HornedFrogBlitz.com Mailbag

It's that time of the week, where Horned Frog fans get a chance to ask questions and get answers from the HornedFrogBlitz.com staff. Who will replace key losses. What freshmen will be pushed into action. Get these answers and several more in this week's edition of the HornedFrogBlitz.com mailbag.

What is your WAY too early prediction of the Frog's W/L record next year?

"It's going to be an interesting year that's for sure. I think with the caliber of offensive weapons the Frogs have in James, Tucker, Wesley, Boyce, Carter and Pachall, the Frogs offense should be very good once again. Defensively they will have to be better at defending the pass, and let's be honest the Big 12 has turned into a wide-open pass happy conference. Let's take a look at the schedule and how I think the season plays out. (Barring major injuries)

9/1 BYE
9/8 Grambling
9/15 @ Kansas
9/22 Virginia
9/29 @ SMU
10/6 Iowa State
10/13 @ Baylor
10/20 Texas Tech
10/27 @ Oklahoma State
11/3 @ West Virginia
11/10 Kansas State
11/17 BYE
11/24 @ Texas (Scheduled on a Saturday, but can change)
12/1 Oklahoma

I like the fact that the Frogs open the 2012 season at home against Grambling, it will be a nice warm-up for the Big 12. The road trip to Kansas isn't bad, it's also a great first game for the Frog fans to travel and show their support and show how well they represent the school. Kansas is still a few years away from being a team that will claw its way out of the Big 12 cellar. They have so many questions on both sides of the ball and overall team speed isn't stellar. They're under the guidance of Charlie Weis, but his offense only works when he has the right weapons in place.

After the first two games the Frogs will be 2-0 and 1-0 in Big 12 play. A very improved Virginia team rolls into town and this will be the first true test of the season. The Cavaliers have turned around their program with Mike London at the helm, well at least for one year. In 2011 the Cavs finished the season 8-5, but won four out of their six games and boasted one of the top offenses and defenses in the ACC. Junior quarterback Michael Rocco threw for 2,671 yards in 2011. This will be the first big test the Frogs revamped secondary. Luckily this game is at home which is why I feel the Frogs will move to 3-0.

The game in Dallas, well…the Frogs will be out for blood and they'll bring the Iron Skillet back to Ft. Worth and move to 4-0 on the season. There's no doubt the team realizes the loss to the Mustangs in 2011 cost them a third consecutive BCS game.

Iowa State under Paul Rhodes looks like an undefeated team some games and a team that hasn't won a game in years. Regardless, his Cyclone teams aren't to be taken lightly. They've won on the road at Nebraska and beat #2 Oklahoma State last year. It's also the same team that thumped Texas Tech 41-7 in 2011. Quarterback Jared Barnett is a dual threat that made nine starts as a redshirt freshman. The Cyclones finished 6-7 in 2011 and will give the Frogs fits, but TCU improves to 5-0.

Up next…Baylor. See SMU. The Frogs remember this game and with no Robert Griffin III or Kendall Wright for the Bears, it could become a long day for Baylor fans. I'm not saying TCU is going to go in and roll them, but the Frogs will win and improve to 6-0.

Texas Tech comes to town the next week and while I think the Red Raiders are very explosive behind Seth Doege on offense, they still lack a solid defense. Plus, Chad Glasgow knows all of their weaknesses too and you better believe he will want to help the Frogs send a message. The Red Raiders have the weapons to make this a high scoring game, which I think it could be, but the Frogs offense will carry them through and move the Frogs to a 7-0 start.

The game in Stillwater is where I think the Frogs have the potential for their first slip up. Although the Cowboys lost Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, they still have some good players ready to step in. And if anyone hasn't noticed, they've recruited some decent talent on the defensive side of the ball; it just hasn't translated to the field yet. I expect a close game, and if there is a game where I think the Frogs have their first slip up, it's in Stillwater.

There's another brutal game in Morgantown the next week against West Virginia. I love quarterback Geno Smith's game, I think he could very easily be the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, he has that kind of talent. In 2011 Smith threw for nearly 4,400 yards and tossed 31 touchdowns. He's the type of QB that has given the 4-2-5 fits over the years; a good running quarterback that buys time in the pocket. This is also a very tough place to win. This could be slip up no. 2. Maybe I'm still seeing the 77 points they put up against Clemson.

The Frogs have their third game of a brutal five game stretch against Kansas State, thankfully at Amon G. Carter stadium. I like the Frogs to bounce back against the Wildcats. I like Collin Klein but I also know his strength is running the football. If the Frogs stop the Wildcats rushing attack (their strength) then I think this game for the Frogs could be an eye opener for the rest of the Big 12. The Wildcats struggle on defense; they surrendered 58, 52 and 50 points in consecutive weeks to OU, OSU and A&M in 2011. I see no reason for them turning it completely around in one year. This is also a game I've wanted to see (and I think everyone else) for quite some time. The teacher against the student. Patterson against his old school where no doubt the entire state of Kansas will be tuned in. Frogs get back on the winning track.

The bye week before the Texas game couldn't come at a better time. Everyone wonders when TCU will be able to routinely beat Texas for recruits; it starts on 11/24. A win will help that start. For Texas, the Longhorns defense is very, very good. They fly to the ball, they're big, fast and rarely get caught out of position. Manny Diaz is a good defensive coordinator, one of the nation's best in fact. With that said, this game is toward the end of the year and both teams will be running on all cylinders. There's no doubt TCU's defense will be better in my opinion. I know Texas will be strong defensively, but if they have the same struggles on offense they've had the previous two seasons, the Frogs come out on top.

Oklahoma comes to ACS to close out the 2012 season. If TCU plays the way I believe they will the first ten games, ACS could be busting at the seams. Landry Jones struggled to close out the 2011 season but he is still expected to be a first round pick for the NFL. The Sooners have major holes to fill on defense and they will have good talent at those positions, but I don't think they will compare to the players they're replacing. If TCU is in contention for the Cotton Bowl or another BCS game when the Sooners come to town, I expect the Frogs to conclude the season with another close win. They always play strong when there is something to play for and prove.

Overall, I feel the Frogs have a legitimate chance to win 10 games in 2012; they can also lose 4-5 games. So, my WAY too early prediction right now is 9-3 with losses to OSU, West Virginia and possibly Texas/Oklahoma.

The loss of Brock, Johnson and Yendrey hurts, who do you see stepping in and filling the roles of 3 possible starters on the defense?

"I like Deryck Gildon to fill the role left by Brock. Kenny Cain is a MLB and I think Gildon is doing fine with adding weight and has the intangibles to come in and start. Of the linebackers on the roster, he has the highest ceiling. As a replacement for Johnson, I can see Quincy Aldridge, James Bailey, Sam Carter or Jamie Byrd all starting. I know Aldridge came very close last year to seeing playing time as a true freshman. Sam Carter started the year and I think he has just as good a chance as anyone else to start. For Yendrey, it could be a variety of players, that's the beauty with Patterson rotating so many defensive linemen. I can see Chuck Hunter as the starter when they open spring camp."

Also, because of this issue does this mean TCU will be able to sign 3 additional players in the 2013 class?

"The loss of those players should open three spots for 2013."

Who can step in and fill Tanner Brock's role on defense? I don't see a LB on our roster that fits the mold right now, do you?

"There's not any 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebackers on the roster, but I like Deryck Gildon to fill the roll left by Brock. He's not as big, but he is just as fast and isn't afraid to make bone crushing hits."

We've now lost at least Battle, Brock, De. Johnson, Yendrey and Horn; We're probably okay on the O-line, but which younger players do you see HAVING to step up and play next year? We haven't exactly been deep at DT or S. What is your confidence in seeing the guys that redshirted last year that we may not have seen? What are the weak spots in your opinion? Are there any places where we are only one or two-deep with scholarship players?

"At the positions Brock, Yendrey and Horn played, Gildon is who I think will fill the void left by Brock. For Yendrey, another sophomore, Chuck Hunter, will get the call. I actually think the defensive tackle position has very good depth. Chuck Hunter, David Johnson, Jon Lewis all saw playing time as freshmen. That afforded Davion Pierson the chance to redshirt. Ray Burns started the year off on fire but was surpassed by the younger players as the year progressed. Jeremy Coleman has all the tools in the world; I think folks would love to see him play like he did in the Rose Bowl. On the offensive line, I think Bobby Thompson was already pushing Ty Horn for playing time, so you're right in your assessment of the O-line being okay.

The big loss is Battle, the Frogs were already light at corner but the bright side is the return of Travoskey Garrett. I can't wait to see how he's recovered and practice against TCU's receiving corp. Kolby Griffin and Kevin White must add quality depth. White played well in his limited game experience in 2011 and Griffin needs to be ready to play. The cornerback position, just because of small numbers, is the weakest. It will only take a couple of injuries to create chaos at the position. That's why there was a big need to land Daje Johnson, Colin Blake and DeVante Harris."

In light of yesterday's debacle, who do you see stepping up to replace the lost players in the LB/DE/CB/OT positions? Will this also have any effect on any of the incoming freshman, i.e. not red-shirting?

"At linebacker look for Gildon. I know, doesn't he seem to be the common theme here? Defensive end will be fine, they are now three deep on both ends. Cornerback, yes, losing Battle will hurt not only in depth at cornerback but also in special teams. At tackle, I really like Bobby Thompson to make a run at the starting right tackle spot.

"As for incoming freshmen being affected, A.J. Hilliard comes to mind when I see a player that could play as a true freshman. Although the position isn't affected with a recent loss, I see Devonte Fields and Terrell Lathan also getting early playing time. The coaches like Jon Koontz and Ross Forrest as key guys that have added depth, but Clifton Murphy still has some work to do and losing Blake Roberts opened up another spot. And we still have to see how Matt Anderson responds coming back from his season-ending injury."

Do you think the coaches will go try to fill those holes with some late pick-ups or some JC guys that got left holding the bag on 1 Feb or will they just be able to have a bigger 2013 class?

"They go for extra kids from the 2013 class in my opinion."

How is Matt Anderson progressing, if he's mostly healthy do you see him starting over Forrest? Do you think any true freshmen will have to play at end this year?

"I haven't heard much on Anderson's rehab, but we will all get to see on Feb. 25th. As for true freshman at end, yes, I believe Fields and Lathan will play just because they are that talented."

With the Brock and Burks losses, what kind of pressure does that put on the LB spots? Does a guy like Terry move over? Will Gildon get heavy enough? Does McFarland have the ability to cover TE's down the seam? Will the staff go after 2 or 3 linebackers in the next class?

"The linebacker corp certainly looks different now with Gildon, Cain, Mallett, Sanders and Hilliard as the only scholarship players. The need for another linebacker for the 2012 class was critical and they thought they had a good chance with Calvin Perry late in the process. McFarland can be mentioned among the group but I think the staff is still trying to decide where McFarland will end up; linebacker or d-end.

"As for 2013, I believe the staff takes no less than two linebackers. They've already offered Duke Riley and Melvin Jones and I believe an offer for Mike Mitchell and Sammy Douglas are right around the corner. The only downfall with the current group of linebackers is they are all young and inexperienced with the exception of Cain."

After Wednesday's events I feel TCU should endeavor to become a THE model program for deterring illicit drug use amongst its students and student-athletes. In your opinion should TCU football itself "give teeth" to any current system of testing and holding accountable current and future team members? Is a zero tolerance policy acceptable or would the 'three strikes and you're out' policy be more feasible?

"I firmly believe that the way they currently test will change. That's speculation on my part but I honestly could see a stronger approach to holding the players accountable. For now I don't believe there is a zero tolerance policy, first time it's a warning, second time is a suspension and third time you're gone for good. I think that is a good policy, unfortunately though, if the same circumstances come up again like they did for the four, there definitely is a zero tolerance policy. I for one like the way TCU handled the situation from Wednesday and knowing Patterson, he and his staff will put things in place to assure this type of debacle doesn't happen again.

Any position changes to bolster LB's?

"The only possibility I could see for now is Austin Terry, who has been between defensive end and linebacker."

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