Texas (4-4, 3-2) travels up to Fort Worth on Saturday to take on TCU (7-1, 4-1). The Longhorns will once again be tasked with trying to slow down one of the top offenses in the country. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the TCU offense:
The Horned Frog offense will go as far as Kenny Hill can take them. The Senior struggled last week in their loss at Iowa State, tossing 2 interceptions and only totaling 135 yards through the air. Aside from last week though, Hill has been outstanding. On the season, he has thrown for 1863 yards and 15 touchdowns compared to just 5 interceptions.
Hill can be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference when he is on his game. His legs allow him to extend plays and he has a huge arm. Unfortunately, he has also been known to turn the ball over in bunches, which led to his benching multiple times in 2016. After completing less than 50% of his passes last week, Texas may be catching Hill at a good time. Iowa State rushed 3 and dropped 8 into coverage for much of the game last week, and it’s a recipe that the Longhorns will surely try to replicate in some manner to force Hill to throw into tight windows.
TCU will showcase two very talented running backs in Darius Anderson and Kyle Hicks. Hicks, a one time Texas commit, rushed for over 1,000 yards a season ago, but has been limited to 6 games this season due to injury. Anderson stands at only 5’11, but is an efficient runner between the tackles and shows good physicality. Anderson currently leads the team in rushing with 627 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Despite what many may consider an “air raid” offensive system, offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie has placed a big emphasis on running the football. Anderson and Hicks are as good of a 1-2 punch the Longhorns will face the rest of the season. The Texas defense has prided itself on getting teams in predictable 3rd down situations and getting off the field.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End
Kenny Hill spreads the ball around to a variety of receivers in the passing game. Leading receiver John Diarse has 327 yards and 3 touchdowns. KaVontae Turpin should be no stranger to Texas players and fans after he scored 4 touchdowns against the Longhorns in TCU’s 50-7 win in 2015. In 2017, Turpin has 236 yards receiving and a touchdown. Freshman Jalen Reagor and senior Desmond White rank 1st and 2nd in touchdown catches, respectively. Reagor has hauled in 19 passes for 308 yards and 4 touchdowns, while White has racked up 248 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Rice transfer Cole Hunt will be used when TCU chooses to deploy a tight end. Hunt stands at 6’7 and has caught 4 passes on the season, while also being viewed as a quality blocker.
There is not one player that truly stands out on the TCU offensive line, but a combination of experience and a favorable offensive system has allowed the unit to pave the way for an offense averaging over 450 total yards per game. Left tackle Joseph Noteboom has started 34 consecutive games and is joined on the left side by guard Cordel Iwuagwu. Center Austin Schlotmann stands at 6’6 300 pounds and was a second team All-Big 12 member a season ago. The right side of the line is anchored by 6’7 – 338 lb. guard Matt Pryor, who has started 21 consecutive games. Right tackle Lucas Niang is also 6’7 and is in his first year as a full time starter.
The offensive line has only allowed 9 sacks all season and have done an excellent job of making Kenny Hill’s job easier. The quick, explosive passing game combined with a good running game will make it difficult for the Texas defense to create negative plays, but this may be the best defense TCU faces all year.