As TCU prepares to take to the field in their first Big 12 game, don’t let a season-opening game against a FCS school belittle the skill of the defense.
TCU’s defense is ready for a Big 12 opponent.
Beyond the lights of the new stadium, beyond the fifty-six points scored, the Horned Frogs dominated over the Grambling State Tigers.
By halftime, TCU’s defense held Grambling State to only 31 total yards of offense. Grambling State was held to 70 yards in the entire game and never crossed the 50 yard line.
The running game of the Tigers was dismantled, as Grambling State gained 44 yards. The week before, the Tigers ran for 356 yards and averaged more than 10 yards a carry against Alcorn State.
Led by Devonte Fields’ four tackles for a loss, the Horned Frogs defensive rush continually caused problems for Grambling State’s offensive line with speed and precision. For a run-heavy team like Kansas, the same problems will show up.
The Jayhawks largely rely on sophomore Tony Pierson, who has rushed for more than 120 yards the past two games for Kansas, to carry the Kansas offense. Together with Taylor Cox, Kansas will likely try the run against TCU.
Just like the week before, TCU will control the run once again.
The speed of TCU’s defense is the key to their success. With the ability to open up holes and pressure the quarterback, the entire defense benefits, TCU linebacker Kenny Cain said. That performance from the defensive line specifically gave ample opportunities to all the linebackers, he said.
“People came in expecting to see the Kenny Cain show,” Cain said. “But instead, they got the linebackers show. I felt like I was slacking off sitting on the bench.”
With Gary Patterson playing 72 different players on Saturday’s season-opener, the Horned Frogs will arrive in Kansas with a variety of players who have seen game experience. That experience will help in limiting the ability of Kansas’ running game and give TCU an advantage.
If TCU can control the run, controlling the pass will follow suit. Dayne Crist, Kansas’ quarterback, has the lowest quarterback ranking, with a rating of 93.6. Against Rice and South Dakota State, Crist completed less than 52 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Against a stronger pass rush, Crist will struggle. With left end Stansly Maponga leading the way, TCU’s defensive line will have a speed advantage against Kansas and likely pressure Crist into uncomfortable throwing situations.
With the speed and rotation of TCU’s defense, the Horned Frogs are ready for a Big 12 opponent. With the first game being Kansas, TCU will have a simpler opponent to open conference play. As long as TCU can control the run, the Horned Frogs will find their way to their first season win against the Big 12.