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Keys to Victory: How to Hook the Horns

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After barely hanging on in Lubbock a week ago, do the Frogs have enough in the tank to take care of the business at home against UT?

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The Texas Longhorns have had quite the season so far - after an embarrassment of an opener in South Bend, they took care of Rice before losing back to back heart breakers due to some special teams gaffes and dubious officiating (here's your OFFICIAL welcome to the Big 12, UT!). Meanwhile, the Frogs struggle on the road at Minnesota, at home against SMU (name stricken by NCAA), and needed a miracle toe tap to escape West Texas with a W. With both teams possibly running on fumes, which one will have the most left in the tank in their second conference contest? Let's take a look at what it might take for TCU to hold on to their winning ways.

BE THE MOST SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS: Not to take a cheap shot here or anything, but Texas' special teams has all but cost them the last two games. On the flip side, what had been a TCU strength through the early going was no such thing in Lubbock, as the normally steady and reliable Jaden Oberkrom struggled with the West Texas winds... and maybe the tortillas? The Frogs will need to contain Daje Johnson in the return game, and keep pressure on the Horns two specialists in the kicking game. They will also need Oberkrom to get back on track - leaving six points on the board in consecutive weeks could spell disaster. I don't expect we will see Kolby Listenbee on kick returns, even if he plays, but KaVontae Turpin, who never got going in Lubbock, will need to keep TCU on a short field offensively against one of the better defenses they'll play this year.

YOUR PRESCRIPTION FOR VICTORY IS MORE DOC: No Kolby. No Ty. No Porter. No problem. Well, not really. What was once the deepest position group on the team has had it's depth severely tested in the early going of 2015, with two starters and one of their replacements missing time. Without Listenbee's speed to keep defenses honest on the outside, or Slanina's consistency and rock solid route running in the slot, it was Doctson's number that was called time and time and time and time and time and eighteen times again. Even when Texas Tech knew darn well the ball was going to Josh, it went to Josh. And even when he was double covered, it went to Josh. And even when he was tripled covered, it went to Josh. And even when he couldn't catch it, he still had a hand in the winning play. We are all hopeful that Kolby will be back against UT, and help take some of the pressure off of Doc - or at least make defenses choose between double teaming the Frog's best weapon or risking getting burned by Kolby on the outside or the surprising freshman, Jarrison Stewart across the middle. Of course, every team that TCU has played to this point has known Boykin was going to try and get the ball to Doc, and yet, none have been able to stop it.

CROWN HIM, YOUR ONCE AND FUTURE KING: One of the best quotes I saw after the Tech game wasn't from a TCU player or coach, it was from a media member in an ESPN story on Josh Doctson:

It's not often the player who scored the game-winner has to show anyone else deference.

The player of course, is Aaron Green, the man who many look at as the last minute hero, but who anyone that has watched the Frogs over the course of the last year knows is the key cog of the offense. Boykin's talent is undeniable, and he has the explosion and wow factor that make people take notice. Doc might be the best receiver in college football, and forces people to take notice with his gaudy stats and insane catches. But Green, Green is the one who will be counted on to ice games in the second half and help keep the TCU D off the field by extending drives and putting the team on his back. In the second half against Tech, the Red Raiders were served a healthy dose of AG to put in their tortillas, and the Frog running back gave them some serious indigestion. It was Green left, Green right, and Green up the middle, and after chasing Josh Doctson and the rest of TCU's wide outs for three quarters, they had neither the stomach, nor the legs to stop #22 once he burst through the hole. Green can get those hard yards up the middle, converting third and short in to first downs with aplomb. But he can also break it outside and use his incredibly cutting ability to turn a six yard sweep in to a sixty yard score. As the defense gets ransacked and the subs continue to become starters, TCU's quick strike ability on offense has become almost a liability. Green's ability to slow down drives and wear down Texas's front seven won't only help to keep the Frog defense fresh, but also keep the pass rushers of the Horns from becoming overly aggressive and thus put more pressure on Tre.

WRAP IT UP, I'LL TACKLE IT: Things could have been a lot different on Saturday had the Frogs simply been able to complete a proper tackle. And things won't be any easier when it comes to Texas, not with a the shifty Jerrod Heard, the powerful Tyrone Swoopes, and the speedy Johnathan Gray attacking out of the backfield. The Frogs will also have to account for the lightning fast Daje Johnson, who will be used all over the field, and the Texas offense as a whole - which excels in racking up yards after the catch. Yes, they are young. And yes, they are inexperienced. And yes, several of them are playing in new positions. But, tackling fundamentals is something that has been drilled in to their heads from the time they first put on pads; if these defenders simply stick to what they know and do their jobs at the point of attack, things should go much better Saturday afternoon. With Lathan still out, but Pierson expected back close to full strength, the defensive line should be able to do a better job of setting the tone - and tempo - when it comes to hitting hard and driving the Horns all the way down to the grass.

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT: Normally one of the more discipline-oriented teams in the country, TCU has been one of the most penalized teams in the country in 2015, with a staggering 9.3 flags being thrown against them per game this year. They have given their opponents nearly 100 yards per game due to those penalties, extending drives and keeping them working on a short field. If the Frogs can eliminate even just the personal responsibility ones - sideline infractions, personal fouls, late hits - it will go a long way to keeping Texas with a long field and forcing the Horn O and their young skill players to have to put together long drives, something they have not done well with consistency yet. With Texas having complained vocally about the officiating in their game, you can bet there will be extra eyes on the stripes Saturday. That usually means things get officiated extra tight - or they let them play extra loose. With the struggles the Frogs have had in the secondary and their propensity to get to the QB a little late this season, obviously a crew that lets them play a little bit will benefit TCU. Regardless, the holding and the roughing the passer calls - let alone the PI - has to be cleaned up for TCU to celebrate a happy homecoming.