CFN: 2009 TCU Preview

The Tigers and Horned Frogs do battle Sept. 26, 2009 inside of Death Valley.

Head coach: Gary Patterson
9th year: 73-27
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 18, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best TCU Players
DE Jerry Hughes, Sr.
2. CB Rafael Priest, Sr.
3. OT Marshall Newhouse, Sr.
4. WR Jimmy Young, Jr.
5. LB Daryl Washington, Sr.
6. CB Nick Sanders, Sr.
7. QB Andy Dalton, Jr.
8. WR/PR Jeremy Kerley, Jr.
9/ FS Tejay Johnson, Jr.
10. OT Marcus Cannon, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/12 at Virginia
9/19 Texas State
9/26 at Clemson
10/3 SMU
10/10 at Air Force
10/17 Colorado State
10/24 at BYU
10/31 UNLV
11/7 at San Diego State
11/14 Utah
11/21 at Wyoming
11/28 New Mexico

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 11-2

Aug. 30 at New Mexico W 26-3
Sept. 6 Step. F. Austin W 67-7
Sept. 13 Stanford W 31-14
Sept. 20 at SMU W 48-7
Sept. 27 at Oklahoma L 35-10
Oct. 4 San Diego State W 41-7
Oct. 11 at Colorado St W 113-7
Oct. 16 BYU W 32-7
Oct. 25 Wyoming W 54-7
Nov. 1 at UNLV W 44-14
Nov. 6 at Utah L 13-10
Nov. 15
Nov. 22 Air Force W 44-10
Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 23 Boise State W 17-16

Take a step back and take in just how truly amazing the 2007 TCU team was. Only two teams scored more than 14 points against the defense, Oklahoma (35) and Boise State (16), and seven teams scored just seven points or fewer. The offense was almost perfectly balanced (220 rushing yards per game, 201 passing), the punting game was the one statistical weak spot, and that’s because 30 … 30 … kicks were put inside the 20, and the overall special teams were among the best in the country.

Had Utah not gone on what had been called the greatest drive in school history to pull off the win, TCU would’ve had a legitimate claim to become the first non-BCS school to crack the BCS with a loss on the résumé.

Take a step back and take in just how amazing TCU has been under head coach Gary Patterson. Five double-digit win seasons in eight years, the seventh best record in college football over the last four years, and a factory in place that appears to have reloaded enough to do it all again.

Patterson and his staff have a tremendous knack for finding players who don’t necessarily fit at other places and turning them into stars. For example, superstar DE Jerry Hughes was a running back, the coaching staff made him an end right away, and after a few years of seasoning, boom, he’s an All-American. But can the program really overcome the loss of 13 starters and still be as good as it was last year? Yes, and it could be even better.

The offense was strong last season, and now it should be even more explosive with receivers Jimmy Young and Jeremy Kerley leading a fast group for solid veterans for Andy Dalton to throw to, and a good rotation of backs to work behind a big, talented line. The special teams should be among the best in America with no apparent weaknesses whatsoever, and then there’s the defense.

There are huge replacements needing to be made at tackle, linebacker and safety, but there are tremendous stars in place, like Hughes and corners Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders, and new stars on the horizon, like LB Daryl Washington, to get excited about, the production of the nation’s No. 1 defense shouldn’t drop off too much.

The team had a bit of a spring in its step and a quiet confidence throughout spring ball, and it’s expecting to be special this year. Will this finally be the season TCU joins Utah, Hawaii, and Boise State on the list of BCS busters? With the juggernaut Patterson has created, it’s a possibility.

What to watch for on offense: As many as five backs in the running rotation. Helped by running quarterbacks, TCU ran for 2,863 yards and 39 touchdowns. However, there will be production coming from some of the receiver, QB Andy Dalton, and five running backs, Ryan Christian, Joseph Turner, Chris Smith, Jai Caveness, and Edward Wesley, who could rotate in and out when needed.

What to watch for on defense: Daryl Washington. The Horned Frogs only use two linebackers, at least technically, with a weak safety serving as a hybrid, and they lose two great ones in first-team All-Mountain West performers Jason Phillips and Robert Henson. And in comes Washington. The star reserve and spot starter from last year made 63 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and 5.5 tackles for loss. Now, one of the best athletes on the team is going to be all over the place with his increased role.

The team will be far better if … the passing game is more productive early on and in the big games. Only three of the team’s 14 touchdown passes came in the first seven games, and while it didn’t make a difference considering the team went 6-1 in the span, there’s too much pop at receiver to not do more. In the losses to Oklahoma and Utah, and the razor-thin close calls against Boise State and Colorado State, the passing game threw a total of zero touchdown passes with seven picks. In the other nine games, TCU threw 14 scoring passes with one interception. There were only three touchdown passes thrown in the first seven games of the year.

The Schedule: The Horned Frogs start the season a week after everyone else, and then it's game on with a trip to Virginia to kick everything off. A Texas State layup will be a tune-up before a showdown at Clemson that could turn out to be the make-or-break moment early on in TCU's BCS dream. The games alternate between home and on the road, but that might mean it could be hard to go on a run. Going to Air Force and BYU will be a problem, but Utah has to come to Fort Worth and getting two of the conference road games against San Diego State and Wyoming is a huge bonus

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Marshall Newhouse. The longtime producer with 26 starts under his belt will be among the best Mountain West blockers. TCU might have some explosive players at receiver, and a strong playmaker in QB Andy Dalton, but it’s Newhouse who’ll lead the talented line that’ll make everything go.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Jerry Hughes. A one man wrecking crew at times throughout last season, he pantsed BYU, was camped out in the backfield throughout the first half of the season, and cranked it up when he had to in a game like the Poinsettia Bowl battle, when he exploded for the big sack needed late to seal the win. And here’s the scary part … he’s one of the team’s hardest workers. He’s desperately doing everything he can to get even better.

Key player to a successful season: The defensive tackles. While there isn’t too much of a concern after a good spring, the biggest loss of all the big losses is in the middle of the line where pass rushing terror Cody Moore is gone from one tackle spot and the solid James Vess gone from another. There’s good potential in Kelly Griffin, the undersized Wayne Daniels, and top recruit Jeremy Coleman, and the spotlight will be on...

The season will be a success if ... the Horned Frogs win the Mountain West title. Getting to the BCS will be the overall goal, but that might be asking for a bit too much considering all the turnover on both sides of the ball and the road games at Clemson and BYU. Winning the Mountain West isn’t anything to sneeze at, and it’s the first step to being in the discussion for one of the big 2010 games.

Key game: Oct. 24 at BYU. The Cougars are pointing to this game right now after what happened last year. It should be an electric environment with the excitement ramped up to 11 if the Horned Frogs are 6-0 with a win over Clemson. With the Utah game in Fort Worth, this might be TCU’s biggest obstacle to getting a Mountain West title.

2008 Fun Stats: 

- Sacks: TCU 41 for 317 yards – Opponents 18 for 141 yards
- Rushing touchdowns: TCU 39 – Opponents 9
- Penalties: TCU 115 for 1,000 yards – Opponents 55 for 513 yards Top Stories