Another tough TCU defense set for Air Force test

No. 4 TCU is dominating on defense again. Now the Frogs should
find out how much that has to do with the punchless offenses
they’ve opposed.

TCU came within a field goal of becoming the first major college
team since Boston College in 1992 to post three consecutive
shutouts, settling for a 31-3 victory against BYU on Saturday.

The Frogs allowed less than 200 yards in all three games, yet
it’s worth noting that the highest-ranked offense among the bunch
was Colorado State at No. 83. When Air Force brings the nation’s
best rushing offense to Fort Worth next weekend, TCU will be a day
shy of a month since the last time it allowed a touchdown.

”The last three weeks, we played young quarterbacks,” TCU
coach Gary Patterson said of a stretch that also included the
nation’s worst offense in Wyoming. ”I’m not willing to go out
there and vote them to be the Pittsburgh Steelers yet or the Dallas
Cowboys. Next week we’re going to face an older Air Force
quarterback, and anytime Air Force has an older quarterback, you’d
better get ready to go.”

TCU can’t get preoccupied with Tim Jefferson, though. The top
Air Force rusher – running back Asher Clark – is 30th nationally,
but the Falcons still have three in the top 100. That includes
Jefferson at 66 yards per carry, Clark at 96 yards and Jared Tew at
77 per game.

Masters of the triple option, the Falcons are averaging 347
yards rushing.

”It’s a completely different scheme, a different system than
what we face every day,” said TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. ”I
know coach Patterson is going to have them ready.”

The Frogs were ineffective on offense for three quarters, other
than a two-touchdown flurry in the span of a minute late in the
first half, but the defense made sure TCU was never in danger. BYU
had minus-1 yard rushing in the first half and finished with 147
total yards.

Almost half (70) came on a third-quarter drive to a field goal
that snapped the Frogs’ scoreless streak at 175 minutes.

TCU is second to fellow BCS buster Boise State nationally in
total defense, which means the Frogs are in range to have the No. 1
defense for the fifth time since 2000. No other school has more
than two defense titles since 1989.

”I think it’s just the program that we have here and the way
that we build year in and year out and prepare young players to
step up and play that role,” said safety Tejay Johnson, who leads
the Frogs with two interceptions and is third in tackles.

The Frogs made the BYU score look a little better for the
pollsters when Dalton threw his third and fourth touchdown passes
in the fourth quarter. His final scoring toss was on fourth down
when Patterson decided to go for it to keep the clock running.
Dalton threw for the end zone instead because BYU blitzed.

TCU stayed at No. 4 despite Ohio State dropping from the top
spot because Oklahoma jumped from sixth to third after a 52-0 win
over Iowa State. Boise State is now two spots ahead of the Frogs
after spending most of the season side-by-side with them.

The Frogs suffered a bit of a blow because Air Force’s upset
loss to San Diego State dropped the Falcons from the Top 25,
costing TCU a ranked opponent.

”I’m not going to sell my team. I think my team’s got to sell
itself,” Patterson said. ”I thought last year we did a great job
of people believing in us, and I think we’ve got to do the same
thing.”