Texas Tech is known for its offense. TCU is known for its defense. Both are holding true so far this season.
Kliff Kingsbury and his Red Raiders’ “Air Raid” attack have produced 47.4 points a game and 591.4 yards, the best in the Big 12.
Gary Patterson and his Frogs’ signature 4-2-5 defense is the top unit in the Big 12, limiting offenses to 303.6 total yards and 20.8 points.
Both coaches have praised each other throughout the week.
Patterson went as far as saying Kingsbury is such a bright offensive mind that he did something unusual this week – watching NFL film. Patterson spent time studying the AFC’s top-scoring offense, the Kansas City Chiefs, who are running a similar offense with former Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“You’re never surprised when it comes to game-planning with Coach P,” said TCU linebacker Alec Dunham, who has 15 tackles on the season.
“He’s looking at everything. It didn’t surprise me, especially with Pat Mahomes having his success there. Coach P just tries to uncover every rock, you know, leave no rock unturned.”
With that being said, here are five things to watch going into tonight’s TCU-Texas Tech matchup.
The chess match between Patterson and Kingsbury is underway with neither coach revealing their “starting” quarterback.
All Patterson has said is that Shawn Robinson will play against the Red Raiders. Robinson is good to go after sustaining a hard shot to his left, non-throwing shoulder late in the Iowa State game. But backup Michael Collins could see more time if TCU wants to limit Robinson’s snaps.
As far as Texas Tech, Kingsbury has said he hopes all three of his quarterbacks will be available. Freshman Alan Bowman, a Grapevine product, has had success, but sustained a partially collapsed lung in Tech’s previous game against West Virginia.
If Bowman can’t go, look for Tech to turn to Jett Duffey or McLane Carter. The Frogs will be ready for whichever quarterback – Bowman and Carter are considered pro-style QBs while Duffey is a dual-threat QB.
“The Big 12 has all types of quarterbacks that you have to game plan for, that’s nothing new to us,” TCU defensive end Ben Banogu said. “We’ll game plan for all of them and whoever they put out there, we’ll be ready to play against them.”
Avoiding the KO
As mentioned, Patterson used the extended break studying film he might not otherwise have time for. Why? Patterson knows the key against Tech is avoiding the big play.
“We’ve got to handle the knockout punches of the new plays,” Patterson said. “When Kliff gets this much time …”
Patterson said the Frogs have to handle the first 25 offensive plays well and slow the Red Raiders’ attack down from the start.
The two players who have found the end zone most often for Tech are RB Ta’Zhawn Henry, who has seven rushing TDs, and WR Antoine Wesley, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder who has five receiving TDs.
TCU is among the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnover margin. That statistic explains why the Frogs lost two of three going into the off week.
TCU has turned the ball over 10 times the last three games, and forced just one takeaway. The takeaway – a forced fumble by Innis Gaines followed by a scoop-and-score by Banogu – proved pivotal in a 17-14 victory over Iowa State.
Patterson made it clear during his radio show that the Frogs must win the turnover battle if they want to beat the Red Raiders.
Tech has been a middle-of-the-road team when it comes to turnover margin – losing seven and gaining seven.
“You can’t turn it over,” Patterson said on his show. “And we’ve got to get takeaways.”
TCU running back Darius Anderson has struggled to get going the past couple of weeks as defenses have keyed in on him. Anderson had just 15 yards on eight carries two weeks ago at Texas, and was held to 42 yards on 16 carries against Iowa State.
Anderson is still averaging 6.0 yards a carry for the season. Patterson credited two solid defenses in Texas and Iowa State as to why Anderson posted underwhelming numbers.
“It’s really hard to have 100-yard to 200-yard games against really good defenses unless you just run the ball a lot,” Patterson said. “It’s just really hard to do that. Ohio State, the reason that [93-yard TD run] happened is what they were giving you. Second half, you notice, that didn’t happen.
“You have to be smart enough to take what defenses give you.”
Patterson isn’t a fan of revealing much in terms of injuries, but said the Frogs could be without two offensive linemen against the Red Raiders.
He didn’t specify, but left tackle Austin Myers and left guard Cordel Iwuagwu missed the Iowa State game. Anthony McKinney started in Myers’ place, and Chris Gaynor slid from right guard to left guard to fill in for Iwuagwu.
Wes Harris, an Aledo product, got his first start at right guard against Iowa State.
Another unknown is whether free safety Niko Small is ready to return. He was injured in the first half at Texas with Markell Simmons filling in for him in the second half and starting the Iowa State game.
Asked specifically about the status of Iwuagwu and Small, Patterson said: “I don’t know that. I do, but I mean … it’s my job, it’s my livelihood. What difference does the injuries have to do with how you guys write your articles? I don’t get that.
“Write about how great their offense is and how great their defense has gotten and I don’t know how TCU will ever win the ballgame and we’ll go on about our life. I like it a lot better that way.”