TCU stifled Tech on Scoring Opportunities, allowing the Red Raiders into position six times, and only allowing one score, aided by a Grown-Man strip from Jeff Gladney and an atrocious left shank by the Tech kicker. TCU struggled a bit early on offense, and drops dampened a potentially stellar outing from Shawn Robinson, but ran the ball successfully (49% rate), and the defense did what they do best to lockdown a victory. TCU’s defense moves up to 7th in the nation after another shutout second half, and they are first in the nation at preventing scoring opportunity conversion, rushing success rate, and opportunity rate. As consistent with their last few games, TCU’s defensive S&P+ in the fourth quarter ranks second in the nation, and they are top ten on first and second down, as well. Not to put the cart before the horse, but TCU’s defense is going to have to live up to its name and more if the Frogs are going to expect a different outcome in Arlington than they got in Norman.
Football Team from Waco (1-10, 105th in S&P+, 89th in offensive efficiency, 109th in defensive efficiency) at
TCU Horned Frogs (9-2, 12th, 46th, 7th)
S&P+ predicts a blowout for the Frogs, assessing a 90% chance of victory and a projected margin of 21.8. As we know, though, in a rivalry game, you have to throw out the records.
Assessing Football Team from Waco’s aggregate performance this year is misleading, as they have been icy cold and lukewarm at various points over the season, mostly due to a rotating cast of personnel. I will conduct my usual analysis, but place special emphasis on the last few weeks of play - The Charlie Brewer Bears. (Note: As S&P+ currently has no aggregation tool, to my knowledge, this will be done mostly by examining box scores.) To get a general sense of what to expect, let’s examine their percentile performance by week.
Do you notice that “sawtooth” effect? Look at how Offense and Defense oscillate from week to week. The only week where offense and defense have been reasonably similar is the Kansas game, a data point we can more or less throw out. The Football Team from Waco appears to have a preparation problem. From week to week, Matt Rhule is overcorrecting, spending time in practice only on what went wrong the week before. Rhule is a little Dutch boy sticking his finger in holes in the dam this season, the hallmark of a new coach in such a precarious position.
Vaguely, what does that suggest about how Football Team from Waco will prepare for the Frogs this weekend? Against Iowa State, Football Team from Waco performed well on Defense (69th percentile), but the Offense struggled yet again (20th percentile). They are preparing for an offense perhaps headed by a freshman QB, and given this pattern and the performance last week, Rhule might be preparing an offense against an elite defense, downplaying the other side of the ball.
This is great news for a TCU offense, regardless of whether Ken Jr. or Shawn Robinson starts; a dose of Waco defense might be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to a cure for the common offense.
What does Football Team from Waco do well?
- Explosiveness: 17th in the nation in IsoPPP on offense, 14th in Passing IsoPPP.
- Passing Downs: 54th in S&P+, 10th in Passing Downs IsoPPP
...they, try hard, I guess?
Scouring the stat profile for bright spots proves a vain exercise; the Bears rank in the top 25 in only two categories on either side of the ball. The most insight might come from two data points - the Kansas game, where the Bears were able to carry out an actual offensive game plan, and the Iowa State game, the most recent example of competitive play from the Football Team from Waco.
In the Kansas game, the Bears found 8 scoring opportunities and converted well, at 4.75 points per. They found success passing, as their IsoPPP for passing almost reached two points a play. They passed on 42.3% of plays, and split almost evenly between run and pass on Standard and Passing downs, and indicator of balance in play-calling. From this game, we see the Football Team from Waco emphasizing a balanced attack to secure scoring opportunities and then relying on big passing plays to convert those scoring opportunities (they passed for TDs of 25 and 26 yards in this game).
Last week, the Bears limited Iowa State’s starting position and were able to string together drives (7.8 plays per possession in contrast to a national average of 5.6). The Bears’ offensive attack was limited in its scope, as they favored rushing over passing against a respectable Iowa State secondary (Pass Percent of 35.89%, well below their season average). They found only 5 scoring opportunities and stalled in them (2.6 points per), which is to be expected against ISU - the Cyclones’ calling card is denying scores. The first Bears drive involved another Charlie Brewer special - a 13 yard pass after a 6 play, 66 yard drive.
The Bears’ offensive approach with Charlie Brewer emphasizes foundational balance and striking through the air, a subtle shift from the “Now-Disgraced Former Coach of the Football Team in Waco” Offense. As opposed to a 4-wide vertical attack designed to spread a defense out and exploit weakness, Rhule’s style champions versatility and fundamentals.
What does Football Team from Waco do poorly?
- Efficiency: Offensive Success Rate (34.4%, 127th in the Nation)
- Field Position: Average FP (27.4 Offense, 31.9 Defense, both 114th in the Nation)
- Finishing Drives: 3.98 Pts Per Trip Offense, 108th in the nation.
- Turnover: 122nd in Expected Margin, 123rd in Actual Margin.
Offense: The rushing attack is limited; rushing Success Rate, Power Success Rate, Stuff Rate, Opportunity Rate, and Adj. Line Yards are all in the bottom thirty in the country, a true mark for inefficacy. The passing attack is no better; Passing S&P+ and Success Rate rank in that bottom 30 nationally, and their Sack Rate indicates a potential feast for TCU’s defensive line.
That poor rushing effort is reflected in a weak Standard Downs S7P+. The team from Waco also starts incredibly slow, with a bottom 30 First Quarter and First Down S&P+. Similar to the Texas game, if TCU can get a strike while the Bears are sputtering early, they can shift their game plan to control and preservation.
The defense has a bevy of weaknesses that I’ll list here for the sake of brevity.
Rushing IsoPPP, Passing Success Rate, Standard Downs IsoPPP, Passing Downs Success Rate, Passing Downs S&P+, Sack Rate (99th in the nation). 3rd Q S&P+, DB Havoc Rate (119th).
The most interesting to pull out for me is the 2nd Down S&P+ statistic; when the Bears don’t know what to expect, they struggle. Randomization in play-calling could play a more useful role in this game than normal, as keeping the Bears guessing will magnify weakness.
Around the League:
It’s rivalry week. Just pick a game, pick one side, and hate the other with all your heart.