Keys to the Game

Matt Warden

Entering Week 12, Texas sits in an interesting spot in the Big 12. Although the Longhorns have suffered two disappointing losses, they still have a lot to be thankful for as they have an outside chance of claiming the conference title.

After a string of impressive wins and improvements, the Longhorns will enter Thanksgiving Day against a predictable TCU squad. In order to continue its success, Texas will need to manipulate this predictability.

Be wary of turnovers: As stated over and over again, the Longhorns’ bread and butter is running the football. They pound and pound, wearing down defenses while racking up easy yards in the process. Against TCU, Texas will need to be wary of the Horned Frogs ability to strip and steal the football. TCU has forced opponents into 26 turnovers this season, which amounts to just over two per contest. The Longhorns haven’t been prone to turnovers, but they will need to protect the football at all costs when running the football. When the Longhorns look to pass, they should keep in mind that 17 of those 26 TCU turnovers have been interceptions. The Horned Frogs can capitalize on bad decisions by signal callers and the Longhorns should make sure to stay under control at all times in this game. Texas shouldn’t be overly concerned, but the Longhorns should definitely be wary of TCU’s ability to force turnovers.

Get the ball in the Red Zone: With the Longhorns’ ability to run the football, red zone opportunities are often prevalent. TCU’s opponents have had an 83-percent success rating in the red zone this season and the Longhorns should look to increase this percentage. Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray have had their way with defenses in the red zone and will surely have some great opportunities to add to their touchdown totals in this game if Texas can get into the red zone. It might sound like an obvious plan to get within twenty yards of the end zone, but it’s worth noting that TCU has had problems defending when teams make it there. Texas should look to impose its will and get into the red zone in this game, where opponents have thrived against the Horned Frogs thus far.

Change the Stats: With all of this talk of running the football, it’s pretty clear the Longhorns should continue adding to their statistics by running the football in this game. TCU has proven the ability to hold up against rushing attacks this season, only allowing 984 yards and eight rushing touchdowns through ten games. Texas should look to pound the ball relentlessly and change this theme of success. If they apply constant pressure with the run and wear down the TCU defense, momentum could quickly turn and stay in the hands of the Longhorns. Sometimes the best way to break down a wall is to run right through it. The Horned Frogs have proven stout against the rush this season, so Texas should use its proven backs to run right through this solid defense.