TCU Football Roundtable Part II


Welcome to part 2 of 3 of our TCU roundtable discussion with special guests Will Blume from and DBTCU and sNK from Spit Blood TCU.
If you missed out on part 1 of our roundtable, you can find it here, but without further ado, let’s get back to what matters…TCU football.

1. Gary Patterson has had a #1 defense the last two seasons. What is a realistic expectation for the 2011 defense? Despite a better defensive line and the same linebackers, the secondary remains a question. Does the secondary have the potential to keep Patterson’s 2011-2012 defense among the best in the nation again?

Alex Apple (SportDFW): The impact that Tejay Johnson had on the defense the last two seasons cannot be understated. He is a big loss for Patterson’s Frogs because of both his leadership and ability to direct the rest of the defense while on the field. This upcoming season, I think that TCU will actually be better versus the run because of their defensive line and veteran linebackers Brock and Carder. Braylon Broughton and Stansly Maponga are terrific run stopping ends who can both play contain and stunt to the interior of the line. D.J. Yendrey is also an underrated presence on Patterson’s defensive line. Yendrey and Broughton are the two main reasons that Patterson told reporters during Spring Practice that his defensive line will be better in 2011-2012 than it was a year ago. With that being said, I really cannot be sure of what to expect from the secondary. Jason Verrett looks like he will be ready to step in for Jason Teague at corner, but other than Tekkerein Cuba, the other three spots remain largely up in the air still. I think that as the season goes on, TCU’s defense will get better quickly, and as a result, I see no reason why TCU will not have another top 10 defense in 2011-2012.

Ryan Osborne (SportDFW): There’s no reason to assume TCU’s defense won’t be as dominant or successful as has been in years past. As you mentioned, the front seven (LBs and DL) should be even better than it was last year. The big question, and understandably so, has been the secondary, which saw the departure of All-American safety Tejay Johnson and fellow Senior leader Jason Teague, among others. Those losses should make an impact. Not having Johnson quarterbacking the defense should cause a leadership void. Not having Teague covering the middle of the field should leave a gaping hole in the secondary. Then again, TCU should be an average mid-major program with average seasons going to average bowl games. But it’s not. Why? Among Gary Patterson’s quality traits as a coach, his best, and the reason his defense is usually the best in the nation, is his uncanny ability to get players on defense to do exactly, or pretty close to, what he wants them to do. Whoever starts in the secondary – and the options are many – you can bet they’ll know what they’re doing since they are coached by one of the nation’s best defensive minds.

Will Blume (  I think the defense should once again be stout against the run – so a #1 run defense is not unrealistic. Overall the talent level in the secondary remains high, but what concerns me is the loss of Tejay Johnson. He was the ‘quarterback’ of the secondary, and made sure that everyone knew their responsibilities. Moreover, Gary Patterson defenses are based on speed and discipline. The unit’s talent level should keep the defense in the top 10, however, a #1 ranking would surprise me.

sNK (Spit Blood): Honestly, I don’t see much of a drop off in defensive production, although being #1 overall defensively for a 3rd straight season is a pretty daunting task.  I think the addition of a veteran Boise State squad, a grown up BYU, and the explosive offense of SDSU on the schedule should make keeping the numbers as low as previous years a tough thing to do.  I’m not as concerned with the secondary as some, because McCoy, Cuba and Fobbs are all veterans and youngsters such as Olabode and Battle saw plenty of playing time last year and have tremendous talent.  The new faces in the secondary such as Verrett, Anderson, Carter, Graves and Trent Thomas will have to play well or not play at all, because clearly I’ve listed a lot of names of guys who could potentially see the field for only a few spots.  Some playmakers will emerge quickly from that group.

So let’s move on to question two for this section of our roundtable:

2. We’ll stick with a discussion of the secondary. Imagine it is game 5 vs. SMU. Who do you see as being the starting 5 in TCU’s secondary?

Nathan DeWitt (SportDFW): Greg McCoy, Sam Carder, Travarras Battle, Johnny Fobbs, Jason Verrett. This list leaves out senior Tekerrein Cuba, Elisha Olabode, and true freshman Kolby Griffin, but I am convinced that Battle and Verrett will be the starters by at least game five, if not sooner. McCoy and Fobbs are probably the two who have the most stability in terms of playing time, and Battle performed well when called upon last season. Carder is new to the safety position, but I believe his size and speed will prevail. He still has learning to do though. I believe Coach Patterson will find that he has more depth in the secondary than he thought he did during spring practice. Verrett was a huge surprise and Fobbs was injured. It may take time, but this secondary has a good chance to turn some heads in 2011.

DBTCU (Spit Blood): Ah, a depth chart question – these are certainly not my forte.  But, if I had to guess I’d say Tekkerin Cuba, Greg McCoy, Jason Verrett, and a variation of youngsters Johnathan Anderson, Sam Carter, Antonio Graves and Elisa Olabode.  I realize naming 4 for 2 spots is cheating, but hey, what can you do?  Sorry, Johnny Fobbs.

Will Blume ( By game 5 McCoy and Verett will be the constants at CB. McCoy is the incumbent and from everything I’ve read Verett fits right in to Patterson’s defense. Tekerrein Cuba will be this year’s Tejay Johnson. I see Cuba being teamed up with Fobbs and my sleeper candidate Sam Carter. From everything I’ve read, Carter has the athleticism and instincts to be a great safety. The only thing holding him back is that he is learning a brand new position and there is some learning curve.

Ryan Osborne (SportDFW): Tough question. During spring ball, the hot issue, at least on defense, was what Patterson planned to do with the secondary. Could be completely off, but I’ll throw out five names and give a short reason why: Jason Verrett (CB) – JUCO transfer who Patterson raved about in spring practice; a bit undersized but still, quite the hard hitter. Travaras Battle (CB) – Athletic freak. Made a big impact as a true freshman on special teams last year; should be hard to keep off the field this fall. Terrekein Cuba (S) – Very experienced; will step up even more as a Senior after the departure of Tejay Johnson. Greg McCoy (CB) – Also a pretty veteran guy. More experience, the better on such a young defensive backfield. Sam Carter (S) – Redshirt freshman who made the switch from quarterback in the offseason; very heady player, having played QB before, which should give him a slight playing time edge over fellow redshirt freshman Antonio Graves, who also is adjusting to the defensive side of the ball.

Alright so now we will attempt to rack our brains for one more answer for this section of our rountable. Maybe this will take our participants feet off the fire…we’ll go with an opinion question here.

3. What are you most looking forward to during the 2011-2012 season?

Ryan Osborne (SportDFW): Can TCU run the table again? Get past Baylor, hold off SMU, mozy through the rest of the schedule and the Frogs very well could have that shot when they travel up to Boise November 12th. Beat the Broncos there, and they’ll have a pair of easy home matchups (Colorado State and UNLV) standing between them and their second straight undefeated regular season. That’s when things will start to get interesting. Will the BCS shut the Frogs out of the National Championship game for the third straight year? If they do, will it be the tipping point for a playoff being installed? If they don’t, will TCU win? The Frogs’ schedule won’t be as tough some bigger, BCS conference schools in 2011, but, with the credibility they gained after winning the Rose Bowl, TCU might actually control its own destiny. I am being idealistic here but it should be interesting.

DBTCU (Spit Blood): Truthfully, the thing I’m most looking forward to most about the season is the fact that once it is here it means that it is no longer the off-season, but as for something semi-tangible I’d have to go with the dawn of the next great era of TCU Football under Gary Patterson.  Gone are most of the major players of the past two years, not to mention most of those who can remember what life was like before undefeated regular seasons and BCS bids.  In there place are all the kids who can’t remember TCU before they were one of the top 2 teams in the state of Texas and who signed with the Frogs because TCU was their first choice, not because they had few available options.  This year is going to tell us a lot about what that will be like going forward.  Will they have a sense of entitlement and, if so, will the coaching staff be able to rein them in?  Do those stars that Rivals lovingly placed beside their names actually mean anything?   Will they hunt together?  Will Gary finally find a size of pants that fits?  Well, at least we know the answer to that last one.  But in all seriousness, while I have tempered my expectations a bit to keep things in perspective, this should easily qualify as the most wild card season I’ve experienced as a TCU fan because, really, no one knows what to expect.  Can’t wait for Labor Day weekend.

JD Moore (SportDFW): Any answer other than the TCU-Boise State matchup is simply incorrect. Look, this is going to be the game of the season. It’s the two biggest non-AQ teams in college football. It’s a rematch of an excellently played Fiesta Bowl. This game is almost guaranteed to be the Mountain West Conference championship game and there is an incredibly strong possibility that the winner of this game goes to a BCS bowl. It’s going to be big and it’s going to be dramatic. It’s arguably the most important regular season game in the history of TCU. Boise State will do anything to redeem themselves from missing a BCS game last season. Heisman nominee Kellen Moore will square off against what will probably be the #1 defense in the nation. The reasons go on and on, but this is single-handedly the most forward-looked to thing of the Horned Frogs 2011-12 season.

Alex Apple (SportDFW): Honestly, I am looking forward to the uncertainty that comes with this season. Compared to last season, there are a lot of question marks associated with this team. Gone are Andy Dalton and the twenty-some-odd seniors that he led to a Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl birth. In steps, Casey Pachall who is bizarro Andy Dalton. Pachall was highly recruited and his game is much different from Dalton’s. He does not bring with him the same steadiness but his potential may surpass even what Dalton was able to accomplish as a Horned Frog. The secondary is also a wild card. The receiving corps behind Josh Boyce is a wild card. The offensive line returns just one starter. Despite all these questions, I cannot help but wonder just how good this team could be as well. Many people said that TCU’s 2010-2011 defense would take a step back after losing Daryl Washington and Jerry Hughes, but they were once again ranked #1 in the nation. So how will this team prove everyone wrong? I cannot wait to find out.

So that wraps up part two of three of our roundtable. Part three will be released on Monday morning with our final 4 questions. We thank everyone for reading. Stay Horny my friends.

If you are of the Twitter world, you can follow Alex Apple and SportDFW on Twitter at @AlexAppleDFW and @SportDFW.