Bowl Preview: Breaking Down TCU's Defense

Cyclone Nation wants you to know everything there is to know about the Cyclone's Houston Bowl foe, TCU. Here's a look at what the Frogs bring to the table on the defensive side of the ball.

Texas Christian's defense is like the dam that bends but does not break.  The Horned Frogs allow over 200 yards passing and over 100 yards rushing but give up less than 14 points per game.   They've forced six red zone turnovers and have held opponents scoreless 36% of the time.  In their last two games, they gave up only nine points combined and forced six turnovers.


The Horned Frogs are led by junior strong safety Marvin White and freshman linebacker Jason Phillips.  The two co-lead the team with 63 tackles and both have been recognized by the national media for their play.  White, in his first year at TCU, was an All-American at Kilgore Junior College before making the step up to Division I.  Phillips has been named to the second team Freshman All-American team (The Sporting News).


Up front, TCU has athletic players just like Iowa State.  On the ends, Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks all game.  Blake leads the team with 12.5 tackles for a loss and Ortiz closely follows with 10.5.  Roles are reversed regarding sacks where Ortiz earned 6.5 and Blake finished the regular season with 6.  Blake was the second Horned Frog on defense to be honored when he was named a second team Sophomore All-American (College Football News).


The linebacker corps is young but solid.  Fellow freshman Robert Henson is the team's third leading tackler and joins Phillips in a bunch with speed and range.  Sophomore David Hawthorne rounds out the group and is the best run stopper of the three.  Stevie Hicks may struggle to find a good rhythm against this athletic blitzing front that shut down Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson and held him to 63 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown.


The secondary has grabbed 24 interceptions and plays in numbers.  The Horned Frogs play with two strong safeties in most sets and one becomes a rover on the strong side – pushing up and joining the linebackers.  Sophomore Brian Bonner accompanies White at strong safety and the two have combined for 104 tackles and six interceptions.  Senior Jeremy Modkins is a solid free safety that is the team's best defensive back in run support.  Modkins had 62 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss.  He also had three interceptions and usually plays zone coverage.  Seniors Quincy Butler and Drew Coleman are the pass coverage stars.  Though neither is great in run support, both are fast and will be able to hang with Iowa State's talented receivers.  Butler and Coleman, both experienced seniors, combined for nine interceptions and 15 pass breakups.


Overall, TCU's defense is built on speed and power in numbers.  The defensive ends are athletic, the linebackers are quick, and the secondary is fast and intelligent.  Though undersized, the front seven do a good job of stopping the run with stunts and combo blitzes.

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