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Keys to the Game: Texas Tech vs. TCU

Scoring early and often will be crucial for the Horned Frog offense this afternoon.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Texas Christian Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As with many Texas Tech football teams we’ve seen in recent years, although the Red Raiders have never struggled to score points, their defense has typically never been up to the task. That has once again been the case this fall, and after a very strong offensive start against Baylor this past week, TCU will benefit from scoring early and often this afternoon.

Texas Tech has surrendered 30 or more points in all but one game this season, which was the team’s 34-27 win against West Virginia. The Red Raiders have allowed 60-plus points twice and are 0-4 in the Big 12 Conference when opponents surpass the 30-point mark. The Horned Frogs are 2-0 this season in games where they score over 30.

A potent run game, a momentum-shifting special teams play from Derius Davis and the continued emergence of freshman wide receiver Quentin Johnston sparked the TCU offense to arguably its best performance of the season this past week. The Horned Frogs compiled 247 rushing yards, a tremendous leap forward from finishing well under 100 yards in that department against Oklahoma.

But the Red Raiders have always found a way to play TCU close, with three contests over the last four years coming down to the final possession. Here are three keys to the game today.

Limit the Penalties

A continuing issue with the Horned Frogs has been the number of penalties committed this season and the yardage being racked up in that area. Through five games, TCU has totaled 46 penalties for an average of 72 yards per game. That’s 9.2 penalties per game, and penalties are killers in close contests, especially in a tough conference like the Big 12. The Horned Frogs need to show better discipline, and that starts today.

Don’t Get Comfortable

TCU made Baylor look silly during the first half this past weekend, outscoring the Bears 30-7 at McLane Stadium and embarrassing a Baylor offense that had fans calling for the backup quarterback. Outside of a third-quarter field goal, however, TCU took its foot off the gas pedal, calling conservative plays and losing the field-position battle, which allowed the Bears to outpace the Horned Frogs 23-3 in the second half. No cushion is too much cushion, particularly against a Texas Tech offense that has shown an ability to move the ball and score quickly, even without starting quarterback Alan Bowman.

Protect the Carter

TCU has started 0-3 at home, and that needs to be a point of pride for head coach Gary Patterson and his team. The Horned Frogs have not protected Hell’s Half Acre this season, despite thousands of fans showing their support at the stadium, and with the season over halfway finished, TCU cannot afford another home loss. Expect the Horned Frogs to come out of the tunnel with more energy and a back-against-the-wall attitude today.