The Texas Longhorns will travel to Fort Worth on Saturday to face the No.4 Horned Frogs. Horns Digest publisher William Wilkerson answers our questions about Saturday’s matchup.
Most college football fans know about Jerrod Heard and his impact on the Longhorn’s offense, who is another standout player who could have a big game on Saturday?
From an offensive standpoint I’d keep an eye on Daje Johnson. He’s Texas’ best big-play threat. Johnson is probably the fastest player on the team and has incredible change-of-direction. He used plenty of both on a gorgeous 85-yard punt return for a touchdown against Rice a few weeks ago. Against Cal, he had 5 receptions for 145 yards. OSU did a fairly decent job of keeping him in check but UT will try to get him the ball in space as well as in bubble screens and end-arounds. On defense I’d keep an eye on superstar freshman Malik Jefferson. He’s already Texas’ best defensive player - second would be DT Hassan Ridgeway. Vance Bedford blitzes Jefferson like a mad man. The one thing that he has had some issues with this season is containing dual threat quarterbacks once it looks like he has a beat on them. So that will be something to watch on Saturday.
Well, there’s not a whole lot that can be done. I think you’ll see him try to establish the ground game offensively to keep TCU’s offense off the field. That would be ideal for UT, but that is something it has struggled to do all season and I don’t see that being any easier on Saturday, especially if Texas is without starting RT Kent Perkins, who injured his knee against OSU. The longer Texas is able to rely on the run game, the better it will be for them. From a defensive standpoint, I do think the Longhorns will get pressure on Boykin, especially Ridgeway, but they have to do a good job of containing him once he breaks the pocket. That’s been a bit of an issue. This is a really young defense but they are getting better. He’s going to rely on several freshmen CBs on Saturday, which has to scare the crap out of Longhorns fans against this offense. They are very talented and I could see them all being really, really good players in a couple of years. But they are freshmen nonetheless.
TCU’s defense is very banged up right now, but the Longhorn’s offense has struggled at times this year. Can Texas’ offense make this a shootout like we saw in Lubbock last weekend?
I think they can. They’d obviously prefer it to be low-scoring but this offense has a lot of confidence in themselves right now and that has everything to do with Heard at QB and Jay Norvell’s aggressiveness as Texas’ offensive play-caller. He’s not afraid to press the issue a bit. The Longhorns know that TCU is thin at LB. They are quick but on the smaller size. Texas has some huge backs. Johnathan Gray (211), D’Onta Foreman (241) and Chris Warren (232) all outweigh TCU’s starting LBs. We’ll see if they can get to that second level and inflict some punishment of their own. I’m not sure they’ll be able to. But that’s the hope.
Well they are going to roll with some freshmen defensive backs. Last season it was all about Quandre Diggs, who is now seeing heavy minutes with the Detroit Lions. I think it’s going to largely be Holton Hill that gets the assignment. He’s 6-2, long and quick. He returned an INT for a TD last week. He’d be my choice. I’m thinking it’s going to be more of a cover-by-committee approach though.
Let’s say the Big 12 feels bad about the officials jobbing the Longhorns last week, so the conference decides Texas will win beat TCU on Saturday. Other than getting help from officials, I’m kidding, of course, but what would have to happen for the Longhorns to come away from Fort Worth with a victory?
Establish the run game and turn this into a physical game up front. Texas has to control both lines of scrimmage. And it might help if they don’t have anymore special teams blunders.
Finally, what is your prediction for this game? Who wins and how?
I think TCU will give up some points but I just don’t see how the Longhorns will be able to slow down this Frogs offense enough to pull off the upset. I think Texas will stay within the 18.5 points Vegas opened this game up at but it won’t be far off.