SQ College Football Top-25 Preview: #3 TCU
We’re getting closer and closer to the start of the 2015 college football season. In order to prepare our readers, SQ has created a Top-25 preview series. Today, we focus on TCU.
SQ Ranking: 3
2014 Record: 12-1
Finish in AP Poll: 3
Head Coach: Gary Patterson (16th year)
Key Arrivals: OT Sam Awolope, CB Deshawn Raymond, ATH Tony James, WR Jarrison Stewart, DE Breylin Mitchell
Previewing the TCU Offense: By now, everybody knows that the TCU offense starts and ends with superstar quarterback Trevone Boykin. The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year will return for his senior year with a completely different mentality from last year. Boykin enters the year with Heisman and championship expectations, while last year, he was simply looking to win the starting job.
Boykin will get to work with arguably the greatest supporting cast in the country this year. Both leading receivers (Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee) and leading rusher (Aaron Green) all return for another year in Fort Worth. As if the Boykin-Doctson-Listenbee combo wasn’t deadly enough, with an entire year under their belts, they can reach record-breaking levels in 2015. The combo combined for 1,771 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. On the ground, the Boykin-Green combo went for 1,629 yards and 17 touchdowns. Just in case you’re not impressed yet, that’s 3,400 yards and 32 touchdowns between the four of them.
Up front, TCU loses left tackle Tayo Fabuluje; he started 12 games for them at the position and was named to the conference’s honorable mention team. There’s no need for worry, however, because all five projected starters are entering their senior season.
The team returns 10 of 11 starters on offense. Considering how electric they were last year, there’s nowhere to go but up for Boykin and co.
Previewing the TCU Defense: The Horned Frogs lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, including All-Big 12 first-teamers Chris Hackett and Paul Dawson (who was also named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year). They will have to replace more than half of their starters from 2014, a task that defensive-minded head coach Gary Patterson is more than ready for.
The biggest concern defensively will be the secondary. Safeties Chris Hackett and Sam Carter (1st and 2nd Team All-Big 12, respectively) are both gone, along with number one CB Kevin White. Hackett led the team in interceptions last season, which means that Coach Patterson will need someone else to step up as the big play-maker.
As for the front seven, no shoes will be bigger to fill than Paul Dawson’s.
The All-American linebacker was ninth in the country in tackles last year and also finished second on the team in interceptions. Dawson was the unquestioned leader and star of the Horned Frog defense. Replacing him is going to take a group effor t because players like that don’t come around very often.
This season, look for senior safeties Derrick Kindred and Kenny Iloka (pictured right) to step up, along with team captain and defensive tackle Davion Pierson. These guys all played significant minutes last year and will be looked at as the glue that holds the entire unit together.
Patterson is going to have his work cut out for him on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily, the offense should be able to patch up some of the defense’s holes early on, but by the end of the year, one expects the unit to click…just in time for a playoff push wink wink.
Three Key Games:
1. TCU vs. Baylor, Nov. 27 – This one comes as expected. TCU’s lone loss last year, and arguably the sole reason why they didn’t make the playoffs, was to Baylor. This game will come as advertised, with both teams expected to put up around 60 points. Whoever scores last will probably win this game.
2. TCU at Oklahoma, Nov. 21 – The only other team worthy of being in the Big 12 elites is Oklahoma. The Sooners are considered by many to be a dark horse championship contender. This game will be the Horned Frogs’ biggest test to date, and the fact that they have to play at Oklahoma only adds to the difficulty.
3. TCU at Oklahoma State, Nov. 7 – Oklahoma State is the team to watch out for in the Big 12. Outside of TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma, nobody has really been a proven threat. OSU is expected to change that this year, and they will look to make a statement when hosting the Horned Frogs.
Final Analysis: Now’s the time for Coach Patterson and his Horned Frogs. The team enters 2015 with a huge chip on their shoulder, as they will try to prove why it was a mistake to leave them out of the playoffs last season. Ten starters return on offense, including Heisman frontrunner Trevone Boykin. With one year left on campus, Boykin will look to take full advantage of his talented players.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for the defense, as they will look to replace upwards of seven starters, including four people in the secondary and star linebacker Paul Dawson. Senior safeties Derrick Kindred and Kenny Iloka will be seen as the leaders of this defense on the field. The true leader of this defense will be Coach Patterson, as he must put his defensive mind to use now more than ever.
TCU’s offense alone has enough talent to carry the team through the season, and with the defense gelling together by the end of the year, one can see the Horned Frogs win the Big 12 and enter the college football playoffs, thanks to Heisman winner Trevone Boykin. Also—you heard it here first—TCU may in fact finish the year hoisting the championship trophy.