TCU head coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday that the Oklahoma Sooners are much improved since they played the Horned Frogs last season.
“I think they feel a lot better about themselves on defense, and they should because they’re playing better,” Patterson said. “And offensively, I think they’re the type that [Oklahoma head coach] Bob [Stoops] likes…They can get after you on offense, through the air or running the football.”
TCU will get to see the new-look Sooners on Saturday at 6 p.m. on Fox. Traveling to Norman, Okla., will be the biggest test of the year for the Frogs, who are coming off a big win over SMU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.
While their defense has seven different starters from the 2012 matchup, Patterson noted that the Sooners are playing much better in Mike Stoops’ second year as defensive coordinator.
“Defensively, [they are] really playing as good as anyone in the league,” he said. “[They are] being physical.”
The Sooners have given up just two passing touchdowns and allowed an average of 169 passing yards per game. That does not bode well for TCU’s passing attack, which is ranked No. 90 in the country at 200 yards per game.
The answer for the Frogs may be to run the ball. Oklahoma has given up four touchdowns on the ground, and two of those were runs of 70 yards or more. Running backs B.J. Catalon and Waymon James are both averaging over five yards per carry and have combined for seven rushing touchdowns.
Offensively, Oklahoma’s attack is less predicated on the pass than it was in 2012. The Sooners have already rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a team, and they have five different players, including starting quarterback Blake Bell, who have over 100 yards rushing.
“All three or four running backs they have are really good,” Patterson said. “[Their] offensive line [is] tremendous.”
That offensive line will be matching up against a TCU pass rush that is one of the best in the Big 12. The Frogs lead the conference in sacks with 15, but Patterson said it is unclear if defensive end Devonte Fields will be in the game to help rush the passer. Fields was sidelined Saturday with a foot injury.
Whether or not he is available, Patterson said his team will have to step up against an impressive Oklahoma team this Saturday.
“They’re playing awfully well,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”