Tucson, Ariz. • Arizona Stadium
Saturday, Sept. 27, • 7:07 p.m. (MST/PDT)
Radio: KNST (Brian Jefferies, Les Josephson)
Television: Fox Sports Net Arizona (Dave Sitton/Larry Smith) Tape delayed basis
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TCU AT A GLANCE
Coach: Gary Patterson<16-9, 2 years)
Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 2002 Record: 10-2; Conf-USA 6-2/T1st (Beat Colorado State in the Liberty Bowl)
Site: Fort Worth, Texas.
Series Record: Arizona won the lone game in the series. Last meeting: Arizona came from behind to beat TCU 35-31 in 1999. The win came a week after the loss at Penn State.
WHEN TCU HAS THE BALL
TCU has a balanced offense in terms of yardage, but runs twice as much as they throw. That ratio could be even more lopsided as injuries have altered things for TCU. Starting quarterback Tye Gunn is on the shelf with a knee injury and that means Brandon Hassell gets the nod. Hassell is an adept passer (15-30, 227 yards vs. Vandy) but is actually a better runner than Gunn. The Frogs like to use the option and expect that weapon to be featured often on Saturday.
Top tailback Ricky Madison is out for the year, but the Frogs have two other talented runners. Lonta Hobbs leads the team with 181 yards rushing, while freshman Robert Merrill picked up 119 yards against the Comodores. Merrill hadn't had a carry until last week, but has quickly shown that he and Hobbs make up a pretty nice 1-2 punch.
TCU spreads the ball around a lot in the passing game. They have already hit nine different receivers and do a good job keeping defenses guessing.
The offensive line is solid, with three starters returning from last year's team. They have a huge unit with two players over 320 pounds anchoring the left side.
The Wildcats are reeling on defense despite making some improvements. The Cats have been tackling and pursuing better but have been wearing down as the offensive unit has left them on the field way too long. The Cats are using a version of the 4-2-5 with Clay Hardt playing the rover position. The defense has played strong in the early parts of the past two games but turnovers have led to big plays and broken spirits.
WHEN THE CATS HAVE THE BALL
The Arizona offense is in shambles and things could get worse as TCU brings a very good defense to town. The offensive line has been decimated with injury and that is bad news for the quarterbacks. The Cats have used three quarterbacks this season and none of them have set the world on fire. The coaching staff pulled freshman Kris Heavner from his redshirt, so there is a good chance that he could get the call.
Arizona has had little luck with the running game and the Cats will try their third starter at halfback. Bruising runner Beau Carr gets the call after impressing the coaches with his attitude. Carr missed all of preseason with academic woes, but worked hard to get back in good graces. Carr is a north-south runner that the Cats feel can get the running game going.
The Wildcat line took two more hits when John Abramo and Reggie Sampay went down against Purdue and their status is not known. The Cats have already lost Brandon Phillips and John Parada for the year and they could be forced to call on a true freshman if anyone else gets dinged.
One of the lone bright spots for the Cats has been the play of Biren Ealy. Ealy has been the most consistent weapon for the Cats and you can bet he will be the centerpiece of the offensive attack. The Cats would love to get some of their other receivers involved and will have to if they want to have any success against TCU.
The TCU defense is not the powerhouse unit it has been the past few seasons, but it is still very good. The team runs a 4-2-5 that is designed to stop the run. The Frogs have given up just 96 yards per game and just 2.6 yards per carry. With the Cats already having difficulties on the ground, this defense could make things even tougher on the struggling Wildcats.
TCU lost some great defensive talent, but return six starters and have meshed them and the newcomers into a formidable unit. The defense has already forced eight turnovers and are poised to make things rough on the Cats.
OUTLOOK: TCU is the fourth ranked team the Cats will have faced in as many weeks. The Frogs have their share of problems, but it is doubtful that the struggling Cats have enough to pull off the upset. This game may be one of moral victories, not an actual victory.
Other game week features:JOHN MACKOVIC'S COACH'S CORNER Discuss this story on the FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD