. Of course, two players that have generated some attention this year are kicker Jaden Oberkrom and punter Ethan Perry." 4) With this being an old SWC foe, does TCU consider this game a rivalry game? How do the players and fans look at this contest? Clark: "In talking with the players and Patterson this week they're treating it as just another conference game. Of course the fans remember the old SWC rivalry and the results of the game the last time the two faced each other in 2007. This game can give us an idea to see how far TCU has come not only as a team but as a program since that game." 5) What are your keys to the game for the Horned Frogs? Clark: "Eliminate turnovers and create some. The Frogs rank second in turnovers gained on the year with 28. However, they rank last in turnovers given with 25. If TCU's offensive line can protect Boykin better than they have the last two weeks then TCU has a very good chance to win the game. Last week they allowed six sacks to Kansas State but somehow Boykin eluded more pressure. The line did a good job at creating holes for the running backs up the middle but unfortunately turnovers just killed them in the game. Defensively they have got to defend the deep pass. When I say deep pass, they can't fall for play action. The Frogs have been hit often with the play action and without a doubt the Longhorns have seen this and will attack it. The defense also has to prepare for the trick play which they know will come at some point in the ball game. Luckily for Patterson and Co., they are somewhat familiar with Harsin from his days at Boise State. In two games they've faced Harsin as the Bronco's offensive coordinator, the Frogs held Boise State to just 33 points. They also had a great quarterback in Kellen Moore leading the offense. Unfortunately though, the Broncos didn't come close to the type of speed Texas will have on the field on Thanksgiving night.