Longhorns face immense challenge, opportunity at TCU

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Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard will try and keep up with TCU’s powerful offense Saturday. The Longhorns enter as 15-point underdogs and will need their defense to help keep them in the game.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

There’s no doubt Texas circled its matchup with No. 4 TCU on the calendar.

The Longhorns still feel burned by their 48-10 home loss to the Horned Frogs last season. They turned the ball over six times and looked dysfunctional for a majority of the game. Now, Texas has a chance to make up for it.

“We’re just pumped up to get a chance to play them again,” senior offensive guard Sedrick Flowers said. “We’re not pleased with the performance we had last year. It’s not as much as showing anybody who’s the big dog in the state, as far as getting a chance to redeem ourselves from our last year’s play.”

A win at TCU would make a massive statement and potentially ignite season-altering momentum. The Longhorns have a tough challenge ahead of them.

“We’re going to have to play above our heads to beat them,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “It’s a challenge for us, and I know we’ve improved over the [last] two weeks, but now, let’s go take another step and see if we can’t continue to get better.”

The Horned Frogs are among the nation’s most elite offenses. The explosive unit ranks No. 5 in scoring offense, No. 2 in total yardage and No. 3 in third down conversion efficiency. Senior quarterback Trevone Boykin excels at burning defenses with both his arm and legs, and he will likely earn Heisman votes at the end of the season.

“You can’t stop [Boykin] — he’s that good,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. “He’s grown up tremendously, which really makes you nervous. … We’ve got to do a great job of containing him and locking down our coverage in the back end.”

Texas’ offense will also have to do its part to keep the Horned Frogs off the field. TCU’s defense is battling several injuries and struggled to contain Texas Tech’s offense in its 55-52 win last week.

Jay Norvell, wide receivers coach and offensive play-caller, is optimistic about attacking the Horned Frogs’ defense. He said the team had the season’s best practice Tuesday. The Longhorns hope it will translate into execution Saturday.

“We got more plays run today [Tuesday] than we’ve ever had in a practice,” Norvell said. “I think that’s a great sign. That’s not a team that’s feeling sorry for themselves. That’s not a team that has their lips stuck out. They’re excited for their opportunity.”

The Longhorns enter the contest as 15-point underdogs, according to ESPN. However, the underdog role doesn’t faze them. Texas is feeding off the doubt.

“That’s just motivation,” senior receiver Marcus Johnson said. “The [No. 4] team going on their home field is something that you look forward to. You want to compete against big-time programs like that, and that’s why we came to Texas.”