All week long TSD will post scouting reports on the TCU Horned Frogs in advance of Saturday’s LSU season opener in Arlington.
PREVIOUS SCOUTING REPORTS
Offensive Skill Players
Today we turn our attention to the final position group — the secondary. In TCU’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme, that means the Frogs will have three safeties on the field in in their base formation with the SS either playing close to the line or backing off into coverage. TCU’s defensive backs will probably be the most experienced group on the field, including one of the nation’s best as the primary CB.
Below I’ll list the Frogs’ starting DBs and notable backups, break down the group and then take a peek at how they’ll match up with LSU’s receivers.
CB: Jason Verrett (5-10, 176, Sr.)
SS: Sam Carter (6-1, 215, Jr.)
FS: Elisha Olabode (5-11, 193, Sr.)
WS: Chris Hackett (6-2, 195, So.)
CB: Kevin White (5-10, 174, Jr.)
Notable Backups: SS: Derrick Kindred (5-10, 210, So.), FS: Geoff Hooker (5-10, 186, Jr.), CB: Keivon Gamble (5-10, 180, Sr.)
OUTLOOK & ANALYSIS
Any discussion of TCU’s secondary has to start with the Frogs’ All-Everything CB Jason Verrett. The most senior member of TCU’s team, Verrett landed on five national award watch lists after emerging as one of the nation’s best in 2012. His eight interceptions and 22 passes defended topped the Big 12, and he was the only player to rank nationally in the Top 10 in both of those categories. Despite lacking great size, Verrett maintained dominant production entering the pass-heavy Big 12, and he’s a guy you’ll likely see on Sundays next year.
Across from him is another just-as-veteran corner in Kevin White, whose 15 career starts rank third on the team behind Verrett (23) and QB Casey Pachall (17). White, who has almost identical size to Verrett, had 37 tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception last year in his first season as a regular starter. Gary Patterson said early in fall camp that White was playing the best football of his career, and if that’s the case, he’ll combine with Verrett to form one of the top CB duos in the country.
Behind those two are Keivon Gamble, a former JUCO transfer that did make a start last season but mostly saw time on special teams, and freshman Ranthony Texada, a three-star recruit that has emerged as one of the Frogs’ more promising youngsters.
Our examination of the safeties starts with Elisha Olabode, one of only three senior starters on TCU’s defense. Olabode began his career as a corner, then moved to safety as a sophomore where he’s found a home. He started all 13 games a year ago, tying for the team lead with four interceptions. He took part in seven total takeaways, forcing two fumbles and recovering another to go with his INTs.
Next to Olabode will be Chris Hackett, who started the final 10 games of last season as a redshirt freshman. His 61 tackles ranked sixth on the team and were the most by a TCU freshman since 2005. Hackett’s considered by most to be the prototypical safety, capable of covering inside receivers and tight ends, but also stepping down to defend the run.
Rounding out the group is SS Sam Carter, another veteran that started all 13 games a year ago. He came to TCU as a quarterback but quickly made the switch to defense, where he has since been named a second-team All-Big 12 member. His 63 tackles ranked fourth on the team a year ago, and you’ll see him making plays all over the field.
MATCHUPS WITH LSU
Fans hoping to see a true test for LSU’s revamped passing game won’t be disappointed. There aren’t many groups as experienced and dynamic as this, and LSU will certainly need to be precise in order to find success through the air.
The matchups between Verrett and Hacket vs. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham should be interesting. TCU’s corners pride themselves on their physicality as they typically have to face WRs several inches taller than them. LSU’s top two don’t necessarily have that height advantage, but neither are afraid of contact, so expect a brawl on the outside.
Travin Dural could have a big game in his LSU debut. He does have four inches on TCU’s starting corners, and with his leaping ability, you can definitely add a few more to that total. You can expect to see guys like Olabode and Hackett ranging deep to help neutralize Dural’s deep threat.
The LSU offense must also account for Carter’s location at all times. The TCU defense is designed to disguise, and that’s exemplified by Carter’s role. Many times you’ll see Carter rushing the line, which will provide a test for the Tigers’ offensive line that’s still getting used to each other. Communication will be key in order to pick up the blitz. When Carter drops back, that’ll leave Zach Mettenberger with the task of picking him up as he goes through his progressions. Carter will provide an early challenge to see just how far Mettenberger has developed as a quarterback.
Give us your take on the TCU secondary
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