Frogs' depleted depth takes another big hit

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
5:10
PM ET
Hasn't TCU suffered enough attrition since the end of last season?

Apparently not. Add the team's leading rusher in 2011 and 2012 to the list. Waymon James won't be on the field for the Horned Frogs for the rest of 2012 after suffering a knee injury in last week's 20-6 win over Kansas.

From our news story:
TCU junior running back Waymon James will miss the rest of the season, a TCU official confirmed to ESPN.com Wednesday afternoon.

James suffered an apparent knee injury in the fourth quarter of last week's 20-6 win over Kansas, and coach Gary Patterson told reporters this week he believed James would be a game-time decision for Saturday's game against Virginia.

James' injury, which TCU declined to go into detail on, will keep him off the field for the rest of TCU's first season in the Big 12.

For now, that means the TCU running back spot belongs to Matthew Tucker. That's a pretty big surprise, but Tucker will be capable.

Even still, expect more of the offense to fall on junior quarterback Casey Pachall's shoulders. With less depth at running back and plenty at receiver with a capable passer in Pachall, it may be time for TCU to depend a little more on the passing game.

TCU's team is a prime example of how quickly depth can disappear. Tucker entered spring camp as the team's third running back in carries and rushing yards a year ago, despite the Frogs triple threat of running backs that each turned 120 carries into at least 700 yards in 2011.

In late May, Ed Wesley left the team because of family reasons and entered the NFL's supplemental draft. After James' injury, the Frogs are down to just one proven commodity in the backfield.

Tucker will get help from senior Aundre Dean and freshman B.J. Catalon, but TCU entered the season with arguably the best backfield in its new league, the Big 12.

Now? The Frogs are pretty average at the position.

And after all, that's the last thing TCU needed. The biggest question about the Frogs entering the Big 12 was if they had enough depth to win on a weekly basis in a major conference, rather than spending a whole season preparing for one big game to start the season or a big midseason showdown with Utah or Boise State, and then a bowl game.

Now, it looks like TCU won't even get a chance to prove whether or not that's the case. Here's who TCU won't have now in 2012 that at the end of 2011, it believed it would have:
  • The team's best linebacker and probable best overall defender, Tanner Brock (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • The team's second-best linebacker, Deryck Gildon (academics)
  • The team's second-best running back, Wesley (left team) and best running back, James (injury).
  • Starting defensive end Ross Forrest (knee injury)
  • Probable starting safety Devin Johnson (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • Probable starting offensive lineman Ty Horn (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • Probable starting defensive lineman D.J. Yendrey (drug arrest, removed from team)

That's a huge, huge deficit that Patterson's team has to try and make up when conference play heats up this fall. The result: TCU is playing 15 true freshmen already this season, as many as any team in the country and far more than any team in the Big 12.

Through two games, that lack of depth and experience hasn't shown up. It may not for awhile. TCU will likely favored to win its first seven games before a brutal finish to 2012.

TCU's final five games are on the road at Oklahoma State, at No. 8 West Virginia, home vs. No. 15 Kansas State, at No. 12 Texas and home vs. No. 6 Oklahoma.

TCU can hold court until then, barring an upset.

But once it gets to that stretch, will the Frogs have enough to make their first season in the Big 12 one to remember?

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