Continuing our weekly series checking in with the beat writer who covers Oklahoma State’s upcoming opponent.
Stefan Stevenson covers TCU for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can read his work here or follow him on Twitter at @FollowTheFrogs.
1. Let’s start with a simple question: Is this a must-win for TCU? Why or why not?
It certainly is a must-win if the Frogs have any illusions of staying in the Big 12 race. Their loss at Texas Tech in September pretty much forced them to win at either Norman or Stillwater. Before the season, I had them losing at both, but beating Tech. Before the season I wouldn’t have been shocked by TCU winning at OSU, but I would be now, with their offense and their injury problems.
2. The TCU offense has obviously struggled this season. Is it a Trevone Boykin problem? A receiver problem? Something else?
It’s a little of everything. Boykin is talented but I don’t know if he possesses the accuracy necessary to beat Big 12 defenses. But his receivers have been little help to him through six games. Too many drops, too many bad routes, too many mistakes. His offensive line is think but has been OK. Many fans think coaching and play-calling is a big part of the problem but I don’t. I think it’s lack of execution and personnel issues.
3. Is there a part of the TCU defense that OSU can attack? Does it have a weakness?
TCU is susceptible to big plays. Every opponent has busted open a big gainer at least once this season. The Frogs 4-2-5 puts a lot of pressure on their cornerbacks who play man coverage most of the time. Speedy receivers can sometimes exploit the defense and a talented strike-throwing QB can burn them.
4. Who’s an under-the-radar player that could make a big impact on Saturday’s game?
The last few weeks a different young defensive player has stepped up and made an impact. Defensive end Terrell Lathan played well against SMU. Linebacker Paul Dawson led the team with 17 tackles against Kansas. Safety Derrick Kindred has played well when given the chance and against OSU you’ll probably see him a bunch. He could be the guy against OSU.
5. On paper, this sure looks like a matchup of two lackluster offenses and two stout defenses. So what ultimately decides this game? Whichever teams scores a defensive touchdown?
You might be right about whichever team scores with its defense. The problem for the Frogs is they’re taking the ‘lack’ in lackluster to a whole new level, especially in the first half. If they don’t snap out of it they’ll lose four of their last six games. The defense is great, but it’s not good enough to make up for such an anemic offense. I’m not as concerned with OSU’s offense. The Cowboys may just be in a mini-slump. TCU could be looking at the offense it’s stuck with the rest of 2013 unless Casey Pachall returns healthy and in top form in November.