Horns’ O to challenge Frogs’ D

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of Saturday’s game against the University of Texas Longhorns:

QUARTERBACK

(Probable Starter)

TCU: Andy Dalton, redshirt freshman

Texas: Colt McCoy, sophomore

Advantage: Texas

As good a game as Dalton had on Saturday (205 yards, TD), he will need to do even more in Austin now that running back Aaron Brown’s leg injury may keep him out of Saturday’s game. After just one season, McCoy has established himself as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks but faces one of his stiffest tests to date in the TCU defense.

RUNNING BACK

(Probable Starter)

TCU: Justin Watts, junior

Texas: Jamaal Charles, junior

Advantage: Texas

Losing Brown in the first week was one of the possible nightmare scenarios heading into the Texas game. Although Watts, Joseph Turner and Ryan Christian looked solid, Brown is a game changer. The trio of backs need to make plays if he is indeed held out of the lineup in order to alleviate some pressure from Dalton. For Texas, establishing Charles as a legitimate force against the vaunted Frogs’ rush defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Oct. 1, 2005 should be a top priority.

WIDE RECEIVERS and TIGHT END

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Marcus Brock, Ervin Dickerson, Donald Massey, Derek Moore, Shae Reagan (TE)

Texas: Limas Sweed, Quan Cosby, Nate Jones, Brandon Collins, Jermichael Finley (TE)

Advantage: Texas

While Brock looks to be the go-to guy for Dalton, it will be up to the entire unit to exploit an inexperienced Texas secondary that replaces three starters from last season. Sweed’s talent, size and experience present a mismatch nightmare for the Frogs’ young cornerbacks. Billy Pittman’s suspension has Longhorns fans rolling their eyes.

OFFENSIVE LINE

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Matty Lindner, Blake Schlueter, Marshall Newhouse, Giles Montgomery, Nic Richmond

Texas: Tony Hills, Dallas Griffin, Charlie Tanner, Chris Hall, Adam Ulatoski

Advantage: Even

Offensive coordinator Mike Schultz deserves kudos for getting the most out of the offensive line. Thanks to Texas’ weak defensive ends, the O-line can focus more on developing inside running room for whoever is in the backfield come Saturday. Like TCU, the Horns have two acclaimed linemen in Hills and Griffin and inexperience after that.

DEFENSIVE LINE

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Tommy Blake, Chase Ortiz, Cody Moore, Kelly Griffin

Texas: Frank Okam, Derek Lokey, Aaron Lewis, Brian Orakpo

Advantage: TCU

Four of the best defensive linemen in the nation will take the field Saturday. Defensive ends Ortiz and the returning Blake should make for exciting TV as they both get to prey on McCoy for a night. Okam and Lokey will have little help from a unit that is rumored to have lost Orakpo for the game due to injury.

LINEBACKERS

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Jason Phillips, David Hawthorne

Texas: Robert Killebrew, Rashad Bobino, Scott Derry

Advantage: TCU

Seeing the play of Phillips and Hawthorne last game in addition to the play of Robert Henson should make TCU fans realize how special this group is. They match Killebrew and Bobino in speed and experience, and create interceptions at a much higher rater than the UT crew. With that being said, the Horns linebackers know how to hit and will do it early and often against TCU’s running game.

SECONDARY

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Brian Bonner, David Roach, Steven Coleman, Nick Sanders, Rafael Priest

Texas: Marcus Griffin, Erick Jackson, Ryan Palmer, Brandon Foster

Advantage: TCU

The Frogs’ secondary really turned up the heat in the second half against Baylor including two interceptions by Coleman and Sanders. Texas’ secondary on the other hand? Whether giving up 275 yards through the air against Arkansas State was a sign of things to come remains unclear, Dalton and Schultz should still be licking their chops for multiple shots to beat the inexperienced defensive backs downfield.

SPECIAL TEAMS

(Probable Starters)

TCU: Chris Manfredini, Derek Wash, Brian Bonner, Donald Massey

Texas: Ryan Bailey, Trevor Gerland, Quan Cosby, Jamaal Charles

Advantage: Even

Although Bonner’s 64-yard punt return might have stolen the show, Wash’s 44-yard average on seven punts against Baylor, including a 57-yarder, proved the Frogs can win the battle for field position – a crucial part to any winning formula. Cosby is as fast as a gazelle and could be a game breaker in the return game if the TCU isn’t careful.

HEAD COACHES

TCU: Gary Patterson, seventh year (55-20, 34-15 in conference)

Texas: Mack Brown, 10th year (94-22, 60-13 in conference)

Advantage: Even

There’s no doubt Brown brings in the most coveted high school players in the state of Texas, but Patterson’s ability to mold and improve what may be perceived as less coveted players is what makes Patterson one of the best coaches in the game today. Patterson is second to only Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops in terms of current winning streaks against Big 12 opponents at five consecutive wins. Of course, Brown has the hardware Patterson hopes to have some day.