When you think about the TCU Horned Frogs, your mind automatically begins thinking about defense, the Horned Frogs' calling card for many years.
Your mind doesn't go there without reason. Over the past 16 years, very few—if any—programs in the country can claim the same level of defensive success the Horned Frogs can. A few numbers for you to chew on:
5: number of times TCU has led the NCAA in total defense. This number is second to Alabama in most times since 1937, the year the NCAA began keeping statistics. More impressive is the fact TCU has accomplished this in 14 years, including three in a row from 2008-2010.
1: number of times TCU has finished outside the top-40 in total defense since 1998. That occurred in 2004, defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas' first year in Fort Worth.
93.7: number of rush yards per game TCU has allowed since 2000, tops in the nation by eight yards over Alabama.
Throw in the fact TCU has played the Sooners extremely tough over the past four matchups and Saturday's clash between the two teams is shaping up to be a difficult, but an exciting test for Oklahoma.
“It's always exciting to go against one of the better fronts,” OU offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson said. “They've got a really good front seven and we think we have a really good offensive line so it will be really exciting for us.”
The biggest reason for the Horned Frogs' continued success is no doubt the consistency on the coaching staff. Coach Gary Patterson has been at TCU since 1998, the first three years as defensive coordinator. Bumpas has been on staff since the 2004 season. In a profession where staying in one place for 10 years is almost unheard of, Patterson is in his 17th season in Fort Worth, no small feat.
The annual turnover in college football also makes TCU's run more impressive. It's one thing to have a consistent defense in the NFL where players can be retained for many years, but it's another to do the same thing when starters come and go every year.
“It can be hard but they have a set system that comes from Gary that their players get trained in at a young age,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “They're really fundamental in how they do it.”
Stoops praised the TCU defense for the fundamental play that has defined the unit over Patterson's tenure. It brings to light another impressive part of the Horned Frogs success: talent. TCU is rarely found at the top of the national recruiting rankings, but its success shows you don't need four- or five-star talent to field a terrific defense.
This year, the Horned Frogs are back at it again, ranking second in the nation in total and scoring defense. However, TCU's schedule hasn't exactly been filled with heavy competition—the Horned Frogs have beaten Samford, Minnesota and SMU—so they're doing what they should against such competition.
But while the Horned Frogs went just 4-8 a year ago, they still had a defense that finished the year No. 24 in total defense. That performance helped paved the way for this year's unit that looks like one of the TCU defenses we've grown accustomed to seeing over the years.
Thanks to a defense that has been consistently good for over a decade, it's always a tough task to face the Horned Frogs.