4 reasons why Texas football could dominate TCU

Gary Patterson, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Gary Patterson, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Keondre Coburn, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Keondre Coburn, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas’ interior defensive line should limit the effectiveness of TCU’s inside run/power option game

While TCU’s run defense was suspect throughout a large portion of Big 12 play so far this season, Texas’ defensive front is doing great in a complete transformation from what we saw from this group last year.

Texas leads the Big 12 in rushing play success rate allowed, at 34.7 percent, which is good for top 10 in the FBS. Texas also ranks in the top 35 of the FBS and the top half of the Big 12 in power success rate allowed and standard down line yards.

The massive improvement that Texas has made in run defense this season is largely credited to the play of the interior defensive line.

I mentioned earlier how TCU doesn’t have a single interior defensive lineman that even ranks in the top 15 in the Big 12 in run defense grade this season.

Texas actually has the top two highest-graded Big 12 run defenders among interior defensive linemen. Senior Moro Ojomo is the highest-graded run defender at his position in the Big 12. Sophomore Byron Murphy and senior T’Vondre Sweat also rank among the top five run defenders at the position in the Big 12 this season.

It’s also worth noting that senior Keondre Coburn and Ojomo rank among the top three interior defensive linemen in the Big 12 this season in stuff rate.

And you can’t go without mentioning the play of the linebacker duo of senior DeMarvion Overshown and Jaylan Ford of late. This linebacker duo is the only one in the Big 12 that features two of the five highest-graded run defenders. It’s also the only linebacker duo where both players have at least 20 run stops on the season.

All told, it’s easy to see how the Texas run defense is so formidable, even against some of the better Big 12 offenses.

The strength of the Texas run defense, specifically along the interior defensive line, should go a long way to limiting the effectiveness of the TCU ground game.

TCU relies heavily on the power option and the inside zone. Breakout running back Kendre Miller is most efficient this season running in the A-gap, where he is averaging more than nine yards per carry. Miller will be a big part of this game for TCU, but he has yet to face a defensive front as stout as Texas’ against the run this season (proved by the metrics we discussed earlier).

And the TCU ground game is helped by the added dimension of quarterback Max Duggan’s dual-threat ability. Duggan is one of the faster quarterbacks in the Big 12, which shows on the stat sheet as he has more than 1,700 rushing yards and 23 rushing scores in his collegiate career at TCU.

But Texas should be able to counter the run threat from Duggan given how much better this defense looked in its last two games against dual-threat quarterbacks. After having some questionable performances earlier this season against dual-threat quarterbacks (i.e. Frank Harris, Bryce Young, and Donovan Smith), Texas has held Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders and Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez to a combined 95 rushing yards on 25 carries (3.8 yards per carry), and one rushing score.

While Sanders and Martinez were both dealing with various injury issues of late, it’s still nice to see the improvement from this Texas run defense. That inspires a little bit more confidence as we head into another key matchup against a running quarterback this weekend.