The Vikings of Portland State come to Fort Worth on Parent's Weekend undefeated after having trounced Southern Oregon (an NAIA school) 52-0 and edged out Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona 31-29. Over the course of those two games, the offense- mostly led by senior QB Connor Kavanaugh- has rolled up 1,024 total yards. But I can't decide what to think about the Frogs' match up against them.
Is it good news that the TCU secondary might catch a break this week, considering PSU throws the ball just 32% of the time? That figure may even be a little high, since 31 of their 46 pass attempts came in their rout of Southern Oregon. Either way, the Vikings are a running team- averaging 348 yards per game. I doubt they can overpower the Frogs on the line of scrimmage, which will take them out of their game plan fairly quickly- a hallmark of the dominant performances by GP's defenses through the years
Or is it bad news that, with pass-happy SMU and San Diego State looming in the following weeks, TCU will be facing a team that may not provide the much-needed trial by fire moments for a still-gelling crop of safeties and corners? I'd hate the TCU defense to get lulled to sleep stopping an FCS ground game only to revert back to allowing big plays through the air against the Mustangs and Aztecs (and Cougars, and Broncos...).
However you look at the match up against Portland State, I think it's important to appreciate each of the small steps that the TCU defense takes and focus on the positives. For instance, while the first quarter against ULM was bad (17 points and 129 pass yards), the rest of the game was actually fairly good (0 points and just 103 pass yards). The pass rush also found it's way a little bit, recording 5 sacks and led by Stansly Maponga's 1.5 (and third straight game with a forced fumble). If the younger guys on the defense can start defending by instinct a little more than the slightly delayed reactions displayed so far, we'll look back on these first three weeks and laugh at how some of us reacted.