Disclaimer : I am sure that I have something wrong with this preview. If something is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email (doubletnation AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get things corrected either in the story or in the comments. The purpose of this preview is to help educate myself and Texas Tech fans about your team.
It seems that both TCU and Oklahoma St. are the media's darlings this summer as we head into the fall and I do think there is some good reasons behind it. This is one of those things where it would be really easy to try to dismiss that there's a very good possibility that TCU will be just fine this next year as they return a quarterback who maybe has his life back on track and a defense that was actually very good overall last year.
Sure, you can point to Texas Tech's scoring outburst last year, but overall, TCU was 30th in the nation in scoring defense and 16th in total defense. That's pretty salty and it would be really easy to either assume that Texas Tech will do that again or that TCU will be worse. I think that TCU will be okay this next year and the offense will be better.
Let's get to it.
|Offense - Run|
Offense - Run | A freshman led the rushing attack, but it was a rushing attack that was spread out between four different players. RB B.J. Catalon ran for 584 yards and 0 touchdowns and he's the leading rusher that returns, as well as QB Trevone Boykin, who ran for 417 yards and 0 touchdowns. Quite frankly, this rushing attack isn't what it was in previous years and this is the worst aspect of the TCU offense. TCU had contributions from seniors Matthew Tucker and Aundre Dean. I am sure there is some thought that the rushing offense will be better with the return of a quarterback that is more of a passing threat and I do think there is some truth to that.
The offensive line returns three of five starters (I usually base this off of the last game notes from the team, so I am basing this off of the game notes from TCU's bowl game) including Tayo Fabuluje, Eric Tausch and Aviante Collins. TCU also repalces their tight end from last year. It is still a group that has a good mix of youth and experience. TCU should return Waymon James, who was the leading rusher in 2011 and suffered a season-ending knee injury in September of last year. I still think that right now, this is going to be a pretty mediocre part of the offense. I don't think TCU will be great, but I also don't think they'll be bad either.
|Offense - Pass|
Offense - Pass | QB Casey Pachall returns after sitting out all but the first four games last year as he went to rehab. I think that's a good thing and hopefully Pachall is a better human being now than before. He's got a pretty amazing opportunity in front of him that it would be a shame to waste. And I don't wish personal failure on a college player. That's throwing out too much negative stuff into the universe. Despite what anyone thinks, Pachall is a pretty darned good quarterback. It is easy to pick on him for his off-the-field indiscretions, but in four games last year where he obviously had issues, he completed 66% of his passes for 9.8 yards per attempt. Granted, it was the weakest part of the schedule, but still. And yes, the big clunker was the SMU game, but I do recall it raining pretty heavily during that game, so you can take that into account.
TCU did lose some pretty good chunks of their receiving corps, including Josh Boyce, who declared for and was drafted in the 4th round, and Skye Dawson. Still, you have the return of Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown, who were 2nd and 4th in receptions last year. TCU has seemingly been able to just plug the next guy in on the receiving end of things and I would expect that to continue in some respect this next year. Matt Brown and Cam White are expected to fill the shoes of Boyce and Carter. So yes, I do think that if Pachall keeps his head right with ball, he'll be really good this year and I think that TCU has usually had the receivers to make it happen.
|Defense - Run|
Defense - Run | As mentioned above, I think the TCU rush defense was actually pretty darned good. Not perfect by any means, but pretty good. They had their days where they absolutely stopped teams in their tracks, like against Grambling and SMU and Texas Tech (except for a long run by Kenny Williams, which was totally awesome), but they had some stinkers too. Virginia, Iowa St. and Oklahoma ran effectively against TCU last year. But they were pretty good rush defense, one of the best in the Big 12, and they return three-fourths of the defensive line, which includes DT Chucky Hunter, DT Davion Pierson and DE Devonte Fields will return from his two game suspension to start the season (coincidence?).
Also returning are both linebackers, Joel Hasley and Marcus Mallet. So yes, you can expect that the TCU defensive front seven is going to be just fine based off of returning starters and based off of the overall quality production last year. So yeah, I'm really not going out on a limb here when I predict that the #10 rushing defense last year that returns six of seven players is going to be as good, if not better than last year.
|Defense - Pass|
Defense - Pass | Hey! Welcome to the Big 12 where pass defense is an afterthought, sorta. Do you remember that Texas Tech had the #1 pass defense in the Big 12? And do you really think that this is accurate? Well, just like everything else, you have to dig into the numbers a bit. The better passing teams, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma St. all pretty much hit their mark and passed for over 300 yards. The only team that was a passing team last year that didn't do that was West Virginia. TCU did stop Landry Jones and Oklahoma for the most part and if we're going to give credit to Pachall for not passing a lot in the SMU game, I hate to give too much credit to TCU for stopping the SMU passing attack in that game.
The one shocking thing from last year? Kansas passed for 300 yards against TCU. Think about it. So, I'm not as high on the TCU pass defense, although they do return all of their starters from last year. And yes, even though David Jenkins was dismissed from the team, he wasn't a starter. An important cog, but not a starter. The one thing that this team did really well last year was grab interceptions and TCU was tied for 4th last year with 21 interceptions, led by All-American Jason Verrett who had 6 of them. So despite the yardage, they did intercept a lot of passes and that created more opportunities for their offense. One more item, which is that I would have expected TCU to be a bit better in the sack department, but that wasn't the case, only 78th in the nation.
Special Teams | So that TCU kicker was pretty freaking awesome against Texas Tech, right? Jaden Oberkrom only made 22 field goals all year, 6 of them happened against Texas Tech, that's 27% of his field goals for the year. For a freshman, that's pretty good and Oberkrom did make all of his extra points. Dawson was the primary punt returner and kickoff returner. Deante Gray will most likely take over the punt returner spot. Gray had a better average, but I think he had a long touchdown mixed in there. Meanwhile, Carter will probably take over as the primary kickoff returner. And TCU's punter was 14th in the nation in yardage.
Intangibles | So overall, I think that TCU had a decent season, especially when you consider everything that happened last year. You won't hear it from me in that Patterson is a bad coach or anything like that. TCU and Texas Tech both lost the same number of conference games last year. Just to remind you, TCU lost to Iowa St., Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma St., Kansas St., and Oklahoma. That means that the Horned Frogs lost to a number of some of the better teams last year in OSU, KSU and OU.
The biggest thing for teams like Texas Tech and TCU is that the season is a meat-grinder and if a team is just okay, they'll lose a game unexpectedly and then win a game that they thought they should have lost. That's the biggest difference between the Mountain West and the Big 12 is that there are no blowout games for the most part. That's not something that you can prepare for and I would expect that this is something that TCU found out last year. The expectations are high for TCU, but I have a hard time hanging my hat on a quarterback that had to go to rehab. I think that's a dangerous proposition. If it pays off, it will be great, but so much of the success of this team is dependent on Pachall. That's not to say that Boykin can't return and be pretty good, but I think Pachall is significantly better. I get the gamble and I'd take the same risk.