Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
I started doing weekly bold predictions to rile up Baylor when when I said the Bears would be held to 35 points, received some unfortunately nasty hate mail for ‘hating on Baylor,’ and turned out to be right. Since then I’ve accurately predicted a dynamic passing game by Daniel Sams, Ryan Mueller winning defensive player of the week, and a blow out of a ranked Texas Tech team in Lubbock. Let’s see if I can go 5/5 this week. Bold prediction: TCU will be held to 300 yards of total offense this Saturday.
I start this prediction with a defense of why there’s some inherent boldness, and that requires an initial defense of TCU’s offense. TCU hasn’t been an offensive juggernaut this year. However, the Horned Frogs average five yards per play. The team began the season by scoring 27 against a potent LSU defense, but was greatly hurt by the loss of quarterback Casey Pachall to a broken arm. Pachall is back, and back-up Trevone Boykin was used in several interesting sets last weekend. Boykin is a true athlete and lined up at every position (including under center where he scored a touchdown on a keeper). Boykin ended the game against Iowa State with five carries for 29 yards (5.8 yards/carry) and four catches for 24 yards (6.0 yards/reception). He’s a dynamic player that has to be accounted for no matter where he is on the field, standing at 6’2” and 215 but playing with the speed of a smaller player. If TCU’s coaching staff has finally figured out how to utilize him, this offense could be dangerous.
K-State, on the other hand, is giving up 373 yards/game and dealing with underwhelming linebacker play. And linebackers will be critical to diagnosing Boykin’s position and covering him wherever he goes. However, the Wildcats will still hold a TCU team that even racked up 325 yards in a 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State to less than that.
The greatest impediment to this goal? K-State’s special teams efficiency and offensive production. When the Wildcats don’t turn the ball over, this team has been dominating the field position battle. Although the dense has done a superb job stiffening up in the red zone, if TCU is allowed to drive 50 yards before being stopped, the yards will pile up quickly (interesting fact: the most kicking points a Big 12 team has scored in a game this year was Texas Tech’s 18 against K-State). Additionally, if K-State can put up five touchdowns in its first five possession like it did against the Red Raiders, TCU will be taking more shots downfield and taking chances it wouldn’t normally.
And still, it won’t matter. TCU is last in the Big 12 with 120 yards rushing per game. Regardless of who’s in the backfield, the Wildcats will probably be trotting out a lot of nickel throughout the day to limit Pachall’s passing attack. I was downright negative about the secondary when the season started, and probably made some observations about cornerback Dorrian Roberts that weren’t exactly fair – although his early season play was infuriating. But the senior has put it together and no longer appears to be a liability. Safety Randall Evans – just a sophomore – has really come on, Dante Barnett is solid, and we all know quarterbacks are scared to throw against Kip Daily after he carded two picks against Massachusetts.
TCU won’t be able to get the running game off the ground the entire 60 minutes against K-State. The Horned Frogs are down to their third running back (albeit he is a five-star transfer from Nebraska). The secondary will keep receivers in front of them. And assuming Ty Zimmerman’s shoulder is good to go on Saturday (I guarantee you he was in a tremendous amount of pain when he woke up on Sunday), TCU will be held to no more than 300 yards of total offense.
Bonus prediction: negative yards due to a sack by Ryan Mueller will be the difference.