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.”