The Cougars expect a variety of looks from the Horned Frog offense when they step onto the field of Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday.
"They're fast and bring a lot of speed to the field," Jray Galea'i said. "The type of offense they run is kind of a mixture of everything we've seen from offenses we've already faced in the past. TCU is like Nevada with the ride offense, San Diego State with all of their option stuff, and do some spread like Utah State. The type of offense they run is like a spread option team. They can either spread you out and pass or do the option and run the ball."
"Basically they like to run a lot of ride series, like we saw what Nevada did," said Corby Eason. "They like to run the ball and lead the nation in rushing touchdowns. What they'll do is run, run, run, and then play-action or pass it on you, so they'll pass it on you too and do different things in the passing game. They do a lot of different things on offense and it's not just one thing."
The versatile offense of TCU centers around a particular Horned Frog playmaker the Cougars know all too well. The Cougars expect to get a heavy dose of Jeremy Kerley from various offensive positions in an effort to create mismatches.
"[Kerley] is one of their top playmakers," said Galea'i. "They play him everywhere. He plays quarterback, running back sometimes, and wide receiver. He's one of their main weapons and he's fast. They basically use him wherever they want."
"Kerley is their best player and he's their playmaker," said Eason. "They really just want the ball in his hands and will run a lot of bubble screens to him ... They like to match him up with our linebackers and get him going vertical. They just want to try and get him the ball, so knowing where he's lining up every time will help you to know what kind of play they're running."
One of the challenges the Cougars will face is controlling the outside in an effort to force the TCU attack inside.
"When they run the ball, their outside receivers are very physical and can block really well," Galea'i said. "That's one thing they do really well with their receivers when they're not in the passing game. It's going to be challenge for us to contain the outside because they like to spread the field by running to the outside, but you know, I'm not too worried about it. We just have to execute what Coach Mendenhall is preparing and just play physical with them."
"Coach Mendenhall holds us accountable for every run that goes past the line of scrimmage," Eason said. "We just can't let anyone run past the line of scrimmage, so everybody runs to the ball. We just have to play hard and do our assignments and make sure all 11 guys are making an effort to keep them from crossing the line of scrimmage. San Diego State ran kind of an option-style passing offense where they ran for around 150 yards per game. We were able to hold them to like 53 yards rushing that game."
The Horned Frogs have doubled the total amount of offensive production of their opponents by being able to rack up more first downs by an average of 3-to-1. Most of that production has come on the ground, where TCU has outrushed opponents 1,680 yards to 576 yards on the season.
"Our defense was last [nationally] in the rushing game," Eason said. "Now there is a bit of an emphasis for us to be involved in the rushing game. If we can stop TCU and hold them to few yards on first down, then Coach Mendenhall can predict better what they're going to call. If they get positive yards on first down, then it's hard to predict what they're going to call."
Coach Mendenhall has installed some new defensive drills for the secondary to further bolster run support in preparation for TCU.
"Instead of doing one-on-ones, we're doing nine-on-sevens," Eason said. "It's a new drill with nine defensive backs against seven offensive players, and it's basically a drill where everyone has to get into their run fits. Everybody has to make sure they get into the right run gap. The cornerbacks are expected to help in run support now. Now, since we play a lot of cover-two, the cornerbacks read and rush. We're expected to hit the holes like linebackers now and what we're expected to do more now is be more involved in the run game. We're expected to get to the ball more and blitz. Before we really weren't expected to do that and have the chance to blitz. Now we're more involved in different areas of the defense and it's great."
The Cougar defense was more creative and aggressive against the Aztec run game last Saturday. The secondary was involved in more zone blitzes and different looks under the direction of Coach Mendenhall. There is a possibility the Horned Frogs could face similar Cougar defensive changes come Saturday.
"We've been doing some different things on defense that basically give our defense a different look," Galea'i said. "We've been doing some things that teams haven't seen before … We've been experimenting or tweaking some new things on defense to make our defense better. It's been a lot of fun and we just need to play fast and physical like Coach Mendenhall expects us to."