Who to watch: TCU vs. Kansas

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    After falling to Oklahoma 20-17 last week, TCU (2-3) looks to bounce back against Kansas (2-2), who comes into the game after losing to Texas Tech 54-16.

    Here’s who to watch for each team:

    TCU

    Trevone Boykin, Sophomore, Quarterback

    It’s no secret that TCU’s offense has been struggling this year, as the Horned Frogs rank 113th out of 123 FBS teams in yards per game. TCU is also last in the Big 12 in total offense. At some point, Boykin must be the catalyst to get the offense rolling. There might not be a better time for Boykin to gain some confidence than this weekend’s game against Kansas. Kansas gave up 54 points to Texas Tech last week, so the Horned Frogs should be expecting better offensive numbers than last week’s output at Oklahoma.

    Ty Slanina, Freshman, Wide Receiver

    Slanina has wasted little time in making a name for himself as one of Boykin’s preferred wide receivers. The freshman caught his first touchdown pass two weeks ago against SMU and had a game-high six receptions last week against Oklahoma. Slanina’s speed and athleticism make him a dangerous slot option for quarterback Trevone Boykin. Look to see if Slanina will continue his progression against KU, and if he can become a reliable third down option for Boykin.

    Jason Verrett, Senior, Cornerback

    Verrett has yet to get an interception this year after recording six last season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made an impact. Opposing offenses have been shying away from throwing to Verrett’s side of the ball, so he has often been more involved with the run defense. More than two-third of Verrett’s tackles this year have been solo tackles. With that being said, watch for Verrett’s impact against Kansas on Saturday. The All-American corner is bound to have a breakout game, and the Jayhawk's struggling offense could provide that opportunity.

    Kansas

    Jimmay Mundine, Junior, Tight End 
    Through four games of the 2013 season, the Kansas Jayhawks offense has struggled to find any sort of rhythm or consistency in its play. After struggling to put up just 13 points against Louisiana Tech, a week later Texas Tech saw much of the same from the Jayhawks as the Jayhawks found themselves up against a much tougher defense. Against Tech, running back Tony Pierson suffered a concussion that could sideline him for an extended period of time, a major blow for head coach Charlie Weiss's offense. Pierson leads the Jayhawks in receiving with 21 catches for 327 yards and a touchdown this season. With Pierson sidelined, Mundine will have to step up and assume the role as number one receiver for quarterback Jake Heaps. Through the first four games in 2013, Mundine has reeled in nine catches for 109 yards and a team high of two touchdowns. 

    James Sims, Senior, Running Back
    With the loss of Tony Pierson, the Jayhawks passing game will struggle to get things moving through the air. It will be up to senior running back James Sims to help carry the Jayhawks on Saturday, as a solid performance by him could serve to ignite the rest of the Kansas offense. This season, Sims has carried the ball 64 times for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas' leading rusher, Sims, is averaging just 4.8 yards per carry. The Kansas offensive line has certainly not done Sims any favors, as they have struggled all year in both run and pass protection. In a statement on Wednesday, Charlie Weiss said he vowed to overhaul the depth chart following the loss to Tech, and the offensive line is expected to see many new faces come Saturday against TCU.

    Ben Heeney, Junior, Linebacker 
    Leading the defense against TCU on Saturday will be junior linebacker Ben Heeney. With 44 total tackles (27 solo, 17 assisted) through the first four games in 2013, Ben Heeney has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Jayhawks. Tack on his team leading two interceptions and two sacks on the season, and it's clear just who controls things on the defensive side of the ball for Kansas. Having allowed Texas Tech to put up 54 points against them a week ago, the Jayhawk defense will be anxious to avoid that kind of blowout again and will have a point to prove that they are better than the performance against Tech. A struggling TCU offense could be just what the doctor ordered for the Kansas defense, and they will see this game as an opportunity to prove their defensive capabilities.