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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: Kansas State Wildcats

The staff discusses TCU’s trip to Manhattan for a Big 12 Championship rematch.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Kansas State at TCU Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Is Josh Hoover THAT DUDE or is BYU THAT BAD? Do you see the redshirt freshman continuing his stellar play in Manhattan?

  • Anthony: BYU was not ready for Hoover to be that good. The Cougars game planned for a run-heavy attack and an offense that would play timid with its first-time starter behind center. Instead, the TCU offense let it rip and Hoover made nearly every throw look easy. K-State will not be so easily duped; with a week of prep work on how to stop a Hoover-led offense, a significantly better defensive roster, and a difficult road atmosphere, it’s going to be a big challenge for Hoover to live up to the performance his first start
  • Austin: I wouldn’t anoint Hoover as “that dude” yet, but he did impress. He showed great timing, touch, and pocket presence in his debut start. First and foremost, I didn’t expect him to evade the rush or demonstrate any pocket mobility, but he proved me wrong. I did like how Hoover built chemistry with a few receivers, rather than throwing a couple of passes to the entire depth chart. I foresee Hoover having a good game, but not like the one he just played.
  • Drew: The BYU defense is not very good, but I was very impressed with Hoover’s confidence and especially his pocket movement. I expect the Frogs to have another fun day moving the ball on offense.
  • Miles: Little bit of both, I think. TCU was able to do more in the passing game with Hoover slinging the ball around. He made a lot of good throws, but BYU was also really bad defensively. I think Hoover plays well, but not as well as last week.
  • Russ: Definitely a combination of both. Josh Hoover showed great poise in the pocket, working up in the pocket and going through his progressions like an experienced quarterback. Hoover also threw some absolute darts, but the Cougars seemed to be playing soft in coverage quite a bit, which allowed Hoover to have some extra room to work.

Kansas State’s offense will be led be either Will Howard the Horned Frog Killer or Avery Johnson the Four-Star Phenom (or some combination of the two). Which poses the greatest threat to TCU and how does the defense slow the Wildcat offense?

  • Anthony: I don’t think Chris Kleiman tosses Will Howard into the trash can like a broken Woody doll he no longer wants to play. Howard has been very good for the Cats, delivering a Big 12 Title and has been particularly troublesome for TCU defenses. However, Avery Johnson is a better talent - certainly long term, but perhaps near term as well - and following his breakout performance last week, it’ll hard to keep him off the field. I see both of them playing and perhaps it goes like last season’s KSU-TCU game in Fort Worth where Adrian Martinez took the first drive for a 3-and-out then passed the keys to Howard for what turned out to be the rest of the season.
  • Austin: I believe that Avery Johnson poses the greater threat. The Frogs haven’t faced a true running quarterback this year, but West Virginia’s Garrett Greene did gash the TCU defense for 80 yards and two scores. While I don’t think the pass defense is excellent, I don’t have much faith in Howard to expose the TCU secondary after multiple subpar showings.
  • Drew: I would ride the hot hand if I was Kansas State and start Avery Johnson. He fits the traditional Kansas State quarterback mold of being an excellent runner and had a great performance on the road last week against Tech. The challenge for the TCU defense will be to figure out how to get pressure on the quarterback without creating lanes for Johnson to escape and scramble. The key position group will be the linebackers for the Frogs who will need to play well to contain the QB run.
  • Miles: If I’m Kansas State, Will Howard doesn’t see the field again this year. Johnson was incredible last week, especially in the run game. Kansas State is averaging over 200 a game on the ground. If TCU keeps the Wildcats under 150 they win this game. Load the box, and rely on your secondary to win their 1 on 1 battles.
  • Russ: Kansas State with Avery Johnson at the helm is undoubtedly the strongest rushing attack TCU will face before the bye week and possibly all season. DJ Giddens and Treshaun Ward are already very good players who average nearly 6 yards per carry, but Johnson took the college football world by storm with five rushing touchdowns against Texas Tech. Will Howard is a TCU killer, but he’s struggled over the last few weeks and is banged up.

Offensive MVP vs. Kansas State

  • Anthony: Offensive Line. TCU’s pass protection was vastly improved vs. BYU, but will have a much bigger challenge protecting Hoover from the K-State pass rush and Khalid Duke, the Big 12’s sacks leader. TCU will likely again lean on a pass-heavy approach: the Wildcats are among the best nationally in rush defense and among the worst nationally in pass defense. However, despite its woes against air attacks, KSU is getting sacks at a very high rate and could force Hoover into bad decisions or turnovers should the O-Line not hold up.
  • Austin: Another vote for Josh Hoover. He played so well against BYU and I feel like he could be in store for a repeat performance against Kansas State’s porous pass defense. Emani Bailey is always a sound choice, but I feel like Hoover is the difference maker.
  • Drew: I think it has to be Josh Hoover. If the Frogs want to win this game on the road, Hoover will have to play very well again and I think he does it. He will probably end up throwing an interception over the middle of the field but that will be ok because he will have two touchdowns on similar throws in the same game.
  • Miles: Josh Hoover again. Kansas State is 116th in pass defense this year, and they defend the run well. Hoover will have to make plays to give TCU a chance.
  • Russ: Josh Hoover. I think the redshirt freshman keeps it rolling against a Kansas State D that has struggled at times. Without Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Julius Brents anchoring the defense, TCU will have opportunities to take advantage.

Defensive MVP vs. Kansas State

  • Anthony: Jamoi Hodge. Agree with the team below that the linebackers and safeties have a big challenge on Saturday. KSU rolls with two very capable RBs in DJ Giddens and Treshaun Ward, so slowing them is critical, but the big key will be containing the QB run game. Hodge, Banks, and Obiazor made life miserable for Kedon Slovis and will look to do the same for whomever is taking snaps for KSU. Hodge’s blitzes didn’t get home vs. WVU and Garrett Greene torched the Frogs; Hodge’s success will drive the Frogs defense to slow the Wildcats.
  • Austin: Gotta go with Shad Banks. If Avery Johnson plays a considerable amount for the Wildcats, Banks will be tasked with tracking down Johnson as he scrambles. The linebackers need to be on their A-game this weekend.
  • Drew: I’ll take Shad Banks who has quietly been very good in the absence of Johnny Hodges the past few games. I think he has the athleticism to chase down Johnson and I think he gets a sack or two on Saturday.
  • Miles: Bud Clark. Kansas State’s leading receiver is a tight end. Clark has 2 interceptions on the year, and we’ll need him to get another on Saturday!
  • Russ: Namdi Obiazor. The converted safety will have a large responsibility in this game with not only defending the Kansas State rushing offense, but matching up against Wildcat tight end Ben Sinnott, who’s one of the best tight ends in all of college football.

Final Score

  • Anthony: TCU wins 31-30
  • Austin: TCU wins 30-24
  • Drew: TCU wins 35-31.
  • Miles: TCU wins 41-38
  • Russ: TCU wins 28-24