The Horned Frogs will look to limit turnovers and the explosiveness of the Oklahoma offense when they host the ninth-ranked Sooners Saturday.
The matchup pits the Big 12’s No. 1 scoring defense versus Oklahoma’s No. 1 scoring offense, a challenge TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson is simplifying down to one simple question:
“Our job is to hold them to one less, how do you hold them to one less?”
The team is coming off of a 17-14 loss to Texas Tech in which they turned the ball over three times, including an interception by sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson with 43 seconds left. Their -9 turnover margin is the worst in the Big 12.
“For us, we need to change and do better because you can’t be last in the Big 12 in takeaways and think you’re going to win a lot of ball games,” Patterson said.
Of the team’s 10 turnovers in their last three conference games, eight have come in opponents’ territory. This tendency has stagnated the offense, which has failed to reach 21 points in each of the last three games.
The Horned Frogs will look to get back on track against an Oklahoma defense that is one of the worst in the conference statistically.
The team fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops after the 48-45 loss to the Texas Longhorns and Ruffin McNeill was announced as the interim coordinator last week. McNeil had the bye week to begin improving a unit that has the second-worst total defense in the Big 12.
“It’s tough and you can go back and look at things they’ve run before, but it’s tough,” Patterson said. “Even though they’re changing, they’ve had two weeks to work on it.”
The Sooners’ defense has given up 27, 33 and 45 points in their three Big 12 games. The Horned Frogs attitude and response to their past offensive woes could be the key to a successful second half of the season.
“If we can change that attitude and the way things are going, we can win a lot of ball games,” Patterson said.
TCU will need to play mistake-free defense as they take on an Oklahoma team that leads the conference in scoring offense. The Sooners scored 38 and 41 points on the Horned Frogs in their two meetings last season.
Limiting the big play potential of their Heisman hopeful at quarterback, Kyler Murray, and explosive wide receiver Marquise Brown will be key to keeping the Horned Frogs in the game Saturday.
Brown has gone over 100 yards in four of six games this year and is averaging 20.5 yards per catch, including a 77-yard touchdown reception from Murray against Iowa State.
Murray, a top 10 pick in this year’s MLB Draft, is leading the Big 12 in total offense with 356.8 yards per game.
Regardless of the result, Patterson urged his team to continue improving and not to panic, a sentiment that has allowed him to never have two straight losing seasons as TCU’s head coach.
“I think one of the biggest mistakes that happens in college football is everybody panics,” he said. “Whether we win one more football game or not, or we win out, the key for us is to make sure we keep improving.”
The game is set to kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Amon G. Carter Stadium and will be broadcast nationally on ABC.