It’s probably not fair to say that TCU coach Gary Patterson extols the virtues of “old-man” football — to borrow a phrase once heaved at the physical, battering-ram style in the Southeastern Conference.
But the characteristics are certainly there: a hard-hitting defense; a ball-control offense; a program built in the image of Patterson, a hardworking son of western Kansas.
This is what KU coach Charlie Weis saw when he studied the Horned Frogs’ film earlier this week. And if Weis is being honest, there was a bit of a comfort level with the TCU style.
“They’re trying to be balanced, play physical and play hard,” Weis said. “Who does that sound like? Who do you know that kind of believes in that?”
The unspoken answer, of course, is Kansas, which has attempted to establish itself the past two seasons with the core tenets of a reliable running game and physical defense. The results have been mixed — though the Jayhawks have shown progress on defense this season. But one week after getting shelled by Texas Tech’s turbo-speed spread offense, the truth is this: This Kansas team may better suited for an old-school slugfest.
“They’re not trying to go hurry-up on you,” KU junior linebacker Ben Heeney said of TCU. “They’re just trying to line up and see who the more physical, better team is. And I think we match up better with these guys.”
In its first two Big 12 games, the TCU defense held Texas Tech and Oklahoma to 20 points apiece, well below each team’s season average. And despite also facing LSU in the season opener, the Horned Frogs rank fourth in the Big 12 in total defense (354 yards per game).
When scouting the film, Weis says, it always appears that the TCU defense may be susceptible to an over-the-top passing attack. But in reality
“You have to be patient,” Weis said. “You have to make sure that you don’t sit there and go bombs away against this team — or you’ll be in for a long night.”Other story lines
•PLAYING WITHOUT PIERSON:
Junior Brandon Bourbon is expected to start in place of leading receiver Tony Pierson, who suffered a concussion in the second half against Texas Tech. Bourbon, who has been playing behind Pierson at the Jayhawks’ hybrid “F” receiver spot, is second on the team with 13 catches. He should get more chances Saturday.
•THE FIELD-POSITION BATTLE:
A disastrous fake punt attempt against Texas Tech obscured the fact that junior punter Trevor Pardula has been one of KU’s most valuable players. He’s averaging 47.5 yards per punt, which leads the Big 12 and is second in the nation. He’ll be needed if the game turns into a low-scoring affair.
•FACING TREVONE BOYKIN: This will be Kansas’ first time seeing TCU sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin, who started a majority of the Horned Frogs’ games last season. In 2012, KU faced TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, who soon left the program to undergo rehab for substance abuse. Pachall returned to the team this year but broke his non-throwing arm in early September. Boykin, a dual-threat, could test the Jayhawks’ defensive line.