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CFN Preview 2013 - TCU Horned Frogs
TCU DE Devonte Fields
TCU DE Devonte Fields
Posted May 4, 2013 Preview 2013 - TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Horned Frogs

Preview 2013

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Gary Patterson
13th year: 116-36
Returning Lettermen: 43
Off. 19, Def. 22, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 25
Ten Best TCU Players
1. CB Jason Verrett, Sr.
2. QB Casey Pachall, Sr.
3. DE Devonte Fields, Soph.
4. DT Chucky Hunter, Jr.
5. SS Sam Carter, Jr.
6. QB Trevone Boykin, Soph.
7. CB Kevin White, Jr.
8. WR Brandon Carter, Jr.
9. WS Chris Hackett, Soph.
10. C Eric Tausch, Sr.
2013 Schedule
8/31 LSU (in Arlington)
9/7 SE Louisiana
9/14 at Texas Tech
9/28 SMU
10/5 at Oklahoma
10/12 Kansas
10/19 at Oklahoma State
10/26 Texas
11/2 West Virginia
11/9 at Iowa State
11/16 at Kansas State
11/30 Baylor
See … SEEEEEE … TCU made the big jump up to a real conference, and now it’s being exposed to being merely average, right?

See … SEEEEEE … TCU can’t dominate on a regular basis like it did in the Mountain West and wasn’t nearly as nasty, intimidating and effective after having to deal with the Big 12, right?

It’s the laziest of all Big 12 offseason narratives to assume that TCU was exposed in any way after going 7-6 in a BCS conference after years and years of owning the Mountain West, Conference USA and WAC. Actually, considering the circumstances, the Horned Frogs came up with a terrific first year just to stay afloat, much less succeed.

Is anyone saying West Virginia can’t handle life in the Big 12 after going 7-6 in its first year coming over from the Big East? No, and the Mountaineers didn’t have any of the issues TCU had to fight through.

During the season, did you hear boo about the marijuana controversy that could’ve blown up into a major scandal? No, and why? Head coach Gary Patterson handled the situation as well as could’ve possibly been asked for, never making excuses and taking the scandal head on last offseason. While the problems didn’t gut the program, they took away enough players to hurt the overall depth for a team that could ill-afford to lose live bodies for the rotation in a transitional season going to a stronger league.

Look around at the rest of the Big 12 and the country – who lost an NFL-caliber starting quarterback and still survived? USC went into the tank after Matt Barkley got hurt, while TCU was able to pick up the pieces and move on after Casey Pachall was suspended after being arrested for a DWI. The Horned Frogs might have stumbled late, but they still found a way to be more than just competitive with Trevone Boykin under center.

Who loses a starting running back and keeps on producing at a decent level? TCU had an excellent stable of backs, but it was still a big deal to lose Waymon James early on to an injury. The kicking game turned to a freshman at placekicker and punter, offense sputtered too often and the offensive line was shaky, yet the Horned Frogs still beat Texas, got by West Virginia, and pushed Kansas State, Oklahoma and Michigan State in losses. No, losing to Iowa State at home wasn’t okay, but it was Boykin’s first real game, and getting blown out by Oklahoma State wasn’t pretty, but overall, considering the adversity, a 7-5, regular season and down-to-the-wire bowl loss wasn’t that bad.

The defense didn’t have any problems, finishing first in the Big 12 in total defense and run D, but the offense struggled to find its consistency. Nine starters return on D, while Pachall and James should provide a boost to the O. Will it all mean a Big 12 title and total dominance? No, but after proving it belonged, now TCU should start to thrive.

What to watch for on offense: How fast can the offensive line start to dominate? As good as the defense should be, TCU can’t make a big move in the Big 12 by finishing eighth in total and scoring offense. The quarterback situation will work itself out, the running game should improve and the receiving corps will move on and be fine despite the loss of Josh Boyce. However, all the talent at the skill spots won’t matter a lick if the line doesn’t start to be better in pass protection and more efficient for the ground attack. The tackles will be solid and center Eric Tausch will be a good one, but the guards have to shine and the depth needs to improve.

What to watch for on defense: Can the pass rush be more consistent and more effective? For all the big numbers and all the big plays, there weren’t any sacks in the losses to Oklahoma State or Oklahoma, and the one sack against West Virginia wasn’t enough despite coming up clutch in the shootout win. Generating three sacks against Texas Tech was great, but the secondary gave up seven touchdown passes in the overtime shootout. 19 of the 29 sacks came in the first seven games, but ten came in the final six.

The team will be far better if … the running game does more to complement the passing attack. There won’t be any problems pushing the ball deep, but it’s a big deal with the offense is balanced. TCU came up with 200 yards or more on the ground just three times, beating Grambling in the opener, Baylor and Texas. In those three games, the offense came up with seven of the 13 rushing touchdowns on the year, and were the only three games with more than one rushing score. In all, nine of the rushing scores came in the seven wins, and four came in the six losses.

The schedule: Oh great. Just when it seems like TCU has everything starting to come together with a team ready to make a nice run, it starts out the season in Dallas against LSU. Fortunately, SE Louisiana is up next to gear up for the start to the Big 12 season at Texas Tech. Unfortunately, there’s an unnecessary week off before getting SMU – it would’ve been nicer to have the extra time to prepare for a trip to Oklahoma the following week.

The Horned Frogs get a break not playing three toad games in four weeks, but there isn’t much of a chance to breathe in the middle part of the slate with a trip to Oklahoma State and home dates against Texas and West Virginia before going to Iowa State and Kansas State. Getting a week off to prepare for the regular season finale against Baylor is a plus.

Best offensive player: Senior QB Casey Pachall. Gary Patterson won’t commit to a starter until the fall, but after his off-the-field issues, Pachall appears to be better focused and ready to become the top pro prospect he’s expected to turn into. He has all the tools with the size, the arm and the fight, but now he needs the job with Trevone Boykin still in neck-and-neck in the race.

Best defensive player: Senior CB Jason Verrett. Devonte Fields might have been the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after a dominant pass rushing season, but Fields was every bit as effective. A peerless open-field tackler for a corner, he doesn’t miss and doesn’t make big mistakes, but where he truly shines is as a pass defender, coming up with 16 broken up passes with six picks. He might not have the same numbers this season with teams staying away, but he should be able to erase just about everyone’s No. 1 target.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore OGs Joey Hunt & Jamelle Naff. Can these two blast away for the running game? There wasn’t enough pop and explosion on the ground, partly because everyone loaded up to take away the passing attack once Trevone Boykin got under center, but the line needs to start doing its job in the interior. Naff is a big blaster with anchor potential, even if he doesn’t have the athleticism, while Hunt is more like a right tackle playing guard. These two need to emerge over the next few years as steady performers.

The season will be a success if … TCU wins nine games. The schedule isn’t conducive for a huge season, but with a better offense and loaded defense, it’s time to start winning games against the Oklahomas and Oklahoma States of the Big 12, while also expecting to hang around in the shootouts. Better than West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech, there should be a nice base of conference wins to build off of, so an 8-4 regular season with a bowl win shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

Key game: Sept 14 at Texas Tech. After last year’s wild three overtime loss, the improved Horned Frogs need to start the Big 12 slate with a big win or else it’ll be panic alert time with a road date at Oklahoma up next in conference play. After starting out against LSU, barring an upset, a loss to the Red Raiders could mean a 2-3 start with Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia and Kansas State still to deal with.

2012 Fun Stats:
- 1st Quarter Scoring: TCU 115 – Opponents 58
- Penalties: TCU 89 for 819 yards - Opponents 60 for 556 yards
- Time of Possession: TCU 32:44 – Opponents 27:16
- 2013 TCU Preview | 2013 TCU Offense
- 2013 TCU Defense | 2013 TCU Depth Chart