Something’s gotta give as Longhorns have advantage on offense while Horned Frogs hold edge on defense

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Quarterbacks

Trevone Boykin has struggled since replacing injured Casey Pachall in Week 2, throwing five interceptions and only one touchdown pass in the past two games. TCU’s second leading rusher, Boykin offers a dual-threat capability with 293 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Case McCoy earned respect in the upset against Oklahoma, when he was flawless except for two overthrown passes and a pick-six. But McCoy has proven himself as a starter, and true freshman Tyrone Swoopes will keep his redshirt on unless McCoy gets hurt. 

Advantage: Texas

 

Running Backs

TCU has the 94th-ranked rushing offense in the country but has two threats in B.J. Catalon and Waymon James, who are averaging a collective 5.1 yards per carry. They combined for only 30 yards against a healthy Oklahoma defense while Texas, after running for only 119 yard against Iowa State, had two players run for more yards than that by themselves against a Sooners defense that had several key pieces missing. 

Advantage: Texas

 

Wide Receivers

TCU’s top seven receivers each have between 129 and 186 yards while combining for three touchdown catches. Junior Cam White has multiple catches in every game since Week 2 and, while Boykin has options, none have stepped up as a major threat yet. Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been consistent, combining for 97 yards in the win over Oklahoma. But sophomore Marcus Johnson proved that wide receiver is the deepest position on the Texas roster, catching a 59-yard touchdown pass against the Sooners, becoming the sixth Longhorns player to have a touchdown catch of at least 54 yards.

Advantage: Texas

 

Offensive Line

TCU is led by senior James Dunbar, who worked his way back on to the team after leaving the program before the 2012 season due to academic reasons. The Horned Frogs have allowed five tackles for loss and two sacks per game this year, the 45th-fewest and 64th-fewest in the country, respectively. The Longhorns offensive line did not give up a sack against Oklahoma and paved the way for them to run for 255 yards. Texas will face another challenge in a TCU defense that is the best in the Big 12 against the run.

Advantage: Texas

 

Defensive Line:

Despite losing sophomore Devonte Fields to injury, TCU has made 60 tackles for loss and 24 sacks, both the third-most in the country. Three weeks ago, Oklahoma ran for 203 yards against TCU, who will need to make adjustments against a Texas team that turned in its best rushing performance of the year against those same Sooners in its last game. Texas’ defensive line feasted on the Oklahoma offense, highlighted by a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Whaley. Since Greg Robinson took over as defensive coordinator, Texas has allowed 50 fewer rushing yards per game.

Advantage: Texas

 

Linebackers

The loss of junior linebacker Jordan Hicks was almost unnoticeable against Oklahoma, as Steve Edmond and Dalton Santos each had six tackles in a defensive effort while the Sooners had their worst offensive game of the season. There are only two linebackers in Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme -- Marcus Mallet, who has 40 tackles on the year and two sacks, and Jonathan Anderson, who has 33 tackles and 0.5 sacks this season. The two have been instrumental in a defense that holds offenses to 115 rushing yards a game and a third-down efficiency rate of 38 percent.

Advantage: TCU

 

Defensive Backs

Texas’ secondary has held opposing quarterbacks to just 211 yards per game in the Greg Robinson era. But the defensive backs did not have an interception since playing BYU until Duke Thomas intercepted Blake Bell last week. That win over Oklahoma was the third this season where the Longhorns did not allow a touchdown pass. Despite losing 24-10 to Oklahoma State, the Horned Frogs secondary picked off three passes, bringing their season total to 13, the third-most in the league. There are three players with at least two picks with sophomore Chris Hackett and junior Sam Carter leading the way with three apiece. 

Advantage: TCU

 

Special Teams

The return of sophomore Daje Johnson introduced a threat in the Texas return game, as Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma. Despite the threat, Texas has the 4th yards a return. No touchdowns yet for the ‘Horns, but that could change against a TCU special teams that has the 7th TCU has an explosive return game, with two kicks returned for touchdowns early this season. The Horned Frogs return team has been quiet the past four games, averaging just 35 yards of kick return yards a game.

Advantage: TCU