A recap of what we learned about TCU this spring as the Horned Frogs work to rebound from a 4-8 season.
Three things we learned in the spring:
1. Devonte Fields is back. The former Big 12 AP Defensive Player of the Year missed most of 2013 due to a foot injury and played like the guy who was a freshman phenom this spring, particularly in the final weeks of practice. If he stays healthy, he can be one of the nation’s top defensive ends once again.
2. The QB battle begins. Weeks after wrapping up spring practice, TCU got good news for its quarterback conundrum when Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel announced that he’s heading to Fort Worth. The senior will challenge Trevone Boykin and incoming freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein in what should be a competitive summer battle.
3. Spring ball is essential for getting a better grasp of what you’ve got in the fall, and coach Gary Patterson got some questions answered on that front. He liked how TCU’s offensive line came together, and successors in the secondary began to emerge. TCU’s overall depth seems to be steadily improving entering Year 3 in the Big 12.
Three questions for the fall:
1. Offensive mastery is a big one. Patterson brought in two quality up-tempo spread coaches in Doug Meacham (Houston) and Sonny Cumbie (Texas Tech) to install a new scheme. Learning how to execute that attack with consistent success takes times and lots and lots of reps, plus a steady QB. If you don’t get it down, you’re left with an offense that gets off the field quickly.
2. Must get the running back stable healthy. TCU was left with only one healthy scholarship rusher for the spring-ending scrimmage due to a variety of injuries. The run game is essential to how Patterson sees this offense operating, and there’s talent with B.J. Catalon, Kyle Hicks, Aaron Green, Trevorris Johnson and incoming frosh Shaun Nixon.
3. There really is no replacing Jason Verrett, so no point in phrasing it that way. What’s obvious is TCU needs several cornerbacks to step up if it hopes to replicate the impact of the future first-round pick. Ranthony Texada, a redshirt freshman, is the guy to watch, with senior Kevin White expected to hold down the other side.
One way-too-early prediction:
Expect TCU to still be one of the surprises of the Big 12 this fall. Yes, the schedule provides challenges early and often, with Minnesota on the nonconference slate and the Frogs opening Big 12 play against conference favorites Oklahoma (at home) and Baylor (in Waco), but don’t be shocked if the Horned Frogs are already sitting on six wins by the first week of November.