2008 TCU Preview - Offense
TCU RB Aaron Brown
TCU RB Aaron Brown
Posted May 20, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - TCU Horned Frog Offense

TCU Horned Frogs

Preview 2008 - TCU Offense

- 2008 CFN TCU Preview | 2008 TCU Offense
- 2008 TCU Defense
| 2008 TCU Depth Chart
- 2007 TCU Preview
| 2006 CFN TCU Preview 

What you need to know: Maddeningly inconsistent and almost never explosive, the TCU offense was a big disappointment. However, it might have been a step back to take a giant leap forward. Injuries shuffled things up a bit on the line, and now four starters return to a group that should be far better for the running game while continuing to be decent in pass protection. QB Andy Dalton needed all season to figure out what he was doing, but he eventually grew into a solid starter. Now he needs receivers, and while there's a ton of big-time upside in a corps with four good-looking sophomores, to go along with top tight end Shae Reagan, there needs to be more production. The big key will be the health of the running backs. If Aaron Brown can stay healthy, after breaking his ankle last year, and if Joseph Turner can return from a torn up knee, the running game will be devastating.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andy Dalton
222-371, 2,459 yds, 10 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Joseph Turner
115 carries, 597 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Donald Massey
29 catches, 364 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Aaron Brown
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Jimmy Young
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Jeremy Kerley
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Shae Reagan
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) C Blake Schlueter, 3) OT Marshall Newhouse
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, Running backs (if healthy)
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, running back health


Projected Starter One of the surprises late last summer, 6-3, 210-pound sophomore Andy Dalton took the starting job by the horns and went on to complete 60% of his throws for 2,459 yards and ten touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He set the TCU school record for completions in a season with 222 and got better as the season went on as he limited his mistakes while cranking up the passing production. On the year, four of his interceptions came against Utah, two against Air Force, both close losses, and he didn't give away more than one pick in any other game. While he's not a dangerous runner, he's mobile enough to take off from time to time and good around the goal line with five touchdowns to go along with his 232 yards.

Projected Top Reserves: Last year was supposed to be when now-junior Marcus Jackson took the team and made it his, but he made way too many mistakes in practices and lost out to Andy Dalton for the starting job. Even so, he's a veteran who can step in and lead the team at any time, and can even add more of an explosive element with his excellent rushing skills. Even though he's not the most effective passer, he was was fine when he got the chance completing half his throws for 368 yards and three touchdowns while running for 187 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-1 and 216 pounder has a great arm to go along with his mobility, and while he won't beat out Dalton for the No. 1 spot, he'll rotate in and see time here and there.

Being groomed for the future will be freshman Yogi Gallegos, who has a game to go along with his great name. While he's only 6-0 and 182 pounds, he's a great passer with a live arm and just enough mobility to take off from time to time. In a perfect world he's able to redshirt and grow into backup role over the next few years and be ready to take over the starting job in 2011.

Watch Out For ... Jackson to play a role. Even though Dalton's the main man, Jackson proved he can move the team with some key scoring drives coming off the bench late in the year. This is Dalton's offense, but the more Jackson can be involved, the better.
Experience. Even though Dalton's just a sophomore and Jackson's a junior without many starts, the team can win with either one under center. The coaching staff has a relief pitcher in case Dalton struggles or gets hurt.
A number three. There are only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster until Gallegos gets to campus this fall. If something happens to Dalton and Jackson, which isn't out of the realm of possibility considering they run and get out of the pocket, and neither is afraid to take the big shot, it'll be up to a true freshman to save the day.
Outlook: The TCU bread won't be buttered with the passing game, but the quarterbacks have to be efficient and effective. Dalton can bomb, but his real worth is, potentially, as a game-manager who limits his mistakes and improves as year goes on. He's not going to throw for 300 yards every game out, but if he can complete around 60-65% of his throws and avoid the multi-interception game, he'll have done his job. Jackson is No. 1A, able to step in and start at any time and with the experience to come off the bench and produce. Freshman Yogi Gallegos will be the No. 3.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Can Aaron Brown stay healthy
? Banged up all of last year, he finally got knocked out for the year with a broken ankle to finish with a mere 490 yards and two touchdowns. Even with his limited work, playing parts of around nine games, he still finished with 24 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. When he's right, the 6-1, 196-pound senior is one of the Mountain West's best players with a tremendous combination of speed, quickness and power. However, the team simply can't count on him. He's never been a workhorse, splitting time as a sophomore before last year's injury-plagued campaign, and while he got 25 touches against Colorado State and 26 against Stanford, both wins, he hasn't proven he can do it on an every-game basis.

Needing to play more of a role is 5-10, 195-pound senior Justin Watts, a career reserve who came through clutch in the Texas Bowl by running for 46 yards and a touchdown once Turner went down. A bit more of a speed back than the other options, he's going to have to show he can handle the workload with the top two backs trying to come back healthy. At the very least he can be used as a third down back with good hands in the passing game, but he'll start out lined up at fullback.

Projected Top Reserves: With Aaron Brown trying to work his way back from a broken ankle, this would've been a perfect chance for junior Joseph Turner to establish himself even more in the running game after leading the team with 597 yards and six touchdowns, but he suffered a torn ACL against Houston in the Texas Bowl game and will likely need all off-season and a little bit of the regular season to be ready. At 6-1 and 226 pounds, he's a load of a back with just enough speed and quickness to take advantage of openings. If nothing else, he has to be ready for the San Diego State game after tearing off 83 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries against the Aztecs as a freshman, and then rushing for 226 yards and four scores on 33 carries last year.

5-11, 231-pound junior Chris Smith is ready to se time at fullback and as a big tailback after spending the last few years behind William Jackson. He saw a little bit of work in four games running eight times for 18 yards, but his role will increase in a big way as a blocker. Don't expect many carries or catches, but he should be decent in pass protection and a good lead man for the backs; he's been around long enough to know what he's doing.

Redshirt freshman Jai Cavness is the X factor. At 5-8 and 175 pounds, he's not all that big but he can really, really move. While he might turn out to be more valuable as a receiver, he has the speed and the home-run hitting potential to get the ball as a runner who'll try to turn the corner and make big things happen at the second level.

Backing up Smith at fullback will be redshirt freshman Luke Shivers, a 6-0, 205-pound undersized blocker who started out as a linebacker before moving over to the offensive side. He'll be worked in slowly and won't likely see more than a few games of action.

Watch Out For ... Watts. It's asking a lot for Turner to be ready right away while Brown still needs to be eased back into the mix. Watts might not have the same talent, and they sure don't have the same inside power, but they can be effective in a variety of ways.
Options. At some point this year, if all is well and if everything works out perfectly, the Horned Frogs will have at least four good backs with different skill sets to play around with. Watts is a quick runner, Turner is the power back, and Brown is the star who can do a little of everything well.
Health. While there's decent developed depth, there's a big drop-off from the Brown and Turner to Watts. Brown is a star who can carry the team to big things, and if he's not around, the rest of the offense has to adapt and adjust.
Outlook: The running game had to piece together starter throughout last season with Brown suffering a variety of injuries before getting knocked out for the year with a broken ankle, and then Turner was lost in the bowl game with a knee injury. Brown is expected to be back right away, but Turner is questionable for the start of the season, so it might be tailback by committee for a while as Watts gets folded in to keep Brown fresh.
Rating: 7


Projected Starters: At 6-4 and 206 pounds, senior Walter Bryant has the size to provide some big matchup problems at the inside Z position. Now he has to start producing. A decent option over the last few years, he hasn't used his bulk enough around the goal line with only one career touchdown, coming in last year's loss to Air Force, and he didn't start making noise until the final two games of last season. He's become better at cranking out big catches, but after making 27 grabs for 364 yards and the one score, he has to grow into more of a true number one.

6-1, 190-pound sophomore Bart Johnson was a key special teamer last season and had three, two-catch games for a total of 63 yards with two touchdowns. He's a good athlete with just enough size and toughness to grow into a key target at the H. Watch for him to eventually be a clutch receiver who makes plenty of third down catches.

Taking over at the outside X position will be 6-1, 200-pound sophomore Jimmy Young, a breakout star who made 23 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. With good deep speed and home run potential, scoring from 70 yards out in the win over Stanford, he's a dangerous, consistent option who'll grow into the team's most dangerous playmaker in the passing game.

True sophomore Jeremy Kerley is back on the Y after making nine catches for 97 yards with five of the grabs coming in the final two games. Used a bit as a runner, and even a passer completing two passes for 27 yards each, he can do a little of everything and will once again be used in a variety of ways. He was a star recruit for the program last year, and the 5-10, 185-pounder has the quickness to become a major player once he figures out what he's doing. A quarterback in high school, he could still use a bit more seasoning.

Back at tight end is senior Shae Regan, a 6-4, 261-pound receiver who made 11 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown in a disappointing season. With great speed and excellent size, he has pro potential if he can stay healthy, something he wasn't able to do last year. He came to TCU has a quarterback, but now he's a pure tight end. If he can improve a wee bit on his blocking, he'll be special.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 188-pound junior Ryan Christian started out his career at receiver, was moved to tailback, where he finished third on the team with 321 yards and two touchdowns, and now is back at receiver. With good hands, making 18 catches for 139 yards out of the backfield, he'll be one of the first players off the bench playing behind Bart Johnson at the H.

Is Donald Massey ready to have a big senior year? A tremendous athlete with elite deep speed, he has yet to break out as a receiver even though he was second on the team with 29 catches for 364 yards. He'll get a few starting nods somewhere in the receiving corps, most likely at the Y, but his real worth will be as a kick returner with a career 21.4-yard average.

Playing behind Shae Regan at tight end will be sophomore Evan Frosch after getting three starts last year. While not nearly the prospect Regan is, Frosch did a good job of filling in when needed with five catches for 35 yards. Even though he's not huge, the former linebacker is a tough blocker.

Watch Out For ... more from the receiving corps. This was supposed to be a bit of a work in progress last season, and while there were several options and a lot of plays coming form a lot of players, the receivers weren't as good as they should've been. This year's crop of targets has more potential and more weapons.
Young talent. There's not a lot of sure-thing experience to count on, but the trio of sophomores, Jimmy Young, Bart Johnson and Jeremy Kerley, along with Curtis Clay, should all form one of the Mountain West's best receiving corps. It just might take a year or two to get there.
A number one. Ervin Dickerson was the team's main weapon last year catching 40 passes with four touchdowns. Now someone has to step up and fill the void. While there's plenty of potential, there aren't any sure things.
Outlook: How fast can the young prospects become reliable starters? Reagan, if he can stay healthy, might be the team's most dangerous target, but Young and Kerley have talent to grow into stars. It would be nice if Bryant could use his size and experience to become a No. 1 man, but it's probably not going to happen. There will be several big plays from this group and a lot of wow moments, but there might not be much in the way of consistency until next year.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Four starters return to the line, but the loss is a big one with all-star Matty Lindner gone at left guard. It'll be a battle for the starting job with 6-6, 293-pound senior Preston Phillips the most likely first option after seeing plenty of backup time over the last two years and even getting a start against New Mexico. He has decent size and just enough experience to be decent.

The anchor of the line will once again be 6-3, 272-pound senior Blake Schlueter, an athletic rock up front who's a strong quarterback up front. He lived up to all the potential and all the promise from a strong 2007 off-season and was tremendously consistent. While not a dominant, flattening run blocker, he opens up holes.

The tackles are once again set with junior Marshall Newhouse on the left side and junior Nic Richmond on the right. The 6-3, 317-pound Newhouse earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors and was the team's most dominant all-around blocker. A true junior who's been part of the mix from the start, he's the one the line will revolve around on the really big plays. He's the cousin of former Dallas Cowboy, Robert Newhouse, and former Baylor star receiver, Reggie Newhouse.

Richmond isn't the blocker Newhouse is, but he's turning into a strong pass protector. At 6-8 and 298 pounds, he has the long frame with big arms that gives pass rushers fits. Able to play either tackle spot, and consistent throughout his first year as a starter, he's growing into a key part of the line and a potential all-star.

6-5, 295-pound senior Giles Montgomery returns after starting all 13 games last season. The former defensive tackle took over the job in 2007 fall camp and never let it go as he bulked up, got better in the running game, and showed enough mobility to handle himself against the quicker interior linemen.

Projected Top Reserves: Battling it out with Preston Phillips at left guard is sophomore Josh Vernon, a squatty 6-2, 295-pound bowling ball who saw a little bit of action last year and will almost certainly be the starter next year. A top recruit a few years ago, he'll get every shot at winning the job, or at the very least seeing more time in the rotation.

On the way is top recruit Zach Roth, a JUCO All-American who's good enough to be part of the lineup right away. At 6-5 and 298 pounds, he's built like a tackle with just enough strength and experience to be tested out at guard.

Back in the mix soon will be 6-5, 315-pound senior Heath Raetz. He's simply had no luck, missing most of 2006 with a knee injury and only getting time in three games last year before getting hurt again. A tackle by trade, he moved inside to guard where he doesn't need to be as mobile. If he's right, he's the starting right guard.

The future star of the line is 6-5, 319-pound sophomore Marcus Cannon, an excellent reserve who saw time in every game at right tackle. With his size, strength, and upside, he's just good enough to possibly knock out Nic Richmond from the starting spot.

Watch Out For ... the line to be as good as any in the Mountain West. It overcame injuries to jell into a strong all-around unit that did a little of everything well, and now it should be dominant at times.
A nice mix of talent and potential. There are sure-things in all-stars Schlueter at center and Newhouse at left tackle, while there's tremendous upside with emerging prospects like Cannon at right tackle and Vernon at left guard.
Left guard. While there are several options, losing Lindner isn't a plus. Phillips has seen action and should be serviceable, but in a perfect world, the time is now for Vernon.
Outlook: The Horned Frog line was strong in pass protection all year and will be even better with four starters returning and a battle for the left guard spot. There's decent depth, good experience, and proven all-stars to form a good base for the rest of the offense to build around. While the line wasn't quite as good as it was expected to be for the running game, experience and rising talents should make this a potentially dominant front five.
Rating: 7