The Oklahoma Sooners and TCU Horned Frogs are each looking for a bounce-back performance this Saturday, and here to discuss the matchup is Melissa Triebwasser of Frogs O’ War – SB Nation’s TCU site. For this week’s Q&A, we discuss Ft. Worth entertainment options, quarterback Shawn Robinson, the TCU defense and more!
Also, make sure to check out this week’s podcast with Jamie Plunkett of Frogs O’ War.
TCU’s season hasn’t quite lived up to expectations at this point, but that’s largely been a result of sloppy play. Is there hope the season can get on the right track if that issue can be corrected to some degree, or are there other issues that have held this team back in some ways?
The turnover issue is very real, and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. When you are in the same conversation as Rutgers for anything football related, you know you’re in trouble, and that’s where TCU’s turnover margin lies. This team is young/inexperienced in a lot of key areas, and that definitely shows up come kickoff. The talent is there, and Patterson has been telling us since August that this team will be better in December than they are now, so there’s hope… but… will the lightbulb go on in time to make some really noise towards the top of the Big 12? It’s hard to see that happening.
Robinson is so physically gifted – he can make every throw, put deep balls on a dime, and has the running style of Cam Newton. Unfortunately, he has some fumble problems, is running for his life behind a patchwork o-line, and his receivers are struggling to actually catch the ball – outside of Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin, at least. Shawn has never been known for his accuracy, but he can change the game with his feet, and while Patterson wants us all to believe that Collins “is a better runner than you think”, he’s not the specimen that Robinson is in the open field.
We don’t know much about Mike – the only real pressure snaps he took were at Texas, and the results were not great – but one would assume that he is a better than average QB based on how close the competition was through most of fall camp for the starting job. Either that, or… well, we have kind of seen the other reason play out so far. I put the over/under on Michael Collins snaps Saturday at six, and I think he hits the over. GP seems ready to see the offense hang on to the dang ball, and I assume Shawn will not necessarily have a short leash, but could do some learning on the sideline if he coughs it up a time or two.
In spite of the offensive issues, this offense still has a lot of talent – particularly at the skill positions. Aside from the familiar names (Darius Anderson, Jalen Reagor, etc.) which offensive names should Oklahoma fans know heading into Saturday?
KaVontae Turpin is quietly putting together his best season as a receiver, with 24 receptions already. He hasn’t been as big a factor in the return game over the last several weeks, as teams are willing to punt the ball into the stands to avoid giving him a shot at breaking loose. Other than Turp, Sewo Olonilua has been really good at running back and true freshman Taye Barber is getting a lot more touches as an offensive utility knife for TCU. We saw a couple young guys get snaps Thursday, and it seemed Robinson was comfortable with them – probably due to running together with the twos last year. It will be interesting to see if he keeps looking for guys like Al-Dontre Davis and Trevonte Hights against OU.
The defense hasn’t really been an issue in 2018, as the Frogs are No. 14 in defensive S&P+ heading into this weekend. Has this been a result of the same Patterson formula, or have there been any notable changes this season?
The defense has been really good, and would be top ten if it weren’t for the offense’s turnovers, in my opinion. I think it’s a combination of scheme, talent, and veteran leadership – you have guys like Ty Summers, Niko Small (though he has missed the last three games due to injury), Innis Gaines (who left the Tech game in the second half after getting hurt), and Ben Banogu who are really talented, really heady players who know the calls to a T and can act as coaches on the field. Then you throw in some young, hungry guys like Garret Wallow and Corey Bethley, a few wild card veterans in LJ Collier, Ridwan Issahaku, and Jawuan Johnson, and it’s a recipe for success. The play of Julius Lewis, Noah Daniels, and Jeff Gladney at corner has been mostly solid, and a few young guys are solid rotational players. It’s a fun group to watch, and if they got any support at all from their offense, they could be really special.
Speaking of the defense, defensive end Ben Banogu seems to have lived up to his Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year billing. Is that a fair assessment? What makes him such a special player?
Ben is one of my favorite guys I have covered in the last several years. He is a great story – a really hard worker who bet on himself after a bad injury in high school and has molded himself into an NFL caliber player. He is incredibly humble, a great leader, and a guy you love having on your field and in your locker room. Had Ross Blacklock not got injured before the season started, his stats would be even better, but even with the injuries, the dude is still someone opponents have to game plan around and try their hardest to avoid. He’s a fun one to watch, because every snap is an opportunity for him to wreak havoc.
I mentioned quite a few earlier, but Innis Gaines and Garret Wallow are two of the most aggressive players on this TCU defense. Gaines is questionable for Saturday, but if he plays, he’s a guy you will likely see a lot of near the line of scrimmage trying to somewhat contain Murray. Wallow is a sophomore who plays with a real mean streak – as he gets experience and more gap discipline, he has a chance to be a special linebacker for a program that has produced quite a few of him. He misses some tackles though, and Murray is probably going to teach him some things Saturday.
For fans who are making the trip to Ft. Worth, where should fans head for:
- A Friday evening meal? — Find a way to get to Heim BBQ. It’s some of the best smoked meat you will find in DFW. I also recommend the newish restaurant complex down University Dr. by TCU, which features places like BarTaco, HG Supply, and more. Great spot to eat and drink.
- Friday night drinks? — If you want to class up the joint, you won’t find better cocktails than at The Usual (Magnolia Ave) or Thompson’s (Downtown). Make sure you check the Thompson’s Facebook page to get the password to the speakeasy downstairs. You can also check out the myriad of bars on Magnolia and West 7th, both within a mile or two of TCU.
- Saturday morning tailgating? — You’re all welcome to check out my tailgate at the RV Lot near the soccer stadium! There’s also a great scene around the stadium and Frog Alley.
Plenty of local OU alumni should be at this game, but what should traveling Oklahoma fans know about the TCU fan base before making the trip?
We are generally very nice folks, but we are very sad this year. So, be chill if you are beating us. The last few weeks have been rough. Other than that, most TCU fans (non-student division) will gladly get you a beer and some BBQ and welcome you in. Before the game, at least.
Who is your favorite TCU alum outside of athletics? Note: A certain character from The Simpsons is eligible.
While I love me some Reverend Lovejoy of course, Dan Jenkins is my pick. The world-class journalist sets the bar for story-telling, and is one of the all-time greats.
How do you see this one shaking out? Does TCU beat the spread?
I think Patterson will contain OU, at least as much as you can contain an offense like that. The Frogs’ defense has held every opponent under their averages this year, and I think they can keep the Sooners in the 30-35 point range Saturday (wow, what a sad sentence to type). And, while the OU defense hasn’t been great, they’ll get a nice shot in the arm with Ruffin, and the TCU offense is the cure for plenty of defensive woes these days. 31-20 Sooners, and I am sad again.