Texas Football: 3 major concerns for Longhorns vs. TCU

Steve Sarkisian, Sonny Dykes, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Steve Sarkisian, Sonny Dykes, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Josh Hoover, Texas football
Josh Hoover, Texas football /

For the first time in three weeks, No. 7 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian will hit the road in Big 12 play this weekend to face the TCU Horned Frogs and head coach Sonny Dykes in Fort Worth. In the final meeting between Texas and TCU as Big 12 foes, the men in Burnt Orange will look to end this series on a high note.

TCU had Texas’ number in this series in the last decade. Since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, the Horned Frogs are 8-3-0 against the Longhorns. The Frogs have also won two of the last three and seven of the last nine contests against the Longhorns.

Can Sonny Dykes and TCU can put No. 7 Texas football on upset alert

This is a great opportunity for the Longhorns to also avenge their loss to TCU at DKR in Austin last season. That loss to the Frogs last year ended Texas’ hopes of getting a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Texas is now the team that controls its destiny heading into the matchup against TCU in the race to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship and to remain in College Football Playoff contention.

And while TCU is struggling of late, having lost four of its last five and two in a row heading into Week 11, they still won’t make it easy on Texas. TCU has capable and fast skill players on offense and an experienced defense highlighted by senior corner Josh Newton and redshirt junior linebacker Namdi Obiazor.

Texas did get a boost this week with the announcement by Sarkisian that redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers will get the start after missing the last two games due to a shoulder injury. That will help the Texas offense get a steady hand back at quarterback before two consecutive road games in Big 12 play in the next two weeks.

Here are three big concerns for the Longhorns heading into the Week 11 matchup against TCU in Fort Worth.

TCU has many quick and capable receivers to attack Texas in the passing game

The biggest worry that comes to mind when considering the matchup between the TCU offense and the Texas defense is the ability of freshman quarterback Josh Hoover and the Frogs to move the chains by throwing the ball. TCU does have an effective passing offense this season, at least between the 20s.

The Frogs lead the Big 12 in passing offense in conference play at a clip of nearly 300 passing yards per game. TCU also ranks third in passing touchdowns in conference play (11).

Where TCU is getting derailed on offense this season is with turnovers and the lack of an ability to convert in the red zone. Hoover has seven interceptions this season, and the Frogs had a whopping eight passes intercepted in the last four games.

If TCU’s offense makes it to the red zone without turning the ball over, it has trouble punching it in for six. TCU is tied with the Baylor Bears for last in the Big 12 this season in red zone scoring percentage (including field goals and touchdowns) in conference play. They’ve only turned 66.7 percent of their red zone possessions into points (per Big 12 stats). Turnovers are also a big reason for their issues with red zone scoring, as the Frogs lead the Big 12 in red zone turnovers.

However, Texas runs into trouble if TCU can avoid turnovers at critical points in the game this weekend. TCU avoided turnovers and costly interceptions in the red zone and converted at a high rate on the plus side of the 50 against SMU, Houston, and BYU. All those resulted in double-digit wins over top-75 ranked teams in the ESPN FPI.

Dykes said in his press conference this week that he is rolling with Hoover at quarterback vs. Texas. While he is young and inexperienced, Hoover does have real arm talent. He can sling it downfield in the intermediate and deep passing game to a plethora of weapons, including outside receiver Savion Williams and leading slot receiver JP Richardson.

TCU has five or six speedy weapons and tight end Jared Wiley that can do damage in the passing game or in space after they get the ball in their hands.

The Frogs will try to exploit weaknesses the Longhorns have shown at times this season in pass coverage at safety and linebacker.