Welcome to the first in a series of 12 previews of TCU’s 12 regular season games. Game by game we will examine the Frogs’ opponents roster in depth and discuss how they match up with Gary Patterson’s Frogs. This is not your average scouting report. Instead, we will examine how all aspects of the Frogs’ opponents match up with TCU specifically.
My guess is that the Horned Frogs will come into the season ranked somewhere between numbers 10-14. In ESPN’s early rankings, they ranked the Frogs at 9 preseason.
Baylor Offense vs. TCU Defense
Baylor quarterback, Robert Griffin III, recently told the press, “We think we can be one of the best offenses in the nation, if not the best. We can put up some great numbers. We’ve got the skill guys, the running backs and offensive line. All those receivers can be a star somewhere else, but we’re lucky to have them on our campus.”
By the sound of that comment, TCU may be in for a rude awakening. However, Robert Griffin may be in for his own rude awakening. Last season Griffin threw for 3,501 and 22 TD. He also ran for over 600 yards and 8 more touchdowns. Evidently Griffin thinks that an offense that ranked 13th nationally last year in yardage but lost 3 starters at its skill positions is going to be the best in all the land.
Where TCU will be most tested on defense is versus the pass. Baylor returns 5 receivers who all caught over 40 passes last season, and TCU will be sporting an inexperienced secondary in its first game of the season. Kendall Wright and Lanear Sampson will be senior wide outs, and they will match up with Jason Verrett, Greg McCoy, Johnny Fobbs, and Elisha Olabode who are all inexperienced at the corner position.
TCU’s strength on defense will be linebacker and the defensive line. Braylon Broughton, Stansly Maponga, and DJ Yendrey will lead a defensive line that will square off against an experienced offensive line that remains mainly in tact from last season when Baylor went 7-6. Cyril Richardson is Baylor’s best offensive lineman, and he will play left tackle this upcoming season.
Despite being just a sophomore, Richardson is already 6-5 and 315 pounds and one of the Big 12’s best offensive lineman. Maponga and Broughton will have their hands full keeping contain on the edge of the line and keeping Robert Griffin III between the tackles.
Finally, Baylor’s best rusher is Robert Griffin as no one is sure how their depth chart at running back will shake out. Jerrad Sulabi (Jr.) or Terrance Ganaway (Sr.) will likely get the bulk of the carries. Do not expect the Bears to be able to run up the middle on TCU. Tank Carder and Tanner Brock can put fear into any running back. Broughton, Maponga, Yendrey, and Jeremy Coleman are great run-stopping linemen, and Baylor will have to rely on Robert Griffin to make a lot of plays through the air and with his legs, keeping plays alive.
Baylor Defense vs. TCU Offense
What will be very interesting starting with this game will be finding out how TCU and Justin Fuente are going to use all their offensive weapons. And what you saw from Baylor’s defense last season will be very different from the system that first year defensive coordinator, Phil Bennett has installed.
Casey Pachall will be playing his first game as starting quarterback for the Frogs, and he is lucky that he will get to face a secondary that returns only one of four starters from a year ago. Chance Casey is the only returning starter in the secondary, and the Baylor defensive backfield will feature two juniors and two sophomores as its starters.
Casey will line up against Josh Boyce, but Skye Dawson and Antoine Hicks will likely have matchups that they can exploit. For all those that are excited to see Dawson, the track star, get more playing time, he may very well may a big impact in game 1 vs. Baylor.
Three of four defensive linemen return for Baylor, but their best lineman, Phil Taylor, is gone, and he will be replaced by inexperienced sophomore, Tevin Elliot. Those linemen have the tall task of defending TCU’s multi-headed running game. Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Waymon James could have big days against a defense that also lost both of its outside linebackers. Senior MLB Elliot Coffey is the best player on Baylor’s defense, and he will be busy if TCU’s running backs start blowing past Baylor’s line.
Last season, Baylor ranked 114th in the nation in passing defense, and they lost 3 of 4 starters from the secondary, so look for Pachall to throw the ball around vs. Baylor maybe more than a lot of people expect from a QB starting his first career game.
How it will all shake out…
Even though TCU will be playing on the road in their first game of the season with a first year starting QB vs. a rival, TCU will ultimately win this game by exploiting two key matchups.
1. Casey Pachall vs. the Baylor secondary-TCU catches a break that they face an inexperience and normally unsuccessful secondary in Pachall’s first game. Quick throws to Skye Dawson, Josh Boyce, and Antoine Hicks along with the Frogs’ running backs will allow TCU to move the change early and often, eventually tiring the Baylor defense.
2. Robert Griffin III vs. Tank Carder and Tanner Brock-Griffin carried the ball 14 times last season vs. TCU, and he amassed only 21 yards. He threw for just 164 yards on 28 attempts as well, and he had his worst game of 2010. The Frogs will be the only test for Baylor in their first 5 games, so the Bears will need to beat the Frogs if they are going to have the magical season that their quarterback fantasizes about. TCU has owned Robert Griffin, and I look for over-anxiousness to cause Griffin to tuck the ball and try to run quickly. Fortunately for TCU fans, Tanner Brock and Tank Carder will virtually eliminate that part of Griffin’s game making him one dimensional.
TCU has owned these yahoos for the past few years, and as we discussed in our TCU Football Roundtable, Gary Patterson is one of the nation’s very best coaches. With weeks to prepare, the Horned Frogs will beat the Baylor Bears.
Projected Outcome: TCU 24 – Baylor 13
Next up in our series of scouting TCU’s opponents will be the Air Force Falcons.