Preview 2007 - TCU Offense
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What you need to know: This
won't be the offense of last year that finished second in the
Mountain West in yards and scoring, but it won't be bad as long
as there isn't a major injury problem among the starters. The
line should be the strength with three returning starters and
experience to count on at the other spots. Aaron Brown is about
to shine now that he doesn't have to split carries. He'll be the
do-it-all back who'll be the offense until the passing game,
which struggled mightily in spring, comes around. The receiving
corps has potential, but it needs Donald Massey to become a
number one target, and it needs the quarterback situation to be
settled with Andy Dalton taking over, but barely.
Passing: Marcus Jackson
26-44, 386 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Aaron Brown
154 carries, 801 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Aaron Brown
34 catches, 455 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RB Aaron Brown
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman QB Andy Dalton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Marshall Newhouse
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Matty Lidner
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) Lidner, 3) C
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, Brown
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, proven
Projected Starter: At 6-3 and 185 pounds,
redshirt freshman Andy Dalton is a tall passer who was given every opportunity to win the starting job,
and he got it late this summer after showing nothing in spring ball.
He needs to be
far more consistent, but his biggest job is limiting mistakes. He was a top recruit with a great high
school résumé who can can throw the ball, but he's not nearly
the most mobile option.
Projected Top Reserves:
Sophomore Marcus Jackson appeared to be a perfect fit to
take over and star right away. He got a little bit of meaningful
work early on when he stepped in to complete 11 of 13 passes for
148 yards and two touchdowns to beat Baylor in the season
opener, and saw time here and there over the rest of the season
finishing with 386 yards, two scores, and interception, and 53
rushing yards. While he's a great athlete with a great arm, he
had a rough spring with too many mistakes.
The third man in the hunt for time is redshirt freshman Zack
Eskridge, a potentially good passer who'll could grow into
the sleeper candidate. At 6-3 and 195 pounds, and with a good
arm, he'll be a nice emergency option.
Watch Out For ... Jackson to see time this year.
Dalton might be the man to start, but as long as Jackson doesn't press too much and try to do everything on
his own, he'll be fine. He has all the tools, and now he just
needs the confidence that comes with being the starter.
Strength: Different looks. While Jackson can throw,
Dalton has more upside as a passer. On the flipside, Jackson can
run. If the coaching staff decided to go with a rotation, there
might be different quarterbacks for different situations.
Weakness: Accuracy. Jackson had an amazing first game last year,
but only completed 15 of 31 the rest of the way. Neither Jackson
nor Dalton could consistently hit the receivers in spring ball.
Outlook: Any hope of a dream season revolves
around the emergence of one of the quarterbacks to take the
starting job by the horns. Basically, the team needs either
Jackson or Dalton to come up with the "it" factor and be the
quarterback, like Jeff Ballard was over the last few years, who
can just make things happen and carry the offense when it needs
It's Aaron Brown's time to shine. The junior showed
glimpses of greatness as a freshman highlighted by a 163-yard
day against Utah. He has tremendous quickness through the hole,
breakaway speed past the line, and just enough power to not be
pushed around. What he hasn't been is a workhorse, splitting
time last year with Lonta Hobbs and never getting more than 18
carries. even so, he led the team with 801 yards and nine
touchdowns averaging 5.2 yards per carry, while finishing second
on the team with 34 catches for 455 yards and a score. He's the
difference maker the offense will revolve around until the
passing game comes around.
Looking to pave the way at fullback is senior William Jackson,
a 235-pound sledgehammer who only got five carries last year. He
likely won't see the ball all that often getting the most work
as a blocker.
Projected Top Reserves: Brown likely won't split
carries as equally as he did last year, but that doesn't mean
sophomore Joseph Turner won't see work. At 226 pounds, he
provides more power than Brown with just enough speed to bust
off a big run here and there. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry on
24 attempts with a touchdown against San Diego State.
Third in the mix will be pure speed-back Detrick James,
who at 5-8 and 180 pounds is the smallest option. Staying
healthy is his issue after getting knocked out in the second
half of last year to finish with 198 yards on 42 carries. Built
like a third down back, he's more of a runner than a receiver.
On the way is true freshman
a smallish back with track star speed and football toughness.
While he might turn out to be more valuable as a receiver, he's
a home run waiting to happen out of the backfield.
231-pound sophomore Chris Smith was good when he got a
little work behind Jackson with a touchdown and 41 yards on nine
carries. He's a little bit smaller and isn't the same blocking
type of fullback.
Watch Out For ... Brown to blossom into a
superstar. As long as he can stay healthy, and with the line he
has in front of him, 1,500 yards isn't an unattainable goal.
Strength: Brown's potential. While Hobbs wasn't a
handcuff, he was too good to not allow Brown to get the ball
more. While Turner and James are fine, they aren't so good that
Brown shouldn't get the ball 20 times a game.
Weakness: Sure-thing backups. Can Turner and James be the
rotation of Brown gets hurt? James is coming off an injury, and
Turner hasn't yet shown he can be a steady back who can carry
the workload game in and game out.
Outlook: The nation's ninth best rushing offense
was helped by having a running quarterback in Jeff Ballard, and
will get runs from the new starting quarterback, whoever that
turns out to be, but for the most part it'll be Aaron Brown, Brown and
more Brown. He's too good, and too much of a threat to break off
a big play, every play, to not grow into something special. Any
help he gets from the backups will be a bonus.
The passing game is missing a true number one after losing
Quentily Harmon, and the first option will be junior Donald
Massey, the only returning starter to the corps. While he's
a terrific athlete, he's done more as a kickoff returner,
averaging 21.4 yards per try, than a receiver, finishing third
on the team with 26 catches for 332 yards and three scores. Even
so, he's a home run hitter at the H who needs to get the ball in
his hands more often.
Stepping into a full-time role at the outside X will be 6-1,
200-pound senior Ervin Dickerson after catching 12 passes
for 96 yards. He has the size, he has the top-end speed, but he
has to show he can more more than just a possession receiver.
Considering his skills, he should be averaging far more than
just 8.1 yards per catch.
While he'll have to work to hold on to the starting job, 6-4,
206-pound junior Walter Bryant will get the first look at
the Z. He has 23 career, but he's only averaged 9.3 yards per
grab with no touchdowns. Even so, he should cerate a few matchup
problems with his size.
Junior Shae Regan is one of the Mountain West's most
dangerous receiving tight ends averaging 21.4 yards per catch
with two scores last season. He's 6-4 and 261 pounds with
tremendous speed, and now he has to get the ball on the move on
a more regular basis. With his size, he has to be a more
physical blocker and become a better all-around tight end, but
he has the potential to be special.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Marcus Brock
has been a career backup, and only caught three passes for 28
yards last year, to go along with two rushing scores, but he was
one of the stars of spring ball and should see more time
rotating with Massey at the H. With his speed and athleticism,
he has the potential to be a major playmaker if he can stay
Filling in where needed last season was senior Derek Moore,
a 6-3, 177-pound spot starter who got the call in seven games
last year making eight catches for 98 yards. While he's not an
ideal starter, he's an excellent reserve behind Bryant at the Z.
Behind Reagan at tight end is 6-3, 237-pound Quinton Cunigan.
The senior isn't much of a blocker, and he has hardly been used
on anything other than special teams outside of catching two
passes for nine yards and a score against Baylor in the season
Watch Out For ... a major shuffling and
reshuffling all season long to find the right starting
combination. The passing game failed to click throughout spring
ball, and while that was partly the fault of the quarterbacks,
the receivers didn't help the cause.
Strength: Size. Between Bryant, Dickerson, Moore, and
Reagan, this is a tall group with just enough speed to give
mediocre secondaries problems.
Weakness: Reliable, dangerous targets. There's a world of
potential and several good deep threat possibilities, but little
proven, consistent production. It's going to take a while before
the steady playmakers stand out.
Outlook: Call this a work in progress, and the
team's weakest link going into the season. While there are
plenty of good prospects who look the part, most of them, like
Dickerson and Bryant, haven't done it yet despite having several
chances. Massey is a major question mark as a number one
receiver, and it would be nice if he took the pressure off
everyone else. In the end, Reagan might turn out to be the most
Three starters return to a strong offensive line, led by second team
All-Mountain West star Matty Lindner at left guard. The 6-4,
298-pound senior is a tough run blocker and a phenomenal pass protector
with excellent athleticism, but he has to prove he has to same movement
after suffering a knee injury in the Poinsettia Bowl. While he's
supposed to be ready by fall, he's a key cog who can't miss any time.
Next to Lindner at left tackle will be 6-7, 271-pond senior Wade Sisk,
a steady starter in every game at right tackle who'll now take over for
Herb Taylor on the left side. A good run blocker, his strength is in
pass protection with long arms and a good frame to keep pass rushers at
Junior center Blake Schlueter is one of the team's rising stars.
Coming off a great spring, he turned his production up a few notches as
last season went on to finish with a all-star honors. He's big, mobile,
and now, incredibly consistent. He'll be one of the best in the league
and a great quarterback up front.
The right side is a little more of a question mark with junior guard
Heath Raetz coming off a knee injury and sophomore Marshall
Newhouse filling in for Sisk. At 6-3 and 317 pounds, Newhouse is one
of the line's biggest players, and he got his feet wet as a true
freshman with a little bit of time starting in the season opener. He has
the potential to be a dominant player up front for the next three years.
Raetz missed all of last year after tearing up his knee before the
season started, and now he doesn't have to be quite as mobile moving
from tackle to guard.
Projected Top Reserves: With Raetz still trying to
get healthy, junior Giles Montgomery will play a key role at
right guard. While the 288-pounder isn't Raetz, the former defensive
tackle is physical with enough experience to see time at either guard
Until Lindner is 100%, junior Preston Phillips, who saw time in
seven games, mostly in garbage time, will see plenty of time at left
guard. At 6-6 and 293 pounds, he has good size.
Working behind Sisk and about to become a top player is 6-8, 298-pound
sophomore Nic Richmond, a big hitter who saw a little bit of time
last year backing up Taylor. While he'll see time in the rotation,
possibly on both sides, he can step in and start if needed.
Watch Out For ... the line to be fantastic as long
as everyone stays healthy. The starting five is as good as any in the
league, and should be one of the team's strengths.
Strength: Experience and talent. With three returning
starters, and a fourth in Raetz, considering he was a key blocker two
years ago, this is a veteran group that should be consistent. Several
players will get all-conference consideration.
Weakness: Knees. The backups aren't that bad, but the line needs
Lindner and Raetz to be fully healed. Not only do they need to prove
they're back to form, they have to show they can hold up for the entire
year. It's not a stretch to say their knees might be the difference
between a good season and a special one.
Outlook: The line isn't going to be better after
losing Herb Taylor, but there are enough very, very good players to be
strong enough to dominate at times. After allowing just 15 sacks last
season, and paving the way for the nation's ninth best running attack,
there's a lot to live up to. If Matty Lindner, Blake Schlueter and Wade Sisk play as
expected, the line could be almost as good.