The good news for TCU fans is Minnesota’s strength plays into TCU’s strength; and that’s stopping the run. Minnesota’s line is much bigger than Samford’s and Gary Patterson has spoken volumes about Gopher running back David Cobb; saying he’s just as good as any back his team will see this season in the Big 12.
TCU isn’t as big on the defensive front as Minnesota’s offensive line, but what they lack in size they make up with strength and excellent speed. Speed is the key on a Patterson defense and it’s worked for him ever since he became head coach. So, to answer the question the best way to defend Minnesota’s offense is to fill the gaps and pursue; with speed.
2. What player will be the X-factor in this game for either game you see?
Trevone Boykin. The Frogs live and die with him right now as their quarterback and if he plays well like he showed in the season opener, that’s a great thing for Frog fans. If he plays poorly and makes mistakes and turns the ball over; Minnesota fans will be happy. It’s tough to put the output of a game on just one player, but in a game where there’s two different styles of offenses and strong defenses, points are a premium and Boykin will have to help the offense generate plenty of them.
3. What will be the main challenge you see TCU having against Minnesota?
For starters, TCU is coming off a bye week and while that typically can be a good thing, for a team still finding their rhythm on offense the bye week could play a factor. I see that as their biggest challenge heading into the game because Minnesota has a good, physical defense. I can see the offense struggling out of the gate simply because of the off week and the fact they didn’t see a high quality opponent in the season opener. Defensively, with Mitch Leidner and Chris Shreveler’s ability to run, that could become a big issue for the Frogs’ defense. Against Samford, the Frogs allowed 87 yards on the ground; however, over half of those yards came from quarterback scrambles. TCU has to figure out a way to limit the quarterbacks making plays outside of the pocket.
4. Give us a player on both sides of the ball Minnesota needs to know about.
Offensively, I’d have to go with Kolby Listenbee. He had a breakout game last week against Samford by hauling in two touchdowns. Yet, he hasn’t come close to reaching his full potential. He’s a 10.12 100-meter guy and it really showed on the field against Samford; Boykin missed him on a deep pattern one time when Listenbee had created a big separation. He’s definitely a guy that can keep the defense on their toes whether he’s getting the ball or not.
Defensively, Derrick Kindred. Altough Sam Carter gets much of the publicity, Kindred has drawn plenty of praise from Gary Patterson the last two seasons. A starter at free safety, Kindred is the quarterback of the defense and is likely the best cover safety on the Frogs’ roster. He runs extremely well, having run a 10.4 in high school but is big enough and talented enough to play closer to the line of scrimmage. He could play a big role this Saturday against Minnesota’s offense; particularly in the run game.
5. What are the keys to the game and your prediction?
Come out fast and put points on the board. If the offense isn’t clicking, that could spell trouble for the Frogs. They can’t get behind and put more pressure on their defense. If they’re able to establish some early scoring drives, that will put the pressure on Minnesota to become more of a passing team and ultimately out of the comfort zone. TCU also has to limit turnovers. Trevone Boykin had a great game against Samford with a career-high 29 completions but the most important stat was zero interceptions.
If TCU can score early and make Minnesota change their game plan, I see a win for the Frogs. If they don’t do those things and allow Minnesota to sustain long scoring drives, then it will be an uphill battle for the Frogs. TCU’s speed on both offense and defense will also play a huge factor. In the end, I think both teams play tough through three quarters and TCU pulls away toward the end and come out on top 31-14.