Five Questions: Kansas State
1. Can TCU put up a second consecutive emotional performance?
This is somewhat of a recycled question from earlier weeks, but it’s something the Frogs haven’t been able to do. After emotional wins in tough situations, the team has responded with incomplete performances. The week after grinding out a win in a torrential downpour in Dallas, the team rebounded with a loss to Iowa State at the Carter. After the Baylor win, TCU hit a lull in the Texas Tech game and had to fight back to send it to overtime. Last week TCU marched into Morgantown and took a game from the Mountaineers, putting them on their first three-game losing streak since 2003. Will the Frogs be able to rebound with a similar gritty performance against what seems to be a juggernaut in Kansas State?
2. How will Collin Klein perform?
If he’s healthy, this isn’t much of a question. Optimus Klein is the Heisman front-runner for a reason. Seemingly any defense is incapable of completely shutting him down. But, this isn’t a guarantee. K-State head coach Bill Snyder has kept Klein’s status under wraps throughout the week, keeping the TCU players and coaches, as well as college football fans nationwide, on the edge of their seats. If Klein plays and isn’t 100 percent, the game plan could change for the Wildcats and they may be forced to utilize their other weapons. How will Bill Snyder handle it if Klein plays but is ineffective at the start? Seeing if Klein’s injury is still a factor, and, if so, how the Wildcat coaching staff manages it will prove to be a huge part in the outcome of Saturday’s game.
3. Can TCU’s run defense contain the Big 12’s leading rushing attack?
The Wildcats average 224 yards on the ground per contest in 2012. Those who like to “fight fire with fire” may get the show they want Saturday, as TCU’s Big 12-leading run defense gets its toughest test this season. The Frogs only surrender 96 rushing yards per game. TCU hasn’t faced a team that is as physical up front or as committed to the run as K-State is. If Klein, who has 17 rushing touchdowns on the season, is able to play, the rushing attack becomes more diverse with option plays and quarterback keepers. Stopping the run is crucial in every game, but especially on Saturday against a team that can really pace the game with its ground game.
4. How will TCU’s young roster handle the nerves of a prime-time game?
At the point, it’s no secret that this Horned Frog roster is young – very young. TCU has played 16 true freshmen, and 70 percent of players who have seen the field in a Horned Frog uniform are freshmen or sophomores. Kansas State come into the game ranked second nationally, the highest ranked team to play in Ft. Worth since 1970. The game will be aired on FOX in a prime time broadcast with Gus Johnson and Charles Davis in the booth. As far as the regular season goes, there isn’t a much bigger stage for a young player to be thrown into in his first season. If TCU’s young players are rattled by pressure in this game, it could dig a hole for the Frogs pretty fast against an experienced and confident Wildcat team.
5. What message will TCU send to the rest of the Big 12 with its performance Saturday?
It’s been a down year for the Horned Frogs in several respects, and some could say they have underachieved thus far with three losses in conference. TCU head coach Gary Patterson doesn’t believe in “moral victories,” but if TCU even gives Kansas State a run for its money, this team can show the rest of the conference its resilience and that it won’t quit. The Frogs pulled off an impressive win at West Virginia last week that showed teams around the country that the Frogs are a force to be reckoned with. If they follow that performance by challenging one of the nation’s best, the remaining two teams on TCU’s schedule will know the game against the Frogs is not one to be ignored moving forward.