Game Day Vitals: #11 Oklahoma At TCU - Does The Sooner Defense Catch A Break This Week?

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

For the second consecutive year the Oklahoma Sooners are concluding their football season on the road. Much like last year, OU has a ten win season, a BCS bowl and a possible conference championship on the line. This year the final opponent isn't in-state rival OSU, its Big 12 newcomer TCU who is coming off a Thanksgiving Day win over Texas, in Austin.

Game Info

Oklahoma (9-2, 7-1) at TCU (7-4, 4-4)

Kickoff: 11:00 am

Location: Ft. Worth, TX

Television: ESPN

Radio: Sooner Radio Network

Oklahoma's last three opponents have been in the top half of the Big 12 in scoring offense (Including OSU and Baylor who are #1 and #2) but the Horned Frogs check in at #8. Before you take a big sigh of relief, it should be noted at even at third from the bottom of the conference, TCU is still averaging 30.5 points per game. Couple that with the fact that OU is playing on the road to close out the season and there is some reason for concern.

TCU Scouting Report

Where Oklahoma's defense could catch a break this weekend is in the fact that TCU doesn't seem to have the multi-attack threat that the last three opponents have had. Baylor came to Norman with the nation's top ranked passing attack, West Virginia was sixth and OSU was seventh, along with having the 20th ranked rushing offense. Where does TCU sit? The Frogs are 55th nationally in passing (240.3 YPG) and 64th in rushing (161 YPG).

Freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin became the starter when TCU starter the first weekend of October, when he stepped in for the suspended Casey Pachall. On the season he's completed 59% of his passes for 1,622 yards, 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He has a 3-4 record as the starter and because he is a freshman, he's prone to a mistake or two that opponents can capitalize on. The key here for Oklahoma's defense is pressure. Boykin is athletic but has been sacked 18 times this season which could cause anyone to get a little gun shy.

The top target for Boykin this season has been Josh Boyce who has 56 catches for 756 yards (13.5 YPC) and 7 touchdowns. One time OU commit Brandon Carter is second on the team with 33 receptions for 499 yards and a team high 15.1 yards per catch.

TCU has three players with more than a 100 carries on the season, and that is where they'll look to find the most success against an OU rush defense that ranks in the bottom half (6th) of the conference. B.J. Catalon leads the team in yards per carry (4.9) and total rushing yards (511). Matthew Tucker has the same amount of carries as Catalon (105) and his close in yards per carry (4.4). He leads the team in rushing touchdowns with five. Boykin is the third member of the Frog offense to exceed the century mark in carries (103). He's averaging 3.3 yards per carry and has three rushing touchdowns. Its safe to say that Oklahoma's defensive front has been put on notice in a big way here.

True to a Gary Patterson coached team, defense is where TCU has made its mark. The Frogs are second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (23 PPG) and lead the conference in rush defense. Opposing team are only averaging 3.1 yards per carry and less than a hundred yards per game (97.3) against TCU.

There's not much of a drop off in pass defense either. Opposing quarterbacks are only completing 54% of their passes against the Frogs, who have picked off 20 passes this season and only given up 19 touchdowns through the air.

Linebacker Joel Hasley has a team high 68 tackles and is second on the squad in tackles for loss with 8. Devonte Fields has a team high nine sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss, which is also a team high. Corner Jason Verrett has 46 tackles and a team high six interceptions. From the looks of it, the Sooners' offense will be the unit most heavily tested this week, and will be the key in this game.

Getting off to a fast start has been the key for TCU this year. The Frogs have outscored their opponents 108-49 in the first quarter with an opportunistic defense being the catalysts to that. They will be looking to put Oklahoma on their heels early.

Kicker Jaden Oberkrom has connected on 18-of-25 field goal attempts this season and punter Ethan Perry is averaging 44.5 yards per kick, with fourteen punts of fifty yards or more. In the return game Skye Dawson is averaging 11.5 yards per punt return and 22.5 on kickoff returns.

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