Louisiana-Monroe-TCU Preview

Despite key absences on both sides of the ball, TCU opened its
final season in the Mountain West on a good note.

Playing the next three games in Fort Worth could produce even
more positive results even if those players aren’t ready to go.

The 23rd-ranked Horned Frogs open their home schedule Saturday
trying for a 21st straight win at Amon G. Carter Stadium as they
face Louisiana-Monroe for the first time.

Coming off a 50-48 loss at Baylor on Sept. 2 that snapped its
BCS-best regular-season winning streak at 25 games, TCU (1-1)
defeated Air Force 35-19 in last Saturday’s conference opener.

Ed Wesley (shoulder), the team’s top rusher last season with
1,078 yards, and linebacker Tanner Brock (foot), the team’s top
tackler in 2011, both sat out after aggravating injuries in the
Baylor loss. Coach Gary Patterson, going for his 100th career win
this week, said both first-team all-conference selections are
questionable to return.

Their replacements in the starting lineup did just fine last
Saturday. Matthew Tucker rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns,
and Kenny Cain had a career-best seven tackles in his first career
start.

Safety Trent Thomas and cornerback Kevin White also started for
the first time.

“We had some of our 2s come in and there was no drop-off,”
linebacker Tank Carder said after TCU won its 18th straight in
Mountain West play to tie a league record.

Casey Pachall has done a nice job of making sure there has not
been a drop-off at the quarterback position with the loss of Andy
Dalton to the NFL. The sophomore has completed 70.3 percent (45 for
64) of his passes for 457 yards with six TDs and one
interception.

Pachall connected on his first 11 passes last Saturday, and he
was named the Mountain West offensive player of the week after
finishing 20 of 25 for 206 yards and two TDs in his first win as a
starter.

“We always knew we were a good team, even after last week,”
Pachall said. “But this win gives us a lot more confidence knowing
what we can do and what we can’t do and it’s going to help us in
the future.”

The Horned Frogs enter Saturday looking to tie the conference
record for consecutive home wins, set at 21 by Utah last season – a
streak TCU ended. This homestand continues next Saturday against
FCS foe Portland State and ends Oct. 1 against SMU.

TCU outscored opponents 261-62 in six home games in 2010, and
the team has won 17 straight at Amon G. Carter Stadium against
non-conference foes since a 27-24 overtime loss to Northwestern
State on Sept. 22, 2001.

That does not bode well for a Louisiana-Monroe team that’s 0-21
all-time against ranked opponents and has been outscored 168-10 in
four such contests since the start of last season.

The Warhawks (1-1) rebounded from a 34-0 loss at then-No. 6
Florida State on Sept. 3 with last Saturday’s 35-7 victory over
Grambling State.

However, coach Todd Berry is not pleased with how quarterback
Kolton Browning – 26 of 50 for 246 yards in 2011 – and his team’s
offense is playing.

“Offensively right now, we are really out of sync, and I don’t
understand it at all,” Berry said last Saturday after his team
committed three turnovers. “… this is the same group of offensive
players that we played with last year and nobody’s making any
plays.”

However, sophomore Centarius Donald is coming off his best
collegiate game, running for 144 yards and a score.

He’ll face a Horned Frogs defense yielding 199.5 rushing yards
per game – nearly 100 more than in 2010 when that unit was sixth in
the FBS.

Berry has complimented the Warhawks’ defense, which has eight
sacks and three interceptions, but watching his team hold the
Tigers to 144 total yards last week provided only temporary
satisfaction.

“Quick smile, and then we’ve got TCU,” he said.