The Kansas Jayhawks will get to experience something tomorrow that I didn't honestly think was possible after the way this season started. They will face the TCU Horned Frogs in primetime on national television. To help prepare us for this match up, I talked with Melissa Triebwasser over at Frogs O' War, the SB Nation site dedicated to TCU. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: So TCU has yet to lose this season, which is fairly impressive given that their schedule hasn't been a cakewalk. Is this the kind of start that TCU fans were expecting?
FOW: Absolutely.... not. Anyone that says they believed that TCU would be 6-0 after a schedule that had games at Arkansas and Oklahoma State as well as a home game against WVU is either lying or has access to some good drugs. Personally, I thought best case scenario would be 4-2 with 5-1 in play, so to be undefeated at this point is really enjoyable. I think the most realistic fans are cautiously optimistic that the Frogs are 'for real', but with games in Ames, in Norman, and in Lubbock over a four week span, plus a home game against a tricky Texas team still remaining, I am trying not to get too ahead of my skis. And that doesn't mention the always WTF game against the Jayhawks this weekend. I really like the makeup of this unit, but the road is long and fraught with peril. I am just trying to enjoy the ride.
RCT: What has been the key to TCU's success this year? Who are we likely to see a lot from this week?
FOW: Well, the obvious answer is the defense. Though these are largely the same guys from a year ago, they are playing at a completely different level. The secondary is veteran and experienced, has a nose for the ball, and has done a decent job of keeping the big play from hurting them. The linebacking crew has been banged up, but Travin Howard is still a beast. And the defensive line might be the best Gary Patterson has ever had in Fort Worth - Ben Banogu has been a revelation as a transfer from ULM and is getting some early NFL Draft talk. I think Ranthony Texada can control Sims on one side, and wth the pressure that Banogu and Mat Boesen can put on Bender, it should be a good day for the Frogs on that side of the ball. Should.
Offensively, Sonny Cumbie seems a little more flexible than his predecessor, and has really adapted the offense to fit Kenny Hill's strengths. The Frogs are running the ball a lot more, controlling TOP, and using the short passing game to maximum effect, highlighting the special skills of guys like Shaun Nixon, Desmon White, and of course KaVontae Turpin. True freshman Jalen Reagor is a nice complement to senior John Diarse at the outside receiver positions, and the offensive line is really good. Kyle Hicks is finally close to full health and should get the yeoman's share of the work out of the backfield, but sophomore Darius Anderson is due for a good game after a couple quite weeks.
RCT: Are there any specific matchups that has you worried coming into this game?
FOW: As good as the offensive line has been, the injury to Patrick Morris has hurt a little, and Kansas seems to have a pretty decent pass rush. I am also interested to see if Doug Meacham deploys the big tight end a little bit, because the Frogs don't really have a great matchup defensively for him. Mostly though, I am interested to see the chess match between the Kansas O and the TCU D, as Meach certainly knows GP's system better than most and has a really unique insight into it.
RCT: Kansas and TCU have a history of playing close games, even though the talent level hasn't been similar at all. What scenarios can you see that would keep this game close?
FOW: Turnovers. It all comes down to protecting the football. The Frogs have turned the ball over 17 against Kansas in the last five games, and have a - 7 differential. It's pretty amazing that TCU has won each of those games, and eventually, that kind of luck runs out. Kenny Hill has made good decisions over the last couple games, and if he plays clean, TCU should be okay. But fumbles and drops have plagued the offense a bit through the first half of the season, and that's certainly something to keep an eye on.
The Frogs also don't play quite as well at home as they do on the road, and there's always a chance they overlook KU a bit with the national stage and the night game getting in their head a bit. I don't think that's something this group is going to succumb to, but you never know.
RCT: Prediction Time! How does the game go? Who is the hero going to be for the winning side?
FOW: I do feel like this is the game that TCU finally manages to put Kansas away early - this is a really focused group for the Horned Frogs, and they have been out to prove themselves all season long. The defense is really good, but then again, so was the 2014 team's and that almost went bad for them, so who can say for sure. All that being said, Kenny Hill is really playing within himself, the offense has a lot of unique weapons, and GP has kept them motivated. Give me TCU by a score of 41-12. I have zero confidence in that though, we all know it's going to be 28-27 and take a miracle KaVontae Turpin return to seal it.
RCT: BONUS - Megaman or Pac-Man?
FOW: Megaman. I'm old, but I'm not that old. Give me the OG Nintendo all day.
A big thanks to Melissa for helping us out. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered over on Frogs O'War.