- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Visions of long touchdown passes, big plays and head coach Gary Patterson drinking Gatorade during blowouts has TCU fans excited about the potential of the Horned Frogs' new offense.
Patterson brought in co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to jump-start TCU's offensive attack this season after its offense struggled for a large portion of 2013.
Yet an overlooked aspect of TCU's new offense is the potential impact on the Horned Frogs' defense. It could have a major impact or it may not affect anything on the defensive side at all. The only certainty is that TCU's defense will, generally speaking, get a better sense of the type of offenses it will face in the Big 12 with the Horned Frogs' new spread attack.
"It should help us get better as a defense, because we're going to be seeing that every day," defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. "We're going to be in better condition, we're going to be more knowledgable of the plays we're going to see."
Safety Sam Carter loves the potential upside of practicing against Meacham's attack.
"I think it's going to help," Carter said. "I don't think it can hinder us in any way. To have it every day in practice, I'm excited to go against it."
While Carter doesn't envision a scenario that includes a downside, a negative impact appears possible. With TCU installing an up-tempo system of its own, it's a fair assumption to think its offensive plays per game average -- 72.2 during the past two seasons -- will increase in 2014, which could also increase the number of plays the defense will see. Those additional plays would be sure to test the depth and overall conditioning of the defensive unit in ways it has not been tested during TCU's first two seasons in the Big 12.
The defenses at Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech averaged at least 75 opponent plays per game in conference games during the past two seasons. Of that group, only the Cyclones lack a high-tempo offensive attack.
During the same span, TCU's defense faced 70.6 plays per game as Oklahoma was the lone defense to face fewer average plays per game in conference games. The Horned Frogs understand their average number of plays per game could jump significantly this fall but don't consider it a major concern.
It could end up being a bigger deal than anticipated.
During the past two seasons, the Horned Frogs' defense has allowed more points when facing 75 plays or more on defense. In conference games only, TCU allowed 29.1 points per game in the five games it faced 75 plays or more. In the 13 games TCU's defense faced 75 plays or less, the Horned Frogs allowed 25.8 points per game. Obviously a lot of different elements go into the actual number of plays an opponent runs, but these numbers are a clear sign more plays on the field could be a bad scenario for TCU's defense.
Even though their jobs just potentially got much harder, Hunter and Carter each stressed it was the defense's responsibility to stop opponents from scoring, regardless of the circumstances, and they are hopeful their defense is improved this season.
"We talked about it [playing more plays] but we can't control what the offense does," Carter said. "If the offense scores or not, your job is to stop other teams from scoring."