The TCU defense let Zach Mettenberger and LSU convert 13 of 19 third downs as the Tigers wracked up over 35 minutes in time of possession. To stop the Kinsbury-led offense, TCU must stall the Red Raider drives on third down. TTU quarterback Baker Mayfield is 12-15 this season on third downs. He likes to get the ball out of his hand quickly to blunt any pass rushing attempt by the defense. The TCU defensive line can help the secondary by having active hands at the lane, enabling them to bat down the quick throws from the 6'2 Mayfield. Mayfield's quarterback rating on third down is 206.7, his best of any down.
Baker Mayfield has yet to throw an interception. The walk-on true freshman has looked like more like a seasoned veteran than an 18-year-old kid who was playing for Lake Travis High School last season.Against LSU, both teams gave away points with turnovers. Brandon Carter gave away three points to LSU before the TCU offense even hit the field, and then Alfred Blue handed TCU seven points with a fumble inside the five. A good start is pivotal for the Frogs, and an early turnover could help launch a TCU offense that has been pedestrian so far. The 4-2-5 is a unique system to play against, and if TCU can confuse Mayfield, it must take advantage of all opportunities for takeaways.
Establish the passing game early
Where are TCU's best playmakers? So far, they all lineup in the backfield. Catalon, James, and Boykin have easily surpassed the receiving corp in making big plays so far this year. For that reason, TCU must take the focus of the Tech defense off the running game and place it on the receivers outside. If TCU can spread out the Tech defense with early success in the vertical passing game, more big plays will be open in the running game. Someone needs to let Ladarius Brown and Cam White know that the season has started because their ability to make plays on the outside will be crucial on Thursday. Gary Patterson said it well last week: someone has to become a go-to guy at the receiver position.
Make Tech kick field goals
Last season, it was TCU kicking field goals. Lots of them. Jaden Oberkrom connected on all six of his attempts, and it allowed Texas Tech to hang around. Texas Tech is likely to gain some yards on the TCU defense because of the strength of Kingsbury's system, but the defense has to get stops in the red zone. So far, Baker Mayfield has had his way in the red zone going 7-10 with two touchdowns. If Texas Tech is made to kick field goals, TCU will win.
Match Tech's emotion
TCU can turn Bro Swag into Faux Swag with a quick start in the first quarter. So far, Tech has played a porous SMU defense and a high school team. Great Gary Patterson teams have had a defensive swagger that tells opposing offenses they're in for a long night. If TCU brings confidence and enthusiasm that it lacked against Southeastern Louisiana, TCU appears to be the more well-rounded and talented team on paper. TCU needs the mentality that they are going to take the fight to Texas Tech. Texas Tech has yet to face adversity this year which makes a good start important for TCU. Early on, Texas Tech will play with a lot of momentum. The crowd will be excited about a nationally televised game. TCU must match that first quarter emotion.