TCU is set to take on Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, so here are some storylines and predictions for the Horned Frogs ahead of the game.
No Rest For Weary Frog Linebackers
TCU linebackers Ty Summers and Travin Howard were on call throughout the regular season, each posting more than 100 tackles. And they’ll be very busy again in the postseason. Though deep and gifted, the Frog D-line allowed too many plays to drift beyond the first level, forcing the linebackers and safeties to routinely clean up messes. Summers and Howard will both reach double-digits in stops, as they work to slow down the deep and talented Bulldog backfield of Sony Michel and a healthy Nick Chubb.
Daylight Scarce for Feature Back Kyle Hicks
Hicks is a quality back who bloomed into his role as Aaron Green’s successor. He’ll get the 46 yards needed to reach 1,000 in his starting debut, but not with a lot of room to spare. Hicks, who was limited to 2.8 yards a carry over his final three regular season games, will again be forced to work for every yard against the middle of the Bulldog defense. The TCU offensive line is liable to get pushed back on its heels against a Kirby Smart-led D that’s had time to prepare and will try to showcase rising young linemen Trenton Thompson and Julian Rochester.
Frogs Win Line of Scrimmage When Dawgs Have the Ball
TCU’s biggest Liberty Bowl edge is up front on the defensive side of the ball. The Frogs will pin their ears back with linemen Josh Carraway, James McFarland, Aaron Curry and Mat Boesen, who’ll all generate heat on rookie QB Jacob Eason. TCU’s rotational depth will be an issue for an O-line that’s experienced on the edge with Tyler Catalina and Greg Pyke, but beatable in pass protection. The Frogs will get to Eason four times, with a bunch of pressures that force him to throw with big bodies bearing down on him.
A KaVontae Turpin Sighting in Memphis
Turpin is the most electrifying all-around player in this game. He’ll get an opportunity to showcase it now that he’s finally approaching full strength after spending most of the year in the infirmary. The Horned Frogs are going to need a complement to the tough running of Hicks, so the staff will invent ways to get the ball in Turpin’s hands. Think quick hitches, jet sweeps and his usual role as the primary return specialist. In a game light on highlight reel moments, Turpin will deliver at least one explosive play that reminds TCU what it missed for most of 2016.
TCU Enters Offseason With Unsettled Quarterback Situation
Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill was supposed to be the answer to the graduation of record-breaker Trevone Boykin. Yeah, that didn’t work out. Hill threw five touchdown passes against Oklahoma on Oct. 1 and then played about as bad as any Big 12 hurler over the final seven games. He won’t stop the slide against a very good Georgia secondary, throwing two picks and a touchdown to Taj Williams. Gary Patterson will stage an open competition for the starting job in the spring.