If my review of the offense's first six ballgames seemed a bit rosy, it's because things have been going pretty well when TCU has had the ball this season. Despite being a program built on premiere defense, however, the Frog defense has struggled in the early going this fall.
It seems as if the Frogs are struggling to put pressure on the QB, you might be surprised that the defensive line is actually on pace to record more sacks than they did a year ago. That's in large part due to Forced Fumble Monster Stansley Maponga's 4.5 and Over-Achieving D-Tackle DJ Yendrey's 2.5. They aren't stuffing the run nearly as well, though, giving up 133 rush yards per game as opposed to just 99 in 2010. In addition to the stand-out play of the guys mentioned previously, I've also been very impressed by the quartet of young tackles- sophomore Ray Burns and freshmen Chucky Hunter, Jon Lewis and David Johnson.
I really hate to be critical of this group, given the injuries they've sustained. Last year's leading tackler, Tanner Brock, is out for the year. Kenny Cain missed the SDSU game with a mystery ailment and Tank Carder has apparently been playing with pins in his hand all season. Kris Gardner stepped in admirably in the SDSU game and Deryck Gildon looks like a star of the future. As a unit, though, they were essentially deemed irrelevant by June Jones' gameplan in the SMU game and they've all struggled with tackling all season. My theory is that the LBs in a 4-2-5 are asked to do a lot, and that it's made even more difficult when other areas of the defense are struggling. As this group gets healthy and the rest of the defense starts to jel, I look for Tank to reclaim his status as a ridiculous playmaker and the linebackers in general to be a team strength once again.
Oh, boy. Without pointing fingers at specific guys, it's become pretty clear that the biggest difference between 2010 and 2011 is the pass defense. It will probably not surprise you that this year's squad has already given up almost as many yards (1,544) this year as they did in all of last year (1,674). I'm not sure what to make of the situation, but they didn't seem to look nearly as lost against SDSU. Hopefully the week off can give the coaching staff the opportunity to fix whatever fundamental problems exist and start to identify leaders amongst this bunch.