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2011 TCU Preview - Defense
TCU DE Stansly Maponga
TCU DE Stansly Maponga
Posted Jun 22, 2011 2011 Preview - TCU Horned Frog Defense

TCU Horned Frogs

Preview 2011 - Defense

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What You Need To Know: The TCU defense had to move on after losing some phenomenal NFL-caliber players in Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington, and everything turned out more than fine. The defense finished first in the nation in both points and yards allowed, so you’ll have to forgive everyone around the program if no one appears too worried about another year with some major holes to fill. Tank Carder and Tanner Brock form a devastating linebacking tandem in the 4-2-5 alignment, and they should do a little bit of everything to eat up tackles. The defensive front should have a nice rotation on the inside, while Stansly Maponga has the potential to be the next great pass rusher on the outside. The secondary that led the nation in passing yards allowed has the most work to do, but Greg McCoy is a terrific corner to build around and, as usual, TCU is loaded with very big, very smart, very athletic safeties who won’t miss a stop.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Tanner Brock, 106
Sacks: D.J. Yendrey, 3
Interceptions: Greg McCoy, 2

Star of the defense: Senior LB Tank Carder
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Braylon Broughton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore SS Trenton Thomas
Best pro prospect: Carder
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carder, 2) LB Tanner Brock, 3) DE Stansly Maponga
Strength of the defense: Linebacker, Production
Weakness of the defense: Interceptions, An Unstoppable No. 1 Pass Rusher

Defensive Line

State of the Unit: All four starters on the TCU defensive front earned All-Mountain West honors in some way last year, but two of the key players, First Team DE Wayne Daniels and Second Team DT Cory Grant, have to be replaced. It’s TCU; there will be more disruptive, dangerous pass rushers, and the line will be more than fine with the top-shelf talent returning.

Everything will start around rising defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, a 6-4, 273-pound former high school sprinter who bulked up enough to bring his athleticism to the inside of the line. An Honorable Mention pick last year, he should stand out and be the star of the show as an interior pass rusher after making three sacks and five tackles for loss along with 18 tackles. While Yendrey should be the breakout star, 6-2, 290-pound junior Jeremy Coleman is more than good enough to take over for Grant on the nose. Very strong and very quick, he can play anywhere on the line and could quickly become the anchor now that he’ll get more action. He only made six tackles last year, but he’ll be a major factor now.

Stepping in for Daniels on one end will be senior Braylon Broughton, an ideal-sized 6-6, 272-pound 3-4 end, he has enough athleticism to be a pass rusher in a 4-3, but now the one-time super-recruit has to prove it after only making 11 tackles with a sack in limited action last season. Fortunately for the line, sophomore Stansly Maponga appears ready to be the next big thing after coming up with 32 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three tackles for loss. The 6-2, 265-pounder is quick off the ball, and while he wasn’t Jerry Hughes, he did enough to earn all-star recognition.

There should be a bit more of a rotation this year until the line figures out the right combination, and 6-4, 265-pound junior Ross Forrest and 6-3, 245-pound sophomore Matt Anderson should be factors on the end. Forrest was supposed to replace Hughes on the outside, but he quickly lost his gig but the former walk-on only made five tackles with no sacks. Anderson got on the field in his true freshman season and made four tackles for a tackle for loss, but he got hurt and missed the last part of the year.

Working in the defensive tackle rotation will be sophomore Ray Burns on the nose and redshirt freshman David Johnson behind Yendrey. The 6-2, 270-pound Johnson is built a bit like a bowling ball, but he has tremendous quickness and should be an interior pass rusher right away, while the 6-1, 290-pound Burns has excellent upside. However, he didn’t do much last year.

Watch Out For … Maponga. While it’s asking a lot to find another Jerry Hughes or Wayne Daniels, Maponga might be it on the outside. He’ll be keyed on by most blocking schemes, but he has the quickness to be a pass rushing terror.
Strength: Getting into the backfield. TCU always finds ways to hit the quarterback and make plays behind the line, and this group won’t be any different. The Horned Frogs go two-deep with players who can be disruptive and screw things up. However …
Weakness: … it’s not like the Horned Frogs were totally dominant finishing 54th in the nation in sacks and 64th in tackles for loss. The departure of Daniels and Grant. At some point TCU isn’t going replace one all-star with another. This might not be that year, but Daniels was a unanimous First Team All-Star selection while Grant was a fantastic stick-in-the-mud. It might take a few players to replace what those two brought.
Outlook: TCU finished fifth in the nation in run defense, and while the pass rush might not have put up mega-numbers, it was effective. Expect the line to once again be a brick wall against the run, ultra-active at getting to the quarterback, and as productive as any line in America. There just might be more of a rotation than normal.
Unit Rating: 8


State of the Unit: There was a concern that the linebacking corps would struggle a bit after losing hitting machine Daryl Washington. Instead, Tank Carder was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and running mate Tanner Brock was a First Team all-star. With good depth and the return of the two stars, TCU’s two in the 4-2-5 is loaded.

Carder had a nice sophomore year making 89 tackles with ten tackles for loss, and while he only came up with 60 stops in 2010 with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, he had a tremendous season making things happen all over the field. While he’ll be forever known for batting down the two-point conversion attempt to seal the win over Wisconsin, he did a little of everything in the Rose Bowl and won Defensive MVP honors. With 6-3, 237-pound size, peerless instincts, and big-time hitting ability, he’s a perfect fit for the middle. However, he has to stay healthy. He had problems with a shoulder injury last offseason and was a question mark at times going into 2010. Instead, he played like a beefed up safety and came up with a whale of a year.

The 6-3, 246-pound Brock led the team with 106 tackles with two sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, and a pick as he more than lived up to his immense prep hype. He’s big, fast, and doesn’t miss tackles. He hit the weights, grew into his frame, and he has become one of the nation’s best all-around defenders. Not only did he destroy Utah with a 57-yard interception and 12 tackles, but he held up well against Wisconsin with nine stops. While he’s not a whale of a pass rusher, he could be if needed from the strongside.

6-1, 210-pound junior Kenny Cain will work as the understudy Carder in the middle. While he’s built like a tall safety, he brings speed and quickness to the linebacking corps making 27 tackles with a tackle for loss. Also in the hunt for playing time is Kris Gardner, a 6-1, 238-pound senior who made 12 tackles as a reserve, but has the potential to do more. Limited by a shoulder problem last offseason, the former tight end never found much of a groove in the rotation behind Brock.

On the way are two star prospects who might factor into the equation immediately. 6-2, 221-pound true freshman Austin Terry will get a look on the outside while fellow newcomer Deryck Gildon has the speed and range to someday be a force in the middle. Gildon is only 6-2 and 205 pounds, but he can move with wide receiver athleticism and the toughness to grow into a good hitter. Terry wasn’t a top recruit, but he got to school early and he’s being given a shot to see some time, possibly as a special teamer.

Watch Out For … Gardner and Cain to play more of a role. Brock and Carder held up better than expected and ended up doing everything for the linebacking corps. There’s no reason to keep them rolling in blowouts, and Gardner and Cain are capable of closing things down when things are well in hand.
Strength: Brock and Carder. They’re among the most instinctive, best-tackling linebackers in America. The two are guaranteed to be on everyone’s All-Mountain West list and should be in the hunt for All-America honors as long as they stay healthy. They’re as good as any pair in college football.
Weakness: More backup help. TCU has nice prospects waiting in the wings, but Gardner, Cain, and others have to get their chances. If anyone stands out, the defense will go to more of a 4-3 alignment at times just to get all the talent on the field, but Brock and Carder are never coming out unless they break down.
Outlook: Last year at this time there was a major concern that Brock and Carder were going to have issues with injuries, most notably a shoulder problem for Carder. This year, the Horned Frog stars should be among the most productive defenders in America and should be the rock of another fantastic defensive front six (and occasionally seven).
Unit Rating: 9

Defensive Backs

State of the Unit: The TCU pass defense was No. 1 in the nation in yards allowed and No. 1 in pass efficiency defense. Granted, it’s not like it played against a slew of top quarterbacks, and Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien and San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley didn’t have too many problems, but for the most part the secondary was a brick wall allowing a mere ten touchdown passes, and just four over the final nine games and only gave more than 170 yards twice. While there’s some turnover to deal with, enough good players are back to hope for another top ten national finish.

Senior Greg McCoy is a 5-10, 181-pound flash of lightning at one corner, and he’s going to get to show off his wheels a bit more as a kickoff returner. While he’s not an elite tackler, he’s solid making 30 stops last year while picking off two passes and breaking up six others. He’s a lockdown playmaker on an island, and no one gets by him.

Working on the other side will be Travaras Battle, a 6-0, 180-pound sophomore who say plenty of playing time as a true freshman making 18 tackles. He’s a physical corner who can run, and he’ll be tested often with most teams trying to stay away from McCoy. 5-10, 174-pound redshirt freshman Kevin White is a quick option who can work on either side, while JUCO transfer Jason Verrett enrolled early this spring and is a 5-10, 180-pound ready-made defender who’ll get trued out this year in several areas.

The big question mark will be who’ll replace Tejay Johnson after a 66-tackle, three pick all-star season. Senior Johnny Fobbs is a 6-1, 203-pound thumper of a free safety who made seven tackles and two tackles for loss as a backup and a special teamer. He might not be Johnson when it comes to ball-hawking ability, but he has good tackling skills and should be steady.

Working at the weak safety spot in place of Alex Iboloye will be veteran Tekerrein Cuba, a 6-4, 210-pound big hitter who made 49 tackles with two tackles for loss working in a variety of spots in the secondary. He’s a natural for the hybrid position, but he can work at free safety and strong safety, too, even though sophomore Trenton Thomas appears ready to be a factor at strong safety. The promising 5-11, 190-pound athlete didn’t register any stats last season in just three appearances, but he should be one of the team’s top tacklers if he plays up to expectations.

Sophomore Elisha Olabode made nine tackles as a true freshman, but the 5-10, 182-pound corner will move over to safety where he’ll see most of his time at free safety and will move around wherever his speed is needed. Former quarterback Sam Carter is another versatile athlete who’ll see action at strong safety, but has the 6-1, 220-pound size to be a weak safety and be used like a smallish linebacker.

Watch Out For … A lot of movement. It’s not like all the TCU defensive backs are interchangeable, but there’s enough versatility to figure out a way to get the five best players on the field. There shouldn’t be a problem identifying who the new playmakers are going to be.
Strength: The system. TCU gets good-sized guys who can all run and can all tackle. While every team is looking for that in their secondary, TCU does a better job than most of finding the diamonds in the rough and turning them into hungry playmakers. Not every Horned Frog defensive back is 6-foot something, 200 pounds, but it just seems like it.
Weakness: Interceptions and a pass rush. TCU does a decent job of getting to the quarterback, but it was No. 1 in the pass with mediocre sack totals from the defensive front. The defense only picked off 12 passes, and the linebackers had something to do with that total. A few new ball-hawkers have to emerge after the loss of Tejay Johnson and Jason Teague.
Outlook: This isn’t going to be the lock-down rock of a secondary it was last year, but that might only mean that TCU gives up 160 yards per game through the air instead of 129. This will once again be a very athletic, very tough group that’ll keep the yards after the catch to a minimum, and it should finish among the top ten in the nation in pass defense once the starting five is figured out.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Special Teams

State of the Unit: The special teams loses star returner Jeremy Kerley, but the kicking game might be the best in the country if the veterans come through as expected.

Senior Ross Evans is entering his fourth year as the starter and is among the most accurate placekickers in college football. He followed up a 31-of-38 season by nailing 11-of-13 field goals with both his misses coming against San Diego State. While he doesn’t have a monster leg, a 43-yarder against Colorado State was his deepest kick last year, he has just enough to be tried out from 50 if needed.

While the punting game wasn’t phenomenal, netting just 36.5 yards per kick, longtime starter Anson Kelton is a huge banger with a strong leg. At 6-4 and 280 pounds, he’s not exactly the typical punter, and while he didn’t have a 72-yarder like he did in 2009, he averaged 41.6 yards per try while putting 17 inside the 20 and forcing 14 fair catches. He’ll be on the short list for the Ray Guy Award.

With Jeremy Kerley gone, it’ll be up to Greg McCoy to be the main kickoff returner while Elisha Olabode will get the first look as the punt returner. Olabode has the cut-on-a-dime quickness needed to become a major factor right away, while McCoy was phenomenal on his five kickoff returns averaging 33.4 yards per try.

Watch Out For … the return game to continue to be terrific. Kerley did it all for the Horned Frogs, but he got to be so good that teams started staying away from him. He still produced averaging 12.9 yards per punt return and 27.7 yards per kickoff, but McCoy, Olabode, and Skye Dawson should combine to keep the production going.
Strength: The kicking game. Evans is ultra-reliable anywhere inside the 45, while Kelton is a weapon who can air it out when needed and is also strong at putting it inside the 20.
Weakness: Kerley is gone. There shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff with the new guys taking over, but Kerley helped TCU finish fifth in the nation in punt returns and seventh in kickoff returns.
Outlook: The Horned Frogs will once again have some of the best special teams in America. The coverage teams are solid, the kicking game is terrific, and even without Kerley, the return game will be a major positive.
Unit Rating: 9

- 2011 TCU Preview | 2011 TCU Offense
- 2011 TCU Defense | 2011 TCU Depth Chart
- TCU Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006