TCU Defense Looks To Dominate Boise State

College football fans, media and pundits don't expect much out of Boise State's offense. They have watched TCU's top-rated defense stuff opponents all season long and now all the BCS has to match up against them is Boise State? Is the Fiesta Bowl serious?

Boise State has featured a high-octane offense over the last 11 years, one of the secrets to their success.  But against TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl last year, the Bronco offense bogged down against the fast, aggressive Horned Frog defense and Boise State fell by a score of 17-16.  

Boise State was fortunate to stay that close.  They managed just 28 yards on the ground and a total of 250 yards for the game.  Byron Hout thwarted one TCU drive with an interception that he turned into a highlight reel 62-yard return setting up three Bronco points.  Jeron Johnson stopped another with an interception near the goal line to keep TCU from scoring seven.  

"They had better athletes than we've ever seen," former Bronco All-America and current National Football League running back Ian Johnson said.  

Which is probably why oddsmakers and pundits are jacking up the point spread even as you read this to 7 ½ points.  They realize that the way Boise State 's offensive line played last year, the Broncos were fortunate to even be in the game.  You usually do not win if you cannot run the football.  

And TCU is much, much better this year.  

Coach Gary Patterson's team is loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps more than Alabama and Texas , the two teams that the Bowl Championship Series decided to showcase in its so-called "Championship game".   

TCU leads the country in total defense, allowing just 233.25 yards all game by their opponents on average.  They are #3 in rushing defense, allowing 80.50 yards per game, the kind of numbers that the Boise State defense used to put up.  Perhaps even more important is their pass defense.  The Horned Frogs have allowed just 152.75 through the air in the pass-happy Mountain West Conference.  And in the all-important ability to keep opponents from scoring, TCU is #6 nationally allowing just 12.42 points a contest.  

There are some very telling statistics that explain why TCU's famed defense has been so successful.   

One is that TCU has allowed just eight field goals all year long.  That is incredible.  What kind of team achieves that?  One explanation could be that opposing field goal kickers are just plain horrible or that TCU is adept at blocking field goals.  But the real reason is that the Frog defense doesn't even give you a chance at a field goal—they don't allow you to get close enough to attempt one.   

While TCU is 19th in red zone defense, they lead the entire country in allowing a mere 19 drives into their red zone all season.  Ponder that for a moment.  This talented defense has allowed just 19 penetrations into their own 30-yard line in 12 games, a little over one per game.  Boy, you had better make it count against this defense.  You're not going to get many chances!  

If you shut down the run, stop the pass, and don't allow teams to get inside your 30-yard line, you're going to win some games.  Twelve to be exact.   

TCU leads the country in allowing just 5.11 yards per passing attempt.  That speaks volumes about not only their secondary but their pass rush.  They do not give up a lot of big plays, or that 5.11 average would balloon real quickly.  They don't give a cushion to an opposing receiver either because if they did, opponents would easily click off 5-7 yards just on short passes.  Screens would not work either; at least those numbers don't suggest it.   

How can a team allow just over five yards per passing attempt?  A tenacious pass rush is the key.  When you harass opposing quarterbacks all game long, they are going to be tentative, not confident, hurried, and make poor decisions.  Often they will have to throw the ball away, the numbers suggest.  When they dump it off to a running back, said running back is tackled for a loss.  When the QB tries a screen pass, it blows up.   

TCU is #21 as a team in sacks.  Boise State is all the way back at #72.  Which tells an awful lot about defensive line play.  TCU is relentless, aggressive, and disruptive.  They have more sacks this year than an opponent has red zone opportunities and that ratio approaches twice as much.  All-American Jerry Hughes (#7 individually with 11.5) is a major reason why.  Boise State 's sack leader (Ryan Winterswyk) is all the way back at #38.  But Hughes isn't the only guy Kellen Moore has to look out for.  Wayne Daniels has 5.5 sacks, just three behind Winterswyk.  Hughes also has 15 tackles behind the line this season.  

It is no wonder that the Horned Frogs rank second in the country in pass efficiency defense, an average of 90.28.  They have allowed 10 touchdowns through the air all season.  Nevada of the Western Athletic Conference allowed 33, most in the nation, and fellow WAC member Idaho allowed 30.  

Given those numbers, TCU has to feel pretty good about its chances when they meet Boise State next Monday night in the desert.  They don't allow touchdowns through the air, they don't allow red zone opportunities and they allow just five yards per passing attempt.  Plus, they lead the country in passing percentage defense.  Opponents complete 45.96% of their passes on average against this talented defense.   

Opponents have been forced into third-down situations 176 times against TCU.  That is quite a few but not as much as some.  They have you right where they want you, for you will only be awarded a new set of downs about one-fourth of the time (26.14%), another category in which the Horned Frog defense leads the country.  Boise State excels in third-down opportunities but TCU does not allow a team to convert.  

Those are mind-boggling statistics, especially considering that TCU faced three Top 25 teams this year.  Tank Carder has been tested and walked away the victor most of the time with 11 pass breakups.  Tejay Johnson leads the team with three interceptions.   

TCU has allowed just 145 first downs all season.  Opponents converted 71 by pass and 50 by run.  This alone tells us that most of the time, opponents were in third-and-long situations because they had to pass their way out of it.  When they were fortunate enough to face a third-and-short, TCU often stopped them cold.  50 conversions on the ground in 12 games—that number is 12 less than the Crimson Tide allowed.  And Alabama is in the so-called championship game.  Is the BCS sure they have the right teams?  

Coaches will teach the importance of "gang tackling", when a defense swarms to the ball with four or five tacklers.  This is because an opponent will often break a tackle or two and run to daylight.  A defense always wants to be around the ball carrier.  Sometimes though, a defender cannot shake their man and is kept out of the play.  It is in these situations when a defense needs to have a playmaker, someone they can rely on to make the stop by themselves.  No running through a tackle against these guys.  

They certainly have one in Hughes and much has been written about him.  But they have another in Daryl Washington.  Washington has 99 tackles, amongst the national leaders.  Unlike Boise State , they have a dependable force that is relentless in pursuit and in his ability to nail the ball carrier.  Washington fights off blocks to make the stop—he is not to be denied.  An incredible 61 of those are solo tackles, another category in which nary a Bronco is to be found.  

The truth is that there just isn't a hole in the TCU defense.  They do everything well—fight off blocks, make the tackle, disrupt the backfield, harass the quarterback, force the fumble, knock the pass away, take away the short reception, take away the long reception, don't allow the first down, don't allow long drives.   

Simply put, TCU's defense does not have a weakness.  You can bet Boise State head coach Chris Petersen and his offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin have spent a good part of the last month trying to find one.  An opponent has to have a big, physical group up front to combat this team and Boise State hasn't shown it can do that.  But even big lines like BYU and Clemson haven't been able to penetrate this defense.   

You would have to have a great back to be able to break tackles, but again TCU doesn't miss.  Clemson has one of the nation's top running backs in C.J. Spiller (1,145 yards) and even he could not find his way around nor through the Frog defense.  Harvey Unger is a pretty fair back with 1,087 yards on the ground and 5.87 yards per carry.  He couldn't do it either—obviously Unger faced much easier competition than TCU when he churned out those numbers.   

It would be fun to see how a Texas , Alabama or Florida team would do against the Horned Frog's defense.  Unfortunately for TCU, it's Boise State that will face them.   

And the nation is betting that Boise State 's offensive line will do next to nothing against Patterson's people-eaters.


Gentry Motors, Proud Boise State and BroncoCountry Supporter

Bronco Country Top Stories