Tuesday, December 28, 2010
TCU prepares for Wisconsin's power
By Brian Bennett
LOS ANGELES -- In the first question of TCU's defensive news conference Tuesday, defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas was asked to whom he would compare Wisconsin's offensive style.
Bumpas chuckled and said, "Probably the Green Bay Packers back in their heyday."
Yes, the Horned Frogs' challenge in the Saturday's Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO is quite literally a big one. Wisconsin's massive offensive line and powerful running game are unlike anything in the Mountain West Conference. TCU players struggled to find an apt comparison on their schedule, at times drawing some similarities to BYU's size or Air Force's running game. But the Badgers are a different breed.
"Other teams have big tackles or big guards," defensive end Wayne Daniels said. "The difference is, I've never seen a team this big as a whole."
Wisconsin's offensive front averages 321 pounds per man, or more than 40 pounds of beef more than the average Horned Frog on the defensive line. The Badgers have three running backs who have produced at least 800 yards this season.
"As you watch the film, game after game, those guys are just romping and stomping up and down the field," Bumpas said. "So it presents a unique challenge for us."
TCU was terrific against the run all year. Only two opponents -- SMU and Air Force -- finished with more than 100 yards rushing in a game this season against a defense that ranked third in the FBS by allowing just 89.2 yards per game on the ground.
Can it remain stout against Wisconsin? Players talked repeatedly Tuesday about how crucial it will be to fill every gap and tackle securely. TCU excels with an undersized defense that flies to the ball. But with its 4-2-5 alignment, the defense will need some safeties to help out against much bigger players in the run game.
"Our safeties generally are the second and third leading tacklers on the team every game," senior free safety Tejay Johnson said. "So we're used to being involved against the run. We just have to make sure we keep our leverage with our speed and make tackles once we get there."
Size isn't everything. But the Horned Frogs' defense knows it has a plus-sized challenge on deck.