Dallas Colleges: Justin Fuente
Spring Start: March 25
Spring game: April 20
What to watch:
- Replacing Zach Line: The Mustangs have to replace their top runner over the past several seasons in Line, who had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Leading the charge this spring are junior college All-American Traylon Shead and reserve back Rishaad Wimbley, who switched from defense a few seasons ago.
- New defensive starters: The Mustangs lost the bulk of their playmakers on defense in Margus Hunt and linebackers Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Finding guys to step up without them is a huge priority. Watch for Zach Wood at defensive end in place of Hunt; and Kevin Pope and Robert Seals at linebacker.
- More consistency at QB: June Jones' offense runs best when the quarterback is at his best. Garrett Gilbert returns as the starter, but he is going to need to find much more consistency this spring and into the fall. Two numbers that have to be improved: accuracy (53 percent in 2012) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-15 in 2012).
A few years back, former defensive coordinator David Bailiff, now the head coach at Rice, left coach Gary Patterson's TCU Horned Frog staff for a head coaching job.
And on Wednesday night, TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente became the latest to springboard from Frogs' success. Fuente, 35, has accepted the challenging job as head coach of the Memphis Tigers.
Success breeds opportunity and Patterson is pleased to see it.
"He's a good, young coach on a really good offensive staff," Patterson said late Wednesday night. "He will work very hard trying to get them on the road to where they want to be."
Memphis finished 2-10 and 1-7 in the East Division of C-USA.
At TCU, Fuente, hired by Patterson in 2007 as a running backs coach, became co-offensive coordinator in 2009 and moved over to coach quarterbacks. He spent gamedays in the booth while his partner, Jarrett Anderson, handled handled running backs and coached on the sideline.
The Frogs will likely have to adjust for the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21 in San Diego. Patterson said he expects Fuente will want to get to Memphis quickly and get to work.
Fuente and Anderson produced the three best offensive seasons in terms of total yards and points in school history and clearly prepared Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton well for the NFL. This season, sophomore and first-year starting quarterback Casey Pachall, challenged four of Dalton's single-season school records (completions, completion percentage, touchdowns and yards) and broke one (67.8 completion percentage).
Patterson said he foresees continuing his tradition of co-offensive coordinators for the 2012 season when TCU enters the Big 12.
Anderson, who is finishing his 14th season with the Frogs, could possibly slide over and coach quarterbacks. Wide receivers coach Rusty Burns, who came to TCU in 2009 after being an offensive coordinator at SMU, Cincinnati, Wyoming, Memphis and Connecticut, could certainly be a candidate to sit shotgun.
"We've got a great offensive staff," Patterson said, "and we'll pick up and move forward."
With TCU leading 21-14 coming out of halftime, the Frogs were dominating the line of scrimmage and gaining chunks of yardage on the ground. Eleven plays into the drive, TCU rushed seven times to the Oregon State 14-yard line where it set up for a third-and-1. Running backs Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker were both finding big holes, but Frogs co-offensive coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Justin Fuente sent down a play that called for quarterback Andy Dalton to roll right and lead tight end Evan Frosch.
Only Oregon State linebacker Dwight Roberson sniffed it out and and made a pretty interception to end a drive that threatened to give TCU a 14-point lead and all the momentum. The Beavers capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown to tie the game at 21-21.
Patterson said he wasn't surprised by the play call because he was listening on the head set. But, he didn't jump in to question the pass play in the short-yardage situation when the ground game was punishing the Beavers.
"Myself, I would not have chose it," Patterson said of the call. "But, I mean that's not my job. They probably wonder sometimes when I call the defenses that I call. Going into Friday, I know what's going to go on. They did a great job a year ago and I thought they did a great job [Saturday]."
Allowing assistants to coach without being second-guessed is critical to success. So, too, is accountability. Dalton said he wasn't surprised by the play call either because they practice it all the time. The senior quarterback, who passed Sammy Baugh to become TCU's all-time wins leader with 30, said not executing the first down came down to a poor decision on his part.
"I shouldn't have thrown it," Dalton said. "I should have run it for a first down."
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