Thursday, August 9, 2012
Opening camp: TCU Horned Frogs
By David Ubben
Camp is open up over in Fort Worth. Before we get too deep in sweltering hot practices, I'll offer up a quick preview of what you need to know heading into the season.
See more fall camp previews.
Next up: TCU.
Media's predicted finish: Fourth (received one first-place vote).
Biggest story line: TCU always wanted to be in the Big 12, and now, the Horned Frogs legitimately won their way into rejoining their former Southwest Conference rivals in Texas. But after a steady diet of schedules with only a few featured opponents, can TCU handle a tougher week-to-week schedule in the Big 12? Depth could be an issue, but so could preparing for a brutal line of great opponents in the Big 12.
Biggest question mark: Linebacker. Depth questions were going to come all season long, but the Horned Frogs are now razor thin in the middle of the defense. Tanner Brock was kicked off the team before spring after being arrested in a campus drug sting, and promising linebacker Deryck Gildon is off the team because of academic issues. Kenny Cain is back in the middle of TCU's 4-2-5 defense, but look for Joel Hasley to grab the other spot. It was a disappointing offseason for the Frogs.
Who needs to step up: The safeties. Sam Carter, Elisha Olabode and Jonathan Anderson will likely start the season as the three safeties, but this unit struggled last season in spots. Safeties coach Chad Glasgow is back in Fort Worth after a disastrous season coordinating the defense for Texas Tech, but we'll see if he's able to step right back into his old gig.
Possible distractions: None were bigger than the recent news that quarterback Casey Pachall failed a Feb. 1 drug test and admitted to police he had used cocaine and ecstasy. Gary Patterson earned some criticism for not coming down harder on Pachall considering the recent drug issues on TCU's team, but he did what was required of him in the school's student handbook. Pachall apologized and pledged he'd do better. We'll find out if that's the case.
Don't forget about: DE Stansly Maponga. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor get all the accolades down in Austin, but don't be too surprised if Maponga blows up in his first year in the Big 12 and outshines either one of them or both. He's got plenty of experience and made nine sacks while also forcing five fumbles. That earned him first-team All-Mountain West honors, but he's a preseason All-Big 12 honoree, too. Expect him to validate it.
Breaking out: WR LaDarius Brown. You know about the trio of Josh Boyce, Brandon Carter and Skye Dawson. They're outstanding. Brown might end up being better than all of them. Maybe not this year, but expect the freshman to show flashes. He's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and coming off a redshirt year. Beware.