QUESTIONS WITH THE ENEMY: TCU Horned Frogs

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I had a great chat with HawkeyedFrog about close games, road records and train horns.

You can see my responses over at Frogs O' War.

1) Since you've been in the Big 12, you've had to make the trek to Stillwater two years in a row and have yet to play the Cowboys in Ft. Worth. What are some of the disadvantages to playing on the road, especially with some of the stadiums the Horned Frogs have had to travel to?

First, let me just say screw A&M for taking two straight home games against you guys then darting out of the conference when it was time to return the favor. On the actual question, I think Patterson has historically done a great job of getting his teams to play well on the road, winning in Clemson's Death Valley, @ Oklahoma in 2005, on the smurf turf in 2011 and in Morgantown and Austin last year. Still the disadvantages of the road are clear, as TCU's young and often reshuffled o-line has some communication issues that are exacerbated on the road, leading to a number of disastrous false start and delay of game penalties that put the Frogs in untenable first or second and long situations that Boykin doesn't have the arm to throw us out of with consistency. The defense will rise to the occasion no matter where we play, but the youthful offense has struggled on the road to the point where we didn't have a single first down in the first half against Oklahoma- yet we still had every chance to win that game, so I think it'll work itself out.

2) Trevone Boykin. Since starter Casey Pachall went down, Boykin has done an exceptional job and has seemed to do possibly better than Pachall at many times. Does the offense just click better with one QB over the other? And what are some of the strengths that Boykin brings to the table?

Boykin can run the ball very well, and he's showing some growth and maturity in his decision making. That said, a healthy Casey Pachall would likely see TCU undefeated in the Big 12 coming into this game. Casey's accuracy is many times superior to Boykin's, particularly downfield, and as the TCU offense has been very (very) slow in moving away from the pass-to-set-up-the-run mindset that we employed with Pachall at the beginning of the year, it's lead to a lot of stagnation on offense. I'm of the opinion that Boykin can be a good QB in the Big 12, but right now the offense isn't set up to maximize his strengths. The Boykin offense is at its best when we get him moving- either on option runs, zone reads or bootlegs that make defenses have to account for him as a runner and simplifies the coverage behind him. Dropping back and throwing deep outs with Casey Pachall is a good idea, doing it with Trevone Boykin is ludicrous.

3) Devonte Fields is obviously a big bad mamma jamma on defense, but who are some of the other names that people might not know that are a force to be reckoned with on D?

Luckily for the Cowboys, you'll be spared the Devonte Fields experience as the reigning defensive player of the year will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. Instead, focus your attention on likely first round draft choice, cornerback Jason Verrett, a first team All-American (Sports Illustrated) last year who has only improved his game to the point where he erased top Texas Tech wide receiver (and another NFL draft prospect) Eric Ward from the stat sheet entirely. TCU's defensive line has also shown a lot of growth this year, with preseason all-Big 12 DT Chucky Hunter and fellow DT Davion Pierson doing a marvelous job collapsing pockets and crushing opponents running games. I would say TCU's pass defense is one of the top units in the country, with talent, speed and depth in every secondary position and a young defensive line that is improving every week. The way to beat it is to run the ball effectively so that they have to play the run instead of focusing on jumping routes (TCU leads the Big 12 in interceptions), so it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys attack the TCU D.

4) Ok, a little off subject, but I've got to ask. That big freaking horn you guys have. What's the deal? Do you bring that thing on away games too? Is it just to scare the living daylights out of your opponents? Or is it a call to unite all Horned Frogs of the world? Because I'm pretty sure you can hear it in China.

It's the "Frog Horn", a horn taken from an old rail engine covered up and painted to look like a zamboni from someone's nightmare. It does usually take road trips with the team, and I'm personally a big fan of it. It's a unique feature that stands apart from a conference of cannon, musket and pistol firings, that actually connects well with the university- TCU is very near a major rail line, so hearing the trains is a part of every day life in the Frog areas of Fort Worth. I don't know about China, but I'm currently in Australia, so I'll be sure to let you know if I can hear it during the game.

5) Through six games, TCU has pretty much been in a situation where they could win. Somewhere along the line, though, something happens and they fall just short. What is it that keeps them in the games and do you believe that's an indication that an upset (fingers crossed for this weekend) is brewing?

The defense is good enough to keep the Frogs in every game they play, no matter how badly the offense starts. Case in point is the Oklahoma game, where the Frogs put up possibly the most miserable offensive half of football outside of Cumberland's efforts against Georgia Tech. Happily TCU generally figures out how to accomplish something on offense at the half (usually it's the same solution- run the ball to set up the pass instead of the opposite) and the Frogs do enough for a solid comeback to at least make the game close and have a chance to steal it late. Happily against Kansas TCU actually started running the ball early and scored a first quarter touchdown for the second time this season (the first against FCS foe SE Louisiana). So, if Jarrett Anderson has finally learned that TCU can run the ball effectively (TCU's line is bad in pass protection, but has the natural size to be dominant in run blocking) I think that the second half of the season should turn around well for the Frogs.

6) Ok. Prediction time. Who you got?

I'm a homer. I admit this about myself, and every week generally starts with me feeling down about the Frogs after another poor offensive performance, only for me to have assured myself that the Frogs will come out with a win in the end. This week I've actually felt pretty good about the matchup from the get go, as I think the OSU (I only recently learned you guys don't like being called Okie State- oops) offense plays into the hands of the strength of the TCU defense, as the Cowboys haven't sustained a quality running game to balance things out, and TCU's offense was solid against Kansas outside of a few fluky turnovers. I think it will be close (it's always close with TCU) but I'll take the Frogs to win 27-23

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