Continuing our â€œKnow Your Opponentâ€ series, we today visit the second newcomer to the league, the TCU Horned Frogs.Â Many of our older fans will remember the Horned Frogs from the old Southwest Conference, but by and large TCU is remembered for what theyâ€™ve become since then. Let’s get to it.
Now we have brushed up on our old foes, we first have to visit the baggage they come to the conference with. On February 15th of this year, multiple TCU students, including four football players, were arrested in the wake of a massive narcotics distribution and use investigation.
Four TCU Football players were arrested in the sting, including LB Tanner Brock, DT DJ Yendrey, CB Devin Johnson, and OL Ty Horn. Brock and Yendrey were expected to be significant contributors, and an already weak secondary needed Johnson.Â Horn was expected to contend for a starting spot and at least provide quality depth. All four were dismissed by TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson.
The black eye was bad enough, but then in late spring starting Sr RB Ed Wesley, who averaged over 6 yards a carry, left school for family reasons. A team expected to contend for the Big 12 Championship was gutted overnight.
TCU is wounded, but certainly has plenty in the cupboard, and it starts with 6-5 Jr QB Casey Pachall, whose exploits include a 473 yard, 5 TD performance in an upset of Boise State.Â Pachall threw for 2,921 yards and 25 TD’s against 7 INT’s.Â Interestingly enough, he threw for 16 of his 25 TD’s on the road, and had 7 TD’s and 1 INT in the teams two losses. Pachall is the perfect game manager QB for Patterson’s power running attack, and should adjust to the Big 12 with little difficulty.
TCU returns starting Jr WR Josh Boyce and Sr WR Skye Dawson, with So Brandon Carter manning the slot. Boyce caught 61 passes for just under 1000 yards and 9 scores. Dawson caught 45 passes for 500 yards and 5 TD’s of his own. Carter chipped in 23 catches for 352 yards and 3 scores of his own.Â Fun fact about this group:Â All 3 had at least 1 TD reception of 70+ yards.
The backfield should still be strong, with Sr Matthew Tucker and Jr Waymon James having the experience necessary to compensate for the loss of Ed Wesley.Â James averaged over 7 yards a carry while rushing for almost 900 yards and 6 TD’s. Tucker went over 700 yards last season and scored an impressive 12 rushing scores of his own.Â The pair also caught 18 passes out of the backfield last year and bring the versatility needed to compete in this conference.
The offensive line features Sr James Fry at center and Sr Blaize Foltz at guard. Horn was penciled in as one of the tackles, but now leaves the Frogs needing to find 3 new starters along the line.Â These are battles that will go in the fall camp, and leave TCU with a critical need for the line to jell, and jell quickly before facing the toughest defensive lines its seen in conference in more than 15 years.
Last year TCU was 9th in Scoring Offense at 40.8 points per game and 28th in Total Offense at just over 440 yards per game.Â TCU’s ability to succeed on offense in 2012 is going to come down to the response of the inexperienced replacements along the offensive line.
One way to get those guys experience is to face the fierce front 7 of the TCU Defense.Â The Horned Frogs run an unusual 4-2-5 alignment, and return three of four starters on the defensive line, headed up by DE Sansly Maponga, who had 13.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles in a breakout season last year. Joining Maponga are Sr DE Ross Forrest and Soph NT David Johnson, who was a Yahoo Sports Freshman All-American last year. Early indications are Soph DT Jon Lewis will step in to replace DJ Yendery.
Sr Kenny Cain returns in his LB role for the Horned Frogs.Â Cain rang up 72 tackles, four forced fumbles, and 1 INT last year, and will be leaned on heavily.Â With Tanner Brock gone from the team, the Frogs were going to look to promising LB Deryck Gildon, but he will likely not play this season.Â Its an open competition going into fall camp at a key spot for TCU.
The secondary was a mess last year to say the least, and returns only Jr Jason Verrett as a starter. Stepping in will be a case of Jr’s and Soph’s, Jonathan Anderson, Elisha Olabode,Â Trent Thomas, Sam Carter, and Travaras Battle. TCU’s normally stout defense allowed an average of more than 220 yards in the air last year, and this will fail badly in the pass happy Big 12.Â Again, these are all camp battles to be decided.
The special teams are a mess with the loss of 4 year starter Ross Allen and P Anson Kelton, meaning yet more camp battles in the fall to find the right guys.
Last year TCU was 32nd in Total Defense at 347.38 yards per game and 28th in Scoring Defense at 21.46 points per game.
TCU is going to be a hard team to gauge and will largely rise and fall with the arm of Pachall.Â With the depth issues on the line and in the secondary, TCU will win 8 or 9 games, and have a hard time against Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas State.
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