Keys to the Game: TCU

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MAKE BOYKIN THROW

Since Taysom Hill romped his way to a blowout win for BYU, the Texas defense has done a great job containing mobile quarterbacks, but TCU junior Trevone Boykin may pose an even bigger run threat than Hill did for the Cougars.

Boykin’s speed and athleticism is well documented, but he has been less than stellar through the air. His 24 touchdowns to five interceptions are nice, but his 58 percent completion rate is atypical for a Heisman candidate.

If Boykin can run all over the Texas defense, the passing lanes will open up, and the Horned Frog offense will score too many points for the Longhorns to match. Senior defensive end Cedric Reed will have to put his pass rushing instincts aside for a week and keep Boykin in the pocket, forcing him to beat the Longhorns’ top-flight pass defense. 

HOLD THE LINE

TCU is one of the few teams in the nation that run a 4-2-5 base defense. As a result, even the most senior opposing quarterbacks have to spend extra time in the film room to figure out how to make the proper reads.

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has struggled with reads, even against the most standard of defenses. TCU’s star linebacker, Paul Dawson, will be working his hardest to make sure Swoopes does not have enough time to make more complex decisions.

Pass protection will be a vital component to Texas pulling off the upset. More importantly, however, the line will have to make sure that it gets enough push to establish a solid ground game. 

If junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown find themselves smashing into the front seven, Swoopes will have to win the game on his own, and the sophomore has done little to show he can achieve that against a playoff contender like TCU.

CREATE TURNOVERS

TCU’s 45.9 points per game average is the second-highest total in the nation. The Texas offense has been much improved in recent weeks, but it will almost certainly be unable to match the titanic numbers the Horned Frogs put up on a regular basis.

The defense will have to help close the gap by forcing turnovers and giving the inconsistent Texas offense a short field. Sophomore Dylan Haines, junior Duke Thomas, and senior Quandre Diggs each have three interceptions on the season, but they will be hard pressed to add to those totals against a TCU offense that has thrown just six passes to opposing defenders. 

A good pass rush would help force more takeaways, but the Longhorns would be better off sitting back to keep Boykin from running. The odds of a turnover barrage happening are not in Texas’ favor, but it will need one if it hopes to match the Horned Frog offense.