Photo from GoFrogs.com
Last week’s loss to Iowa State dropped TCU from No. 4 to No. 10 over the weekend (the Frogs are No. 8 in College Football Playoff rankings) — but not all hope is lost for making the Top Four. TCU’s chances now depend on whether or not the team can win out the rest of the season, which means Saturday’s game against Texas absolutely needs to be a win — at least, if the Frogs want to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Here are four things to watch out for.
1. Talent on defense.
Texas’ defense has quite a few names to keep an eye on. The first is obvious — linebacker Malik Jefferson, who’s currently the No. 3 tackler in the Big 12 with 76 tackles. He’s also produced four sacks.
Other talented playmakers are cornerback Kris Boyd, who leads the Big 12 in passes defended (nine pass breakups and an interception), and safety DeShon Elliott, who has six interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — so far this season.
2. A challenge against TCU’s run game.
If running the ball is TCU’s strength, defending the run is Texas’. The Longhorns have the second-best rushing defense in the Big 12, allowing an average 109.6 yards per game.
Texas is excellent at forcing turnovers. So far the Longhorns have recorded four forced fumbles and 10 interceptions — Elliott, as you’d recall, has six of them.
Last week against Iowa State, TCU fans were reminded of last year’s struggles when quarterback Kenny Hill threw two interceptions, knocking down his relatively solid completion rate just a bit (it’s currently at 67.8 percent). If the Frogs aren’t careful, the pass-hungry Longhorns could pose a challenge.
4. Uncertainty at quarterback.
So here’s what’s going on. Quarterback Shane Buechele was originally the starter until he was sidelined with injury. Sam Ehlinger took over for Game 2 against San Jose State and shined, leading the team to a 56-0 win — but had to miss last week’s game against Baylor due to a concussion. Buechele then returned to the role and helped the team win 38-7 (albeit against a winless Baylor, but still).
That said, either Ehlinger or Buechele could start Saturday. But neither is 100 percent.
Overall, Texas’ offense has struggled, especially on the ground, as the Longhorns average just 3.8 yards per rushing attempt.
Kickoff at Amon G. Carter Stadium is Saturday at 6:15 p.m.