Gameday is literally right around the corner, and we continue to preview tomorrow's game with a five-question interview with Jeremy Mauss of Mountain West Connection. Jeremy and his crew do a great job covering the Mountain West Conference for SB Nation. Stop by and say hello, if you haven't already.
UPDATE: If you want to see how well Andy and myself handled Jeremy's questions, you can head over to MWC and find out for yourself.
I spent a decent amount of time trying to understand Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 defense-- how does TCU plan to use it to stop the OSU offense? Are they satisfied with keeping six guys in the box with Quizz in the backfield? Or will we see the safeties spend attention on stopping the run?
Trying to understand their defense is a feat, but I think TCU may bring more pressure up front not necessarily to stop Jacquizz but to bring more pressure against a brand new quarterback who is lacking experience. I would expect at least six in the box and possibly seven or eight depending on the formation of the Oregon State offense. In the 4-2-5 defense most of the safeties can be brought up to play a linebacker role since they have a good combination of size and speed. It will be interesting to see James and Jacquizz Rogers in the open field because TCU puts nearly all of their speed on the defensive side of the ball.
The left defensive end and right offensive tackle positions have sure been getting a lot of attention this fall. Will the offense/defense be vulnerable at these spots? Or is there confidence in the backups?
The defense should be fine because every time players move on either to the NFL or graduating there is always someone who steps up into that position with nearly the same success. The left defensive end position will be fine with the next player stepping right in. The offensive tackle is a big loss since not many lineman go to the NFL from TCU under Gary Patterson, so that position will be more difficult to fill out and could possibly cause some trouble for the offensive line. Look for TCU to run plays away from that tackle for a while to see what they can do in this big game. That will allow the play to not get blown up if there are any protection problems from that side.
This is a big game for Oregon State, but a loss doesn't end their BCS hopes as it almost certainly will for TCU. With such high stakes, are the Horned Frogs more likely to try for the big, game changing strike early, or will they take a more "NFL-like" percentage approach, making sure they get the game into the fourth quarter, with the intent to be to win it then by taking control when OSU won't have time to respond?
I think they will play the way they always play regardless of the opponent. Under Gary Patterson TCU's offense has been somewhat conservative, but last year they averaged over 40 points per game in Mountain West play. They have a senior quarterback and plenty of experience at wide receivers and will exploit whatever they can against Oregon State. In saying that I do not see TCU throwing deep and running the no huddle out of the gate. Look for TCU to play to their strengths which is to run the ball and make high percentage passes and then go deep on occasion to speedy wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. Also, be aware of TCU who will put either RB Ed Wesley or WR Jeremy Kerley at quarterback for a different look.
The home town advantage has been expected to be significant for the Horned Frogs, yet early ticket sales have not been that strong. Is the character of TCU fans one of healthy, game day walk up sales, which will still make it a very hostile environment for the Beavers, or will the enormity of Cowboys' Stadium curb the effect of the Horned Frog fans?
One thing about TCU is that they are a small school which makes their alumni base very small. I would hope to assume that there will be a good amount of walk up ticket sales since there is the open seats. The Utah game last year was at home and a standing room only crowd, so again it goes back to TCU fans/alumni/students in the area which is not that big. I think the crowd will still be pro TCU but I dont think there will be 80K plus like there was for the Oklahoma/BYU game last year.
Offense gets a lot of analysis, and top quality defenses like TCU's has garnered a lot of attention as well. But special teams can not only make a big difference quickly, it can neutralize other segments of the game. Who and what are the Horned Frogs' greatest special teams weapons? How will they approach containing Oregon State's return game, especially James Rodgers?
TCU has their own version of James Rodgers in Jeremy Kerley as he is a similar player with a ton of speed and is able to juke and shake of defenders. Kerley's speed is his key and if he gets a good start with the ball for a punt or kick beware because he is very, very good. As for defending James Rodgers TCU just needs to stay in their lanes and not over pursue, plus they need to make sure to tackle him in numbers since I have seen what he can do if one person tries to tackle and does not wrap up. This game should be a good one for a good returns on both sides.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andy Wooldridge also contributed questions to this interview.