NORMAN, Okla. — With the conference standings at stake, all eyes will be on the defensive units when TCU rolls into Norman. The Horned Frogs gained respect as one of the favorites among the fellow league members to make a run at the Big 12 title this season but with No. 11 Oklahoma rolling through opponents, the stakes are higher for Saturday's matchup.
OU quarterback Blake Bell has yet to throw an interception this season but undoubtedly TCU wants to put the pressure on the new starter.
TCU’s defense is competent at disrupting quarterback play; the 15 sacks already this season ranks fifth among FBS teams and the team also currently totes the longest FBS streak of holding opponents to less than 60 percent passing completion rate. Safeties Sam Carter and Derrick Kindred will play the biggest role in disrupting Bell’s cadence.
Carter was recognized as the national defensive back of the week after picking off SMU's quarterback Garrett Gilbert late in the fourth quarter and dashing 66-yards for the touchdown. Carter ended the game with five tackles, one sack and two interceptions in the 48-17 victory and leads the team with three picks.
Safeties Elisha Olabode and Chris Hackett each have 24 tackles, while defensive tackle Jon Lewis leads the team with five tackles for loss and four sacks.
“They’re physical, just like Notre Dame was,” said OU right guard Bronson Irwin. “They’re downhill. They’re big. So, it’ll be another good challenge for us up front.”
However, TCU is ranked last in the Big 12 in red zone defense, allowing points in 13 of the 13 situations the defense has faced that included seven touchdowns.
Offensively, the Horned Frogs are trying to find an identity with backup Trevone Boykin, who replaced the injured Casey Pachall. Last week Boykin finished with 228 yards while completing 15-of-26 passes with two touchdowns. Boykin's mobility makes him an elusive quarterback to apprehend in the backfield but his receivers are having to catch up with his scrambling capabilities.
“I mean, you got to stay on your guard,” said Sooner free safety Gabe Lynn. “You got to stay locked up whether he’s running or not because he can throw it anywhere on the field. He has a strong arm.”
TCU will do its best to open up its running game due to the fact OU is so dynamic with the pass defense. Waymon James is averaging over five yards a carry and has three scores this season and will likely be a key factor if the Horned Frogs want to escape with a win.
TCU has primarily been a second half team and the Sooners give themselves a better chance to win the game if they get off to a fast start that puts Boykin and Co. in too big of a hole to climb out.