OSU vs. The Big 12: TCU Horned Frogs

October 18 is a Saturday that I can guarantee is circled in the war room of the football offices for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. When the Horned Frogs entered the Big 12 they had to agree to several stipulations, as did most all schools, during the conference jumping and wild west days of conference realignment back in 2009-2011.

One of the more unusual stipulations for TCU was fulfilling a debt that Texas A&M incurred when the Aggies asked for and were granted two home games in a row with Oklahoma State. The schedule balancing done for the Aggies was to be paid back with A&M coming to Stillwater in 2012 and 2013.

Frogs head coach Gary Patterson wasn't real happy with having to make two trips in a row to a school that was pretty good to begin with and has a healthy home-field advantage with its crowd and intimate setting at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Now TCU finally gets Mike Gundy and the Cowboys to visit their intimate home at Amon Carter Stadium. When the Cowboys arrive they will see some familiar faces in former Gundy assistant and now TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, former Gundy assistant and Frogs running backs coach Curtis Luper, and former Cowboys graduate assistant Bryson Oliver.

The Horned Frogs have a pretty good football team heading into 2014, but they are unsettled at a key position as Meacham and new co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who came from Texas Tech and will coach the quarterbacks, haven't decided on a definitive signal caller.

Transfer Matt Joeckel from Texas A&M and returning dual threat quarterback Trevone Boykin would be the favorites. Highly touted redshirt freshman Zach Allen is in the mix and here come sensational freshmen recruits in hometown Foster Sawyer of All Saints Episcopal and Grayson Muehlstein of nearby Decatur.

They all have talent and Meacham knows what offense he wants to run. So, in August the man that runs it best will be identified in a rush and prepared to play.

That quarterback has exactly three games to get warmed up with Samford, oddly enough a former Meacham stop on his resume, Minnesota (both at home) and SMU in Dallas before TCU hosts conference favorite Oklahoma. Thenthe Frogs travel to the other conference favorite Baylor and the Bears new stadium the next week.

That schedule could be a break for the Cowboys as TCU will have to pour a lot of energy and emotion into the games the two weeks prior to the OSU visit.

Meacham has running back B.J. Catalon back, and Kyle Hicks, former Nebraska Cornhusker Aaron Green and Trevorris Johnson are all listed as options in the backfield. I think Catalon is a stud and likely will see the most time.

A problem for TCU in the wide open spread offense is whether the Horned Frogs have the depth at receiver to run the offense the way you want to. A lot of new names dot the receiver depth chart. An old playmaker like Brandon Carter is still on the team but he was arrested on a marijuana charge in the offseason.

That all bodes well for the Cowboys mix and mix secondary and the mix of strong corners and very young but athletically talented safeties. Facing a new or at least an inexperienced quarterback and a receiver corps that is maybe not real deep for the fast pace of the spread should help all the way around. Be ready for run support as Meacham knows if you can't throw it then you trick them, make them think you'll pass and then run.

The Horned Frogs offensive line is a concern as former Del City standout Jamelle Neff is slated to be the left guard, and the player with the longest first name of any player in the Big 12 in Halapoulivaati Vaitai is set to play left tackle. One national publication labeled the Frogs offensive line as its weakest spot on the team.

As for the matchup, if the Frogs offensive line is swiss cheesey then the Oklahoma State defensive line will take full advantage. Besides, Castleman and Ofa Hautau, ends like Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren and Villi Levini will be pumped up with the highly publicized TCU defensive line including end Devonte Fields playing in the game.

Most publications will call that group one of the best in college football with defensive tackles Chucky Hunter and Millwood graduate Davion Pierson also involved in the mix and the hype. They are good and if Fields's mind is right and body is dedicated he is a strong force.

The Oklahoma State offensive line will have its work cut out for them and the one-on-one matchup between Fields and Oklahoma State left tackle Daniel Koenig may be worth the drive down to Fort Worth and a Mexican dinner at Joe T. Garcia's.

The Horned Frogs base defense is the nickel 4-2-5 as Patterson is the father of the 4-2-5 and he has perfected it over the years. His linebackers this season are seniors Jonathan Anderson and Marcus Mallet and they return the entire linebacker group from last season. Those backers weren't spectacular last season but they have seen a lot of football and they will be dependable.

The secondary is similar to Oklahoma State in that it has some experience in cornerback Kevin White and sensational strong safety Sam Carter. There will also be youth such as talented redshirt freshman Ranthony Texada.

They will be good and will provide a healthy matchup both in scheme and in talent for the Cowboys offense and talented set of receivers. Speed will be interesting as TCU and the rest of the Big 12 had better have someone poised and ready to try to run down Tyreek Hill.

I would rate the matchup for the Cowboys and TCU as a dead heat, but I will give a slight advantage to the Cowboys because of that tough two week lead-in for the Frogs with the games against the Sooners and Baylor.


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