1. Quarterback chatter. TCU coach Gary Patterson has piqued interest in the past week with his comments about backup quarterback Michael Collins getting more snaps.
Maybe Patterson is just trying to play mind games with Ohio State, but it hasn’t come across in that light. Patterson has been impressed with what Collins has done in his limited opportunities, and pointed to his history of using multiple quarterbacks in games.
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Shawn Robinson is the unquestioned starter, but he did get a little banged up at the end of the SMU game and hasn’t been as accurate as desired on the deep ball.
So don’t be surprised if Collins gets in this game at some point.
But the biggest thing Robinson brings is “escapability.” The Frogs need that against Ohio State’s elite defensive line.
2. Summers’ role. Ty Summers has shown his versatility early on, recording two sacks in two games. But Summers will find himself playing his natural linebacker role, as well as end, in this game.
It makes sense. Patterson wants an experienced veteran such as Summers helping the defense dissect plays, and that’s easier from the linebacker position than the end spot.
Plus, with the return of L.J. Collier (6-foot-4, 276 pounds), the Frogs have more of a power rusher against Ohio State’s massive offensive line. Summers best spot in this game may be linebacker.
“One of the things you’ll see from us through the season until everybody grows up is game to game of who we need to put where to have an opportunity to win,” Patterson said. “Where do we put them to be successful?”
For Ohio State, signs point to that being with Collier at end and Summers at linebacker much of the night. And Patterson believes Collier is in good shape despite sitting out the first two games for “disciplinary reasons.”
“He’ll be good. To be honest he probably practiced harder on the other end than he practiced if he would’ve been part of the one’s,” Patterson said. “He just didn’t do it on Saturday. I think he’s going to be in pretty decent shape.”
3. Turpin time. KaVontae Turpin showed what a difference-maker he can be against SMU. He ignited a sleep-walking TCU team with a 78-yard punt return, and then had a 42-yard scoring catch.
TCU needs Turpin to become a play-maker once again against Ohio State, although Patterson is cognizant of how many snaps Turpin gets.
“He’s a 165-pound dude that if he’s getting 25-30 touches, he may not make it 12 ballgames,” Patterson said.
Still, the Frogs have to find ways to get the ball in his hands. Turpin is leading the team with eight receptions for 111 yards through two games.
Patterson raved about Turpin’s work ethic on the football field – he loves practice and he loves games – while describing his academic approach as a “work-in-progress.”
But the former will be more important than the latter on Saturday night.
“If you’re going to beat Ohio State, you’ve got to have guys that make plays on both sides of the ball,” Patterson said.
4. Containing Bosa. Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa is off to an impressive start and people are already wondering if he’ll become the first non quarterback or running back to win the Heisman Trophy since Michigan cornerback/ punt returner Charles Woodson in 1997.
So TCU’s tackles are going to have their hands full with Bosa. So far, the Frogs have split series at left tackle between Austin Myers and Anthony McKinney. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep that same approach against Ohio State.
Lucas Niang, meanwhile, has been a staple at right tackle, and will have to slow down Chase Young.
Bosa and Young give the Buckeyes arguably the best defensive end tandem in the country.
5. Limiting big plays. Asked the keys to the game during his radio show Thursday, Patterson didn’t hesitate with No. 1.
“We’ve got to start fast,” Patterson said. “We’ve got to start faster than we have the past two weeks.”
Yes, the Frogs can’t dig themselves into a hole and expect to rally back against a team as talented as the Buckeyes. That means limiting big plays, something the TCU defense has been prone to give up early on this season.
Southern connected on a 55-yard touchdown pass in the first half of the opener. The Jaguars also had a 41-yard completion in the opening half. And SMU scored on a 51-yard run to open the game.
Those can’t happen against Ohio State, as TCU safety Niko Small said.
“We chase perfection,” Small said. “We have to be as detailed as we can. That’s the best way to fix [giving up big plays].”