TCU Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

How do you follow up that for a first year in a new league?

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

TCU was supposed to be competitive after moving over to the Mountain West, but it was better than anyone could've expected going unbeaten in league play and opening the season with a stunning win over Oklahoma. Now the key will be to not let down like in 2004.  

The Horned Frogs followed up an 11-2 2003 season with a 5-6 clunker with no defense whatsoever, but that shouldn't be a problem this season with Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz forming a frightening pass rushing pair, a young linebacking corps that flies to the ball and hits like a ton of bricks, and an overall defensive attitude of big play making after coming up with a whopping 40 takeaways last year. 

Head coach: Gary Patterson
6th year: 43-18
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 25, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best TCU Players
DE Tommy Blake, Jr.
2. OT Herbert Taylor, Sr.
3. QB Jeff Ballard, Sr.
4. DE Chase Ortiz, Jr.
5. RB Lonta Hobbs, Sr.
6. LB Jason Phillips, Soph.
7. RB Aaron Brown, Soph.
8. LB Robert Merrill, Sr.
9. S Marvin White, Sr.
10. TE Chad Andrus, Sr. 

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 at Baylor
9/9 UC Davis
9/16 Texas Tech
9/28 BYU
10/5 at Utah
10/21 at Army
10/28 Wyoming
11/4 at UNLV
11/11 at New Mexico
11/18 San Diego State
11/25 at Colorado State
12/2 Air Force

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 11-1
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Oklahoma W 17-10
9/10 at SMU L 21-10
9/15 Utah W 23-20 OT
9/24 at BYU W 51-50 OT
10/1 New Mexico W 49-28
10/8 at Wyoming W 28-14
10/15 Army W 38-17
10/22 at Air Force W 48-10
10/29 at San Diego St W 23-20
11/5 Colorado State W 33-6
11/12 UNLV W 51-3
12/31 Houston Bowl
Iowa State W 27-24

TCU is a high-risk, high reward team that commits a ton of penalties, takes a ton of defensive chances, and makes lots of big plays and gets burned by lots of big plays. In the end, the system has worked for Gary Patterson, who has an impressive 43-18 record along with three seasons with double-digit wins. To take the next step and get to the BCS, which it would've been in had the rules for the 2006 season been in place last year, all the breaks have to go the right way again.

You make your own good fortune, but TCU also came up on the positive side of two, big overtime Mountain West wins early on over Utah and TCU that set the tone for the rest of the season. There were the close wins over Oklahoma, San Diego State and Iowa State, but those came from good, hard-nosed defense and timely offense.

It's not like the team is without holes needing to replace four starters on the offensive line and with inexperience at the tackles and corners, but the pieces are in place for another run at the Mountain West title. Patterson has put together a good program that no one wants to face at this point and everyone will have to go through to get the conference championship.

The Schedule: If TCU thinks its nearly as good as it was last year, ten wins shouldn't be a problem with this slate. It's not bad outside of a home date with Texas Tech and a Mountain West showdown at Utah. BYU has to come to Fort Worth and TCU gets two of the final three games at home, but there's a second half stretch with four road trips in six weeks.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Herbert Taylor. Starter of 36 straight games and arguably the best lineman in the Mountain West, Taylor will have to be even better with four new starters up front. Consider it a shock if he allows a sack this year.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Tommy Blake. There isn't a better pass rusher in the conference. With Chase Ortiz on the other side taking off some of the heat, expect even more production this year and a run for All-America honors.

Key player to a successful season: Senior CBs Vernon Russell and Mike Salvage. The pass defense was great against short to midrange passing attacks but gave up a few too many big plays. Russell, a transfer from LSU, and Salvage have plenty of experience from the JUCO ranks and now have to shine as the new starters.

The season will be a success if ... TCU repeats as Mountain West champions. With all the returning talent and all the success of last year there's no reason to shoot any lower. A spot in the BCS is an attainable goal with an early win over Texas Tech.

Key game: October 5th at Utah. Running the Mountain West table is possible if the Horned Frogs can get over the brutal road tip to Salt Lake City. TCU won a 23-20 overtime classic last year to launch its big season, and now Utah will be looking to do the same. It's not an overstatement to think this might be the Mountain West title game.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: TCU 123 - Opponents 44
- Penalties: 104 for 955 yards - Opponents 73 for 615 yards
- Rushing touchdowns: TCU 32 - Opponents 12

The Last Time TCU…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Houston Bowl vs. Iowa State)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2004 (SMU)
…was shutout…1991 (Texas)
…scored 50 points…2005 (UNLV)
…went undefeated…1938
…won a conference title…2005 (Mountain West)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Robert Merrill)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Reggie Harrell)
…had a first-round draft choice…2001 (RB LaDainian Tomlinson)

Related Stories
TCU Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
TCU Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
TCU Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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