2007 TCU Preview - Offense

Posted May 30, 2007

Preview 2007 TCU Horned Frog Offense Preview

TCU Horned Frogs

Preview 2007 - TCU Offense

- 2007 TCU Preview | 2007 TCU Defense Preview
2007 TCU Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN TCU Preview 

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.

Returning Leaders
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 Blake Schlueter
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, Brown
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, proven all-around depth


Projected StarterAt 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.
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.
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 a boost.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: 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
Jai Cavness, 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.
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.
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.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: 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 healthy.

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 opener

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.
Size. Between Bryant, Dickerson, Moore, and Reagan, this is a tall group with just enough speed to give mediocre secondaries problems.
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 dangerous weapon.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: 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 bay.

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 spot.

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.
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.
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.
Rating: 8


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2007 TCU Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 29, 2007
2007 TCU Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 29, 2007
2007 TCU Preview - Depth Chart
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