TCU-Stanford is going to be an exercise in strength vs. strength, when the Cardinal run game lines up against TCU’s run defense. But TCU’s offense should give Stanford issues as well, and special teams play may very well be a deciding factor in this contest.
With all that in mind, here are some of the Horned Frogs we expect to step up in a big way on Thursday night, when TCU plays STanford in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Summers is a San Antonio native, and the last time he played in this game he tallied 11 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a critical sack in the third overtime. Now, he has a chance to help shut down Bryce Love and Stanford’s power running game. A big LB like Summers will be key to slowing down Love on the ground.
Summers has been all over the field for TCU this season, both by position, and according to his stat sheet. Summers moved from linebacker to defensive end to start the season, but with the emergence of Ben Banogu, Mat Boesen, and Michael Epley, coupled with some injuries to the linebacker corps, Summers moved back to his original position.
Wherever he’s played, though, Summers has made an impact. He’s recorded 60 tackles this season, including 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and a fumble recovery. He’s also improved in coverage, with an interception, and six passes defended this season.
Turpin has had a decent season, but a quiet one by his own standards, at least from a yardage perspective, as Turpin has 395 receiving yards, and 93 rushing yards. However, he’s the only player in college football with a touchdown five different ways this season: punt return, kickoff return, passing, receiving, rushing.
Turpin has the ability to make any play a candidate for SportsCenter’s Top 10, and the Frogs may need him to be a game-changer on Thursday. Turpin had 5 catches for 65 yards two seasons ago in the Alamo Bowl, but he was quiet in the return game, as all five Oregon kickoffs were touchbacks.
This season, Turpin has 249 punt return yards (16.6 yds/return), and 408 kickoff return yards (34.4 yds/return), and two touchdowns. Giving TCU’s offense good starting position will be important, and Turpin has the ability to make that happen, more than almost anyone else in the country.
Ben Banogu has been close to dominant in his first season on the field for TCU. He’s second on the team with 8.5 sacks, and he leads the team with 15.5 tackles for loss. Banogu has made a living in opposing offenses backfields, and the Frogs will need that from him again on Thursday night.
Banogu’s edge presence can help make Stanford’s offense one-dimensional, if he can stay in K.J. Costello’s face and make life miserable for the Cardinal QB. Of course, it helps having interior linemen like Ross Blacklock and Chris Bradley, and another edge rusher like Mat Boesen on the other side.
Banogu has caught the eye of national writers, too, and Todd McShay currently has him slated to go 30th overall in the NFL Draft, to the New England Patriots.
A 1,000 yard-rusher a season ago, Hicks saw his senior season derailed by injuries. Couple that with the emergence of Darius Anderson as a more-than-capable feature back and Hicks’ usage had dipped significantly, until Anderson suffered an almost season-ending injury against Oklahoma in November.
Anderson is a game-time decision for the Alamo Bowl, but Hicks will be the guy on Thursday night. The senior has 2,061 career rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, to go with 905 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Establishing the running game will be important for TCU’s offense, but with Hicks’ versatility in the passing game, he’s a dynamic threat against a beatable Stanford defense.