TCU Needs a Better Effort with Virginia in Town

by Todd K | Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012

TCU leading rusher James out for season (knee)

Image: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr. Columnist

TCU can thank their lucky stars that their Big 12 debut came against the Kansas Jayhawks, better known as the bottom feeders of the conference. Had that lackluster effort been against anyone in the Big 12 but Kansas and they may have been looking at much different results than a 20-6 win this past weekend.

On Saturday, the Virginia Cavaliers come calling for a non-conference match up with the Horned Frogs and the look of the TCU offense could be very different when they take the field.

While there’s no change with Casey Pachall under center, they will be without their top running back, Waymon James, who will miss the remainder of the season because of a left knee injury he sustained in the game against Kansas. During the fourth quarter, James took a handoff and looked to grab his knee after trying to make a cut on a run. The school has not released any further details about the severity of the injury, only that the team will need to move on without him.

The reigns of the running game will be handed to Matthew Tucker, a senior out of Tyler, Texas, who finished with his second straight 700-yard season in 2011 and already has 100 yards rushing through the first two games of 2012.

Through the first two games of the season, TCU hasn’t really faced a tough test against the likes of Grambling State and Kansas, and may not have their first real test until Iowa State comes calling on October 6th.

Virginia, coming into this game with a 2-1 record, is just coming off a lopsided 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech after having won their first two games of the season against Richmond and an underwhelming Penn State squad. That’s not to say Virginia can’t come to Fort Worth, Texas and surprise the Horned Frogs, it’s just unlikely.

They might catch a little bit of a break with TCU not having James in their backfield, but Tucker seems more than willing to step into the starting role. Who’s to say the senior running back won’t have a career game against a Virginia defense that gave up 276 yards on the ground in the first half to Georgia Tech and another 185 in the second half.

It would seem to me that Tucker would be licking his chops right about now.

The Cavaliers aren’t nearly the team they were last season so this may be just another warm up game for TCU but they need to be careful of getting too into themselves. We saw how that worked out last season against the team on the other side of the metroplex, SMU.

Defensively Virginia isn’t going to be strong against the run, we saw as much last week against the Yellow Jackets. The TCU running game shouldn’t fall off all that much with Tucker in the back field. Sure they’ll miss James especially with him being the work horse from last season, but Tucker only finished with less than 200 fewer rushing yards last season.

Pachall has been sharp this season thus far and although he really hasn’t been tested thus far, I’d rather see a sharp quarterback against the bad teams than playing below his potential.

This game may not be close from the very start. Look for TCU to be much improved from last week. No way Coach Patterson allows his team to play as sloppy as they did on the road against Kansas this past week.

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  1. Agree with you that the loss of James is a big one. However, with talent (as unproven as it may be) like Aundre Dean and B.J. Catalon behind Tucker, hopefully our running situation won’t change too much.

    Hopefully Patterson will assert the running game early against Virginia. As you mentioned, they’re not exactly efficient at stopping it.

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