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Keys to the Game: TCU vs. Kansas

The Horned Frog offense will have a chance to generate some positive strides against the Jayhawks this weekend.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There may be no better chance for the TCU offense to figure out what works and what doesn’t work than this weekend, when the Horned Frogs face a Kansas defense that currently surrenders over 450 yards per game including over 200 on the ground.

Much of the offensive success from TCU this season has been generated by running the football, where the Horned Frogs rank second in the Big 12 Conference with an average of nearly 180 yards per game. TCU’s rushing attack dominated the Jayhawks in 2019, when the Horned Frogs ran for 319 yards in a 51-14 victory that saw four players total at least eight carries.

With a passing attack that has been inconsistent throughout the season, TCU’s recipe for offensive success against Kansas this past season could be the same this time around. From Darwin Barlow to Zach Evans, Kendre Miller, Emari Demercado and Daimarqua Foster, TCU has a tremendous stable of running backs who should be unleashed this weekend as the Horned Frogs attempt to generate some positive momentum entering their season finale.

Here are three keys to the 2020 version of the TCU-Kansas showdown.

Find What Works

Saturday’s game should be viewed in some ways as a prep game for Oklahoma State next weekend. That means finding out what the TCU offense and quarterback Max Duggan can comfortably execute successfully and what they cannot execute. Running the football has worked well for the Horned Frogs, who have lost their depth at tight end and wide receiver this season due to transfers and injuries. However, TCU needs to also find a way to consistently move the football through the air, even if it means throwing the ball a minimal amount of times. A run-first formula, combined with a passing game that works off the established rushing attack, should bode well for the Horned Frogs the rest of the way.

Rush the Passer

Kansas has allowed 38 sacks in seven games this season, an average of over five sacks per game. On the other hand, TCU’s defense has compiled 12 sacks over the last three games including five sacks against both Baylor and Texas Tech. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Earl Barquet has stepped up in Corey Bethley’s absence, notching sacks in each of the last two games. Ochaun Mathis, Khari Coleman and Parker Workman have provided more pressure off the edge, while true freshman Patrick Jenkins has earned reps inside, even getting his first collegiate sack. A dominant pass rush should greatly affect the Kansas offense, which will be commanded by a young quarterback in Jalon Daniels.

Finish Four Quarters

When the numbers are considered, TCU should dominate this football game. When the Horned Frogs outscored Baylor 30-6 in the first half on Halloween, that was the most dominant we’ve seen TCU this season in all three phases including offense, defense and special teams. With a tough finale against Oklahoma State looming, it would be nice to see the Horned Frogs dominate an opponent for all four quarters, which can generate big-time confident before TCU concludes its season with a showdown against the Cowboys.