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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Horned Frogs' offensive line a force, too

By Brian Bennett

LOS ANGELES -- A lot of attention in the buildup to the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO has focused on Wisconsin's mammoth offensive line. It's not so much that those guys stole the spotlight; it's more like they're so big that they block out the sun.

But while the Badgers' offensive front deserves all those accolades, its TCU counterparts shouldn't be cowering in the shadows.

TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick
TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick, winner of the Rimington Award as the nation's top center, and the rest of the TCU offensive line have the Horned Frogs averaging 261 rushing yards per game.
Wisconsin's blockers paved the road to the tune of 247 rushing yards per game. The Horned Frogs averaged 261 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers gave up only 12 sacks this season. TCU allowed just nine. Yeah, Wisconsin's line averages 321 pounds per man. But TCU is only a few donuts shy at 317 pounds per lineman.

The Badgers have the Outland Trophy winner in tackle Gabe Carimi. The Horned Frogs have the Rimington Trophy winner in center Jake Kirkpatrick.

"They deserve all the credit they get because they're big, physical, and they're known for their O-lines," Kirkpatrick said. "But we feel like we've got some big guys, too. I tell everyone I talk to I think we have one of the best O-line coaches in the country. I mean, yeah, we definitely feel like we're going to try and go out there and prove that we're a good O-line and a good offense."

Wisconsin has those beefy Big Ten guys, but they don't come much bigger than TCU left tackle Marcus Cannon. The 6-foot-6, 350-pounder switched from right tackle to left tackle before his senior season and has been a dominant force.

"Going against (Horned Frogs defensive end) Wayne Daniels in practice, he probably helped me the most because he's the end when I play left side," Cannon said. "He's faster than the other ones. That was the part I was trying to get over, understanding that I'm going to lose some at first because I'm not 100 percent down, how to move around at left tackle yet."

Cannon will be matched up with the Badgers' J.J. Watt, who won the Lott Trophy this year while recording 21 tackles for loss. I asked Watt if TCU's line looked like the one he goes up against in practice every week.

"They're a very good offensive line that moves well," he said. "They have good feet. They're big guys so they can do a lot of things.

"It's tough to compare them because the offense is different. Our offense is just going to kind of mash the ball down your throat, while TCU's offense is going to do a little bit more misdirection, stuff like that. "

The TCU line is used to being overshadowed. Most of the stories and talk around the Horned Frogs program usually center on their outstanding, nation-leading defense. But this year's line has depth and skill, while the numbers, size and trophies speak for themselves. This group doesn't need to be eclipsed by anybody.