Welcome to yet another installment of Football 201. This week, I’ll just skim over the OU debacle and post some quick thoughts on what to look for in the Kansas game this weekend. Warning: we’re in for some ugly numbers.
A housekeeping note: I’ve decided to use Twitter to post some running thoughts, numbers, facts, etc. Please follow me if you’re into those sorts of things: @parker_FOW.
Anyway, on to the preview.
Last Week: TCU Horned Frogs 27 (0% Postgame Win Expectancy) Oklahoma Sooners 52 (100%)
I don’t have much to say about this game - TCU got smoked. The Frogs got some special teams help, and had a brief spark, but this game wasn’t in contention for about 52 minutes. Last week, I said “TCU is going to have to convert scoring opportunities, find some big play luck, and, for the love of God, quell the turnovers to have a shot at keeping pace with the OU offense.” The Frogs had six scoring opportunities, and came away with only 20 points. That comes out to a 1.18 IsoPPP for TCU (20 points/(55 plays * 31% success rate)), nothing exceptional. The Frogs had chances, but couldn’t convert. On the bright side, TCU did mitigate the turnover issues. Lot of good it did, but still. Let’s move on to the present challenge.
This Week: TCU Horned Frogs (49th in S&P+, 92nd offense, 28th defense) at Kansas Jayhawks (108th, 117th, 92nd)
You read that correctly: TCU’s offense is as bad as Kansas’s defense.
When Kansas has the ball:
The Jayhawks can move the ball rushing - their offense is 57th in Rush S&P+, but their passing S&P+ is 123rd. The offensive line creates a push on rushes, (47.8% opportunity rate, 57th, and 19.4% stuff rate, 75th). When passing, the Jayhawks complete 59.2% of attempts, but their low S&P+ might suggest many of these are short passes (like the TCU run-to-pass scheme) or check downs. Their 110th ranked sack rate indicates the latter might be the case.
The Frog defense has been hell on the pass (8th in passing S&P+), but a little looser on the run than years past (82nd). Eliminating Kansas’s pass game completely may remove levels of deception, empowering TCU’s rush defense. That rush defense will hinge on TCU’s ability to correct a huge season problem: tackling. If TCU can’t take care of business on that front, Kansas has had some success with big plays (8.4% big play rate, 46 in the country). TCU’s defense has gotten pressure decently this season, and expect that 29th in the nation sack rate to factor into TCU’s defensive approach.
Kansas finds itself facing third down and distance often - their average distance faced, 9.1 yards, is second-to-last, and their 127th success rate on third downs (29.3%) follows accordingly. TCU has the opportunity to kill drives and get the Kansas defense back on the field (32.5% 3rd down success rate, 27th).
Key Issues for TCU:
- Stop the run
- Get to the QB
- Don’t get sloppy on third down
When TCU has the ball:
What can you say about the Kansas defense? Well, the only top 50 aspects of Kansas’s defense are starting field position (39th), standard down line yards per carry (12th), third and short percentage (17th), and Red Zone defense (inside ten turnover rate (6th) and success rate (8th), goal line success (4th)). Their turnover margin is pretty spectacular.
So, let’s break that down. Kansas starts you far in your own territory, allows you to move the ball with a consistent pace, (74th in success rate), and then... stops you short if you get inside the 20? Weird.
This aspect of the game, though, depends not on Kansas, but on TCU. With the injury-induced switch to Michael Collins and the loss of an extremely-productive-but-henceforth-unnamed receiver, TCU’s offense is going to have to discover itself anew. (Here’s hoping Taye Barber plays a huge role in that.)
Key Issues for TCU:
- Hold onto the Ball
- Take advantage of big plays
- Find a rhythm, and pull away
This game has weird written all over it: In Lawrence, a new QB, off-field controversy. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from the Frogs. S&P+ has TCU 31, Kansas 19, TCU with a 76% chance of winning. While I love a good weird score (19!), I am going to believe in the Frogs this weekend. The defense bows up, and the offense figures out enough to give the Frogs some breathing room. TCU 38, Kansas 13.
Other Games I’m Watching:
- Thursday: Georgia Southern lost to Clemson to start the season, and hasn’t lost since. While they’re only 70th in S&P+, they’ll give App State (12th) a challenge they haven’t seen this season. Baylor has looked better, but I’m expecting WVU to take out some frustration here.
- Friday: UCLA (86th) vs Utah (19th) should be somewhat fun, just because UCLA has been improving. Also, UCLA can take the lead in the PAC 12 South with a win. What a bad conference.
- Saturday (early): I’ve seen a lot of downing on this slate, but I’m intrigued by Purdue (26th) and Michigan State (42nd) just for the reason that Purdue started the season terribly and has turned into a steamroller since. Michigan State will provide a nice letdown litmus test for how good Purdue actually is. Texas Tech (31st) and Iowa State (37th) gives you fun offense vs weird defense, and has some pretty high stakes for Big 12 Chaos.
- Saturday (After Frogs): Navy isn’t good this season. Notre Dame is. Still, this might be a weird one. There’s plenty of games outside of that, but I’ll probably only flip between Navy-ND and Texas-Oklahoma State, if only to hope for a repeat of last year’s OT nonsense.
What games are you watching? How do you feel about the Frogs’ offense vs Kansas? Follow me on twitter @parker_FOW, and we can discuss further!