How’d they fare against Ohio State?
This primetime showdown against Ohio State has plenty of storylines, but an underlying one for the players is how their performance could help or hurt their dreams of playing at the next level.
“It’s a blessing to play a team of this caliber for sure,” senior safety Niko Small said. “They’re a great team and a great program. I’m well aware that everybody likes to watch these types of games. It’s just great people against great people.
“But if I let that affect how we think or how we play, then it won’t be great people against great people. It’ll be great people against people who are trying too hard. So we just have to play our game.”
The TCU secondary has fared well early on this season, limiting Southern and SMU to an average of 106 yards through the air. The only real blemish has been giving up a couple deep throws to Southern in the opener.
The TCU defense also hasn’t allowed a second-half point yet.
But Ohio State presents a different challenge. The Buckeyes are on a different level compared to Southern and SMU.
Ohio State is averaging more than 300 yards passing, as well as more than 300 yards on the ground. Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins has impressed with his arm early this season.
“He can for sure throw,” Small said. “He makes smart decisions and he doesn’t want to get his body too much banged up because he knows he’s a good thrower.
“See a team put up 77 points [against Oregon State in the opener], you can’t help but look at what the quarterback is doing. When you see that, it’s a testament to how good their program is and how great their coaching is.”
Ohio State’s defense is just as potent, boasting a couple first-round talents on the D-line. TCU sophomore center Kellton Hollins maintained he treats every game the same, but knows this week’s film will be part of his resume tape going forward.
How Hollins and the rest of the interior hold up against a player such as Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, a potential first-round talent next spring, will be watched by NFL scouts numerous times.
“That’s up to them. That’s not up to me,” Hollins said. “Like I said, I just play football. If you line a guy up in front of me, I’m going to play football. No matter who it is. It’s just the nature of the game.”