The Horned Frogs and the Ducks kick their respective seasons off in a match that sees both teams looking different. Oregon’s defense isn’t what it was over the past couple of seasons, and TCU’s offense looks a bit stronger. As good as it looks, there are some concerns and they’ve got to figure out how to keep up with Oregon’s. The way this is looking on paper, we’re in for a shootout. By diving into each team, we can get a good look at how.
The Horned Frogs offense made some moves in the offseason, notably keeping quarterback James Kovach and wide receiver Jared Tetonis together. The two join TCU from Florida State and add in returning halfback Koda Adok as well as receivers Horace Lynch and Bill Volk makes for an intriguing offense. Factor in a scheme change and that means this offense is in position to surprise teams this season. As long as Adok can find success early, then Kovach can do his part.
Defensively, they’ve got it all. Pass rushers in defensive ends Jabril Jackson and Marlon Davis. These two partnered together means that opposing quarterbacks will have havoc in the backfield to contend with. That means they’re more susceptible to mistakes, and the TCU secondary can take advantage of them. Corner Dale Higgenbottom also joined in from Florida State and safety Stokely Ferdinand signed up in the offseason. Oh yeah, and linebackers Aaron Davis and Xavier Colon are more than equipped to be able to take on running backs.
The Ducks have seen some changes this offseason, but the consistency of quarterback Devonta Cribbs and his receivers are a plus. Dijon Swann and Coty Betts return to the wide receiver corps while adding in receiver Williams Cope. Cribbs and these receivers are further helped by two additions from the offseason. Halfback Jimmy Tickle, one of the top three rushers last season, transferred in from Texas A&M. That leaves us with tight end Davonte Lawson who joined the ranks for his freshman campaign. This offense is potent, but they may still be working on getting their chemistry in the right spot.
As for the Oregon defense, well, that’s an interesting tale. Safety Shaka Black is joined in the secondary by corner Arik Austin, which means they’re responsible for the back end of the defense. That leaves linebackers Hollywood Sims and Joe Clark Jr. to the interior and to face the rushing attack of offenses. Clark transferred in from Ohio State, which means the only veteran on this defense is the defensive tackle. Ben Marquez is in his senior season and is the center of the Oregon defense, literally.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
If I’m TCU, I come out guns blazing and test this Oregon secondary. With the way in which Kovach and Tetonis have their chemistry, I test those waters. That would allow Adok to have some rushing lanes open to him later, meaning that this TCU offense can move quickly and score quickly. That means Oregon will have to do the same, and that’s likely too. Expect a lot of points to be scored tonight.
WR Jared Tetonis vs. CB Arik Austin
This will dictate who gets the upper hand. If Austin can’t at least slow Tetonis down and limit his big-play ability then Oregon will be in a tough spot defensively and that is far from ideal for the Ducks. Black can help out from his safety spot, but it really boils down to Austin and Tetonis going head to head.
We’ve laid out how this is likely to be a high-scoring affair between the two offenses. Which then brings us to the key components to this game. Turnovers. And between the two defenses, TCU is in a better position to force turnovers than Oregon is. Oregon looked good in their spring game, able to come back and claim victory, but I’m going to hedge my bets with the Horned Frogs winning by seven.