Scouting TCU: Stop the run, win the game

No. 11 Oklahoma ends its regular season with a road trip to TCU to take on the Horned Frogs at 11 a.m. on Saturday. TCU is coming off a impressive 20-13 win over Texas on Thanksgiving night. SoonerNation reviewed the Horned Frogs' latest win and came away with three key things to keep an eye on:

Stopping TCU’s running game

TCU rushed for 217 yards in its win over Texas as it dominated the line of scrimmage. Much like the past three weeks, tackling will be critical for the Sooners. OU’s defensive line needs to play well and its defensive backs will have to made quality tackles in space.

Trevone Boykin provides another challenge. The Horned Frogs quarterback is talented, but his youth can show at times. As the best running quarterback the Sooners will face since the beginning of November, Boykin will test OU’s defense in ways they haven’t faced in recent weeks. The freshman has the running skills of a running back yet can make OU pay with his arm as well. Don’t be surprised when the Sooners appear to have him corralled in the pocket until he shakes lose to pick up a first down at some point on Saturday.

The key for the Sooners will be to make Boykin beat them with his arm. They’ll have to be aggressive and physical around the line of scrimmage and be willing to leave cornerbacks Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin in one-on-one situations with TCU’s receivers.

Handling Devonte Fields

TCU’s true freshman defensive end is a matchup nightmare for most offensive tackles. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Fields brings quickness, strength and athleticism to TCU's defensive system. He leads the Big 12 with nine sacks this season although he has just one sack in the past four games as offenses have adjusted to his talents.

Fortunately for OU, left tackle Lane Johnson -- and the rest of the offensive line -- has pass protected well throughout the season with just 14 sacks in 482 pass attempts. Johnson should be able to win his share of individual battles with Fields and OU shouldn't have to completely revolve its game plan around concerns about Fields causing havoc. Nonetheless, he is a terrific talent and has the ability to impact games with his pass rushing talents.

For OU, establishing a running game will be key so Fields and the rest of the TCU defensive line cannot just line up with the sole purpose of harassing Sooners quarterback Landry Jones. It will also be important for the Sooners interior line to win its individual battles to give Jones a pocket to step up into if Fields does get around Johnson.

Protecting the ball

The Horned Frogs led the Big 12 with 30 turnovers forced, proving TCU’s defensive is very opportunistic. They tend to create turnovers by making opposing offenses uncomfortable and by having multiple players around the football at all times. Both traits lead to mistakes by opponents. TCU has forced 10 turnovers in their last four games.

Meanwhile, OU has committed eight turnovers in its last four games. Those are scary numbers for the Sooners.

With its running game struggling, OU has been putting the game on the shoulders of Landry Jones more often in recent weeks. Thus, five of his nine interceptions have been thrown in the last four games. OU is 4-0 in those games, however.

So, the key will be for Jones to limit his mental mistakes and if he does turn the ball over, respond like he did against Oklahoma State when he shook off his lone interception by leading the Sooners on five straight scoring drives after his poor decision.

Without a doubt, turnovers could decide the game. And if they do, the odds are in favor of the Horned Frogs, not the Sooners. Thus, protecting the football should be priority No. 1 for OU’s offense.