While the Horned Frog offense did Horned Frog things Saturday against the Texas Longhorns, the defense was in question coming off a shaky win against Texas Tech. The inexperience of TCU’s defense was the spark of these questions. Would the stingy Gary Patterson coached defense show up or would the Mr. Hyde defense, which was present against the Red Raiders, make another appearance? With Mike Tuaua coming back from his suspension, TCU fans had veteran leadership to hopefully rally the defense back to its old ways. But, the simple fact of the matter is Tuaua is one guy and cannot control what the other ten Frogs on the defensive side do once the ball is snapped.
Now, do not get me wrong, Mike Tuaua is a scary force for any offensive line in the country and his presence was noticeably missed while he was sidelined. But, there is an old phrase that any football team is familiar with: “Next man up.” That is what TCU was faced with heading into the game this past Saturday. Mike Freeze, Terrell Lathan, Sammy Douglas, James McFarland, Kenny Iloka, and Ranthony Texada were all tabbed to be big contributors to the TCU defense this season. But they have all, aside from Mike Freeze who left for personal reasons, had lengthy stays in the training room. This has forced younger guys, with little to no experience, to grow up and fast.
However, Gary Patterson is a smart guy when it comes to the X’s and O’s of football, if you haven’t noticed that already. Going in to the matchup against the Longhorns, Patterson knew he would have to play a zonal defense in order to free up the safeties to spy the ever-elusive Longhorn QB Jerrod Heard. This seemed to simplify the gameplan for young Frog defense. In fact, the defense allowed just 313 yards of total offense and one touchdown for Texas.
The seemingly simplified defense allowed the Frogs to fly around with the intensity Patterson wants from all of his players. The young secondary was playing at an entirely different level than they did against Texas Tech. They, along with continuous pressure by the D-Line gave Heard very little opportunity to find his receivers as he went 8-20 passing and only 48 yards. Until the game got out of hand and the fat lady started to sing, the defense also did a good job stopping D’Onta Freeman, the Longhorns only bright spot. Freeman managed 131 yards rushing, most of which came when the starters were sidelined.
Going in to Kansas State this week, the Frogs may get Terrell Lathan back which would be huge for the defense to get more experience back heading in to the middle part of the season. Bill Snyder will have his guys and all of the Little Apple (Manhattan, KS) rallied for this game. While I am still wary to see which TCU defense shows up, I have a feeling the defense’s domination of Texas helped the youngsters of TCU’s defense mature and it should theoretically carry over this Saturday against K-State.