VTM: It's been an incredible turnaround from 2013 to now. How much of that change is Trevon Boykin's play and how much has been the addition of Meachum and Cumbie running the offense?
FOW: It's definitely a combination of both the things you mentioned. Meacham and Cumbie's offensive system has allowed Boykin's ability to flourish and grow. At the same time, Boykin's ability has elevated the level of the offense over the past few seasons, and without him things wouldn't be what they are today.
VTM: Has the "somewhat" slow start this year been of any concern among TCU fans or is it a case of just working out the kinks?
FOW: On offense it's a matter of working out the kinks. Boykin has been working on his intermediate passing game all offseason, and we've seen the results of that, but we've also seen him miss on throws he made with ease last season. The running game finally got clicking against SMU, and the offense is averaging 49.7 points per game, so it seems that the O will be fine moving forward.
Defensively, it's more about injuries than anything else. TCU has already lost its two starting defensive ends (season-ending injury, suspension), its two starting linebackers (season-ending injury, personal reasons), its No.1 cornerback (season-ending injury), and starting weak safety (season-ending injury). So to say that the defense is depleted is an understatement. The one positive is that the Frogs still have substantial speed on that side of the ball, which can help offset the lack of experience. We trust Patterson to get defenders ready, but this is by far the hardest task he's been faced with in a long time.
VTM: TCU seemed to have a very rough time against SMU this past week, only up 5 in the 4th quarter. What allowed SMU to hang around so long?
FOW: Injuries to the defense. TCU lost Ranthony Texada to an ACL tear during the game (when TCU was up 42-17), which caused some shuffling in the secondary. Nick Orr found himself switching between playing corner and safety, and Torrance Mosley and Corry O'Meally had to jump in and catch up almost immediately. They didn't adjust well in-game, and the passing defense struggled because of it.
VTM: It's no secret how last year's game went. Although Texas Tech, publicly, is saying "82" isn't a motivating factor this week, how does TCU view last year's game in preparation for the game on Saturday?
FOW: They know they'll have a target on their back because of the way things went down last season in Fort Worth. They're players too, and they remember the tough losses (i.e. Baylor last season) just like anyone else. But, it's no secret the Frogs have struggled in Lubbock in recent years, so they probably feel like they have something to prove too. Couple that with the growing mantra that TCU's hopes are dashed due to injuries, and they'll have a chip firmly placed on their shoulder.
VTM: Give us a player on both sides of the ball to keep an eye on this week.
FOW: Wide receiver Josh Doctson is on pace for 1,304 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, and has at least one reception in every game for TCU dating back to the Texas game in 2013. He'll likely be a high round draft pick next spring, and is athletically the perfect style receiver to play with Trevone Boykin.
Defensively, keep an eye on Davion Pierson. The defensive tackle hasn't played yet this season as he's recovering from a concussion, but he's expected to be out on the field on Saturday. TCU's pass rush hasn't been great without McFarland and Tuaua, and with defensive end Terrell Lathan also banged up a bit, Pierson's return is a welcomed sight. He's great at collapsing the pocket and making QB's uncomfortable, and he'll need to do that on Saturday if the Frogs want to disrupt Mahomes.
VTM: Keys to the game for TCU...
FOW: Containing Mahomes is the biggest key. The Frogs gave up 330 passing yards, 60+ rushing yards, and three total touchdowns to Matt Davis of SMU. However, he was bailed out by his receivers quite a few times, and it took him 17 rushes to get those 62 yards. With Mahomes posing the same dual-threat ability, it's about getting pressure to disrupt his timing, and having the linebackers in place throughout the game to contain him.
Offensively, it's about making sure they minimize mistakes. Boykin has thrown an interception in every game this season, and that can be costly in a game that looks like it will turn into a shootout.
VTM: Texas Tech gets the upset if....
FOW: If the Tech offense can truly keep up with TCU's, and the defense can get a stop or two late, the Raiders very well could come away with a win.
VTM: What's your prediction for the game?
FOW: I do think this will be closer than last season (obviously), but I think TCU's experience and talent on offense wins this one. TCU-59, Tech 55.