Texas wins the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball
Texas holds a significant edge regarding size and physicality in the trenches on both sides of the ball compared to TCU.
On defense, Texas has the two highest-graded interior defensive linemen in the Power Five this season, redshirt senior T’Vondre Sweat and junior Byron Murphy II, who can bully a mediocre TCU offensive line. Sweat is having his way this season, blowing up the pocket up the middle and stuffing interior rushing plays.
Sweat and Murphy were the defensive linemen that blew up the fourth-down play, getting after Kansas State quarterback Will Howard to seal the win over the Wildcats in overtime last weekend.
Murphy is a menace in the interior pass rush as he leads all Power Five interior defensive linemen this season in quarterback pressures. With Murphy and Sweat, Texas easily boasts the best duo of starting defensive linemen in the nation this season.
TCU’s offensive line hasn’t faced a defensive line like what the Longhorns will bring to Fort Worth this weekend. And considering that TCU has allowed the fourth-most quarterback pressures and the third-highest pressure percentage in pass pro this season, it doesn’t look too promising for the Horned Frogs against the Texas pass rush.
A TCU ground game that has struggled to get in a rhythm in the last three weeks will also find it difficult to open up running lanes against this stout Texas defensive front. TCU fell too far behind two weeks ago in a blowout against Kansas State, and Texas Tech sold out to load the box and stop the run last week for the Frogs to be able to run the ball effectively.
Another issue TCU has faced on the ground this season is that the offensive line doesn’t have the athleticism and body movers that it did up front with last year’s group up front. TCU lost multiple All-Big 12 offensive linemen from last year’s squad, including offensive guard Steve Avila and center Alan Ali.
TCU is averaging 2.2 yards before contact on the ground this season, which is good for ninth in the Big 12.
If Texas gets ahead early in this game, TCU will find it extremely difficult to get the ground game going against a front seven as good as Texas’. Led by Murphy and Sweat, Texas has the best run defense in the Big 12, averaging just over 100 rushing yards per game and fewer than four yards per carry.
On offense, Texas should also control the line of scrimmage against the Horned Frogs. TCU’s defensive line isn’t a very effective group. Sophomore nose tackle Damonic Williams is having another decent season after a breakout freshman campaign for the Horned Frogs in 2022. But there is only so much Williams can do in this three-down front.
The TCU defensive ends aren’t holding up their end of the bargain this season. Starting defensive ends Paul Oyewale and Caleb Fox are two of the four lowest-graded defensive ends/edge rushers in the Big 12 this season.
TCU also lacks depth up front, showing when Williams rests on the sidelines. Redshirt senior defensive tackles Tymon Mitchell and Sono Misi rotate along the interior defensive line for the Horned Frogs behind Williams. But they grade out as two of the 10 worst defensive tackles in the Big 12 this season.
Texas’ offensive line, meanwhile, has performed extremely well this season in pass-pro and run blocking. Texas’ offensive line leads the Big 12 in pass-blocking efficiency rating (92.5) and has allowed the fewest quarterback pressures (40).
Even without super senior right tackle Christian Jones, Texas held up well in pass protection in the win over Kansas State. Sophomore offensive tackle Cam Williams didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure in his first career start last weekend at right tackle. Murphy was also the second-least pressured quarterback in the Big 12 in Week 10.
The O-Line has also helped Texas average over 200 rushing yards per game and over five yards per carry.