Cowboys’ defense may put up a fight

A rejuvenated TCU offense will get its first crack at a renowned defense when it takes on one of the nation’s best units – Wyoming. Despite the University of Wyoming’s strong defense, the Frogs look to be the favorite. Here are the probable starters for Saturday’s game in Laramie, Wyo.

QUARTERBACK

TCU: Marcus Jackson, sophomore

Wyoming: Karsten Sween, sophomore

Advantage: TCU

Andy Dalton’s status is up in the air, so expect Jackson to get the same type of playing time, maybe even more, on Saturday. With his ability to create outside the pocket, Jackson is probably better suited for Mike Schultz’s offense, as evidenced by his two rushing touchdowns inside the 5-yard line against Colorado State. Interceptions have been Sween’s downfall this season. He’s facing probably the best defense he’s seen thus far in the season, so he might be in for another long day.

RUNNING BACK

TCU: Aaron Brown, junior

Wyoming: Devin Moore, junior

Advantage: Even

Brown is back, and the offense got him back at the right time. He’s averaging close to 130 total yards in his two games back. Opposing defenses respect the running game a lot more with his presence, which paid huge dividends for Jackson on Saturday. Moore could provide a bevy of problems to the Frogs’ defense as he is coming off a big day against Ohio with nearly 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Granted, it was against Ohio, but those numbers are impressive anywhere.

WIDE RECEIVERS and TIGHT END

TCU: Marcus Brock, Ervin Dickerson, Donald Massey, Walter Bryant, Shae Reagan (TE)

Wyoming: Michael Ford, Hoost Marsh, Greg Bolling, Kyle Jacobo, Wade Betschart (TE)

Advantage: TCU

Cumulatively, the Frogs have more balance in their passing attack than the Wyoming receiving core, which is hindered by inconsistent quarterback play. The receivers, led by Dickerson, are coming off a solid game Saturday, but they will be challenged by a Cowboys defense looking for retribution after allowing the Frogs more than 400 yards of total offense last season. Ford and Bolling have pretty good size and both are coming off nice performances against Ohio.

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

Wyoming: Kyle Howard, Tim Bond, Russ Arnold, Ryan Otterson, Sam Sterner

Advantage: TCU

Another game, another steady performance for the Frogs’ O-line. The line’s job just got a little easier with a scrambling quarterback in Jackson under center. Howard and Otterson are two big tackles who could cause some damage, but it’s doubtful Wyoming has faced the type of speed mismatches TCU’s D-line presents.

DEFENSIVE LINE

TCU: Chase Ortiz, Matt Panfil, Cody Moore, Kelly Griffin

Wyoming: John Fletcher, Fred Givens, Mitch Unrein

Advantage: Wyoming

Panfil has done an exceptional job filling in for Tommy Blake and he kept plugging away last game, piling up five tackles and 1.5 sacks. Moore and Griffin need to grind it out against an active Cowboys interior line. Wyoming’s D-line might not be the heaviest, but it can stop plays for losses.

LINEBACKERS

TCU: Jason Phillips, David Hawthorne

Wyoming: Sean Claffey, Luke Chase, Ward Dobbs, Mike Juergens

Advantage: TCU

Expect TCU’s linebackers to create havoc against a quarterback such as Sween, known to make bad decisions this season. Wyoming’s 3-4 defense will present more of a challenge to Jackson’s scrambling ability, especially considering the unit is ranked among the best in the Mountain West Conference against the pass.

SECONDARY

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

Wyoming: Julius Stinson, Michael Medina, Michael Ray, Quincy Rogers

Advantage: TCU

Priest and Coleman really had some fun against Colorado State when they collected three picks against a pretty decent quarterback. Going against Sween has the potential to be even more fun, especially if the Cowboys fall behind and are forced to pass. Stinson, with three interceptions, is the only legitimate game-changer in the Cowboys’ secondary.

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

Wyoming: Billy Vinnedge, Hoot Marsh, Devin Moore

Advantage: TCU

Things are copasetic for the special teams unit, even with Manfredini’s kicking opportunities being limited and the return game not having its best day against Colorado State. Vinnedge has been an enigma for Wyoming, as he’s perfect from 40 to 48 yards out but only one for three from 30 to 39 yards out.

HEAD COACHES

TCU: Gary Patterson, seventh year (57-22, 35-16 in conference)

Wyoming: Joe Glenn, fifth year (24-27, 12-18 in conference)

Advantage: TCU

Patterson has yet to lose against Wyoming and expect him to have the offense ready against a good defense, uncertain weather conditions and what figures to be a rowdy Wyoming crowd. Glenn has improved the Cowboys’ program by leaps and bounds, and he will get his shot to see how far the program has come when an established, successful TCU comes to town.