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What to Expect From TCU's Offense Against Baylor

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TCU has slowly ramped up it's offense over the course of the first four games, and we can expect to see twists in the game plan this Saturday against Baylor.

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It is always wise, when installing a new offense, to keep the heavy stuff, trick plays, twists and the more intricate parts of the playbook, hidden until conference play. This gives a team a distinct advantage entering the meat of their schedule. Without getting into that too much, as Hawk has a brilliant piece in the works around the pros and cons of this set for later in the week, let's take a look at some things we can expect from TCU's offense this Saturday.

Ultimately, slowing the game down and avoiding a shootout gives TCU the best chance to win the game. Here's how they do that.

Strategy No. 1: Run, Trevone, Run

Baylor's defense is much improved this season, and a piece of this is their defensive line, which has made great strides in putting pressure on the quarterback. However, Baylor has also been susceptible to the quarterback scramble, which could play perfectly into TCU's game plan.

On the season, Trevone Boykin is averaging 65 rushing yards per game, while Baylor has allowed 74 total rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks in their first five games (these totals includes sacks for both parties). However, if we exclude the three non-conference games against non-Power 5 opponents, we notice that Baylor has allowed 139 rushing yards combined in games against Iowa State and Texas. Meanwhile, it wouldn't be fair to hold that average of 69.5 rushing yards allowed per game up to Trevone Boykin's 65 rushing yards per game, if we're still including his non-conference games as well.

So, let's only include Boykin's two games against Power 5 teams, Minnesota and Oklahoma. In those two games, Boykin has run for a total of 169 yards, or 84.5 yards per contest. That includes 77 yards against what has been touted as one of the best defensive lines in the country, in Oklahoma. It makes sense then that Boykin's legs will be a huge threat to Baylor, and that he will probably have the opportunity to extend drives by running the ball.

Ultimately, whether it's through a designed run or a scramble, Boykin can be deadly with his legs. Baylor fans probably remember this from 2012.

He's not the only one that should be running the ball on Saturday, though.

Strategy No. 2: Run, Catalon/Green/Hicks/Johnson/Gray, Run

Texas averaged 4.8 yards per carry against Baylor on their way to accumulating 190 rushing yards on 40 carries. They did this 1) because it's really all they can do offensively, and 2) their defense kept them in the game long enough for them to warrant continuing to run the ball.

This TCU team is absolutely capable of doing the same thing, offensively. With Catalon as the main back, and others spelling him for short periods of time, the Frogs' running game will be the biggest test Baylor's front-7 have had to this point.

Will it be with the option? Possibly. Baylor will definitely have to prepare for it because of how well it worked against Oklahoma. Could it be the zone read? Maybe, although it looked like Boykin struggled with the exchange to the running back a few times. Or it could be as straightforward as designed runs, with twists in the blocking up front to open up gaps, allowing backs to get to the next level. Regardless, running the ball effectively, while always key for a quality offense, will be especially necessary against Baylor.

Ultimately, an effective run game

Strategy No. 3: Trust Your Arm and Instincts, Trevone

Texas is a run-heavy offense mainly because of Tyrone Swoopes' inability to make consistently decent passes (we feel you, Horns, we do). In 2012 and 2013, this was Boykin's downfall too. He couldn't consistently get the ball to open receivers, and he really couldn't get the ball to a receiver that was even semi-covered.

That's not the case anymore. While his accuracy has a long way to go, it has already come a long way, and we witnessed that on Saturday. While we still saw some mistakes, some errant throws, and some rushed throws, we saw fewer of them. We also saw a really strong arm, and the kind of accuracy Boykin is capable of having.

I think the best thing about Boykin in 2014 so far though, has been his ability to extend plays through moving in the pocket while keeping his eyes down field. This season he hasn't been fleeing at the first sign of trouble, instead he's allowing his receivers to create space down field, and he's working to get them the ball. Sure, that has slowed down his scrambling a bit, but he has the athletic ability to gain yards regardless of if he's looking down field or not. The fact that he's trying to make plays with his arm reflects improved confidence and intelligence on the football field.

If Trevone comes out with the confidence he has shown in the first four games, I really think fans are in for a treat. He's got the talent at wide receiver, he trusts all of them, and now he knows how and when to get them the ball.

Strategy No. 4: Convert on Third Down

TCU was 10-for-18 on third downs against Oklahoma. On third down, Boykin was 5-10, for 82 yards, and an interception. One incomplete pass was caused by defensive pass interference, and the Frogs were awarded a first down. Boykin also threw his lone interception of the day on third down. He also twice ran for first downs in third down situations, and failed to convert a third first down, despite scrambling for 9 yards (it was 3rd and 12). For those counting, that puts the conversion rate for third downs, when Boykin is either throwing or running, at 7-for-13. 8-for-13 if we're counting the P.I.

For a team that, over the past few seasons, has seen their third down conversion rate hover around 35%, it's refreshing to see Boykin converting almost 54% of the time when the ball is in his hands in big games. Sure, it's one game, but the proof is there that he's capable.

Strategy No. 5: Protect the Ball

This is self-explanatory. Turning it over three times against Baylor, like they did against Oklahoma, probably won't do much to earn a win on Saturday. While it's hard to ask for perfection, it's not hard to ask for a focus on protecting the ball when you have it.

Ultimately, the objective for the offense is not to keep up with Baylor on the scoreboard. TCU's defense (which we will talk about tomorrow), is perfectly capable of slowing down Baylor's offense. The objective for TCU's offense is to extend drives by running the ball and converting on third down, and keeping Bryce Petty on the sidelines. If this game turns into a grind-it-out affair, I really like TCU's chances.