Dallas Colleges: Deryck Gildon

Season report card: TCU Horned Frogs

January, 18, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The TCU Horned Frogs.

OFFENSE: You have to wonder what could have been for TCU in Year 1 in the Big 12 if Casey Pachall had stayed on the team, Ed Wesley hadn't left in May and Waymon James' knee had remained healthy more than a couple games into the season. Ifs and buts, candy and nuts, etc., but that wasn't the case. The early season was plagued by turnovers and missed opportunities in the red zone even with Pachall, and that's factored into this grade. The toughest thing for this offense to swallow was how strong its receivers were, but Pachall's replacement, Trevone Boykin, couldn't get Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter the ball consistently enough to make this an offense good enough to hang in the upper half of the Big 12. Boykin played gutsy ball and used his legs well, and had an ability to hit the big play when TCU often needed it, and clearly grew throughout the season. After TCU got blasted at home by Iowa State, I all but eulogized TCU's season. A bowl game was out. And then it wasn't. Against K-State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the offense looked really, really rough, and let winnable games slip out of reach. The Frogs had a really impressive season, but the post-Pachall offense wasn't the reason why it happened. GRADE: C

DEFENSE: The Frogs got my vote as the Big 12's best defense. Stansly Maponga was a bit underwhelming on the defensive line, but Devonte Fields was better than anyone could have ever thought, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman who only started to begin the season because DE Ross Forrest missed the season with a shoulder injury. Jason Verrett emerged as the league's best shutdown corner, a far cry from his awful outing to begin 2011 when RG3 torched Verrett and the Frogs. Elisha Olabode and Sam Carter filled out a strong secondary that forced 32 turnovers, tied for the most in the Big 12. Joel Hasley and Kenny Cain played well for an underrated linebacking corps that was gutted by the loss of Tanner Brock before the season and rising star Deryck Gildon being ruled ineligible and leaving for junior college. Nobody dealt with losses as heavy as TCU, and they happened on both sides of the ball. Gary Patterson strung together an amazing defense, despite it all, and led the league in total defense and yards per play. The Frogs gave up just 4.92 yards per play, nearly half a yard per play fewer than any other team in the Big 12. GRADE: A+

OVERALL: It's tough to grade the Frogs, whose seven-win season felt like a 10-win season, considering the circumstances. The offense had to play with one hand tied behind its back at times, without basically its entire offensive backfield. The defense lost almost as much, but filled in the holes at linebacker and Fields was a breakout star. Every win down the stretch was emotional, but you can't ignore there were only two of them in the final seven games of the year. TCU's impact on the Big 12 in Year 1 was bigger than its number in the win total. It showed a lot of toughness and to some degree, answered the "depth" question. Still, 7-6 is 7-6. GRADE: B-

Frogs' depleted depth takes another big hit

September, 19, 2012
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?

Assessing the contenders: TCU

August, 15, 2012
To begin the season, I see six teams with a legitimate chance to win the Big 12. Today we'll continue our series looking at why each team will or will not win the league. Next up: The other new guys -- TCU

More contenders:
Why TCU will win the Big 12

1. Experience on offense. TCU is throwing out two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore on the offensive line, including one of the league's best in Blaize Foltz at right guard, with James Dunbar helping form another solid piece on the right side of the line at tackle. Quarterback Casey Pachall grew up a lot on the field as a sophomore first-year starter and has what should be four great targets, if you count LaDarius Brown. We know Josh Boyce will be an elite talent at receiver. Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter might join him. And at running back? Forget any questions there, even with the loss of Ed Wesley. Waymon James and Matthew Tucker are more than capable of handling the load.

2. They're well-equipped to handle the transition. The framework that Gary Patterson built his program upon is still very much in place. The players know what's expected of them in this program, even if they don't know what to expect in the fall. Never underestimate that. Patterson's studied up on Big 12 teams and recruited many of the same players he'll be facing. That's a big deal, too. There's plenty of familiarity for TCU and the rest of the league, and that's got to inspire confidence.

3. Big games? Who cares? That's nothing new. So TCU's been in the Mountain West? News flash: The Mountain West has been better than the Big East the past few years, where West Virginia's coming from. The bottom of the league is nothing short of awful, but at the top? Boise State and TCU played a classic last year, and BYU and Utah are solid teams, too. TCU also took down a very good Wisconsin team to win the Rose Bowl. TCU hasn't played quite as many Top 25 teams as the rest of the Big 12, but they've played 11 since 2008. And which Big 12 team has the best record against Top 25 teams over that period? That would be the Horned Frogs.

Why TCU won't win the Big 12

1. The defensive losses are just too much. TCU played without Tanner Brock last season, but he probably would have been the best player on this defense. He's gone after the drug scandal in the offseason. Grades took down Deryck Gildon, one of the players on the defense with the biggest upside who could have broken out this year. Likely starter Devin Johnson is gone, too. The Horned Frogs are replacing two more safeties. Defensive end Stansly Maponga is a load, but one impact player on the entire defense won't be enough.

2. It can handle big games, but can it handle them (literally) every week? Scoff if you want, but it's going to be an issue late in the season for the Frogs. They may be favored in their first seven games of the season, but TCU closes its season with five games against the other five teams on my list of Big 12 contenders in six weeks -- who could all be in the Top 25. Three of those games (Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State) are on the road. That's just absolutely brutal. The Frogs close with Oklahoma at home. Anybody believe TCU can get through that stretch 4-1? That's what it will take to win the Big 12.

3. It doesn't have enough high-level Big 12 talent. TCU's first team is definitely good enough to win this league. No doubt in my mind. However, injuries happen and guys get banged up, especially in a stretch like I described in my last point. TCU's recruiting hasn't been strong enough to the point where freshmen and sophomores are going to be serviceable replacements in the Big 12 that will allow the Frogs to keep winning. Ask Texas Tech. A handful of injuries can turn you from a truly great team into a very mortal one.

Opening camp: TCU Horned Frogs

August, 9, 2012
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.

Who will be the spring breakout star?

March, 1, 2012
The Big 12 has three teams practicing during the spring, but every year, we see players earn buzz during the spring and awards during the fall.

Which Big 12 talent will be the biggest breakout star this spring?

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: Seastrunk left his controversial recruitment behind at Oregon and transferred to Baylor after failing to scale high enough on the Ducks' depth chart. There's no denying his speed and shiftiness, and with Terrance Ganaway gone, the nation's No. 6 running back in the 2010 class will try to make his mark.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas: Hicks was the nation's No. 1 linebacker in the 2010 class, and already made an impact at Texas in 2011, but was overshadowed by fellow linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson. He missed last spring with a broken foot, but he's back on the field and ready to build on his 65-tackle effort last year.

Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech: Injuries derailed what could have been a huge season for Moore, who got off to a big start before suffering an ankle injury early in the Red Raiders' third game. Tech's already banged up at receiver this spring, but Moore caught 21 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games. Will he show more of that potential this spring?

Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas: Crist has the biggest profile of this group, but he's still a relative unknown in Big 12 country. Crist was in and out of the starting lineup at Notre Dame, but the No. 3 quarterback in the 2008 class has rejoined Charlie Weis, the coach who recruited him to South Bend, at Kansas. He's been all but named the starter, but will that mean a big year at a big position of need for the Jayhawks?

Deryck Gildon, LB, TCU: TCU's defense lost three starters after a string of drug arrests, but Gildon could become the next star of TCU's defense. Tank Carder was that guy in 2011, but Tanner Brock, the All-American in 2010 expected to assume that role in 2012, was arrested and is currently "separated" from the team. Gildon stepping up and producing a few highlights would make the earlier losses much easier to swallow.

Which guy will have the biggest spring? Vote in our poll.

Breaking down spring camp: TCU

February, 24, 2012
Another spring camp is opening, and it's time to take a closer look. Today, the TCU Horned Frogs get started.

Schedule: Practice opens Friday at 5 p.m. ET and will conclude on April 5. Various practices may be open, but the plan has not been officially announced. TCU does not host a formal spring game.

What's new: The task ahead, mainly. You'll see a renewed sense of purpose this spring at TCU. The Horned Frogs know they have to be better to compete for a Big 12 title. In the Big 12, you put it on the line every week, and everybody can beat everybody. Ask Baylor and Kansas about that one. Or Iowa State and Oklahoma State. One win can't make a season, and 1-2 games don't decide a conference title like they do in the Mountain West.

New faces: TCU is welcoming four new faces to campus this spring as early enrolling freshmen: Quarterback Tyler Matthews, running back B.J. Catalon, transfer cornerback Keivon Gamble, and receiver Kolby Listenbee, who also made our 2012 Recruiting All-Name team.

Rekindling old flames: Former safeties coach Chad Glasgow returned to his post in Fort Worth after a season as the defensive coordinator at Texas Tech. He helped TCU lead the nation in total defense in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Those days are over for the Horned Frogs in the offense-heavy Big 12, but TCU fell to 15th last season in the Mountain West. Finishing there in the Big 12 in 2012 would be huge.

Big shoes to fill: Linebacker Deryck Gildon. Tank Carder (and his armbands) wrapped up their eligibility last year, but hopes are high that the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Gildon can be the man to hold TCU's defense together at the linebacker spot. His importance is amplified by the exit of Tanner Brock, who is among four players "separated" from the team while the legal process plays out following their drug sting arrests.

Breaking out: Receiver Brandon Carter. You probably already know about Josh Boyce and maybe Skye Dawson. But Carter, a freshman, could join them for a pretty dangerous third weapon in TCU's passing game for quarterback Casey Pachall. Among Carter's biggest catches last year was the game winner against Boise State, but this could be a big spring for him. And to think, Oklahoma only wanted him as a cornerback.

All eyes on: Player conduct. Four players were arrested in a drug sting by local police and reports indicated that five players tested positive for marijuana while 11 others showed trace amounts in a surprise Feb. 1 drug test administered by the team. However, comments from players to undercover police in police affidavits suggest that usage was much higher. Either way, the microscope is firmly on what's otherwise been a spotless program before these recent troubles.