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Texas Tech Football | TCU Horned Frogs Preview

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 28:  Casey Pachall #4 of the TCU Horned Frogs throws during a game against the BYU Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on October 28, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Casey Pachall #4 of the TCU Horned Frogs throws during a game against the BYU Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on October 28, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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TCU at a Glance
Home | Ft. Worth, TX (Big 12 Conference)
2011 Record | 11-2 (7-0) (Mountain West)
Offensive Starters Returning | 5
Defensive Starters Returning | 5
2012 Offensive MVP | QB Casey Pachall
2012 Defensive MVP | DE Stansly Maponga

This is my yearly attempt to educate myself on the teams on the Texas Tech schedule. I am not an expert about any of these teams, but rather I have spent a few hours studying the team and it is more likely than not that I have something wrong. Please correct me in the comments. All helmet images via The Helmet Project.

Important Links | NCAA Stats (28th Total Offense; 32nd Total Defense) . . . Spring Prospectus (PDF) . . .

The Coach | Gary Patterson is firey and I think he's a faily unforgiving coach. I like him as a coach. A lot. When Texas Tech hired Chad Glasgow I wrote extensively last year about the 4-2-5 defense that Patterson helped develop with his former boss Dennis Franchione. Make no mistake that Patterson has perfected the 4-2-5 defense, not necessarily in his coaching, but maybe moreso in who he recruits and how he finds players that eventually get into the NFL. TCU had seven players drafted in the last two years. That's not happening with luck, that's Patterson developing players that probably weren't as highly rated as others into NFL talent. That's a huge reason why TCU has been successful. It's not just the X's and O's, but also the ability to find and develop players that have NFL talent. If you're asking me (I know that you are not) that's a huge part of why Patterson is successful and Patterson's ability to do that, find players AND develop them, is a unique talent as there is in college football.

DTN 2012 Previews
* 9/1/12 Northwestern St. Demons (Preview)
* 9/8/12 @ Texas St. Bobcats (Preview)
* 9/15/12 New Mexico Lobos (Preview)
* 9/29/12 @ Iowa St. Cyclones (Preview)
* 10/6/12 Oklahoma Sooners (Preview)
* 10/13/12 West Virginia Mountaineers (Preview)
* 10/20/12 @ TCU Horned Frogs (Preview)
* 10/27/12 @ Kansas St. Wildcats (Preview)
* 11/3/12 Texas Longhorns (Preview)
* 11/10/12 Kansas Jayhawks (Preview)
* 11/17/12 @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Preview)
* 11/24/12 Baylor Bears (Preview)

What We Do Know | So the relatively few number of returning starters has to be somewhat worrisome. Returning starters doesn't always transate to wins or losses, but lots of prognosticators take that into consideration. I've already mentioned Patterson's ability to develop players so that needs to be considered, but there are a lot of players that aren't coming back, some to the drug arrests, graduation and the NFL draft.

Offensively, the two starting receivers return, Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, as does the impressive Casey Pachall (I always want to put an "s" in his name). The TCU prospectus had RB Ed Wesley returning, but he announced he's entering the NFL supplemental draft. But returning is leading rusher RB Waymon James (875 yards and 6 touchdowns) and leading touchdown-maker Matthew Tucker (702 yards and 12 touchdowns). This is not a situation where TCU isn't returning zero talent at the running back spot and Wesley's departure is somewhat minimized. The aforementioned Boyce and Dawson combined for 106 catches for 1,498 yards and 14 touchdowns. Boyce is the better of the two receivers. And Pachall was really pretty good for a first-year starter, completing 66% of his passes for a terrific 8.5 yards per attempt and had 25 touchdowns. Those are really good numbers.

Maybe the biggest problem for TCU is that there are only two returning offensive linemen, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry. It is incredibly tough to replace three offensive linemen, especially two tackles, Texas Tech will be facing this next year most likely, and retain the exact same consistency. It's tough, but not impossible.

Defensively, I do like that a good chunk of the defensive line does return, including DE Stansly Maponga, DT David Johnson and DE Ross Forrest. Maponga is fantastic and will be a name to watch. He had 9 sacks last year, including 13.5 tackles for loss. The linebacker was one spot was where TCU was hurt with Tank Carder being dismissed drafted by the NFL, but Kenny Cain had 72 tackles last year and does return. But the secondary. Oh the secondary. The lone returning starter is CB Jason Verrett and I don't know what to think if Glasgow is in charge of the secondary. The Horned Frogs are scheduled to start three sophomores, CB Kevin White, WS Jonathan Anderson and SS Sam Carter, while Verrett is a junior as is FS Elisha Olabode. Of course TCU was really good in the pass defense category, but would you be at all surprised that they were 60th in the nation in pass defense? That's a bit of a surprise for me and now there are four new starters in that five man secondary. That would be a bit worrisome for me.

More after the jump.

What We Do Not Know | I just can't figure out how TCU can be a national ranked team based off of all of the issues that TCU faces, and I'm not talking about the off-the-field stuff. The lack of returning starters on both sides of the ball is going to be tough for TCU and there are a lot of players that will need to be replaced. Some of by the drug stuff, but the other part is the success that TCU has had in players going to the NFL. I think Patterson will rebound just fine from the drug issue, if he hasn't already, but the depth lost due to those unexpected dismissals can be tough to stomach.

I think the vaunted TCU defense is going to be in for a bit of a shock with playing in the Big 12 and I don't mean that I think they are going to tumble to a defense that's ranked in the lower half of the NCAA, but with an entirely new secondary, it wouldn't surprise me to see TCU in the 60th total defense ranking or there abouts. Good teams in the Big 12 rank that low, in fact OU was 55th in total defense last year.

The biggest uncertainty for TCU offensively is the offensive line. The skill positions are just fine, it doesn't seem like something that I would be worried about if I were a Horned Frog. But two new tackles is worrisome on some level and maybe it's a good thing that Texas Tech will play TCU relatively early and those tackles would have time to figure things out by the back-end of the TCU schedule. And speaking of the TCU schedule, after Texas Tech (which is TCU's homecoming), they go on the road to play Oklahoma St., and West Virginia, back home for Kansas St., then back on the road to Texas and then finish with Oklahoma at home. That's a pretty tough slate.

Best Player | This has to be between Maponga and Pachall and I'll go with Pachall because he's the quarterback and could see quite a bit of improvement from him over the course of the year.

Break Through Player Candidate | You could go with a couple of options, Tayo Fabuluje is expected to start at right tackle and is a transfer from BYU, so that shores up the offensive line a bit. Although Kevion Gamble, Trinity Valley C.C., is expected to get quite a bit of playing time in a relatively inexperienced secondary. I'll go with Gamble.

Overall Fear Level With 1 Being Not Afraid At All and 5 Being So Scared Baby | Playing in Ft. Worth is worrisome and it will be the TCU homecoming game (maybe tells you what they think about Texas Tech as an opponent), but I can't quite get over the lack of returning starters and issues with depth as a result of the dismissals. Until I see that TCU isn't having any problems at all, I'll go with a three, which means that I'm not totally worried, nor am I overly optimistic.