With the 2017 season (finally) approaching we’re analyzing the situation in the Big 12. We’re here to breakdown every team and give you our 2017 outlook.
Let’s get going.
STADIUM: Amon G. Carter Stadium (1930)
SEATING CAPACITY: 45,000
2017 RECRUITMENT RANKINGS: 28th (3rd in Big 12)
ALL-TIME RECORD vs. TEXAS TECH: 25-31-3
Gary Patterson’s tenure is the second longest in the FBS, as he became head coach for the Bowl game that TCU played in 2000. The only coach who’s been on the same sideline for more time is Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who began his stint in the past millennium.
In 2016, the Horned Frog’s engine conked out and Patterson had his third season with a negative record. The defense didn’t shine, but at least it maintained a decent(ish) level, allowing 28 points per game. Meanwhile, the offense didn’t meet the expectations and slowly fizzled out. That’s the same thing that happens every year to their quarterback, Kenny Hill.
To give credit where credit is due, Hill had to fight with an epidemic of mediocre wide receivers all season long, as only one player received more than 450 yards and 13 players were targeted at least ten times. Furthermore, the Horned Frogs receivers had the highest number of dropped passes in the country, 38. In comparison, the literature hero Don Quixote in his battles against the windmills was an amatuer.
In 2004 TCU went 5-6. The next year: 11-2.
In 2013 TCU went 4-8. The next year: 12-1.
A rebound is expected in Fort Worth, and it should happen because the Horned Frog return almost the whole entire team, both in terms of quantity and quality. Only a few players left, and among them there’s the dominant edge rusher Josh Carraway.
Kenny Hill will be again the starting quarterback and he’ll use his dual threat abilities to confuse defenses.
Hill’s skills will create more opportunities for running back Kyle Hicks, who emerged powerfully in 2016. In front of them the offensive line is experienced, enormous and led by 2nd All-Big 12 team center Austin Schlottmann.
The passing game has a huge prominence in Patterson’s system and Hill will have a lot of weapons to use, including speedster Desmon White, 6-feet-4 Taj Williams, John Diarse, and junior Shaun Nixon.
With the loss of Carraway and defensive tackle Aaron Curry, the Horned Frogs need some pass rush and they hoped to get it from defensive ends Mat Boesen and Brandon Bowen. Unfortunately, Bowen, who was injured after three games in his junior season, reinjured his knee and will miss the entire season.
Senior Travis Howard, who led the team in tackles in 2016, is the best linebacker and will line up on the strong side. He’s a good run stopper with important athleticism, and he can cover a large portion of field. His main partner will be junior Montrel Wilson.
Despite the loss of strong safety Denzel Johnson, the secondary comes back strong and experienced. A normal occurrence for Patterson, who is recognized as one of the masters of the 4-2-5 defense. Cornerback Ranthony Texada is the leader of this unit that should be included among the best of the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs can’t wake up when September ends, because the first month is tricky and offers a revenge game against Arkansas, an SMU team that’s improving year by year under Chad Morris, and a trip to Stillwater to face the Cowboys.
After that, October will be a quiet month before a turbulent November. Considering all the returning experience, TCU is expected to improve from last season, but the role of contender for the Big 12 is maybe too much. More likely they’re direct opponent of Oklahoma State for second place and, consequently, for the Big 12 Championship game. That would be a good rebound.