TCU Football Roundtable: What the Future Holds in 2011


Welcome to SportDFW’s TCU football roundtable discussion. The purpose of this roundtable is to provide a wide range of perspectives on several of this hottest topics regarding the upcoming TCU football season.

Today we have SportDFW writers JD Moore, Tyler Paslick, Ryan Osborne, and Nathan DeWitt. We also have DBTCU of Spit Blood TCU as well as Will Blume of

This is part one of three of the roundtable. We will have part two and three for you this weekend. Enjoy.

So let’s get to the madness with question #1:

1. All eyes are on Casey Pachall. He will have a good running game to help him out as he gets used to being the starting quarterback. What are your realistic expectations for Pachall this season? Andy Dalton threw for 2,500 yards as a true freshman. Over/under 2,500 for Pachall?

Will Blume (HornedFrogSports): I think the coaching staff will bring Pachall along slowly. Dalton was forced to throw a lot his first season based on an ineffective running game and the fact that the Frogs trailed in more games than usual during the 2007 season. I think he throws for over 2,000 yards but under 2,500. However, with his speed and athleticism I think he rushes for over 350 yards this season (Andy Dalton’s average rushing yards per season).

Nathan DeWitt (SportDFW): I have no reason to believe that Casey Pachall can’t be better in his first starting season than Dalton was. Pachall has been on campus for over two full years now, so he is already a veteran. He knows the system, and he knows his receivers. He will be playing as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, and so will his go-to-guy, WR Josh Boyce. I’m convinced the two, who happen to be room mates and good friends, will combine to form a very very strong downfield passing game for the Frogs. Pachall also has the right “Nobody can stop me” attitude for the job. If Pachall doesn’t pass for 2,500 yards, it won’t be for a lack of skill, it will be because OC Justin Fuente knows his team has at least three very good running backs to turn to.

DBTCU (SpitBlood): Ah, my REALISTIC expectations?  Clearly, sir, you are not an avid reader of Spitblood because we are of the homerific type that don’t dabble in the thing you might call “grounded judgments.”  That said, truthfully, I have no idea what to expect from Pachall…but if I have to answer the question I would say… Under.  Truthfully this shouldn’t be the case as Pachall has not only had a full year to learn the system and actually got in some games whereas Dalton was pretty much rolling cold turkey his RS freshman year, but you pretty much answer your question in the first part of that sentence.  The Frogs running game in 2011 is CRIMINALLY deep to the point that, if I’m a coach, I’m kind of concerned with just how rich I am.  Between Matthew Tucker, Waymon James, Ed Wesley, Aundre Dean and, hopefully, Dwight Smith, that’s a LOT of fresh legs available to rotate in and out.  Pachall is in a pretty fortunate situation where he is not going to have to be the hero with his arm for at least this year.  Besides that, despite the strides – sorry for the pun – Dalton made in his own running game as his career progressed, Pachall is vastly more skilled in that area.  I think Coach Fuenderson is going to let him loose whenever possible and have him hand off when it’s not.  Josh Boyce and Antoine Hicks will get some TDs to keep defenses honest, but I don’t see Pachall being shunted into a gunslinger role, at least not yet.

Alex Apple (SportDFW): What Pachall is capable of and what I believe his numbers will look like this year are two very different things. Because Pachall has now been on campus and working in Justin Fuente’s offense for two and a half years now, Pachall should be more than ready to assume the starting job. However with 5 strong running backs on the roster as Drew pointed out, there is no reason for TCU’s offense to not be centered around the running game. Pachall’s running ability is a strength as well so I think Justin Fuente will pick his spots to push the passing game while relying most heavily on the legs of Wesley, Tucker, James, Dean, Smith, and Pachall. With that being said, I think Pachall will throw for under 2,500 yards but over 2,000.

On to question 2….

2. Other than the Boise State game that everyone has marked on their calendar, which game do you think will give TCU the most trouble this upcoming season?

Ryan Osborne (SportDFW): Could make an argument for the October 26th matchup with BYU at Cowboys Stadium given the intrigue that comes with playing on such a big stage and recent success of the Cougars on that stage, but I think the easy answer here has to be the season opener at Baylor. The Bears entered 2010 with high expectations and, despite losing 45-10 to TCU and dropping their final four games, most of those were met. They finished 7-5, made it to a bowl and, for the first time in a while, did not end up in the Big 12 South cellar. They’ll be looking to avenge last year’s blowout to the Frogs and an ESPN primetime matchup provides the perfect incentive to do so. TCU should win, but the Frogs first win of the post-Dalton era won’t come easy against a talented Baylor team led by Robert Griffin III.

I want to remind our readers that Robert Griffin III was quoted as saying just recently, “We think we can be one of the best offenses in the nation, if not the best. We can put up some great numbers. We’ve got the skill guys, the running backs and offensive line. All those receivers can be a star somewhere else, but we’re lucky to have them on our campus.”–It sounds to me like they will easily steam roll TCU on the way to a conference title!

DBTCU (SpitBlood): The vogue picks here would be either the Air Force or Baylor games due to their locations and places on the calendar… and I would agree, giving a slight edge to the Air Force contest.  All due to respect to Baylor – totally kidding, I offer no respect to those yahoos – but I just don’t see how Jar Jar Binks is going to leap the psychological hurdle TCU has posed for the Bears in the post-SWC era.  Even taking into account our losses on defense, with a front seven that, to my mind, will be arguably as talented as last year’s, I think we keep the Bears offense in check until our RBs pound them into submission.  But Air Force?  Air Force is a cruel, cruel mistress at home.  To be completely honest, I am mostly going off of hearsay – thanks a lot for the kick in the nuts, Dave Campbell’s – but even when our teams have been at their best, playing in Colorado Springs has always been tough.  I think we’ll all recall how close our Fiesta Bowl season was to crumbling on a cold night in the Rockies.  It has been widely reported that the TCU coaching staff requested a week off following the Baylor game from the MWC, only to not just have that request denied but to have the Falcons game forced into the schedule with an early kick.  However, to put on my homer glasses for a minute, having it this early in the year should at least guarantee there won’t be snow, and at least it isn’t a mid-weeker as it was 4 years back.  I personally think we win this one, but I’m afraid it might be a grinder as they can be in those parts.

JD Moore (SportDFW): I think that San Diego State will offer TCU a bigger challenge than what most will think. Yes, they lost head coach Brad Hoke to Michigan, but there’s far more to this story. This game is being played on San Diego’s home turf and TCU plays it after what will be an emotional game against rival SMU. SDSU quarterback Ryan Lindley threw for more than 3,800 yards last season, including 262 of them against TCU. He led the charge as SDSU racked up 35 points against the #1 defense in the nation and nearly knocked off TCU’s chances at a BCS game. Running back Ronnie Hillman returns also for the Aztecs, and he’s capable of making a defense pay when they become too focused on Lindley and the passing game.

Alex Apple (SportDFW): As a matter of principle, I won’t say that Baylor is going to be a tough game. If Baylor is as good as Robert Griffin III thinks they are, then the rest of the nation better watch out because Baylor is going to win every game by 30 points en route to the National Title. So instead, I believe that the Air Force games out in Colorado is going to be quite a test for the Horned Frogs. Right after the battle in Waco, TCU will have to gear up to face the triple option. This is the Mountain West Conference’e way of sticking it to TCU since they asked for a bye after the Baylor game. Well not only does TCU not get a bye, but they have to face the triple option. The good news is TCU has two linebackers named Tanner Brock and Tank Carder and that will not be there first rodeo.

And now let’s move on to our final question for part one.

3. Antoine Hicks had a disappointing year last season after scoring 10 TDs as a freshman. Meanwhile a lot of people are excited to see LaDarius Brown hit the field for the Frogs. Many people have said that he is the next Kerley. So who do you see as being Pachall’s 2nd best option behind Josh Boyce: Skye Dawson, Jonathan Jones, Antoine Hicks, LD Brown, or another freshman?

Nathan DeWitt (SportDFW): It will be Skye Dawson. I watched TCU’s spring practice (Brown was not there) and Gary Patterson said Skye Dawson is one of the fastest players he’s ever coached. Hicks doesn’t have the best hands in the world, and you can never tell with a true freshman. Ethan Grant could also play a part, considering Patterson compared Grant to Jeremy Kerley. Dawson is just too fast to not get the ball in his hands early and often. He will likely play the slot position, with Hicks, Brown, and Boyce out wide. Skye Dawson is a playmaker and can be expected to be seen on the highlight reel this season considering the slot position will match him up against nickelbacks and safeties while Boyce and Hicks deal with the top corners out wide.

DBTCU (SpitBlood): I still think you have to go with Hicks in this one.  Hicks’ drop off was one of the more surprising aspects of last season, and the only negative one I can think of for that matter, but being behind guys like Kerley and Jimmy Young would make it tough for a lot of receivers to shine.  When you add in the emergence of Boyce, that’s just another obstacle.  I’m not sure I see Hicks touching his freshman numbers, but he’s going to have a few more opportunties this year than he did last.  This was especially apparent to those of us who attended to spring game as Pachall went to Hicks fairly often, although he did drop a few of those passes.  In reference to the first question, I don’t see any of our receivers having Jimmy Young circa 2008 numbers, but I don’t see any reason why Hicks can’t end his Senior season on a statistical high note.

Ryan Osborne (SportDFW): Antoine Hicks has decent size, nice hands, and is a solid route runner. He probably won’t be as dominant as Boyce or as explosive as Dawson, but Hicks will be the consistent third down/short yardage/goal line option a young quarterback like Pachall will need in his first year as a starter. In this situation, think Bart Johnson but more athletic.

Will Blume ( While Hicks’ statistics were down, TD catches can sometimes be a misleading statistic (like RBIs from a sabermetrics perspective), in that 6 of Hicks’ 23 receptions in 2009 were for touchdowns. (The other 4 were rushing TDs) He only caught 10 less balls in 2010 and I think this was more attributable to the emergence of Josh Boyce and the  reemergence of Jimmy Young. The TCU receiving core was especially deep last year and there are only so many opportunities to go around. With all that being said I think Hicks has his best season thus far. However,  I really see Skye Dawson having a break-out year. Although he carried the ball some (jet sweeps primarily) in 2009, he was not used in the passing game. Because of this, 2010 was his de facto rookie season as a WR. With more playing time, passes thrown his way and with this being his third year in the system, I look for big things from him.  Its been said that ‘you can’t coach speed’ and with Boyce occupying a defense’s #1 CB I don’t know two many #2 CBs in the Mountain West that can run with Dawson for a full game.

We extend a thanks to Will and Drew for helping us out. Part two will be released this Saturday and part three on Monday.

You can follow SportDFW and Alex Apple on Twitter @SportDFW and @AlexAppleDFW.