PREVIOUS SCOUTING REPORTS
Scouting Report: TCU Offensive Skill Players
Scouting Report: TCU Offensive Line
Scouting Report: TCU Defensive Line
Today we move back to the second level of the Horned Frogs' defense, taking a look at the two-man linebacking corps TCU deploys as part of its 4-2-5 look. Linebackers, in coordinator Dick Bumpas' system, play close to the line of scrimmage and have to be able to jam the run and drop back into coverage equally as well.
TCU is replacing all of its primary position players at linebacker from 2012, but there is some at least some experience in the fold. Below I'll list TCU's starting linebackers and significant role players, then break the group down and take a peek at matchups with LSU's players on offense.
MLB: Jonathan Anderson (6-3, 227, Jr.)
SLB: Marcus Mallet (6-1, 227, Jr.)
Notable Backups: SLB Sammy Douglas (6-3, 195, Fr.) and Paul Dawson (6-2, 230, Jr.)
OUTLOOK & ANALYSIS
After a productive season for its linebackers in 2012, TCU has to regroup quickly with a few new faces. Gone are Kenny Cain and Joel Hasley, who a season ago led the team with 86 and 79 tackles, respectively. Cain's departure, as a senior, was expected while Hasley's was not. The walkon from Aledo, Tex., left the team on Aug. 5, opening up a second starting position in the Horned Frogs' linebacking corps.
Stepping into starters' shoes this fall will be Jonathan Anderson, in the middle, and Marcus Mallet on the strongside. Anderson has logged four career starts at TCU, with three of them coming to open the 2012 season as a weak safety. He finished the campaign with 28 total tackles (11th on the team). Mallet played in 12 of TCU's 13 games a season ago, making two starts, and recorded 18 tackles, five for loss. With a DB background, Anderson is rangier and more capable of playing the pass, even from his Mike linebacker spot. Mallet, on the other hand, is more reliable versus the run.
Of the two notable backups listed, the one more likely to contribute right away (and make a bigger long-term impact for the program) is freshman Sammy Douglas. The Arlington, Tex., native was a three-star player and the No. 28 outside linebacker in the country a season ago, per Scout.com. Douglas has already cracked the Horned Frogs' two-deep.
MATCHUPS WITH LSU
Both projected starters, Anderson and Mallet, figure to get real familiar real soon with LSU fullback J.C. Copeland. The TCU ‘backers will be tasked with taking Copeland on and allowing ball-hawking safeties, especially strong safety Sam Carter, to get through to LSU ball-carriers. How Carter does as de facto third linebacker near the line of scrimmage will be key, but perhaps not as important as the ability of Anderson and Mallet to stop Copeland's forward momentum.
The TCU linebackers are also likely to see a fair amount of pass coverage against running backs and tight ends lining up opposite Cam Cameron's offense. Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee (and Jeremy Hill, if he somehow plays) are all viable options in the short passing game and screen game for LSU, and it's difficult to imagine Mallet keeping up with any of those backs. Anderson is a different story. He has the ability to identify and stay with many of LSU's running backs and could even check the likes of Dillon Gordon or Travis Dickson at tight end for over-the-middle routes.
Ultimately this green linebacking corps will have to learn on the fly Saturday, and they'll go up against a 270-pound wrecking ball at fullback and some versatile LSU running backs, who the Tigers say they want to throw to more.
What are your thoughts on TCU's linebacking corps?