TCU Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Posted Aug 7, 2006

TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2006 - TCU Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Triple Play – Imagine you’re TCU offensive coordinator Mike Schultz.  You’re up in the press box, calling your offensive game.  So, okay, do we give it to Hobbs?  What about Merrill?  No, wait, what can Brown do for us?  All these choices, what to do?  Yeah, sure, what to do, Mike?  What to do, indeed?  It must be a tough life for a coach like Schultz to have to figure out what star running back is going to carry the pigskin.  Top 25 teams would be lucky to have one back of the caliber of Robert Merrill, Lonta Hobbs and Aaron Brown.  What does it say when a team has three on the same roster?  It was one thing when Merrill and Hobbs, two of the greatest TCU running backs in school history, were sharing carries in 2003 and 2004, but when Hobbs went down with an injury last season, Aaron Brown stepped into the lineup and kept the Froggie duo rolling.  The Mayde Creek youngster announced his presence with authority, on national television, no less, piling up 163 yards against the 2004 MWC champs Utah in one of the season’s biggest victories.  Brown was so good as a freshman that he was named the MWC Freshman of the Year.  But, coming into this season, all three stud backs are healthy, and presumably, all three want the ball.  So, back to Schultz’s grand problem – who gets it?  Easy.  All of them.  Schultz may not find a way to get two and/or three of the star backs on the field at the same time, but he does know that he’s got 45 solid carries in his runners.  Spread them out.  Let the hot guy dominate the ball.  Schultz has options, and we’re not talking about the option that his offense runs so well.  Time’s running out, Mike – 20 seconds on the play clock, who’s getting the ball?  Does it matter?  Uh, not so much.

2nd and Seven – On an Island – Want to see a grown man cry?  Or, sweat, as head coach and defensive coordinator Gary Patterson is wont to do.  Coach, how you doing with those new corners?  Oh boy.  There are few things that bother a coach more than breaking in new corners, especially after his ‘old’ corners were studs like Drew Coleman and Quincy Butler.  Vernon Russell and Mike Salvage are the older guys on the block and their ability to play zone and man equally well, will determine how aggressive Patterson can be with his game plan.  There may not be a pair of players on this team with any more pressure on them than these two, or the pair that will step in at the cornerback position.

3rd and Three – Finding Rodgers (or somebody like him) – TCU’s offense has been a little like the Man of a Thousand Faces.  They can mix in some option, some spread look and even some power game, but what gave this offense the ability to continue to expand its repertoire was a versatile, explosive talent like Cory Rodgers.  The former QB turned WR/KR/RB gave Schultz another play calling option (like he needed another one), and that option could’ve been any number of things.  But, with Rodgers on to the NFL, TCU has to find a game breaking threat who strikes fear into the heart of every defensive coordinator on the schedule.  It could be one of the running backs who could move into the slot.  It could be a speedster like Michael DePriest, who has shown he can absolutely fly.  No one will fill all of Rodgers shoes, but someone must step forward on offense to approximate the value that Rodgers brought to this offense.

4th and One – Edging Closer to the Answer – Although the corners will be stuck out on an island much of the year, they’ll get some help from a strong pair of defensive ends, who are ready to wreck havoc on MWC QBs – Chase Ortiz and Tommy Blake.  The latter was the Mountain West defensive player of the year, while the former came out of nowhere to be a first team All-Mountain West defensive lineman.  At 250 bills, they might be a little light, but you can’t prepare for the speed and relentlessness evident in these two stars.  The pressure that these two can generate off the edge will be paramount to defensive success in 2006. 

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