TCU Preview: The Immovable Object

No. 7 Texas struggled to a victory over Arkansas State last weekend, but the challenge the Indians provided pales in comparison to the task the Longhorns have before them: Moving the ball against No. 19 TCU.

It wasn't good enough. While the Longhorns certainly came away from Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium with a win on Saturday, it didn't feel like one and Texas head coach Mack acknowledged that his Horns must play better if they're going to come away with a win in week two and keep a '0' in the loss column.

"We need to play better," said Brown. "We're a work in progress. We're still trying to figure out who the leaders are and the team chemistry. TCU is tough, they're physical, they'll come in with a lot of confidence and we've got to step-up and play better."

How, exactly, Texas is going to play better has been a hotly debated topic this week and the coaching staff has been hearing suggestions from every direction, but the staff is not letting the talk get to them and just working on smoothing out the wrinkles in the system. The critics, including both fans and media, have been letting their voices be heard, but Brown said his team is staying the course and even joked about his players not being allowed to make suggestions.

"It's been a dictatorship this week. We've been talking instead of listening," said Brown with a joking smile and a laugh.

As much as Brown knows his team needs to play better, he feels consistency is the true issue and consistency is something we didn't see from Texas last Saturday.

"We played good, but we didn't play consistently. The guys know that and that's why we're moving forward."

Texas is going to have to move forward quickly because the No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs are approaching fast. TCU has a five-game winning streak against Big 12 teams and has a legit shot at making it six. The Horned Frogs are a tough, physical football team and it all starts with the defense. They return nine starters from a D that ranked No. 2 in the nation in yards per game last season (234.9 ypg) and the biggest star on the squad is defensive end Tommy Blake.

But Blake is a game-time decision after sitting out part of training camp and the season opener, a 27-0 drubbing of Baylor. Of course, if there's any possible way Blake can play, he'll be out there. The Horned Frogs typically don't flip their defensive ends during the game, so that means if Blake's out there, he'll go one-on-one with Texas offensive tackle Tony Hills. Watch that match-up. It could be the key to the game.

As for the Texas injury report, according to Longhorn athletic trainer Kenny Boyd, defensive end Brain Orakpo is definitely out for the game after having his knee chopped from under him against Arkansas State. Wide receiver Jordan Shipley will continue to handle the holding duties on PAT/field goals as he did in the opener, but has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable at receiver. Quarterback Sherrod Harris remains sidelined with a sprained MCL.

Limas Sweed showed against ASU that he's healthy and isn't listed on this week's injury report, which is a very good thing because the Horns will need every weapon they can muster when TCU comes to town.

This week the defense is first and for good reason.

The Horned Frogs are on a nine-game winning streak and the defense has been stellar. Over that span, TCU has allowed only 9.6 points per game and only 195.9 yards per game. The most impressive part is the run D. Opponents over the last nine games have only put up 58.7 yards per game and only 2.0 yards per carry.

"They've done a great job with their defense," said Brown, "and their offense compliments their defense. They run the ball. They've got misdirection plays, they've got play-action, they do a great job in the kicking game, but you've got to give them credit for stopping the run."

Establishing the run will be huge for Texas in this game, as the front seven is the toughest part of the TCU defense. Blake gets the most attention on the team, but his counterpart at defensive end is a great one as well. Chase Ortiz is a powerful edge rusher and TCU is the only team in the nation with two players on the Hendricks Award (Best Defensive End) Watch List.

The secondary is the only (relative) weakness in the D. The Horned Frogs start two sophomores at corner. Look for Sweed to use his height advantage (6-5) against Nick Sanders (5-10) and Rafael Priest (5-10) all game. Of course, he'll likely have to deal with a roving safety as well. TCU employs a 4-2-5 defense and plays it very well.

The offense for TCU is another matter.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Andy Dalton was 18-of-30 for 205 yards and a TD against Baylor. He protected the ball, but wasn't spectacular and the Horned Frogs won't blow people away with the passing game.

That's good news for the young Texas secondary, but it also means the Longhorns will need a big performance from the linebackers against a cavalcade of TCU tailbacks. Even with starter Aaron Brown questionable for the game, the stable is far from empty. Junior Justin Watts will likely get the start, but also expect to see carries from other talented runners like Joseph Turner and Ryan Christian.

The Frogs also have a lot of tricks up their sleves and will almost certainly use them against the favored Longhorns.

"They'll quick snap you. So you really have to be alert and they'll just start walking back to the huddle then run up and get down and snap the ball," said Brown. "They give you a lot of problems by what they do as a staff."

Texas was susceptible to the trick play last season, especially in the loss at Kansas State, and the awareness and preparedness of the Longhorn defenders will likely be tested on Saturday.

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