The Texas defense did all they could to help the Longhorns leave Fort Worth with a victory, but it was not enough. Kenny Hill and the TCU offense used a penalty-aided opening drive TD and a Darius Anderson late 4th quarter touchdown run to pull away for a 24-7 win. Let’s take a look at how the defense and special teams graded out.
It was another good game in the trenches for the defense. Great play from Poona Ford, Chris Nelson, Charles Omenihu and Malcolm Roach helped hold the Horned Frogs to a respectable 3.8 yards per carry. Aside from the Maryland game and stretches of the Oklahoma game, the defensive line has dominated in the run game. Every week I feel like Gerald Wilbon has taken a step forward, and his performance on Saturday was one of his best of the season. Wilbon made his presence felt in the backfield several times.
While huge improvements have been made in the secondary and at linebacker, the strides being made by players on the defensive line has been the biggest surprise of the season. For the first time in years, nearly every defensive lineman is playing sound fundamental football and doing their job well.
Malik Jefferson led the Longhorns in tackles with 10. The improvements he’s made in taking better angles in the run game and showing more aggression in rushing the passer has to have NFL scouts smiling. He still has to work on some stuff to work on, including not filling the hole that Darius Anderson’s touchdown run that put the game out of reach, but the good far outweigh the bad. If how Gary Johnson has played the last few games is any indication to how he will look replacing Jefferson next year, the defense will be just fine.. #33 always finds himself around the football and totaled 9 tackles on Saturday. Naashon Hughes and Anthony Wheeler played sparingly and did not do anything of note.
The roughest game in the secondary came from Brandon Jones. Jones had an unnecessary personal foul penalty on TCU’s opening drive and then got juked out of his shoes on Anderson’s 4th quarter touchdown run. The entire secondary is still prone to the double move and pump fake, but Jones in particular bit several times on fakes and let guys get behind him. Holton Hill also had a rough opening drive, but responded with a good game. You didn’t hear Kris Boyd’s name called a lot, which is a good thing. Deshon Elliott and Antwaun Davis showed well in run support. Davis also looked good in pass support, including blowing up a screen pass by driving his man into the receiver that had the ball. It is safe to say that Davis earned more playing time going forward, even with the the possibility that PJ Locke returns this week.
Although it is disappointing that the secondary was unable to get a turnover, but unit played well enough to give Texas the win.
Joshua Rowland did not come close on his only field goal. His reliability outside of 40 yards is not good and Tom Herman needs to open up the kicking competition once again this week.
Michael Dickson boomed a 76 yard punt and turned his 9 punts into an average of 50.8 yards. Texas is fortunate to have a weapon like Dickson considering how often they are having to punt right now.
The return game was not a factor in the loss, with Reggie Hemphill Mapps returning 2 punts for a total of 7 yards.