NCF Nation: Tanner Brock

TCU has done its part to distance itself from an offseason drug scandal, which resulted in four players being removed from the team. They were among 15 TCU students who were arrested in a campus-wide drug bust, including damning police affidavits that featured hand-to-hand deals with undercover police.

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall wasn't one of the players arrested in the sting, but his roommate, Tanner Brock, was. During the sting, Pachall told police he had used drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, but never witnessed any transactions involving Brock.

TCU360 first reported the comments, which were acquired via an open records request.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU quarterback Casey Pachall says he has learned from a failed drug test on Feb. 1.
In the wake of the original report, TCU coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Pachall had indeed failed a drug test, but did so only once. He would not be disciplined for the failed test, which came on Feb. 1, and Patterson noted that Pachall passed 24 other drug tests that had been administered, including six since the failed test in February.

From the Star-Telegram:
"We followed every proper procedure the university has in place with a failed drug test," (Patterson said).

By definition, Gary is absolutely, 100 percent correct. Both he and the school did act within the pre-established guidelines in regards to Pachall's off-the-field behavior.

One failed drug test, by TCU standards, means, according to the TCU Student Handbook, section 3.2.10 Drugs, "a. failing a non-incident motivated drug screen one time will result in mandatory drug education counseling and/or required drug treatment."

On Sunday, Pachall took to the podium to address the media, apologizing for "mistakes" but not taking any questions from the media.

That transparency, or something close to it anyway, is appreciated, and ultimately, the right move.

It's one drug test from one player -- at least that we know of. Ultimately, Pachall's far from the first, last or only college quarterback who would have failed a drug test since the end of the season.

Pachall sounded like he had moved past the drug use in an interview with the Star-Telegram during Big 12 Media Days.
"I regret a lot of that stuff, but I have learned from it. I know what is a stupid decision, and to not go around or attempt to be around [stupid decisions]," Pachall told the paper. "The scrutiny and the crap that comes along with that, that is the part I do regret."

Ultimately, Pachall's future drug tests will show whether or not he's serious. What we already know for sure? When it comes to drug use, TCU is playing by different, much more strict rules in the wake of the offseason scandal.

That's fair. TCU put itself in that position. What would barely register on the Richter scale at another school is going to be a much bigger deal at TCU, perceived as evidence that the cleanup from an ugly scandal is still incomplete.

That's life when four players on your team are arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs.

TCU is still going to have to deal with it, and fact is, it's going to be some time before TCU doesn't have to continually prove its program has truly moved past the drug issues that surfaced this spring.
Three more TCU football players have been charged with felony marijuana delivery after a six-month sting.

Defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, linebacker Tanner Brock and offensive tackle Ty Horn were among 14 people charged Thursday in the drug investigation at the university, bringing the total number charged to 23. All three are charged with delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana.

Cornerback Devin Johnson was charged last month with three cases of delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana.

For more on this story, go here.
Police released the names of four TCU football players among 17 TCU students arrested in a recent police drug sting.

The football players arrested are: junior linebacker Tanner Brock, junior safety Devin Johnson, junior defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and sophomore offensive tackle Tyler Horn.

Brock entered the 2011 season as a starter and one of the team's best defenders, but he hurt his ankle in September and missed the rest of the season.

In 2010, he led the team in tackles with 106 and was named an All-Mountain West performer. TCU hoped he'd be able to slide into the leadership role vacated by linebacker Tank Carder.

To state the rather obvious: Don't count on seeing these guys play in 2012. No official word on their status has come down from TCU. From Richard Durrett's report:
Three of the students were arrested on campus; 14 were arrested off-campus. Boschini said the school has never experienced a mass arrest such as this.
"I'm extremely concerned," TCU chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said. "If one kid is involved, it's one kid too many."

The investigation began about six months ago, and the Fort Worth Police Department worked with the TCU campus police. TCU police chief Steve McGee said the students arrested Wednesday were caught in an undercover operation selling marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and prescription drugs.

McGee says the six-month investigation was prompted by complaints from students and parents, among others.

Johnson started for the Horned Frogs this season and made 47 tackles. Yendrey made 39 tackles and earned an All-Mountain West honorable mention nod in 2011.

Brock earned All-America status after the 2010 season.

Horn was a reserve lineman.

Season recap: TCU

December, 7, 2011
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TCU HORNED FROGS

Record: 10-2, 7-0 MWC

The season did not exactly start the way TCU is used to, with losses in two of the first five games. It was not the offense that was a problem, but the defense, which simply gave up too many points and too many big plays in the pass game in losses to Baylor and SMU. Injuries and inexperience really hurt the defense, with key losses like Tanner Brock (injury) and safety Tejay Johnson (graduation) having an impact. But you knew with Gary Patterson, a defensive guru, performances like that would not last. TCU showed steady improvement, then pulled the upset of the season in Boise, beating the Broncos 36-35 to end their long winning streak on the blue turf.

TCU ended up winning another conference championship, reaching the 10-win mark for the fourth straight year and eighth time in the past 10 seasons under Patterson. Before Patterson arrived on campus in 1998, the Horned Frogs had just four 10-win seasons in their history.

They end their run in the Mountain West having won a record 24 straight league games, while also holding the conference mark for consecutive home league wins at 17.

Offensive MVP: Casey Pachall, QB. The big concern going into the season was how Pachall would fare in place of Andy Dalton, the school's all-time winningest quarterback. Pachall did a terrific job in his first year as a starter, going 213-of-314 for 2,715 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. He made the All-MWC second team. Receiver Josh Boyce was outstanding as well, with 932 yards receiving and nine touchdown receptions.

Defensive MVP: Tank Carder, LB. Injuries hampered Carder's productivity at the beginning of the season, but he closed out strong and ended up winning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors for a second straight season. Carder finished with 66 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

Turning point: Beating Boise State 36-35. Coach Gary Patterson gambled and went for 2 late in the game, playing for the win rather than the tie. Pachall found Josh Boyce in the end zone for the conversion with 1:05 remaining. The Broncos marched down the field and got into field goal range, but Dan Goodale missed a 39-yard field goal at the gun. The victory allowed TCU to win its third straight Mountain West Conference championship in its final year in the league.

What’s next: TCU was hoping to get an automatic selection into the BCS but failed to finish in the top 16 of the final standings. So it's off to the Poinsettia Bowl against WAC champion Louisiana Tech, then a move to the Big 12 Conference for the 2012 season. There is so much young talent on this team, it will be interesting to see how the Horned Frogs fare in their first year in an AQ conference.

TCU defense under fire

October, 5, 2011
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TCU coach Gary Patterson is sticking behind his embattled defense, no matter what.

Perhaps in an attempt to shift the focus away from another sub-par performance, Patterson ripped SMU for the way it behaved after its win last week, along with C-USA officiating during his weekly news conference and his appearance on the Mountain West coaches' call.

When asked specifically about the youth on his defense during the call Tuesday, Patterson said, "To be honest with you, the group I was most unhappy with was the officials. ... They changed the complexion of the whole football game with about five or six calls. I understand why I left Conference USA. SMU did a great job, they won. But I can tell you this, they had a lot of help."

Patterson cited an interception from Jason Verrett on the first drive that was called off because of a pass interference penalty. SMU ended up scoring on the drive. He also has various other examples of calls that went against his team in a 40-33 overtime loss.

But the fact remains that TCU is having major problems on defense, specifically against the pass. TCU has given up 40-plus points twice already this season -- unheard of for a Patterson-coached team. In both losses, the Horned Frogs have fallen into deep holes, only to rally and then have their defense let them down in the end.

A defense that finished No. 1 in the nation for three straight years now ranks No. 90. One big reason for the struggles are new players in the secondary. But another has been the loss of Tanner Brock, a veteran linebacker out for the season with a foot injury.

"It was a big loss for us," Patterson said. "The strength of the defense coming back was four out of our six front guys, Tank [Carder] is starting to play better, but losing [Brock] you lost a lot of experience."

The Horned Frogs play at San Diego State on Saturday. Though they have never lost to the Aztecs, San Diego State put quite a scare into them last season, fighting back from a 40-21 fourth-quarter deficit only to come up short 40-35. They held an early 14-0 lead in that game before allowing TCU to score 34 unanswered points.

The big difference this year is the Aztecs do not have a proven set of receivers. Of the eight players who have caught passes this season, three are receivers. They have relied on Ronnie Hillman to catch passes out of the backfield, and their tight ends as well. Colin Lockett and Dylan Denso have emerged as the top two wideouts, but there is not much consistency in that group and no real deep threat.

Hillman, one of the top rushers in the nation, had only 54 yards last season against TCU. Given the way some teams have been able to pass on TCU, this could be an opportunity for the Aztecs to open up the deep passing game.

But Patterson insists his group is getting better.

"It's not going the way we want to. The most amazing thing is we've been able to fight back, with a little bit of luck we could be 5-0 but we're not. You have to understand you have to be ready to play. We've got to get ready."

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

September, 26, 2011
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Let's take a look at back at Week 4 for the non-AQs:

The good: How about a hand for Temple and Southern Miss, two non-AQ teams that took down the ACC on Saturday. The Owls dominated Maryland 34-7, and took particular pleasure in the win after hearing some trash talk from the Terps players before the victory. Temple has been impressive since the outset of the season, and nearly upset Penn State last week, too. Coach Steve Addazio has done a terrific job in his first year taking over the program. … Meanwhile, Southern Miss beat Virginia 30-24 -- its first road win over an AQ school on the road in five tries. … San Jose State ended a 13-game losing streak and notched its first conference win since defeating New Mexico State 13-10 on Nov. 28, 2009.

The bad:It was not a great day for the Mountain West. San Diego State was supposed to give Michigan a fight but instead lost 28-7 against former coach Brady Hoke. UNLV, a week removed from beaten Hawaii, lost at home to Southern Utah 41-16. Incredibly, Southern Utah returned three interceptions for touchdowns. New Mexico lost to Sam Houston State in overtime, 48-45. Just before kickoff, a teenager claiming to be a recruit was arrested on DWI charges in Mike Locksley’s car. Finally fed up with Locksley, New Mexico fired him Sunday afternoon. In two-plus seasons, Locksley went 2-26 and the program became a national laughingstock. To Lobos fans, this probably should go into the “good” category because they can now get the fresh start they have so desperately wanted.

UCF has got to fix its special teams. For the second straight week, that unit cost them, this time in a 24-17 loss to BYU. The Knights allowed Cody Hoffman to score on a 93-yard kickoff return, and a muffed punt by J.J. Worton set up another score. Last week against FIU, UCF also had a muffed punt that led to a touchdown and the Knights lost 17-10.

The heartbreak: The WAC had the toughest day of all the conferences in the hurting department. Two teams lost in overtime, and another with 44 seconds left in the game.

We start with Utah State. The Aggies have got to have their collective heart in pieces at this point. The closing minutes against Auburn doomed the Aggies thanks to a special teams error. The same can be said of their loss to Colorado State on Saturday night. Utah State saw its 21-13 lead evaporate after Eric Moats dropped a punt with 2:17 to play. Colorado State recovered and Chris Nwoke scored on a 1-yard run with 42 seconds left. The Rams got the 2-point conversion to send the game into overtime. The teams traded touchdowns in the first two extra periods. But Utah State decided to go for 2 in the second overtime to win the game. Robert Turbin was stopped short and Colorado State won 35-34. "The reason we went for 2 is because I believe in the team," coach Gary Andersen said afterward. "I believe we can score from the 3-yard line at any time and I surely believe we can score from the 1.5 yard line. I would do it again in one second. I’m always going to coach aggressive."

Louisiana Tech must know the feeling. Two weeks in a row the Bulldogs have come close to pulling the upset. Two weeks in a row they fell just short. Last week they blew a huge lead to Houston. This week, they did not have enough to take down Mississippi State. Freshman quarterback Nick Isham threw two critical interceptions -- one late in the game, and one in overtime -- that made a huge difference in the 26-20 loss.

Nevada has not played particularly well this season, but that looked like it was about to change at Texas Tech. The Wolf Pack built a 28-14 third-quarter lead, and Cody Fajardo seemed to provide a nice spark off the bench. But the defense -- which was supposed to be a strength this year -- collapsed and the Red Raiders scored with 44 seconds left when Seth Doege threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ward for the 35-34 win.

But nothing beats the case Toledo has. The Rockets had a win snatched from them thanks to a mistake by the officials in a 33-30 overtime loss to Syracuse. The school has asked the MAC to contact the Big East and request the win be given to the Rockets.

Injury report: TCU lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock for the season with a foot injury. The Horned Frogs will petition for a medical redshirt. TCU has shifted Tank Carder to the outside. … Air Force suffered injuries to starting linemen Zach Payne (knee) and Cody Miller (leg). … UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis suffered a concussion against East Carolina and was taken off the field on a backboard in a 28-23 loss.

Keenum watch: Case Keenum threw for 415 yards and two touchdowns in just two and a half quarters of play, and Houston recorded its first shutout since 1999 in a 56-0 rout of Georgia State on Saturday. He passed passed former BYU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer for third on the NCAA all-time passing yardage list, and passed former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell for third on the NCAA career total offense list.

Helmet stickers

Brandon Rutley, RB, San Jose State. Rutley had 209 yards rushing on 33 carries -- including a career-long 66 yard scoring run -- in a 34-24 win over New Mexico State. It was the first 100-plus yard rushing game of his career, and he became the first San Jose State player to rush for 200 or more yards since the 2004 season.

Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss. Davis finished 27 for 41 for 313 yards with no interceptions in a 30-24 win over Virginia. He threw touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards to Bolden and a 20-yarder to Ryan Balentine.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Pierce set a school record with five rushing touchdowns in a 38-7 win over Maryland. Pierce had 149 yards on 32 carries.

Deon Long, New Mexico. Long had nine receptions for 209 yards and caught three touchdown passes, and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Sam Houston State. His 378 all-purpose yards set a school and Mountain West record.

Blaine Gautier, QB, Louisiana. Gautier, making just his fourth career start, led the Cajuns to a stunning 36-31 upset at FIU. Gautier guided the team to a season-high 419 yards of total offense and did not commit a turnover. He totaled 307 yards (221 passing/86 rushing) and tossed three touchdown passes.

Halftime analysis: Baylor 34, TCU 23

September, 2, 2011
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WACO, Texas -- Some instant analysis from a dizzyingly entertaining first half that more closely resembled a tennis match. Outstanding.

Turning point: Baylor's opening drive. The Bears announced very early that they would be moving the ball consistently with a six-play, 72-yard drive that featured two carries for 19 yards from Terrance Ganaway and was capped by a double pass from Robert Griffin III to Kendall Wright to Terrance Williams for a 40-yard touchdown. This would not be a repeat of the 2010 game.

Stat of the half: TCU and Baylor traded scores on six consecutive drives in the first half, combining for 57 points in the first 30 minutes. Last year's game featured just 55 points, and the over/under for tonight's game was 52 points.

Best player in the half: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Wright has nine catches for 168 yards, including an acrobatic 36-yarder to set up the Bears' final touchdown of the half and a 35-yard touchdown along the right sideline to put Baylor ahead early. He has two touchdown catches and threw another.

Best call: Called it. Baylor wanted to make a splash early, and did exactly that. On the opening drive, Art Briles called a double pass and it worked to perfection.

What Baylor needs to do: Keep getting stops when it needs them, like a crucial fourth down in its own territory with TCU charging late in the first half. The offense looks like it may score at will and is headed for 50, so the defense doesn't need to be great, but TCU's offense can hang with the Bears.

What TCU needs to do: Find a way to slow down the Bears offense. The young secondary is getting torched everywhere, and linebackers Tanner Brock and Tank Carder have been unable to slow Baylor's 240-pound bowling ball, Terrance Ganaway, who has 105 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The Horned Frogs can get blown out if that continues in the second half with Baylor needing to control the clock.

Non-AQ preseason team

August, 12, 2011
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Here is a look at your non-AQ preseason team. All five conferences, BYU, Army and Navy were considered.

Offense

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

RB Doug Martin, Boise State

OT Nate Potter, Boise State

OT Matt Reynolds, BYU

C Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois

OG Chris Barker, Nevada

OG Braden Hansen, BYU

TE Ladarius Green, Louisiana

WR Damaris Johnson, Tulsa

WR Patrick Edwards, Houston

Defense

DE Vinny Curry, Marshall

DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy

DT Logan Harrell, Fresno State

DT Billy Winn, Boise State

LB Tank Carder, TCU

LB Corey Paredes, Hawaii

LB Tanner Brock, TCU

CB Josh Robinson, UCF

CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State

S Marco Nelson, Tulsa

S George Iloka, Boise State

Specialists

K Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss

P Brian Stahovich, San Diego State

KR T.Y. Hilton, FIU

PR Eric Page, Toledo
By now, we have come to expect to see Boise State and TCU in the Top 25 every season. So when the preseason USA Today coaches Top 25 was released Thursday, the top non-AQ teams were right there in the top 15.

The Broncos will start the season ranked No. 7, while TCU is ranked No. 15. Boise State returns Heisman Trophy finalist Kellen Moore, along with Doug Martin, Nate Potter, Billy Winn, Shea McClellin and George Iloka, and expectations are high once again to return to a BCS game.

TCU, meanwhile, loses Andy Dalton off its Rose Bowl-winning team, which is why the Horned Frogs are outside the top 10.

Both teams open up their fall camps Thursday, so let us take a look at a few of the burning questions that they face.

Boise State

1. Developing depth. No question the Broncos have some big-time senior players in Moore, Martin, McClellin and Iloka. In fact, 15 projected starters are seniors. That means Boise State has to develop its young players, something coach Chris Petersen emphasized at Mountain West media day in July. "We have some players that have played a lot of football that are very good players, and then we’ve got a big gap to some young guys that haven’t played and need the experience and need the knowledge," Petersen said. "On our team right now, I think it’s fairly wide. Our job as coaches is to narrow that gap."

2. Developing receivers. Petersen and Moore both emphasized they are not worried about their receiving group. Rather than relying heavily on two players the way they did the past few seasons with Titus Young and Austin Pettis, you will see more players involved. That means Tyler Shoemaker, Chris Potter, Kirby Moore, Mitch Burroughs, Aaron Burks and Geraldo Boldewijn (formerly Hiwat) will have expanded roles. True freshman Troy Ware had a nice spring and could contribute as well.

3. The kicker is ... Kyle Brotzman is gone, leaving a bit of inexperience at the kicker position. The Broncos have scholarship true freshman Jake Van Ginkel, who will practice for the first time this fall, along with walk-ons Dan Goodale and Michael Frisina.

TCU

1. Casey Pachall era begins. Much has been written about how Pachall will do in replacing Dalton. Pachall has heard all of it. "I am ready," Pachall said at a news conference earlier this week. "I am ready to be the guy that everybody looks to when things are good or bad. [The comparison to Dalton] doesn't bother me. It just gives me incentive and a little bit more motivation to be more of a leader and get more in that role."

2. Developing receivers. Leading receiver Josh Boyce returns, but Jeremy Kerley, Jimmy Young and Bart Johnson are gone. There is talent in Fort Worth, but much of it is unproven. It is tie for players like Antoine Hicks and Skye Dawson to step up and help Pachall get the job done. Boyce is confident in his teammates. "We've worked really hard this summer with Casey, to get our chemistry going," Boyce said. "We will be just fine."

3. Can TCU be No. 1 in total defense again? The stat is incredibly impressive -- TCU has led the nation in total defense for three straight seasons. Can TCU make it four in a row? Gary Patterson believes this unit can be even better than last season, even without defensive leader Tejay Johnson. Linebacker tandem Tanner Brock and Tank Carder return, and they should be the heart of the defense. Even with the potential, Patterson has no idea what type of identity this unit will take on. Each season, that changes. He will have a better idea once the season begins.

Making a case for Case

June, 2, 2011
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Houston quarterback Case Keenum makes his return from a torn ACL this season, ratcheting up expectations for the Cougars. Expectations are high for him as well.

Phil Steele has Keenum as a fourth-team selection on his newly released All-America teams, right behind Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Andrew Luck of Stanford and Kellen Moore of Boise State. This is a clear indication that there is some unfinished business left for Keenum, who remains on pace to break the NCAA career passing mark -- should he stay healthy.

Keenum needs 3,487 yards to break the mark of 17,072 yards set by Timmy Chang of Hawaii from 2000-04. There is another mark that Keenum has a chance to surpass -- career touchdown passes. Graham Harrell of Texas Tech has the record of 134. Keenum needs 28 to break that mark. Considering he threw for more than 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in each of his two full seasons as a starter, those records seem to be in jeopardy.

So Steele putting Keenum on his fourth team is his preseason projection that Keenum will get those records. Plus, there is plenty of uncertainty at quarterback around the country, and Keenum has delivered in bunches so this choice makes sense if you are projecting a healthy season. Steele also lists go-to Houston receiver Patrick Edwards on his fourth team, so his expectation is a big year for Edwards as well.

As for some of the other non-AQ players listed:

I agree with the selection of Moore on the third team. Teammate Nate Potter made the first team at tackle while Billy Winn made the second team on the defensive line.

No-brainers: TCU linebacker Tank Carder, Tulsa kick returner Damaris Johnson and Southern Miss kicker Danny Hrapmann on the first team; Toledo kick returner Eric Page on the second team. BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds made the second team. I think he is going to be either a first- or second-team selection this year.

Surprises: FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton made the third team, quite an impressive accomplishment considering he is known more for being an all-purpose player. Steele must think the Panthers have a chance to win another Sun Belt title and that Hilton will have an even better year than 2010, when he was Sun Belt Player of the Year. I think Louisiana tight end Ladarius Green has the potential to be better than a fourth-team selection. Same for Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi and TCU linebacker Tanner Brock, both fourth-team selections. Another interesting choice: UCF kick returner Quincy McDuffie on the fourth team. McDuffie has made huge strides in special teams, but the Knights are eager to get even more out of him.

Omissions: You can certainly make a case for San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman, the top freshman back in the country last season with 1,532 yards. Same for Boise State running back Doug Martin, one of the most underrated players in the nation.

What we learned this spring

May, 10, 2011
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Were there any answers to some of the most pressing questions of the spring? Some, but not many.

Here are five impressions from the spring:

1. Geraldo Hiwat is a rising star. By all accounts, the young Boise State receiver had a terrific spring. Even better news for Broncos fans is how much improvement he can make, considering he has played only three years of organized football.

[+] EnlargeTank Carder
Icon SMITank Carder returns to a TCU defense that could once again be one of the best.
2. BYU picked up where it left off in 2010. The last time we saw the Cougars, they were trampling UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl to the tune of 52 points and 514 yards. That momentum carried them throughout the spring. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said it was his best spring as BYU head coach.

3. TCU's defense could be No. 1 again. The Horned Frogs lose their leader on defense in Tejay Johnson, but they bring back Tank Carder and Tanner Brock, a formidable combination at linebacker for a team that gave up only 12 points a game last year. The defensive line is so deep and talented, coach Gary Patterson believes it has a chance to be better than last season -- even without end Wayne Daniels.

4. Plenty of new faces. With 10 new head coaches among the non-AQ teams, there was plenty of fresh energy across the country. Most of the coaches spent the spring evaluating their players. Now the hard work of fitting talent to scheme begins, and fall practice will serve to separate those who will have the opportunity to succeed in a change environment.

5. Not much QB news. Of the 21 non-AQ schools that went into the spring with a competition for the starting quarterback job, only two have named a starter (Derek Thompson at North Texas, Casey Pachall at TCU). The rest are going to wait and see how fall competition plays out before making any decisions.

TCU spring wrap

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
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2010 overall record: 13-0

2010 conference record: 8-0, champions

Returning starters

Offense: 5, defense 6, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

LB Tank Carder, WR Josh Boyce, RB Ed Wesley, LB Tanner Brock

Key losses

QB Andy Dalton, WR/PR Jeremy Kerley, S Tejay Johnson, DE Wayne Daniels

2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Wesley* (1,078 yards, 11 TDs)

Passing: Dalton (209-of-316 for 2,857, 27 TDs, 6 INTs)

Receiving: Kerley (575 yards, 10 TDs)

Tackles: Brock* (106)

Sacks: Daniels (6.5)

Interceptions: Johnson (three)

Spring Answers

1. The defensive line looks strong. But then again, when does it not look strong? Coach Gary Patterson always does a tremendous job with his defense and 2011 is shaping up to be no exception. Patterson said coming out of spring that this unit has a chance to be even better than last season, despite losing Daniels. Braylon Broughton had a great spring, and so did Stansly Maponga.

2. Safeties looking good. TCU loses three of its five starters in the secondary, including safety Tejay Johnson. But Patterson was encouraged this spring by Johnny Fobbs and Sam Carter, who both had excellent springs. Fobbs, a senior who has waited for his opportunity, is penciled in at Johnson’s spot. Carter is a converted quarterback who made plays throughout practice and is listed as the backup behind Trenton Thomas.

3. Casey Pachall the man. Pachall and Matt Brown split the reps during the spring, and as expected, Pachall is the man to start at quarterback for TCU going forward. He simply has more experience than Brown, a redshirt freshman, and more knowledge of the offense.

Fall Questions

1. How many freshmen will contribute at receiver? This is the one area that TCU will rely on newcomers or help. Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown are the two players who are mentioned the most, but there will also be opportunities for David Bush, David Porter and Cameron White.

2. Leadership. This is one area that Patterson wants to see develop in the offseason. The Horned Frogs lost 26 seniors and team leaders Andy Dalton and Johnson. It is imperative for players to step up and fill that void they have left. Tank Carder is an obvious choice to do just that.

3. Can Pachall step up right away? Pachall has been through three spring practices already and gotten some valuable playing time behind Dalton. But there is no way of knowing whether he has what it takes to be a winning starting quarterback until the season begins and he gets thrown into the fire.

TCU motto: Do it now

April, 13, 2011
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No question TCU is going to be a new-look team in 2011. But coach Gary Patterson realizes he does not have time to wait and see how his team develops.

Hence the motto for 2011: Do it now.

“We don’t have time to say this year we’re going to have young guys, we have to develop a new quarterback,” Patterson said in a phone interview. “Now is our challenge to grow up and be a preseason top 25 team.”

TCU is in a vastly different position today than it was a year ago at this time. Expectations were high for the Horned Frogs going into 2010, and even included talk about potentially becoming the first non-AQ team to play for a national championship.

That did not happen, but they did beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and their 26 seniors left with a career 36-3 record. With players like Andy Dalton, Tejay Johnson and Jake Kirkpatrick gone, many expect this to be a rebuilding year -- many outside Fort Worth.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
AP Photo/Jake SchoellkopfCasey Pachall replaces Andy Dalton under center for the Horned Frogs.
Whether this year is as good as the last few could hinge on what happens with the offense. The trademark defense is expected to be just as good, even without Johnson manning the defensive backfield. Linebackers Tank Carder and Tanner Brock return, and the defensive line could be even better.

The three biggest questions right now:

  • How will Casey Pachall do replacing Andy Dalton at quarterback?
  • Who will step up in the receiving corps?
  • How will TCU play on the offensive line?

Pachall had a good spring, but Patterson is holding off on any judgments until the season opener at Baylor on Sept. 3. “The only way you can judge a quarterback is by the way he plays in the fall,” Patterson said.

The redshirt sophomore has several advantages over Dalton, who also made his first career start against Baylor back in 2007 (that game was at home, a key difference). For one, Pachall has had three spring practices to learn. Dalton did not. Pachall also has a better arm and better running ability. Depth at running back also is huge, with Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James all returning.

But there are several other factors that will determine whether Pachall can be successful immediately. The offensive line loses four of five starters, including center Jake Kirkpatrick and tackle Marcus Cannon, expected to be high NFL draft picks. Both tackles are gone, and that is one of the biggest question marks headed into the fall. Senior Jeff Olson is slated to start at one spot, but plenty of other candidates are aiming for the other spot.

Three of the team’s top four leading receivers are also gone, though leading wideout Josh Boyce returns. Antonie Hicks and Skye Dawson had good springs, but watch for true freshman receivers Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown to see playing time immediately.

If all the pieces of the offense come together, this could be another great year. But everyone will be watching to see whether Pachall has what it takes to be a leader. When I asked Patterson whether quarterbacks are born with those intangibles or if they are something they learn through game experience, he went back to his quarterback in 2005 and 2006.

“Jeff Ballard was 19-2 and I fired him every Tuesday,” Patterson said. “He was a terrible practice quarterback. Casey knows it’s about wins and losses -- it’s not about yardage, it’s not about touchdowns. He has to do whatever he can to manage the game. We’ll see how it works.”

Spring rewind: TCU

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
1:30
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TCU kicks off the first of several spring wrapups for selected non-AQ teams. The Horned Frogs have plenty of holes to fill after losing an eye-popping 26 seniors, including veteran leaders Andy Dalton, Jake Kirkpatrick and Tejay Johnson. Several players stepped up, while other positions still have question marks headed into fall practice.

Questions answered: The biggest are the replacements for Dalton and Johnson. Casey Pachall had a good spring and really answered the challenge of having to replace the winningest quarterback in school history. Pachall is bigger than Dalton, has a stronger arm than Dalton and can run faster than Dalton. Though he is just a redshirt sophomore, he just completed his third spring practice at TCU because he was an early enrollee. He definitely has a grasp of the offense, and split all the reps this spring with Matt Brown -- the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster right now. Senior Johnny Fobbs is penciled in to replace Johnson and also appears to be stepping up. One position to note is defensive line, where coach Gary Patterson believes his team could be even better than last season. Braylon Broughton had a terrific spring as the replacement for Wayne Daniels at defensive end, and Stansly Maponga continued to mature at the other end spot. Broughton, at 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, is also a senior and expectations are high for him.

[+] EnlargeTank Carder
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireTCU will be counting on leadership and production from linebacker Tank Carder in the fall.
Questions unanswered: The biggest is who is going to step up as a leader to fill the void of Dalton, Johnson and Kirkpatrick. There are several candidates, from linebacker Tank Carder to receiver Josh Boyce to guard Blaize Foltz. Patterson will not have his answer until fall camp, when he sees who steps up and takes leadership and accountability during offseason workouts -- when the true character of teams are formed. As for positions, receiver needs more depth, and TCU is most likely going to need to rely on two highly touted incoming true freshmen -- Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown. The offensive line also has four new starters, though some of them have gotten extended playing time in games. Pachall might have the physical tools, but does he have the intangibles to lead TCU to another BCS game?

Spring stars: Watch for Sam Carter at safety. Carter follows the mold Patterson loves to use when finding his defensive stars. Carter came in as a quarterback and redshirted in the fall. He is now playing safety and opened some eyes. So did true freshman Deryk Gildon out of Arlington, Texas. Gildon enrolled early and at some points during the spring was running with the second team. He has a chance to get some playing time this season on special teams, and behind Carder and Tanner Brock.

Of note: Carder sat out the spring while rehabbing an injury. What sticks out to me is the way TCU is playing the underdog card for the 2011 season. The Horned Frogs have lost one game the past two seasons, but are most likely going to be picked to finish second in the Mountain West behind Boise State because of all the players they lose. TCU backers will tell you that the program is on solid footing, and they don't rebuild, they reload. They will most certainly have to prove that this season.
PASADENA, Calif. -- Gary Patterson doesn't have a vote in the coaches' poll this season. Voters in that poll are required by rule to place the BCS title game winner -- either Auburn or Oregon in this year's case -- at the top of their ballot.

But Patterson -- who has steadfastly refused to whine about undefeated TCU being left out of the national championship picture -- did a rare bit of lobbying after his Horned Frogs beat Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.

"If I was a voter, I'll watch those two teams play and see how my team compares to them," Patterson said Saturday night. "Then I'll have my own national championship vote if I think we're better. It won't count, but it seems like a lot of votes don't count anymore."

[+] EnlargeGary Patterson
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireGary Patterson's Horned Frogs finished the season a perfect 13-0.
That's about as much complaining or cajoling as any of the TCU contingent voiced in the wake of Saturday's victory. The BCS gaveth, and the BCS taketh away from the Horned Frogs. They finished 12-0 for the second straight regular season and were shut out again from the national title game. But they also have gone to two straight BCS games, and this year they had the unique privilege of playing in the Rose Bowl.

"We'll go down in history as one of the first non-AQ teams ever to win the Rose Bowl," tailback Ed Wesley said. "We're very proud of that. Maybe if we go undefeated again next year they'll give us a shot at the title."

Of course, TCU isn't the first non-AQ team in recent memory to go undefeated and unrecognized for a national championship. Utah did it in the 2004 and 2008 seasons, while Boise State accomplished the feat last year. But the Horned Frogs might have a bit stronger of a case this time around. The Utes beat mediocre Pittsburgh and disinterested SEC runner-up Alabama in their bowl games. Boise State topped TCU in last year's Fiesta Bowl as the non-AQs got ghettoized.

TCU beat an 11-1 Big Ten co-champion in No. 5 Wisconsin that was highly motivated to win the Rose Bowl. The stadium was at least 65 percent Badgers red. This was no fluky, mistake-filled upset, either. Both teams played well. The Horned Frogs were just better.

"We can play with anybody," said receiver Jimmy Young. "What more have we got to prove?"

The schedule hurts their case. Other than Wisconsin, TCU has beaten only one other team (Utah) currently in the BCS standings, and the Utes could drop out after getting hammered in their bowl game by Boise State. (On the flip side, San Diego State and Air Force both registered nice bowl wins and could climb into the final rankings).

Unless Auburn and Oregon play a complete stinker, odds are very few voters will seriously consider the Horned Frogs for the top spot in The Associated Press poll. But the Rose Bowl win could help TCU start next year high in the rankings, even though the team loses many key seniors such as quarterback Andy Dalton, center Jake Kirkpatrick, receiver Jeremy Kerley, defensive end Wayne Daniels and safety Tejay Johnson.

"We're going to just keep climbing the mountain," Kirkpatrick said. "Our goal is to win the national championship, and we're one step closer now."

This TCU team might have been good enough to win the BCS title, but we'll never know. The Horned Frogs will happily settle for 13-0 and a Rose Bowl win that will be remembered for generations.

"Nobody has beaten us yet," linebacker Tanner Brock said. "So we're a champion in my book."

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