Opinion: Expect TCU defense to rise to occasion against BYU
Here are a few match-ups to look for in tonight's TCU-BYU game:
Justin Fuente, TCU’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, added a new wrinkle to the offense this past week by bringing in Matt Brown and his effective running ability. Offensive lineman Blaize Foltz said of Brown: “We do a lot of QB stuff with him, and we try to surprise people with him.”
Casey Pachall had a near flawless game against the doormat that is New Mexico. Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson are formidable quarterbacks for BYU, but Nelson adds an additional wrinkle with his ability to make plays with his legs.
Running Backs:Foltz summed up the TCU backfield well Tuesday at the team’s weekly press conference: “Ed [Wesley]’s ridiculous. [Matthew] Tuck[er]’s ridiculous. Waymon [James] is ridiculous. We [offensive linemen] just need to do our job and not get in their way.” Wesley has given TCU another great dimension since his return from injury, while James and Tucker could start on most teams in America. While JJ Di Luigi is a good running back for the Cougars, few teams can beat TCU’s three-headed monster.
Skye Dawson had his best game as a wide receiver this past week against New Mexico, and Josh Boyce keeps ticking. Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo lead the way for BYU. Both teams work the ball to many different targets. Hard to pick a winner here.
Offensive line:For just the second time this season (New Mexico), TCU’s offensive line is smaller than its opponents. TCU’s line is outweighed 307 pounds to 301 pounds, but few lines in college football have the résumé that TCU’s does right now. Casey Pachall has stayed upright. That will be pivotal versus BYU’s pass rush.
TCU’s entire defense may be ready to take a major step forward. Stansly Maponga will be the most talented defensive lineman on the field. TCU youngsters Chuck Hunter and Jon Lewis have also impressed in the past few weeks.
Linebackers:Jordan Pendleton and Kyle Van Noy will get after the quarterback for BYU, but Tank Carder has improved as the season has progressed. BYU’s linebackers are tackling machines and get after the quarterback well in the 3-4 scheme. With Tanner Brock out for the season, TCU’s linebackers are not as dominant.
BYU has forced 22 turnovers in eight games thus far for an average of nearly three per contest. TCU’s defense has forced just half as many (11). The secondary is playing with swagger now, and safety Johnny Fobbs forced back-to-back fumbles on New Mexico’s first two drives this past week. I expect the secondary to play well again this week as Jason Verrett is developing into a star as the boundary corner for TCU.
Prediction:This will be a battle in front of a split crowd at Cowboys Stadium. Gary Patterson said this week that TCU will not give up Big 12 home games to play at Cowboys Stadium, so this game could be the Frogs’ last game there for a while. TCU’s defense will look like a Gary Patterson defense this Friday night, and its three-headed monster at the running back position will take pressure off Casey Pachall. TCU wins 27-10.