An old fashioned western shootout is set to happen Saturday afternoon in Lubbock. Two high powered offenses will dual it out in the dusty plains of west Texas. Gary Patterson and his Horned Frogs are tired of the distractions surrounding the team. They are ready to play some foosball and get everyone else focused back on their potential national title run.
With the Mike Tuaua incident and the injuries plaguing the Frog’s defense, it will be tough to say whether the Horned Frog faithful will get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde at Jones AT&T stadium Saturday afternoon. If the fire from the media distractions this week is there as one would assume, I look for the surgical demeanor of Dr. Jekyll from the TCU offense.
However, with senior safety Kenny Iloka, junior linebacker Sammy Douglas, senior defensive ends James MacFarland, and Terrell Lathan, out due to injury and Mike Tuaua’s suspension there will be a lack of experience on the defensive side which should bring concern against Cliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offense. This is a Red Raider team riding on their high horse after knocking off former Southwest Conference rival Arkansas in Week 3 to improve to 3-0 on the year.
But, there’s nothing to bat an eye at with this Red Raider squad.
After some debate between whether Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes would debate, Mahomes has emerged as the pilot for this high-flying Texas Tech offense, which is second in the NCAA averaging 399 passing yards per game. Mahomes has a 66.4 percent completion rate on 116 attempts with nine TDs through the air. Mahomes is also the typical spread quarterback. He can beat you through the air and on the ground as he’s racked up four rushing TDs on 129 yards in the Red Raiders first three games.
Mahomes also has plenty of targets to hit while in the pocket behind his veteran O-line, which only has one underclassmen starting. Mahomes will attempt to expose TCU’s secondary by targeting Jakeem Grant, former Argyle Eagle, Ian Sadler, and former Tenaha Tiger, Reginald Davis. This trio has accounted for 686 of the Red Raiders’ 1197 passing yards and six of their nine passing touchdowns.
Senior running back Deandre Washington has also been the silent workhorse of this primarily passing offense by rushing for 287 yards with only 1 score. With Tuaua, Lathan and MacFarland out, the Frogs will need the young linebackers and defensive ends to step up in order to put pressure on Mahomes to take him out of his comfort zone or else he will proceed to pick apart the TCU secondary.
Yes, Texas Tech does have a defense, and a pretty decent one at that. The Red Raiders run a 3-4 defense with Sam and Bandit linebackers flip-flopping between hybrid D-Ends, during blitzes, and added help for the secondary in coverage.
Their defense is giving up an average of 29.7 points per game. But they did give up 45 points in Week 1 against Sam Houston State. This is most likely a reflection of their young secondary. Junior safety Keenon Ward and senior safety J.J. Gaines are the most experienced members of this Red Raider secondary, but they both alternate at strong safety. At corner, junior Justis Nelson will alternate with sophomore, Tevin Madison while on the other side sophomore Nigel Bethel will start. With this secondary, Trevone Boykin will need to target Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee early and often and deep downfield.
There will need to be a fire and passion among the Frogs this week in order to silence any distractions. This is a ‘trap’ game of sorts for TCU. Any lack of focus could prove costly against an opportunistic Texas Tech team. Gary Patterson will need to make sure wagons are circled for the old fashioned western showdown. I do not see TCU putting up 82 as was the case in 2014, but these two teams will be slinging the ball around the yard come “High Noon,” well actually 3:45 p.m., this Saturday
TCU 56, Texas Tech 38