Dec. 21
8 p.m.
ESPN                 TCU 31 vs Louisiana Tech 24 

Offense: TCU brings in an offense that averages more than 41 points a game. QB Casey Pachall has replaced Andy Dalton and has thrown for 24 touchdowns and passed for 2715 yards. He also brings a running threat to the Horned Frog offense. When he drops back to pass, he will look for WR Josh Boyce, the sophomore who has garnered over 900 yards receiving. Another receiver to watch for is true freshman Brandon Carter. A balanced TCU offense ranks 20th in running. The unit is led by Waymon James, leading rusher, and Matthew Tucker, who leads the team in rushing touchdowns. Louisiana Tech possesses an offense that averages over 30 points a game and helped earn its team a WAC Championship. They are sparked by QB Colby Cameron, who took over midseason and has led the Bulldogs on their current 7 game winning streak. His number 1 target is WR Quinton Patton. He averages over 15 yards a catch and has 10 receiving touchdowns on the year. The rushing attack is led by RB Lennon Creer. The senior has 838 yards on the ground and has pucnhed it in 9 times. Later in the season, freshman Hunter Lee has also proved to be a viable running option.

Defense: TCU brings in a solid defense, but not what Horned Frogs fans have been accustomed to. LB Tank Carder leads this group. He is a vocal leader, and his play speaks for itself. Sophomore DE Stansly Maponga anchors the defensive line. It is imperative that TCU gets pressure on Louisiana Tech, because the secondary is vulnerable to the pass. It has been improving, however, thanks in large part to DB Devin Johnson, who has grown from a reserve to a key member of the defense. Louisiana Tech has a very solid defense as well, one that has improved as the year has gone on. Senior LB Adrien Cole was named WAC defensive player of the year for his efforts, in a simple system, where instincts are the key. Jay Dudley, who has 4 interceptions, 2 of which have gone for touchdowns, is also a key member of the linebacking corps. DE Matt Broha will leave Ruston, Louisiana as the 2nd all time leader in sacks at the univeristy. Getting pressure on Pachall will be key.


The pick: I like TCU to win the game. They are very balanced overall, but I think Louisiana Tech will keep it much closer than some would expect. But overall, the Frogs will come out with the win.  If you agree or disagree let me know why by tweeting me @bowlseason or emailing me at . I'll post them if you send them.






Jason Pugh, of The Times, in Shreveport, Louisiana answered some questions for us.


 BS: The Bulldogs won their first WAC championship since 2001. They started 1-4, but finished by winning their last 7. What changed over the second half of the season and how big is it for the program to win a WAC Championship?

Jason Pugh: The biggest change for the Bulldogs during their seven-game win streak came when junior Colby Cameron replaced injured freshman Nick Isham at quarterback. Cameron started the final five games of the season and finished the year with an 11-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Cameron's ability to protect the football, along with a defense that produced five interception returns for touchdowns, helped Tech post a plus-11 turnover margin.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were stellar during the final seven games of the season, capping the run with a shutout of New Mexico State that clinched Tech's first WAC championship since 2001, its first season in the league.

BS: The offense has done well, scoring over 30 points a game. Who are the players that make the offense work and what is the philosophy of the offense?

Jason Pugh: As mentioned earlier, Cameron's entrance into the starting lineup gave the Bulldogs a veteran presence at the quarterback position. Isham, who started four games before turning 18, showed flashes during his seven starts, but was not as consistent as Cameron.
Wide receiver Quinton Patton led the Bulldogs with 74 catches for 1,135 yards and 10 touchdowns and was a consistent big-play threat. Senior Taulib Ikharo (50 catches) is a sure-handed possession receiver while former walk-on David Gru and Cameron re-established their high school rapport in Ruston.
When Lennon Creer, a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior in 2010, was banged up with a litany of injuries, another walk-on, freshman Hunter Lee, emerged as the Bulldogs' most consistent running threat. Lee ran for 127 yards against Ole Miss and ended the season with a career-high 140-yard performance against New Mexico State.
Up front, Steven Warner and Kris Cavitt were first-team All-WAC peformers.

BS: The defense really picked it up in the second half of the season. Who and what makes that unit so successful?

Jason Pugh: The amount of time spent under defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler, a Broyles Award semifinalist, certainly played a part in the turnaround. Senior linebacker Adrien Cole, the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, always says Spangler keeps things simple and allows his players to use their instincts. Cole and fellow senior Jay Dudley are active linebackers who back up a defensive line that was aided by the return of Jon'al White, a former Ruston High star who came back home after a junior-college career, and Justin Ellis. White and Ellis are a pair of space-eating defensive tackles who helped hold each of Tech's first 11 opponents below their per-game rushing averages.
The Bulldogs showed a knack for the big play all sesason, led by senior linebacker Jay Dudley, who returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns.
Along the line, defensive end Matt Broha ended his stellar career second all-time at the school in sacks. He and IK Enemkpali were aided by a defensive backfield that saw three players -- safeties Quinn Giles and Chad Boyd and cornerback Dave Clark -- intercept three passes. The hard-hitting Boyd also returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in a 27-7 win over Ole Miss.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Jason Pugh : Chad Boyd. Boyd is a versatile safety with a knack for the big play, which should make him a tough matchup for TCU's balanced offense. As a high school player, Boyd helped his Archbishop Shaw Eagles reach three straight state championship games, yet he has no titles to show for it. Those losses should drive Boyd, who finished fourth on the team with 71 tackles, to have a big day in his first bowl game.

Thanks alot to Jason Pugh. Check his work out at and follow @JasonSPugh .



 Ryan Osborne, the sports editor for the TCU Daily Skiff took some time to answer some questions for us.


BS: The Horned Frogs finished 10-2 and beat perennial power Boise State in a year where expectations were not as high. How would assess this season overall?

Ryan Osborne: Full of ups and downs. Starting from the opening game at Baylor to the win over Boise State to the recent BCS possibilities. TCU was down 47-23 at Baylor going into the fourth quarter, came back, gave up the lead, came back one more time then lost. Same goes for the SMU and Boise State games. Frogs trailed the Mustangs by three touchdowns, mounted a comeback then eventually lost in overtime. And in Boise, they led, gave up the lead, got it back (on a two-point conversion, no less), then escaped when the Broncos' freshman kicker missed a chip shot field goal. It's definitely been a roller coaster ride, but at the end of the year, regardless of the bowl outcome, I think TCU will look back at 2011 a see it as a success, given the circumstances. A young defense learned to play. A young quarterback learned to lead. And a young team learned how to win, and do so in a place (Boise) where not very many visiting teams have done so the past 13 years.

BS: TCU is on its way to the Big 12. Do you like the move how well do you think this program will adapt to the Big 12?

Ryan Osborne: Love the move. Perfect fit, really. Exponentially better than the Big East, both football-wise and geographically. I think a lot of people were obviously excited about the move to the Big East since it would finally give TCU the chance to be in an automatic-qualifying conference. But the whole concept of the Big East -- the teams, the locations of the schools, etc. -- was still a little foreign to many Frog fans. Completely opposite situation in the Big 12. A large base of TCU fans -- and players, for that matter -- have grown up in Big 12 country and understand the various rivalries within the conference. Plus, for as excited as the TCU students are at the move, I think the alumni base is even more excited, as most of them went to TCU when it was a member of the old Southwest Conference. As far as how TCU will adapt to the Big 12, I think they'll be fine -- on the field at least. The Frogs are loaded with young talent and are getting even more with this year's recruiting class. That being said, I think TCU still has some areas that need to improve off the field. Fan attendance, game ops, facilities are all things TCU needs to -- and will, in time -- catch up with some other Big 12 schools.
BS: The offense, led by QB Casey Pachall, has averaged over 40 points per game. How well has Pachall done to replace Andy Dalton and who are his top playmakers?

Ryan Osborne: Obviously, Casey's done a phenomenal job. He's led a young team to a 10-2 record and he's on pace to break several of Andy's records from last season. Still, I don't think anything he's done so far has been too much of a surprise, to me at least and I think a few other people close to the program would agree with me. Going into the season, we knew two things: 1) Casey was more athletic than Andy and 2) he had a stronger arm. So the numbers don't really surprise me. What does, though, is Casey's leadership. You'd be hard pressed to find another team in the country that responds to and follows the lead of their quarterback better than this TCU team has this year. The Frogs fell just short against Baylor and SMU but without Pachall they would've gotten blown out. Plain and simple. Same thing against Boise State. Without Casey, TCU wouldn't have stood a chance against the Broncos much less be able to go in there and beat them. Folks around here are hesitant to admit it, but, at this rate, its becoming obvious Pachall has a chance to be better than Dalton, if he already isn't. And yeah, he's had a ton of help from the guys around him. Two really stand out: Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter. Boyce is TCU's best receiver -- hands down -- and Carter, a true freshman who decommitted from Oklahoma last year, has been the Frogs top newcomer at the receiver position and huge asset that's proven to have big play capability.
BS: The defense did not have the typical gaudy stats that it usually does, but it was still very good. What makes this unit so effective and who are the guys that make it work?

Ryan Osborne: This year's defense has definitely been a work in progress. Against Baylor and SMU, it got burned -- pass after pass after pass. The secondary troubles have been well-documented. The turning point for the defense, though, came against San Diego State. Ryan Lindley and the Aztec offense had burned TCU the year before and going into the game I had expected them to do the same, especially since the game was in San Diego. But it didn't happen. The Frogs nearly rendered Lindley, and star back Ronnie Hillman, inept, won 27-14 and haven't lost since. So what was the key? Well, I think three certain guys have been key to TCU's success. 1) Stansly Maponga -- Sophomore defensive end with a non-stop motor. If you asked him, I think Patterson would say Maponga might be TCU's best player -- on offense and defense. 2) Tank Carder -- Early in the season, Carder led by example. But soon, he realized that wasn't good enough, especially on a young unit. Ever since, he's been more vocal -- on the field and in the locker room -- and the Frogs' defense has benefited from it greatly. 3) Devin Johnson -- Johnson started the year as a reserve in the secondary but was plugged into the starting lineup in San Diego and has been the most underrated player on the defense. Great tackler, doesn't blow assignments and has helped limit the likes of Lindley and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Ryan Osborne: Brandon Carter. Whoever TCU plays in the bowl game, you can bet they'll be keying in on Josh Boyce. Enter Carter, a true freshman who's seen playing time all season and has developed into a solid, no. 2 option for Pachall. Carter had four catches for 88 yards against UNLV Saturday and has been making big catches all season, the biggest being the 25-yard touchdown grab against Boise State that set TCU up to tie the game. Carter is fast, has great hands and instinct, too. He's been what I think a lot of people thought Skye Dawson was going the be this year. Best part? He's got three more years left. So, watch out for him in the bowl.


Thanks alot to Ryan Osborne. Check his work out at and follow him @RyanOsborneTCU

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