Monday, April 7, 2014
Spring game review: TCU
By Brandon Chatmon
TCU held an open scrimmage on Saturday with the Horned Frogs looking to entice recruits to get a look at the campus while shying away from the traditional “spring game” scenario at other Big 12 schools. Here’s a recap of what happened:
Best offensive performance: Did we mean most offensive performance? That honor goes to everyone on an offense that didn’t score a touchdown and committed four total turnovers. The offense was a shell of itself, however, and so vanilla it should have just called out the plays to the defense, so there’s no reason to get overly concerned. Now, if it happens again in August, it could be time to panic for new offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie.
Best defensive performance: Defensive end Devonte Fields appears on the road to re-establishing himself as one of the Big 12’s most feared defenders, even grabbing an interception during the scrimmage. Fields played a huge role in the offensive struggles as he is starting to approach the freshman production which earned him Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2012.
Best debut: Safety Kenny Iloka was right alongside Fields as an impact defender. The junior college transfer scored a touchdown on a fumble return and intercepted a pass. The Horned Frogs return every starter except Jason Verrett from last season's superb secondary but Iloka could force his way onto the field.
Trevone Boykin and the TCU offense didn't have a good day at the open scrimmage on Saturday.
Notable play: Iloka’s fumble recovery is a sign the TCU defense could continue to make game-changing plays this fall. The defense forced an average of 2.33 turnovers per game in 2013 and could continue to be opportunistic this fall. Fields' return and added competition and depth throughout the defense also should help.
Developing storyline: There are still no answers at the quarterback position. Without question, Trevone Boykin is one of TCU’s top playmakers, yet his ideal position could be at receiver instead of quarterback. Boykin took the majority of the quarterback reps with the first team and had a solid spring but uncertainty remains at the quarterback position, particularly with true freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein poised to arrive in the summer and nobody looking like they want to run away from the competition this spring.
Biggest question answered: TCU’s defense could be better without Verrett, a two-time All-Big 12 performer. Fields is a difference-maker who the Horned Frogs sorely missed in 2013. Playmakers return all over the unit and Ranthony Texada looks like he could slide into Verrett’s spot without being exposed as a weak link. Simply put, TCU’s defense did exactly what a quality defense should have done against a vanilla offense during the open scrimmage. And it should be even better by the time TCU’s kicks off against Samford on Aug. 30.
Quotable: “We didn’t want to go as fast today because we knew people were watching us, and they didn’t want to call a lot of things today,” Gary Patterson told the Dallas Morning News.