TCU notes: Texas’ defensive turnaround starts up front

10/23/2013 7:34 PM

11/12/2014 3:03 PM

No defense was more maligned than Texas’ three weeks into the season.

The Longhorns (4-2, 3-0 Big 12) had been gashed and embarrassed at BYU and at home against Ole Miss. Texas allowed over 1,000 yards combined in the two losses, forcing Mack Brown to fire defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and bring in Greg Robinson.

But Texas has won three consecutive games, including a dominating win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, a game no one expected the Longhorns to win.

Much of the resurgence is because of better defense, including holding the Sooners to fewer than 300 yards. The Texas defensive line of Jackson Jeffcoat, Chris Whaley, Malcom Brown and Cedric Reed are as good a front four as TCU will play, Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson said.

TCU (3-4, 1-3) hosts Texas at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

“You’ve got two pass rushers on the outside, but their two defensive tackles have been playing exceptional,” Patterson said. “They’ll be the two best D-tackles we’ve played up to this point, except for the guy at LSU. They’re very physical and they’re very dominant. They’ve been getting where they play a lot of man press [in the secondardy], forcing you to go make plays.”

Jeffcoat, from Plano West High School, did not play a year ago because of injury when TCU beat Texas 20-13 in Austin.

TCU’s offensive line, which has struggled, especially inside, will have its hands full against the Longhorns, whose simplified defensive approach since the coaching change has greatly improved their run defense.

“They’ve really shored themselves up in the last couple of weeks,” Patterson said. “They’ve made themselves a lot more secure, if you watch them on film. They went from a 50 defense to a four-man front. They’ve quit slanting and they’ve become more gap secure.”

D-line depth

Defensive tackle Davion Pierson did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Gary Patterson said he hopes Pierson, who has started every game this season, will be ready by Saturday. Mike Tuaua has moved inside from defensive end to help fill the void, but Patterson said Tuaua could still see time on the edge.

The defensive line is one of the areas where the Frogs have quality depth, which has been necessary with the season-ending injuries to ends Devonte Fields and Matt Anderson and tackle David Johnson.

“Fortunately for us, defensive line is one position we’ve been pretty deep,” Patterson said. “Tevin [Lawson] had to play as a true freshman, so he gave us depth.”

Center change

Gary Patterson said a change has been made to fix snapping issues that have plagued the offense for much of the season and really showed up big in the loss at Oklahoma State last week.

“We made a change, but I’m not telling Texas,” he said.

Perhaps freshman Patrick Morris will replace sophomore Joey Hunt at center against Texas. Morris started once at left guard against SMU.

Verrett in quarterfinals

TCU cornerback Jason Verrett was named a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. Verrett, an All-America selection a year ago, has been named first team on five midseason All-America teams this season.

Radio change

TCU’s games will no longer be broadcast on 96.7 FM. KTCK/1310 AM has taken over simulcast rights from WBAP of 96.7. The games will continue to be broadcast on WBAP/820 AM and KTCU/88.7 FM.

Quotable

“When Justin [Fuente] was calling plays Rusty [Burns] was the guy who gave him all the pass suggestions.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson on former co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente (2009-11) and current co-offensive coordinator Rusty Burns, who took over lead play-calling duties from co-offensive coordinator Jarrett Anderson in the second half last week.

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