Following a road win in Manhattan, Texas will return home for their biggest game of the season as they prepare to welcome TCU to Austin. The Horned Frogs are a perfect 9-0 on the season under first year coach Sonny Dykes and feature one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Let's take a look at what to expect from TCU.
Dykes opted to open the season with Chandler Morris as his starting QB, but an injury in the season opener opened the door for long time starter Max Duggan to re-take the reins and Duggan has not looked back. The senior is completing 66% of his passes for 2,407 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has also added 282 yards on the ground with 4 rushing touchdowns. Duggan has taken a big step forward this year when it comes to pushing the ball down the field with accuracy. He has cleaned up some things in his mechanics and is playing the best football of his career.
Duggan's life has also been made much easier by throwing to the best receiver group in the Big 12. Future NFL first round pick Quentin Johnston, who was committed to Texas at one point in his recruitment, has caught 42 passes for 650 yards despite being dinged up in a couple of games. Johnston barely played last week against Texas Tech, but was supposed to return to practice during this week. It would be surprising if he did not play on Saturday. Derius Davis and Taye Barber operate primarily out of the slot and have combined for 51 catches and 8 touchdowns. 6'5 Savion Williams will see targets as well and has 3 touchdowns on the season.
The TCU passing game is lethal, but their running game has been very good all season as well. Kendre Miller is the workhorse back and has over 1,000 yards on the season and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Emari Demercado will see carries as well.
The TCU offensive line is all upperlcassmen (feels like we write this every week about Texas' opponent). They are a big group who has a ton of experience. RT Andrew Coker has started close to 30 games in his college career and is having a good season. Transfer Alan Ali followed Dykes from SMU and has settled in nicely as the starting center. The unit has allowed 17 sacks on the season.
TCU made the switch from Gary Patterson's famous 4-2-5 scheme to a 3-3-5 scheme under new defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie. Gillespite had the fortunate of inheriting some talent at LB and CB but has had to piece things together at other positions.
The TCU defensive front isn't super intimidating. True freshman Damonic Williams took over the starting nose tackle job quickly when he arrived on campus and will be a really good player in a few years, but his production has limited this year (3.5 TFL's, 1 sack).
LB Dee Winters has been at TCU forever and leads the team with 6.5 sacks. Fortunately for Texas, he was ejected for targeting in the second half against Texas Tech and will miss the first half on Saturday. Navy transfer Johnny Hodges has been a solid addition and leads the team in tackles with 55.
Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is a future NFL player at corner and has started at TCU forever. Transfer Josh Newton holds down the other corner spot and has 2 interceptions on the year. He can be beat though. Colorado transfer Mark Perry is another solid player who does a good job in the run game.
This game is likely to come down to the ability of Texas to slow down the TCU offense. The Longhorns should be able to put up points against the Horned Frogs, but the Texas defense has some holes that do not much up well with what TCU likes to do. If Texas is able to limit explosive plays, hold TCU to field goals in the redzone and prevent Duggan from running wild, they will have a good chance of coming out with a victory. If they can't do all 3 of those things, this game will be another nail-biter in the 4th quarter that can go either way.