Texas Tech Must Play Lights Out to Upset TCU

The Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3) face the Horned Frogs (5-1, 2-1) 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX.

Points Scored Per Game45.2No. 5
Passing Yards Per Game340.2No. 9
Total Offense Per Game537.7No. 7
Penalty Yardage Per Game68.3No. 106
Turnover Margin +1.33No. 6
Sacks Per Game3.5No. 6
Interceptions Per Game1.83No. 5
Scoring Defense20.7No. 26

The one constant about TCU football under

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Gary Patterson, even when his teams are not great, is very good defense. The Frogs may not score many points, but you aren't going to score many either.

Well that fact remains the same this season; the TCU defense in 2014 is very good. But Patterson has finally beefed up the other side of the ball by hiring former Texas Tech quarterback and coach Sonny Cumbie, and Oklahoma State alum and coach Doug Meacham.

These were inspired hires. Patterson lured away two excellent offensive coaching minds from regional schools whose passing offenses have been state-of-the-art in college football for close to 15 years. And the results speak for themselves.

The formerly pedestrian Horned Frog offense is now fifth in the nation in scoring, ninth in passing, and seventh in total offense. What’s more, TCU is No. 6 in turnover margin, which strongly suggests that the offense is shredding defenses without turning over the ball very often. That’s a pretty neat trick for a high-risk, pass-heavy offense.

But as good as the Frogs have become on offense, their defense remains the most worrisome facet of the team. TCU plays high-energy, aggressive, pressure defense that allows a few explosive plays, but makes even more big plays. And any offense that cannot deal effectively with press coverage and lots of blitzes, is in for a rough day.

Statistically, the Frog defense does it all. They pressure the passer (sixth nationally in sacks per game), intercept the football (fifth in that category), they stop the run (sixteenth in yards per carry allowed), they are sound in coverage (No. 14 in pass efficiency defense), they get off the field on third down (No. 5 in third down defense), and they get tougher in the red zone (No. 7 in red zone TD conversion defense). And most important, they don’t allow teams to score much, giving up only 20.7 points per contest.

Put it all together and it’s bad news for just about any team, but particularly for a club such as Texas Tech, whose bread-and-butter passing attack is balky, whose young quarterback is mistake-prone, and whose receivers cannot be relied upon to make routine catches.

For the Red Raiders to compete in this game, the passing game will have to snap out of it. Davis Webb must play the game of his collegiate career, his receivers must win battles and make every catch, and the offense will have to capitalize on every scoring opportunity. The margin for error is tiny. But then again, it always is when you’re playing a championship caliber team.

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