Week Four is just about here as the Hoos get ready to face the Horned Frogs of TCU on the road. It won't be an easy fight, that's for sure, but to help us scout the Frogs, we're joined by HawkeyedFrog of Frogs O' War.
Streaking The Lawn: You guys terrify me. Okay, I guess that wasn't really a question. How confident are you heading into this week against a Virginia squad that simply got hammered last week?
Frogs O' War: After the Grambling game I would have said extremely confident, but the Kansas game showed that TCU isn't invincible even when they're winning by two touchdowns. I'm still confident, but my general irrational optimism has tapered off just a smidge.
STL: With 335 passing yards last week -- more than UVA's total yardage -- and averaging a whopping 14.0 yards per completion, I think it's safe to say that TCU will likely take it to the air this week. Brandon Carter was clearly the receiver of choice, scoring both touchdowns and leading the team in receptions. How can Virginia contain Carter, and who else are the major threats?
FOW: Well I don't really know how to break this to you, but... Carter is kind of our second best receiver. Our #1 receiver is Josh Boyce, who is a definite Biletnikoff award contender, but Kansas schemed to overcompensate for his abilities and that let Carter abuse the Jayhawk defense all game. TCU's receiving corps is probably the best in school history this year, we're deep and talented and a school really needs four good coverage guys if they're going to play man to man against Casey Pachall who has been absolutely amazing throwing the ball since the second half of the Baylor game last season. TCU also has two preseason Doak Walker nominees in the backfield with Waymon James and Matthew Tucker, though if either of them is going to win it it will probably be James, and it will come about because he gets a greater percentage of the carries than he gets now. Frog fans can get somewhat frustrated that James isn't getting enough carries because there's really no way to give him the ball enough- He averaged 13.8 yards per carry against Grambling and then 8.3 against Kansas. So basically the offense would probably be the best in school history if it weren't for a mediocre (so far) offensive line... but that's not an important group, right?
STL: Casey Pachall leads the country in passing efficiency, and threw no interceptions last week. But with four turnovers on fumbles, how big of a concern is this for the team?
FOW: It's a definite concern, because it really became a farce as the game went on. The first fumble was a bad snap, the ball squirted through Casey's legs and when he fell on it it squirted out. Not something to be happy about, but not really his fault. The second fumble he was pulling his arm back to throw when he was hit from behind and the ball came out. Not pleasant, but it's a situation where any quarterback has a hard time hanging onto the ball. The third fumble caused a giant shout of "OH COME ON!" to echo throughout the Hawkeyed House as Casey fumbled into the end zone when if he'd just secured the ball and kept pumping his legs instead of trying to extend for the touchdown he would have had it. Then Matthew Tucker fumbled and I just threw up my hands. I don't think it will be a persistent issue for the team, as at least the first two fumbles were pretty flukey, and Kansas coming up with all four of them was really flukey, but when you have a fear of fumbling in your head it can be something of a self fulfilling prophecy. If there are no fumbles against Virginia I'll be able to put it out of my mind going into the Big 12 season... but did I mention that all four fumbles were inside the Kansas 25 yard line?
STL: Your site mentioned last week that your defensive line "looked questionable at times." Still, Kansas was held to just six points. What are the holes in TCU's defense? Where should UVA attack the hardest?
FOW: If I'm attacking TCU I would hit the defense right up the middle. There's talent on the TCU defensive line, but a lot of it is raw, and a bit of misdirection and pulling guards and tackles might help open up holes. Kansas had success exploiting the defensive line's desire to get upfield in the first half and ended up giving their running backs a lot of room and set up consistent second and manageable distances, so that's the way to do it until I see someone else do something effective. Grambling and Kansas getting pass happy in the second half had little-to-no success.
STL: So far TCU has outscored their opponents 76-6, which includes a conference opponent. But you are in a heck of a tough conference, with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State (West Virginia is overrated. There. I said it.) Does TCU stand a legitimate shot at winning the Big 12, or does the pipe dream have to end at some point?
FOW: Yes, TCU has a legitimate chance of winning the Big 12 this year, but not of going undefeated in the conference. The team is too thin on both lines, and at some point the cliche "They're not used to the week-in-week-out grind" will probably come up and bite us. Right now I think Texas beats us in Austin, but I'm feeling optimistic about OU and KSU if the team can stay healthy. 8-1 or 7-2 might be enough to win the conference, and talent wise I think TCU is capable of putting up a record like that if things break right. In 2013 though I'm willing to predict right now that we'll win the conference.
STL: You know what this last question is. Who wins, by how much, and how?
FOW: TCU wins this game by a score of 41-17, as I think the Cavaliers have trouble running the ball on TCU and when the running game is stifled Gary Patterson will bring a variety of pressure packages to make life difficult on whomever is the Virginia quarterback this week. Casey Pachall has another highly efficient game through the air, throwing for over 300 yards and Waymon James and Matthew Tucker combine for 180+ on the ground. Good luck on Saturday and this season guys, and thanks for not asking about the drug thing!