Gary Patterson's vaunted TCU defense is right back at the top of the charts despite losing two players to the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
These days, the Horned Frogs simply re-load.
After three games, TCU is ranked No. 4 in the nation in total defense, allowing 222.7 yards a game. They've yet to give up 200 yards passing in a game or 100 yards rushing.
"Their defense is the best defense I've looked at in 10 years I've been in college football," said SMU coach June Jones, whose Mustangs take on the fourth-ranked Frogs Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. "They know what they’re doing. They’re well-coached, they know their schemes, they know how to play football. They play fast and do they do what they do, like all great teams do, and make you adjust."
Jones called this season's unit better than last year's that led the nation in total defense (239.7 ypg).
They limited pro-style Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz to 159 yards passing and dangerous tailback Jacquizz Rodgers to 75 yards on 18 carries. Elusive Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was held to 164 yards passing and 21 yards rushing on 14 carries.
About the only thing the Frogs defense hasn't done much of yet is make picks. They have just one, from junior cornerback Jason Teague, on 70 pass attempts.
They'll get plenty of opportunities to make plays Friday night against Jones' spread offense led by impressive sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron. The Mustangs are averaging 35.3 pass attempts and a less-than-expected 224.0 yards a game through the air. Padron has thrown three interceptions. Surprisingly, they've been quite effective running the ball, averaging 165.3 yards a game. Sophomore Zach Line is averaging 7.7 yards a carry and 92.0 yards a game.
Jones knows his still-evolving offense has its hands full against the fast and physically imposing Frogs defense.
"That's a statement they make every game they go play. They play very physical and they play hard," Jones said. "That’s what they’re going to try to do against us or they’re going to try to do it against Ohio State."