2009 CFN Mountain West Preview
Team Previews & Predictions
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CFN Mountain West Preview
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CFN Mountain West Preview
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
Former Coach: Lane Kiffin
Last Seen: The head coach at Duke
Reason to like the hire: He's an elite offensive mind who should bring more consistency and more passing numbers to the Vol attack. The former Tennessee offensive coordinator knows the school, has the blessing and endorsement of Peyton Manning, and he should bring points and yards in bunches. If he could make Duke offensively threatening, he should be able to do wonders for the Vols.
Reason to question the hire: He was fine as the head coach at Ole Miss, but he wasn't special and the team sputtered once Eli Manning took off. He has done a strong job with the players he has had in place, but he needs to prove he can be an elite recruiter who can not only butt heads with Florida, Georgia, LSU and Auburn, but he has to show he can win a slew of the fights.
The Early Hunch: Fine, but he's not the Will Muschamp or the splashy guy the program might have wanted. There's no question that he can coach, but he has to show that he can bring in the talent to go along with the superior teaching. Under Coach Cut, Tennessee will be a perennial fixture in New Year's Day bowl games, but not the BCS.
Spring Preview 2010
The Players You Need To Know
Tank Carder, LB TCU
12 New Superstars You Must Know About
- Boston College LB Luke
- Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
- Iowa S Tyler Sash
- Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas
- Houston WR James
QB Ricky Dobbs
RB Bernard Pierce
- California RB Shane Vereen
WR Randall Cobb
Texas RB Lance Dunbar
DE Dontay Moch
Who is Tank Carder? … Though there's no way to prove the theory, it's safe to assume that Carder cherishes his success just a little more than the average college athlete. That happens when you come close to never walking again.
Seven years ago, he was a passenger in a harrowing car accident that nearly made this chapter of his life impossible. He suffered serious injuries, including a punctured diaphragm, collapsed lung, and broken bones in his back, which required a six-week hospital stay and a hairpin shift in priorities. For a time, hopes of the NFL were replaced by the possibility of competing in the Wheelchair Olympics. It's the transgression of dreams that occur when a young teen is flung from a moving vehicle that winds up rolling over him. Carder? Well, he had different plans for his future. Not only did he walk again, but he'd also play football, though contact was prohibited until his junior year of high school. Prior to then, he settled on handling kickoffs, provided he sprinted off the field shortly after picking up the tee. It was better than nothing as far as feeding the yen for competition, but not nearly enough for a kid pining to hit something.
Once Carder finally got the green light, his athleticism quickly bubbled to the surface. No, there weren't a ton of offers coming out of Sweeny (Tex.) High School, but the one from TCU was more than enough. He jumped at it, knowing the reputation of Gary Patterson and his staff for turning decent recruits into defensive studs. Patterson saw something that absolutely no one else did, a familiar occurrence on this campus. After learning behind all-star Jason Phillips in 2008, Carder was turned loose last fall, making 89 tackles, 10 stops behind the line, and breaking up 11 passes in an All-Mountain West debut. With two years left and expectations percolating, he's now bucking to keep the Frogs among the nation's elite while further defying the odds that were stacked against him as a battered and broken 13-year old.
Tank Carder's best game so far was … last November's 55-28 rout of Utah. All eyes were on Fort Worth for this game, as the Horned Frogs prepared to clear their last big hurdle to a first BCS bowl invitation. Carder did his part in paving a path to the Fiesta Bowl, making nine tackles, getting in on a couple of stops behind the line, and really igniting the home crowd with a 15-yard pick six in the second quarter.
Why should you care about Tank Carder? … TCU is a program that perennially develops at least one or two outstanding defensive players worthy of national recognition and attention from pro scouts. Carder has the potential to be that guy in 2010 and 2011. In just his first season as a starter, he played an integral role on the nation's top-ranked defense, earning a spot on the All-Mountain West second team. That year of experience coupled with the graduations of some key veterans means he's poised for the kind of breakthrough junior year that reverberates outside the walls of the conference.
Positives about Tank Carder … Carder is a versatile 6-2, 232-pound athlete, with excellent instincts and a natural feel for the position. Not only can he go sideline-to-sideline effortlessly, but he'll also make plays vertically as a pass rusher and a pass defender. There's a reason why he was able to redirect 11 passes last season—he knows where he belongs on the field at all times. You want multi-dimensional? The junior could be the Horned Frogs' choice to handle kickoffs and long-range field goal attempts in 2010.
Negatives about Tank Carder … About the only thing separating Carder from being the next star defender in Fort Worth is more reps. After just one season as a starter, he's still a work-in-progress who needs to fine-tune some of the nuances of the position, like reading offenses and not biting on fakes. Entering his junior year, he'll also be asked to take on more of a leadership role for a defense that's losing Jerry Hughes up front, Daryl Washington at linebacker, and Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest from the secondary.
A cool thing about Tank Carder you probably didn't know … Years before he ever took up football, Carder was a national and world BMX bike champion at the tender age of 9. Blessed with incredible balance as a toddler, he was riding without training wheels shortly after his second birthday. After seven U.S. crowns and numerous trips abroad, he retired from the circuit before the end of elementary school, citing a desire to compete in new sports and spend more time with friends.
2008: Nine tackles and one tackle for loss
2009: 89 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, and 11 passes defended