The Baylor University football team finished 7-6 last year, while TCU went 13-0 and won the Rose Bowl, capping off the most successful season in school history. Despite the way 2010 turned out for both teams, many football pundits believe this year’s season opener between the Bears and
TCU on Sept. 2 in Waco will be a stout test for the Horned Frogs.
Many point to the fact that only ten total starters from last year’s Horned Frogs team return. These departures include Andy Dalton, the winningest quarterback in TCU history, and Tejay Johnson, the team’s defensive heartbeat. In addition, the offensive line finds itself in a state of flux as it attempts to replace four starters.
In Waco, Robert Griffin III is gearing up for a Heisman Trophy campaign. He is on the watchlist for the nation’s top player and brings back an experienced corps of receivers. Griffin recently told the press, “We think we can be one of the best offenses in the nation, if not the best.” With these changes in place, should the Frogs be worried about losing a season opener for only the second during the Gary Patterson era? A breakdown of both teams reveals the answer.
TCU offense vs. Baylor defense
This is the side of the ball that will see the most new faces from both sides. For Baylor, first year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has installed a new system that aims to take advantage of his personnel. For TCU, almost the entire offense is new.
Casey Pachall is predicted to be the week one starter for TCU, replacing Andy Dalton at QB. Although running backs Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James are back to form a potent running game, the receiver corps and offensive line are both relatively inexperienced. But just because a lot of starters are gone doesn’t mean TCU lacks weapons.
Last year, Baylor ranked 114th against the pass and now Chance Casey is the only returning member of the secondary. Going up against this secondary will be receivers Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Antoine Hicks. Look for the latter two to explode against overmatched competition.
Although many doubt Pachall’s ability to step in and replicate Dalton’s numbers, he won’t have to if TCU’s historically potent running game retains its form.
Baylor offense vs. TCU defense
Although Griffin had an impressive season last year, he was stymied by TCU’s defense when the two teams met this past September. The defensive unit lost some players to graduation, there are plenty reasons to think TCU can reload on the defensive end and give Griffin the same problems.
TCU’s secondary is the most raw part of the defense and will be facing five returning Bears who each caught over 40 passes this past season. Seniors Kendall Wright and Lanear Sampson will match up against Jason Verrett, Greg McCoy, Johnny Fobbs and Elisha Olabode who are all inexperienced at the corner position.
However, TCU brings back the best linebacker tandem in football with Tank Carder and Tanner Brock along with defensive line stalwarts Braylon Broughton, Stansly Maponga and D.J. Yendrey. They will square off against an experienced offensive line. Because Baylor has a lot of question marks at running back, it will be up to Griffin to provide a lot of yards on the ground. Don’t count on him producing
TCU brings back punter Anson Kelton and kicker Ross Evans for their fourth season. Their counterparts, Spencer Roth and Aaron Jones, are also both experienced seniors, as well.
How it all pans out
TCU runs the ball early and often, negating Pachall’s relative inexperience. Robert Griffin III has some success throwing the ball, but not enough to counteract the fact that neither he nor his teammates can gain yards on the ground. The game will certainly be closer than last year’s, but TCU’s experience and pedigree as a program carries the day. Sometimes, winning is engrained in a team’s DNA. Coach Patterson won’t let his team drop this game.
Dalton Goodier is a senior english major from Lufkin, Texas.