Five Questions: Oklahoma
1. Can TCU overcome the obstacle that has been Big 12 conference games at the Carter?
Junior cornerback Jason Verrett said the team’s success on the road is the result of a mindset of “battling the crowd.” Amon G. Carter stadium is no stranger to big crowds and a lot of noise, so the woes in Big 12 home games could be the result of lacking that mindset to which Verrett alluded. A lot rides on Saturday’s game, as the Sooners are in pursuit of an at-large BCS bowl bid. TCU has a shot to come up with an upset that would be seen nation-wide and a chance to have a big head of steam entering bowl season.
2. How effective can Trevone Boykin be in the passing game?
TCU head coach Gary Patterson said Boykin did not start throwing until the Tuesday prior to the Horned Frogs’ Thanksgiving Day upset over Texas, because the redshirt freshman quarterback was “banged up” after the Kansas State game. Boykin only needed to attempt nine passes against the Longhorns to lead an effective offense. Patterson would likely say the conservative game plan in the passing game was out of mere necessity, but it is likely that the coaching staff shied away from dropping Boykin in the pocket to avoid injury. Against the Sooners this week, Boykin will likely be relied on for far more than nine pass attempts in order to run an effective offense. He had another long week to rest and prepare, so what shape Boykin is in on Saturday and how aggressive he is in the passing game will be big stories on how the Frogs run their offense.
3. Will TCU see the same benefit from a long week of preparation as it did last week?
Boykin isn’t the only Frog who has taken a beating in 2012. The TCU roster has been plagued by several injuries this season, and ten straight weeks of game action before Thanksgiving yielded a fatigued group. Last week, however, an energized Horned Frog team took the field and got out to a fast start against the Longhorns. With another ten-day respite to prepare for Oklahoma, TCU should yet again be well rested and ready to battle for sixty minutes. The Frogs will once again need to play at their highest level to take down one of the nation’s best.
4. How well can TCU contain the Sooner passing attack?
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones threw for 500 yards last week in a shootout win over Oklahoma State. Jones is a quarterback who has been on Heisman watch lists during his career, and has a lot of weapons to throw to. Oklahoma’s top receivers, junior Kenny Stills and Penn State transfer Justin Brown, both present a strong combination of size and speed. Verrett, who leads the Big 12 in interceptions (6) and passes defended (19), will guard Stills. The Horned Frogs’ no. 2 cornerback, Kevin White, has been exposed by size a number of times this season, and could see the same in his matchup with Brown. Patterson praised the Sooner receiving corps, saying all of their starting wideouts could be NFL draft picks. TCU contained a similar starting duo in West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but Oklahoma’s depth will present a unique challenge to the TCU secondary.
5. What will the energy level be at kickoff?
TCU returns to the 11 a.m. kickoff time this weekend, the first morning kickoff since Sept. 22 against Virginia. The Frogs’ bout with Kansas kicked off at 11 a.m. as well. There is little doubt that the Oklahoma game will attract a larger crowd than either of TCU’s previous morning games, but Amon G. Carter stadium has been known for crowds that trickle in late. The Sooners will also be playing in their third 11 a.m. kickoff of the season. Oklahoma played morning games in the Red River Rivalry on Oct. 13 and against Iowa State in Ames. Neither team has lost a game with the early start time, but each has experienced a slow start. In a game that may not see a lot of scoring, coming out of the gates quickly will be important for both teams. And an impressive crowd there at kickoff would help the Frogs do just that.