Matchups: Frogs’ defense to outshine Lobos

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    Quarterbacks

    The Horned Frogs will be led by sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton. Despite his 10 to 11 touchdown to interception ratio, Dalton only threw two interceptions over his last 96 pass attempts.

    Junior Donald Porterie will be back under center for the Lobos. Porterie threw for 3,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, compared with just nine interceptions.

    Advantage: New Mexico

    Runningbacks

    TCU will start Ryan Christian in the backfield for the first game of the season while Joseph Turner, last season’s leading rusher, continues to recover from off-season surgery.

    The Lobos will be returning their top two rushers from last season, seniors Rodney Ferguson (1,177 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing) and Paul Baker (465 yards, but no scores).

    Advantage: New Mexico

    Wide Receivers

    Despite the loss of the team’s top two receivers, Marcus Brock and Donald Massey, the Frogs still have wide range of weapons at Dalton’s disposal including senior Walter Bryant and sophomore Jimmy Young.

    The Lobos also lost their top two wideouts, Marcus Smith (1,125 yards, four touchdowns and was first team all-conference) and Travis Brown (1,031 yards, six touchdowns and was first team all-conference), but they are left with a more inexperienced group than the Frogs.

    Advantage: TCU

    Offensive Line

    The Frogs return four starters on the offensive line, including Blake Schlueter, who is a preseason All-American and on the Rimington Trophy watch list, an honor given to the nation’s top center.

    The Lobos return just one starter on the offensive line, junior Erik Cook.

    Advantage: TCU

    Defensive Line

    Despite the loss of Chase Ortiz and Tommy Blake, TCU still returns Cody Moore and Matt Panfil. Plus the team will be excited to welcome back senior James Vess who missed his entire junior season.

    New Mexico also lost its two top defensive ends, Michael Tuohy and Tyler Donaldson, but can look to fill those holes with seniors Wesley Beck and Kevin Balogun.

    Advantage: TCU

    Linebackers

    The trio of Jason Phillips, Robert Henson (both seniors) and Daryl Washington are ranked the 10th-best corps in the nation by Athlon Magazine.

    UNM lost all three of its starting linebackers from last season, George Carter, Cody Kase and Major Mosley. The team will now look to a pair of seniors, Herbert Felder and Zach Arnett, to lead the linebackers.

    Advantage: TCU

    Defensive Backs

    TCU lost safeties Brian Bonner and David Roach to graduation, but teams will struggle to throw on a Horned Frog secondary that features the cornerback duo of Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders, who begin their third season playing on the field together.

    The Lobos will have all five starting defensive backs returning, including a trio of safeties in Ian Clark, Blake Ligon and Clint McPeek, who combined for a total of 186 tackles last season.

    Advantage: TCU

    Special Teams

    The Horned Frogs lost their place kicker, Chris Manfredini, punter, Derek Walsh, and main return man Bonner. But the team will bring back kick-off specialist Drew Combs and a group of players that can prove serviceable as return men.

    New Mexico also lost their kicker, John Sullivan, and punter, Jordan Scott, but have more experience returning in the punting game with senior Matt Barnard, who was a second team All-American at Mesa Community College in 2005.

    Advantage: New Mexico

    Coaching

    Gary Patterson begins his eighth full season as TCU’s head coach with a sparkling 62-25 record. But the team is coming off of an 8-5 season, his third-worst as a head coach.

    Rocky Long is entering his 11th season as New Mexico’s head coach with a 61-61 record. Long is coming off of his teams’ best season, 9-4, which included his first bowl win as a coach.

    Advantage: TCU

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