The biggest game on the Mountain West schedule this week is TCU traveling to take on San Diego State. Both team have their flaws, but TCU's are more glaring with their defense -- most specifically their secondary -- is not very good. TCU has allowed big pass plays and yards to every opponent this year, and that includes Louisiana-Monroe who beat TCU's secondary for two deep touchdown passes of 37 and 22 yards in a game where TCU has struggled.
Pick anyone of these defensive backs between Greg McCoy, Tek Cuba, Trent Thomas, Sam Carter, Jonathan Anderson, Jason Verrett and Kevin White, and they have been beaten in the passing game. Against San Diego State, this defense must do something if they want to win this game.
However, on the San Diego State side of things they have a NFL-caliber quarterback in Ryan Lindley but he also needs receivers to catch the ball. On the year there have been multiple times where Aztec receivers have not been able to hold onto the ball.
What TCU will need to do in the pass defense is to pressure Ryan Lindley. The star on the defensive front is Stansley Maponga has 4.5 sacks and has forced four fumbles, however the TCU defense need more playmakers to join him to put pressure on Ryan Lindley. If Lindley has time he will be able to carve up that TCU secondary, well assuming the receivers catch the ball.
Keeping on the San Diego State offense. TCU will also have to keep an eye on running back Ronnie Hillman who is second in the nation running the ball by averaging 151.5 yards per game and is only behind Oregon's LaMichael James. TCU's defense this year is just average in stopping the run, so that is another area for concern with this TCU defense that has not performed as it has over the past three years.
Perhaps the expectations were way too high for TCU this year, they did lose so much on both sides of the ball and they felt, as did nearly everyone else, that they would take a minor step down, but the defense is just average at best this year.
TCU also needs to avoid a slow start on offense. It seems that the TCU offense comes alive when they are down at a couple of touchdowns and that is when Casy Pachall and others start to show up. TCU needs to look at what Michigan did against San Diego State which is to use a speed player to run the ball. Michigan's Denard Robinson rushed for just over 200 yards, and while TCU does not have a player of that caliber they do have a stable of backs who have speed in Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. Plus, the Horned Frogs have Skye Dawson who is a returner and wide receiver but is extremely fast and it would make sense to get him the ball a lot against San Diego State with end arounds, bubble screens, quick slants or anything that can get him the ball in space to use his speed to make a big play.
For TCU to win they must get out to a good start. They don't even have to run out to a big lead, but do not let up early scores and be down 10 or more points and play catch up against San Diego State. The Aztecs can score fast and once they get a lead it will be difficult to mount a comeback. Even though the Aztecs have a good quarterback this year their running game is leading the way, and TCU must clamp down on Ronnie Hillman and not allow him to break off big gains. Hillman will probably get over 100 yards, but if TCU can limit his yards per carry then TCU has a good shot at winning.
For San Diego State to win they must have their receivers be consistent and catch the balls and not drop the easy balls. Also, the Aztec defense needs to try to get pressure on quarterback Casey Pachall and get him out of a rhythm, because once Pachall is in a zone he can lead TCU on multiple scoring drives and looks like a veteran quarterback.