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2010 TCU Preview - Offense
TCU OT Marcus Cannon
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - TCU Horned Frog Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The TCU offense has been overshadowed by the defense over the last few years, but things started to change last season. Led by Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, QB Andy Dalton, the Horned Frogs finished seventh in the nation in total offense and fifth in scoring, and there’s no reason to not be more explosive this year. Four starters return on the line with one glaring hole at right tackle, but it should be a dominant group again. The receiving corps will be phenomenal, there are several talented running backs to form another great rotation, and Dalton should be Dalton again.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Andy Dalton
Passing: Andy Dalton
199-323, 2,756 yds, 23 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Matthew Tucker
105 carries, 676 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Jeremy Kerley
44 catches, 532 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Jeff Olson and/or senior OT Zach Roth
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Matthew Tucker
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Marcus Cannon
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dalton, 2) Cannon, 3) WR Jeremy Kerley
Strength of the offense: Running, Experience
Weakness of the offense: Receiving Tight End, Right Tackle
Projected Starter: Senior Andy Dalton has grown from a nice player who was a caretaker for the offense to one of the school’s greatest statistical quarterbacks. His job has been to not screw up and let the defense win games, and he has been able to do that with 24 career interceptions in 1,001 attempts, but he grew into more of a playmaker last year as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year completing 62% of his passes for 2,756 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and he ran for 512 yards and three scores. Of his eight picks, three came in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State and he didn’t throw more than one interception in any game and threw for 200 yards or more eight times. While the 6-3, 215-pounder isn’t a high-powered passer and doesn’t have a next-level arm, but he has been a perfect leader for the Horned Frog offense.
Projected Top Reserves: Besides having a fantastic name, sophomore Yogi Gallegos is an interesting prospect with good passing skills, a live arm, and just enough mobility to be used for the ground game. He’s a spark-plug of a player, but he’s not all that big at 6-1 and 205 pounds and he doesn’t have any real experience seeing time in just two games and running for four yards.
In the mix for the No. 2 job will be redshirt freshman Casey Pachall, a 6-4, 200-pound dual-threat option who came to school early last year but ended up sitting out his first year. He’s the future of the program and it’ll be important to get him enough live action this year to see if he can handle the work. A top recruit last year, he threw 31 touchdown passes as a high school senior and ran for 512 more showing off his excellent speed to go along with his size. If he can bulk up just a little bit, he’ll be one to keep an eye on down the road.
Watch Out For … Pachall or Gallegos to play a big role. Dalton was durable last year, but he takes a slew of big shots and has a running style that opens him up to getting popped. This is a team hoping to be in the national title chase again, and it might need a No. 2 quarterback to get it done.
Strength: Dalton. He might not be flashy and he’ll have a tough time earning All-America honors with so many others putting up big stats, but he’s a steady rock of a leader (outside of the Fiesta Bowl) who should come up with yet another great year if he can stay healthy.
Weakness: Backup experience. Not just for this year but to get them ready for next season, the Horned Frogs have to get Pachall and Gallegos in games once things start to get ugly. Considering ten of TCU’s wins were by 16 points or more, there should be some chances.
Outlook: Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Dalton isn’t going to light up the stat sheet compared to some of the other top quarterbacks in Texas, but he’ll be good enough to earn plenty of all-star honors. The passing attack will be along for the ride with the defense and the running game carrying the water, but Dalton will be effective. The Horned Frogs finished eighth in the nation in passing efficiency.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Projected Starters: Sophomore Ed Wesley finished third on the team with 638 yards and four touchdowns, and caught eight passes for 170 yards and three scores, but he was explosive and made things happen every time he touched the ball. At 5-9 and 185 pounds he’s not all that big, but he’s tough and isn’t afraid to pound away inside, but he won’t have to be a workhorse with all the other good options and should be held to around 15 touches a game.
Whenever the Horned Frogs go with a fullback, they have a reliable veteran in Luke Shivers to count on. The 6-0, 220-pound junior only ran twice for five yards and a score and cough a one-yard touchdown pass, but he’ll be working mostly as a blocker. He has the skills to be used a bit as a tight end if needed.
Projected Top Reserves: About to become a special back is sophomore Matthew Tucker, a tremendous prospect who came up with a whale of a true freshman season finishing second on the team with 676 yards and eight touchdowns averaging 6.4 yards per carry. At 6-1 and 210 pound he has terrific size and good power with just enough of a burst to break off some big plays. A steady runner throughout the year, he tore off 134 yards against Wyoming and became more of a factor around the goal line as the season went on.
Redshirt freshman Waymon James is a short, tough option, and the 5-8, 203-pound bowling ball will get every chance to see time as a featured back. A big-time recruit after a phenomenal high school career (running for 4,732 career yards and 54 touchdowns), he averaged 11.3 yards per dash as a senior. Able to work inside or out, he’ll be used in a variety of ways and is too good to keep on the bench for long.
Watch Out For … Four Horned Frogs getting 100 carries again. That will include QB Andy Dalton, but the ground game has several good options to use in a rotation. Tucker (105) and Wesley (101) got even work, and James will be sure to be in the mix this year if he doesn’t take over.
Strength: Everyone will be fresh. TCU finished fifth in the nation in rushing last season thanks to a great line and a strong, steady rotation. There will be more of the same with three great running backs in the rotation, Dalton to carry some of the load, and more quick, talented backs waiting in the wings.
Weakness: Receiving. It’s a function of the play calling and the offense, but the backs aren’t used all that much in the passing game. That could change with a slight shift in focus, but defenses don’t have to worry too much about covering anyone coming out of the backfield.
Outlook: The ground game loses leading rusher Joseph Turner and won’t skip a beat. The Horned Frog running game went from being all about the committee to now being all about the committee with phenomenal talents to get the ball. Wesley and Tucker might not be LaDainian Tomlinson, but they’re the best backs the program has had in a long time and James isn’t far behind. Another 3,000-yard running season with around 35 touchdowns should be expected.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Projected Starters: Senior Jeremy Kerley came to TCU as a superstar recruit and became a superstar returner and an occasional receiver. And then it all came together last season as the offensive production matched his return talents as he led the team with 44 catches for 532 yards and two touchdowns and ran 14 times for 50 yards and three scores. At 5-10 and 192 pounds he doesn’t have big NFL size, but he’s solidly built and he can cut on a dime. He’ll once again be used in a variety of ways and he should be one of the team’s most dangerous all-around playmakers once again.
While Kerley is the star of the show, Jimmy Young is just as strong a receiver and is even more of a deep threat. At 6-1 and 204 pounds, the senior has good size and impressive deep speed averaging 15.7 yards per catch last year after averaging 16.7 in 2008. The home-run hitter will disappear for stretches, and he didn’t score over the final six games of the year, but he finished second on the team with 33 catches for 517 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll move around between the outside X and the H positions.
Junior Antoine Hicks turned into a factor last year catching 23 passes for 478 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns including two against New Mexico. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, he’s one of the team’s biggest targets and he’s also one of the fastest. Used on the outside X, he’ll stretch the field after averaging 20.8 yards per grab. He might not be a regular producer, but his catches always seem to go for something big.
When the offense works in four-wide sets, senior Curtis Clay will work at the Z after making 18 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-1 and 185 pounds, and with his experience, he’s reliable for a few catches here and there even though he’s not going to be a No. 1 target. He’s not a blazer, but he’s a tough veteran who knows what he’s doing.
Senior Evan Frosch didn’t get many passes thrown his way, catching just three passes for 33 yards, but he still earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors because of his blocking ability. The former linebacker is a 6-4, 260-pound banger who isn’t likely to become a big part of the passing game with so many other weapons in the air attack, but he can catch if he gets an increased role.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Bart Johnson started at the H and could take the job back over again if Jimmy Young moves somewhere else, but he’ll likely start the season in a rotation at the Z after tying for second on the team with 33 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-0 and 195 pounds he has decent size and he’s a good veteran with just enough speed and quickness to come up with a big play now and then.
There’s speed, and then there’s Skye Dawson, a 5-10, 175-pound sophomore who isn’t going to be a regular receiver, but he can be turned loose as a deep threat and he can stretch the field. A sprinter on the track team, he has the warp wheels to blow past anyone in the Mountain West, but he has to prove he can catch the ball after being used a little bit as a runner with 11 yards on 13 carries.
Even Frosch might be the team’s top blocking tight end, but 6-3, 253-pound junior Logan Brock was the team’s best receiving tight end last year. Fine, so he only caught five passes for 67 yards, but he’s a decent target who can block a little, too. Mostly used in two tight end sets, he could step in and produce without much of a problem as the No. 1 option.
Watch Out For … Dawson. He’s not likely to catch more than 20 passes on the year, but he’ll make everything count. With all the attention paid to the rest of the great targets, there will be at least one deep bomb attempted per game to Dawson, and it’ll be a stunner if he doesn’t break open two games with a deep play.
Strength: Veterans. Every receiver returns from last year except one, and the top targets are all tremendous. Kerley, Young, and Hicks would likely be No. 1 receivers on almost any other Mountain West team.
Weakness: Pass catching tight end. It’s not that Frosch and Brock can’t catch; they just don’t get the ball thrown their way. It would be nice if the tight end was used a bit more just to throw the idea into the minds of defenses.
Outlook: This was a young, promising corps two years ago, an explosive, dominant group last year, and now it should be something truly special with everyone of note returning. Kerley and Young each deserve double team attention on every play, and the rest of the corps will shine because of it. There’s speed, athleticism, experience, and a world of talent.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: Four starters return to the TCU line, but the one loss, all-star left tackle Marshall Newhouse, is a big one. The spot will be filled by another first-team All-Mountain West performer, senior Marcus Cannon, who has been a rock of a starter over the last few years at right tackle. While he’s a big 6-5, 350-pound blocker, he’s great in pass protection failing to allow a sack last year. Also a star on the track team as a top shot putter, he’s a great athlete who’s growing into a special blocker and a top NFL draft prospect. If he gets his mitts on a defender and locks on, it’s over.
With Cannon switching sides, all eyes will be on Jeff Olson, a 6-4, 282-pound junior who came from out of nowhere to take the right tackle job coming out of spring ball. While he’s not a lock to keep the job and will be pushed hard this offseason, he has just enough quickness to be in the rotation.
Senior Jake Kirkpatrick took over the center job in place of all-star Blake Schlueter and became a second-team All-Mountain West performer. At 6-3 and 305 pounds he’s very big, very aggressive for the ground game, and he’s still growing into the job. A relative newcomer to football, he progressed enough to be a finalist for the Rimington Trophy last year, and now he’ll be on several preseason All-America teams with spotlight on.
Flying under the radar is left guard Kyle Dooley, a former walk-on who might not be special, but he’s big, experienced, and has a great motor. He benefitted from being next to Marshall Newhouse, and now he gets an even more talent tackle in Cannon working next to him. At 6-3 and 305 pounds, he has the size to go along with the want-to and the durability; he has been a rock over the last season-and-a-half.
6-2, 295-pound Josh Vernon has been a big part of the right guard rotation for the last few years and ended up taking over the job full-time last year. A star recruit a few years ago, the senior has decent talent and a good run blocker on the move, but he hasn’t become a superstar blocker to revolve the running game around. However, he’s good enough to count on for yet another strong year.
Projected Top Reserves: Will Zach Roth be able to do enough to take over the right tackle job? It was supposed to be his coming into the season, but he wasn’t able to beat out Jeff Olson and now will have to fight for time. At 6-4 and 295 pounds he has good tackle size, and the former JUCO All-American has talent and toughness. Now he has to put it all together and show the coaching staff he can play.
6-4, 310-pound sophomore Blaize Foltz stepped in and started against BYU and UNLV in the middle of the season at right guard and now will be part of the rotation at left guard. While he’s not going to start this year, he’ll be the future at one of the guard spots and will earn all-star honors before his career is over.
Watch Out For … the right tackle job. Olson was a stunner coming out of spring ball after not being on the radar at the end of last year, and now he’s penciled in as the starter. Is this just a motivational ploy to get Roth going? The coaches are saying the job is still wide open.
Strength: Blocking. The four returning starters are all-star caliber and they should form a brick wall after allowing a mere 12 sacks while paving the way for a ground game that averaged 240 yards per game.
Weakness: Proven reserves. The right tackle situation will work itself out, but that could be a potential issue considering Cannon was so fantastic last season. The big problem going forward will be making sure the reserves get enough time since there will likely be a big overhaul next year.
Outlook: Led by Cannon, who could play his way into a late first round NFL draft slot, the line should be dominant again. The injury bug hasn’t bitten the Horned Frogs over the last few years, but if the line can avoid a run of bad luck, it should be among the most productive in the nation. The interior will be a rock, Cannon will earn All-America honors, and right tackle will be fine with a little bit of time.
Unit Rating: 8.5