One monster they'll have to
contend with is consensus All-America Jerry Hughes.
Hughes, a 6-3, 257-pound defensive end with cat-like quickness, leads the nation's best defense with 11.5 sacks (7th in the NCAA) and 15 tackles for a loss. He won the Hendricks award as the nation's top defensive end.. Hughes also was the recipient of this year's Lott Trophy that honors on-field performance and personal character among defensive players.
In 2009 Hughes has a career-high
54 tackles. He has helped the Horned Frogs rank first in total defense, allowing
just 233 yards per game and sixth in the nation with 12.4 points allowed per
game. Hughes was one of a mind-boggling 18 TCU players on the All-Mountain West
team. Additionally he was named the
MWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in two years and was an
All-American for the second year in a row.
The TCU standout was named to
the All-America team by Associated Press, the Walter Camp Foundation, the
American Football Coaches Association, CBS Sports and the Football Writers
Association of America.
He was named one of five finalists for the Bronco Nagurski Award for the
second year in a row. The Nagurski
is handed out annually to the nation's best defensive player.
Other nominees were
Hughes was one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. He was also a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. And he was one of just three defensive players to be named a "Player to Watch" for the Walter Camp Football Foundation's 2009 Player of the Year award.
As a smaller defensive end, he has incredible speed around the outside. He has run a 4.6 40. He displays brilliance off the line. Bigger, slower linemen simply cannot contain him—Hughes runs around them like they are standing still. He uses his hands extremely well to fight off blocks and has a good change of direction. It takes excellent footwork, quickness and technique to block him but even with that, a slow-developing play is going to end in disaster thanks to #98.
And, just in case you were wondering, he beats double teams.
"You've got to know where Hughes is at,"
Hughes is among the top 25 National Football League draft prospects according to ESPN's Mel Kiper and at worst is projected as a second-rounder.
As linebacker Daryl Washington said of playing behind Hughes: "It's way too easy. The way he comes off the ball is just unbelievable. If you can pressure the quarterback, it puts us in a good position to make plays that we probably wouldn't make if we didn't have a guy like that."
If TCU is able to duplicate last year's feat of stopping the
And yet running is exactly what
When told of the great year Moore is having, Washington replied "It doesn't matter. We're going to have our way with him."
Hughes was an all-district running back at
was one of four true freshman to play for the Horned Frogs in 2006. He recorded
his first career sack in a 31-17 win over Army. He played in all 13 games the
following year, and recorded at least one tackle in each of those contests.
over as a full-time starter as a junior in 2008, Hughes recorded a
nation-leading 15 sacks, 18.5 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, two
interceptions and returned one of those picks for a touchdown.
Hughes was All-Mountain West Conference, conference Defensive Player of
the Year and an All-America selection on teams announced by CBS Sports, the
American Football Coaches Association, SI.com, Rivals.com and the Football
Writers Association of America.
"Winning football games," Hughes said last Thursday when asked what was important to him. "I've always wanted to be part of a championship team so now that I'm getting a chance to live that dream out, it's a great feeling. Individual awards are cool, happy to have them. But winning games is way more important."
If he has a weakness, pro scouts
say, it is at the point of attack, meaning opponents have their greatest success
running the ball right at him. Given
his aggressiveness, offensive coordinators would first think of letting him rush
and then dumping off a screen in the space he vacated.
But TCU's linebackers know that and are there to guard against that.
Screens generally don't work.
One play that might work is to
allow him to get a rush and then send a back on a delayed handoff in the
direction where he was lined up. Hughes
nearly always rushes on the outside, meaning a run between the guard and tackle
might be the most successful.
One has to be creative in
dealing with Hughes. "We've got
to look at that and help Brenel out—he's not going to be alone on an
island." Harsin said.
Hughes' career totals now
include 28.5 sacks, 139 total tackles, 39 tackles-for-loss and seven forced
He will no doubt be looking to
pad those numbers with an incredible display Monday night against the Broncos.