A New Look For TCU Football Brings Optimism To Fort Worth
By Tommy Smith
After finishing a disappointing 4-8 and missing a bowl game in 2013, TCU Football head coach Gary Patterson says this year he has his oldest team preparing for the 2014 season since the Frogs won the Rose Bowl in 2010. That, along with the addition of quarterbacks and outside receivers coach Sonny Cumbie as well as offensive coordinator Doug Meachum has this years Horned Frogs looking to make some noise in what could be a more competitive Big 12 Conference than many pundits putting their money on the chalk, Oklahoma and last year’s conference champion Baylor, have many thinking it will be.
Patterson enters this season with a record of 120 -44 as the headman at TCU. There are 15 returning starters, with the recent dismissal of Devonte Fields, and The Frogs lost just 18 Letterman. Fields missed nine games last year due to injury after being named Big 12 Rookie of the Year in 2012. He along with quarterback Casey Pachall, who was injured in his first game back with the team while being counted on to make a comeback after missing most of 2012 due to a suspension for substance abuse, can be directly linked to the Horned Frogs giving up 25.3 points per game while scoring just 25.1 points per outing during their sophomore season in the Big 12.
Pachall’s absence last season placed the signal calling duties back in the hands of sophomore Trevone Boykin who was serviceable in 2012 as a freshman but struggled at times in 2013 in the passing game, throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions leading to the Horned Frogs to turning the ball over 26 times in nine conference games.
Boykin is a tremendously athletic player and though he came into fall camp 15 pounds lighter and in his best shape thus far at TCU, he may be a better weapon for Cumbie and Meachum to use in the offense as a receiver or runner than as the man under center.
“I want what’s best for TCU, I want what’s best for my school,” Boykin said. “I’m going to try my hardest to earn the job, but at the end of the day, I want the best quarterback out there.”
Texas A&M transfer and fifth year quarterback Matt Joeckel came to TCU because he saw an opportunity after what he called a “Good spring” at A&M to make a difference in his last year of eligibility at TCU with a coach and a team committing to winning. Being from Arlington and having a sister who played volleyball at TCU helped lead to his decision when the Frogs showed interest in Joeckel to make the move to Ft Worth after earning his degree at A&M.
“I came in here to try to be the starter and give everything I got. I now this is my one last shot. I got one last year to do it. I know I’ve nothing to lose. So I definitely came in here to be the guy,” said Joeckel. “But not no matter what the coaches decide I will definitely be the best the best teammate I can be and try to teach the freshman in my short time here at TCU.”
A solid answer from a guy that brings a degree along with some experience running the up-tempo offense the Frogs will employ this season with returning wide receivers David Porter, Josh Doctson and Florida transfer Ju’Juan Story who has shown signs of being the #37 wide receiver coming out of high school in 2012.
The defense and running game will also look to improve over last season in addition to the play at quarterback. Linebacker and last year’s leader in tackles (91) and tackles for a loss (9.5) Paul Dawson will join a playmaking secondary led by Sam Carter who had five interceptions, four sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss last season. TCU enters the season with a top ranked defensive line though the loss of Fields will damper some of the top five praise the unit was getting without him in the mix.
The running game should be solid with two returning starting lineman and 2013 leading rusher B. J. Catolon back along with the addition of Aaron Green, who went to Nebraska as the eighth best back in high school in 2012. Green could take over as the featured back moving Catalon into the change of pace back he was behind Waymon James.
According to Patterson it may take as many as three games to settle on a starter at quarterback, but two home games against Samford and Minnesota before taking on arch rival SMU in Dallas may be just what Patterson, Combie and Meacham need to pick their man to lead the Frogs offense. The real test will come in the conference opener as TCU face Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, October 4th, followed by a trip to Waco the following week to tangle with Baylor in their new stadium that is sure to provide trouble for anyone making the trip to Waco this season.
The schedule favors TCU in the middle of the season, as they will host Big 12 outside contenders Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas State at home, but will be tested late as the face Charlie Strong and his new attitude Texas Longhorns in Austin on Thanksgiving night. Should the Frogs stumble in one of the early games or against Tech, OSU or K-State combined with losses at Oklahoma and Baylor it could be another disappointing year for Patterson and the Purple, but should they lineup undefeated after three games to host Oklahoma and are able to win that game at home, TCU could pick up the momentum to become a factor down the stretch in the conference race.
If there is one thing to be certain about it’s TCU will be a different program than the Big 12 has seen from them thus far. Without the distractions of Pachall and Fields, and a more mature quarterback, no matter who they decide to run this new offense they are running, the Frogs should be able to turn that 4-8 record of a year ago around into a possible 8-4 record and a return trip to post season after such an unexpected disappointment in 2013. The Frogs get going at 6:00 PM August 30th against Samford and host the Gophers at 3:00 PM September 13. In fact TCU will enjoy a week off between their first three games before hosting the Sooners in early October.
Check out this TCU Horned Frogs Fall Camp Primer video and let us know what you think.