College Confidential

College Confidential: TCU’s thin defense ups upset prospects

Star-Telegram writers Jimmy Burch and Carlos Mendez sound off on the issues of the day in college football in College Confidential at star-telegram.com.

No. 3 TCU’s list of key defensive absentees, based on injury or other reasons, is at seven. How much does that bring the possibility of an upset into play in Saturday’s game at Texas Tech (3-0)?

Jimmy: Very much, in my estimation. Tech has a terrific offense and every defense has limits on how much attrition it can absorb before the bottom line is impacted. TCU may be over that limit, considering the opponent and the venue.

Carlos: Quite a bit, but mainly because of the experience factor. The kids Patterson has plugged in have ability, but they have to understand what the coaches want them to do and how to do it. Offenses that can pressure you with formation and tempo, not to mention talent, require recognition and decision making. That’s still being taught.

Texas (1-2) lost two non-conference games but discovered a viable starting quarterback in the process. Can redshirt freshman QB Jerrod Heard make the Longhorns a contender for this year’s Big 12 title, as coach Charlie Strong envisions?

Jimmy: Not this year. Championship teams must win road games and Heard has yet to prove himself in that environment. But consider Texas a tough out at home the rest of this season and a team capable of pulling an upset or two on its way to a down-the-line bowl berth.

Carlos: No, afraid not. The Longhorns are too far behind the rest of the league on both sides of the ball. Heard’s playmaking will help, and he does seem like the fearless type a team will rally around. Eventually, he’s going to make everyone around him better. But he’s baby steps into his career.

No. 14 Texas A&M’s defense heads into Arlington for Saturday’s SEC opener against Arkansas as the national leader in sacks (15) and tackles for losses (36). Have the Aggies improved their defense enough under first-year coordinator John Chavis to win this year’s SEC title?

Jimmy: That is possible. But let’s reserve judgment until A&M plays consecutive games against No. 12 Alabama (Oct. 17) and No. 3 Ole Miss (Oct. 24). As things stand, the Aggies are tracking in that direction.

Carlos: I don’t think stats like sacks and tackles for loss happen by accident. That indicates real playmaking and an edge in talent. Does it happen against SEC offensive lines? Don’t know. But I’ll guess yes.

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