TCU O-line has held steady through four games but has big test at Oklahoma

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Oklahoma presents a challenge for TCU in just about every area, but perhaps none more than the Horned Frogs’ offensive line.

The Sooners’ defense is near the top of most Big 12 defensive statistical categories, including second in scoring and total defense.

TCU offensive tackles Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are coming off their best-played game of the season, coach Gary Patterson said.

“We understand the kind of personnel we’re going to have to block, so it will be interesting to evaluate how they do and how they handle the guys they’re getting ready to block this week,” he said. “Oklahoma is really playing well on defense. They’re coming off a big win for the conference and for themselves.”

James Dunbar started in front of Collins against SMU, but when Dunbar left the game with an injury Collins responded with one of his best games since starting as a true freshman in 2012. Vaitai, who goes by “Big V” and attended Haltom High School, has started all four games this season.

“I think they’re looking forward to the challenge,” Patterson said. “In this league you’ve got to play well at the tackle position. They need to play like veterans.”

Rest of the Story

Receiver Ja’Juan Story’s slow start might have been, at least in part, because he was hampered by an unspecified injury during August camp. Story didn’t play in the opener against LSU and played sparingly against Southeastern Louisiana before not playing against Texas Tech on Sept. 12. His 56-yard touchdown reception against SMU helped break the game open.

“He’s been a little quiet,” said quarterback Trevone Boykin before suggesting that the injury contributed to the slow start. “He had a big spring. I knew he could make those type of plays.”

Injury update

Offensive lineman James Dunbar (low ankle sprain) did not practice Tuesday, but Gary Patterson said he’ll make the trip to Oklahoma.

“He was in treatment all day Monday,” he said. “He’s 200 percent better than he was on Sunday.”

Defensive end Devonte Fields (foot) is unlikely to be available against Oklahoma. Patterson said they’ll try to have him practice this week.

Cornerback Jason Verrett (shoulder) practiced Sunday and will play. Free safety Elisha Olabode (groin), who did not play against SMU, could see some action Saturday.

“Elisha said he’s feeling better. Maybe it’s because Derrick Kindred is playing some free safety,” Patterson joked. “Competition is an amazing thing.”

Key stat

33.3Third-down conversion rate (18 of 54) for TCU’s offense, tied nationally for 98th out of 123 teams. Their percentage has fallen each week through four games.

Quotable

“Awesome. When you get push inside that’s a big thing. That really helps you. They’re not able to step forward. It’s a good stat. Made my day.” — Gary Patterson when told defensive tackle Jon Lewis leads the Big 12 with four sacks.

Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter:@FollowtheFrogs

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