By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
2013 record: 4-8 overall, 2-7 in Big 12.
Returning starters: 6 on offense, 9 on defense.
Top players returning: Junior QB Trevone Boykin, junior RB B.J. Catalon, junior RB Aaron Green, junior WR Josh Docston, junior K Jaden Oberkrom, sophomore DE Devonte Fields, senior S Sam Carter, senior CB Kevin White, senior DT Chucky Hunter.
Key players to replace: QB Casey Pachall, CB Jason Verrett, WR LaDarius Brown, S Elisha Olabode, DE Jon Koontz.
After Year Two in the Big 12 produced a losing season and ended a school-record streak of eight consecutive bowl trips, TCU coach Gary Patterson decided that changes were needed.
"For us, it's giving ourselves an opportunity," Patterson said. "We have to go score more points, and we have to keep stopping people. It's not going to change. This league comes at you. … I'll be open to whatever helps us win."
Last season, the Frogs had the Big 12's second-best defense but their offense struggled in a number of areas. Injuries to senior quarterback Casey Pachall plus an ineffective running game robbed the offense of continuity. Patterson decided a philosophy change was needed.
He hired Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech and Dough Meacham from Houston to be the team's co-offensive coordinators. Both coaches are schooled in up-tempo spread offenses that still makes use of the running game.
While the new offensive style is designed to score points, TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas thinks working against the new style in practice will help his unit.
"It forces the kids to have to make decisions quickly, it forces them to think quickly and forces them to think when they're tired," he said. "That's one of the things I think that offense does so well is they get people on their heels, gets them tired and then all of sudden somebody makes a mistake and before you know it, the flood gates are open."
Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin – who last season also spent time as a productive wide receiver – could wind up as this season's starter. However, Matt Joeckel transferred from Texas A&M over the summer. He has more experience running the new offense and it's possible he could wind up as the starter.
*TCU has a number of running backs on the roster but only one scholarship running back was healthy for the spring game. B.J. Catalon, Kyle Hicks, Aaron Green and Trevorris Johnson need to be healthy when practice starts in August. The position also should get a boost with the arrival of freshman Shaun Nixon.
*With the new fast-paced offensive philosophy that might feature at least 40 passes a game, TCU needs good depth and talent at wide receiver. In the spring, the coaching staff moved Jordan Moore to wide receiver. It was the fourth position he has played with the Horned Frogs. Moore is 6-3, weighs 220 pounds and runs a 4.4.
*After spring practice, redshirt freshman Joseph Noteboom was named the starting right tackle. The 6-5, 295-pounder took advantage of playing time created when Tayo Fabuluje missed several spring practices with a high ankle sprain. Fabuluje started at right tackle in 2012 but left the team last August because of personal reasons. He didn't play football in 2013 and returned to TCU after the season. Even if Fabuluje regains the starting spot, Noteboom's development improves the depth on a unit that struggled last season.
Coach Gary Patterson on …
Adjusting to the no-huddle, up-tempo offense:
"We've got a long way to go before we can be where it's just pure reaction. We've got [teams] that have been running it for 15 years, and we've been running it for (15) practices. We're not running the ball as well as we need to and we need to be more efficient. Everything about this offense is about execution."
Replacing cornerback Jason Verrett, a first-round NFL Draft pick and depth at that position:
"I feel good about our first two corners. Both Ranthony (Texada) and Kevin White, right now, I'm very happy with. I don't feel good about the next two. Not yet. We gotta keep getting better but we got four or five defensive backs coming in the fall."
Having a spring game:
"The reason why I did it this year is for the simple reason that I wanted to see what guys would act like when they got in front of a crowd. One of the reasons I changed this offense is so we'd have the same swagger on offense that we did on defense."
|Sept. 27||at SMU|
|Oct. 11||at Baylor*|
|Oct. 18||Oklahoma State*|
|Oct. 25||Texas Tech*|
|Nov. 1||at West Virginia*|
|Nov. 8||Kansas State*|
|Nov. 15||at Kansas*|
|Nov. 27||at Texas*|
|Dec. 6||Iowa State*|