By the Numbers: TCU Horned Frogs

Ronald Martinez

A statistically-based look at the Texas opponent for Saturday.

With eight weeks of the season now in the books, the statistics for each team now have legitimate sample sizes, especially for the adjusted metrics.

Here's a look at the TCU Horned Frogs by the numbers.

34

The national ranking of TCU's defense according to the FEI, a surprisingly low number since TCU has always played so well defensively and also because the reputation for the Horned Frogs this season is better than that number would suggest. In S&P+, the Horned Frogs rank No. 18.

60

The ranking for TCU in the FEI measurement of explosive plays -- the percentage of opponent drives that produce 10 or more yards per play. It helps explain the No. 34 ranking overall in FEI and suggests that while the TCU defense has been excellent in getting opponents off the field (No. 5 in first down rate), it has given up some big plays, mostly through the air (No. 91 nationally with 12 pass plays of 30 or more yards).

3.14

The yards per carry allowed by the Horned Frogs, which have the No. 38 rush defense in the country according to S&P+, a rather odd discrepancy that may be a result of adjustments for opponents. Unlike the pass defense, the rush defense has avoided big plays -- while TCU has allowed 30 runs of 10 or more yards (No. 42 nationally), only four have gone for 20 or more yards. The biggest play given up was the 76-yard touchdown run by Oklahoma's Brennan Clay.

Oklahoma did manage to average 5.34 yards per carry against TCU, buoyed by that long run. Remove that run, and the rest of the carries for the Sooners went for 4.47 yards apiece, a good number against the Horned Frogs. SMU, on the other hand, averaged less than two yards per carry even after taking out the seven sacks of quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

For comparison purposes, BYU is giving up 3.50 yards per carry. Fortunately for Texas, the front six or seven for TCU isn't as talented as the BYU front without star defensive end Devonte Fields, even though it has been playing at a higher level.

24

Speaking of sacks, the Horned Frogs are racking them up at a prodigious rate -- nearly 3.5 per game. Only two teams in the country have more. It's been a team effort, with most of the credit going to the secondary, which gives the defensive line plenty of time to get to the quarterback. To that end, 14 players have registered at least half a sack and no player has more than four.

13

The number of interceptions for the TCU defense (tied for third nationally). Despite some mistakes that have resulted in big plays, this group can hawk the ball and consistently finishes plays with interceptions instead of passes broken up, a serious concern for Texas since running the ball is likely not going to be easy. It's been a combined effort, too, as six different defensive backs have interceptions.

Star cornerback Jason Verrett, who had six interceptions last year to tie for fifth nationally in that category, picked off his first pass of the season against Oklahoma State last Saturday. The junior college transfer has been productive, though, breaking up 11 other passes.

Safeties sam Carter and Chris Hackett are tied for the team lead with three interceptions apiece.

5.9

The raw QBR for Trevone Boykin against Oklahoma State after Casey Pachall's replacement threw three interceptions and completed less than half of his passes. The Southeastern Louisiana and Oklahoma games were the only times this season when Boykin has been better than average (a rating of 50 or better) and his passer rating of 117.21 ranks No. 91 in the country.

3.93

The yards per carry for TCU this season on offense after having to replace three starters from last year's offensive line, a transition that hasn't gone particularly well. Running back BJ Catalon has been the biggest bright spot for a running back corps that was supposed to produce at a higher level than it has. The sophomore is leading the team in rushing yards with 359 on 5.20 yards per carry and has pretty much been the sole bright spot offensively.

The Horned Frogs rank No. 96 nationally in rush S&P+.

29.17

Third-down conversation rate for TCU (No. 116 nationally, right below New Mexico State). This was a problem for the Horned Frogs last season, too, and it hasn't been solved this year. Somehow, TCU managed to convert more than 50% against LSU in the opener, but since then have failed to crack the 20% mark three times, including 16.67% against SMU. Even Montana State, an FCS team, managed to convert 36.36% of its third downs against SMU.

24

The highest-ranked TCU wide receiver in the Big 12 in average yards per game. That would be David Porter, who gained 40% of his yards on the season on a single play against Kansas where he took a short pass, broke two tackles and then was free to the end zone.

100

National ranking in the FEI index measuring explosive plays. The Horned Frogs are tied for 105th nationally in producing plays of 10 or more yards and have only eight plays of 30 or more yards.

Conclusions

The TCU defense is pretty much as good as advertised -- capable of ending opponent drives with interceptions or sacks, though the secondary has given up some big plays because of missed tackles, a sign that tackling in space is just a difficult thing to do, even for productive athletes on well-coached teams.

On offense, though, the Horned Frogs are also as bad as advertised -- incapable of extending drives on third down, rarely capable of producing big plays, and generally terrible in every category. In fact, in the six categories used in the FEI rankings, TCU ranks no higher than 85th in any of them.

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