Well, typically when you have not one but two true freshmen at the position it's hard not to be a little worried. But rather than focusing on the negative, let's look at it from a positive angle. I think we can all agree that Eddie Williamson is one of the top offensive line coaches in America and he has a very good track record of developing players. For Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai to come in and be regarded as the #1 and #2 guys at right tackle tell me that they've really impressed Williamson. If they weren't getting the job done and the coaches didn't have trust in them, we'd very easily see Eric Tausch starting at right tackle with Collins or Vaitai as a backup.
To summarize, I'm not worried about the spot. Both players have excellent size and the tenacity to play the position. Plus, if they couldn't handle it, they wouldn't be there.
What's the biggest surprise for you on the newest released depth chart?
There were a couple of changes that caught my eye. One and probably the biggest, was the return of Antonio Graves to the two-deep. Graves didn't go through fall camp the first four weeks and it was believed that he was lost for the season due to academics. Now that he's back, he adds depth to the linebacker corp. Graves impressed there in the spring gaining praise from Gary Patterson after several practices. He moved to safety late in spring workouts to add depth there but now with the emergence of players such as true freshman Derrick Kindred and junior Trent Thomas, it affords the coaches to shift Graves back to linebacker; which, in my opinion is a great move with his size and speed.
Matt Brown moving ahead of David Porter was another surprise. Brown hasn't worked long at the position but apparently he's already making enough of an impression to get the nod over Porter, who played as a true freshman in 2011.
Although it's not reflected on the depth chart, Jeremy Coleman's move to the offensive line caught many off guard. That tells me two things; they like the depth they have on the defensive interior, especially with Davion Pierson and Terrell Lathan stepping up and they need depth on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see where he lines up.
What is your guess for percentage splits at RB?
I don't believe the split will be the same that we've seen in the last two seasons. I firmly believe this is Waymon James' year to shine and feel that he'll get a bulk of the carries. I can see him getting between 15-20 carries a game with Tucker receiving 10-15 and Aundre Dean touching the ball 5-8 times, max.
From what you've seen, how good is Fields? He looks a little small to be starting at DE, but he is highly recruited.
Fields is tall and has one of the quickest first steps I've seen them ever have at TCU. Like you said he needs to add a little weight to his frame but he's not exactly small. He weighs just a few pounds less than what Jerry Hughes did in his prime at TCU. What he gives is speed off the edge opposite Maponga. If you review last season's games, they lacked in that area big time. When TCU has had a good left end, they've always had a good speed rush guy at right end. Tommy Blake – Chase Ortiz. Jerry Hughes – Wayne Daniels. Maponga didn't have that last year and he still manages 9.5 sacks. With teams having to focus on Fields' speed off the edge, one of the two is going to have a good year.
What's your guess on the first offensive play from scrimmage against Grambling? First touchdown?
As for the first touchdown, well, if they're within five yards of the goal line we'll see the traditional power set with Boyce as the motion guy and who ultimately carries the ball in for a score. Of course, we could see Boyce running the "wild-Frog" too for the first score of the 2012 season.
A while back you talked about a recruit in Kansas (I believe) you said he "Looked like a grown man" and he was at a Frog camp. I believe his sister is currently enrolled at TCU. I think he is a 2014 recruit but, I don't know for sure. If you can remember who he is and try to get an update from him that would work.
That's an easy one; Braden Smith out of Olathe (KS) South. He is a 2014 recruit and let me say this, I've seen a few thousand recruits in my time doing this and I have never seen a kid that looked that physically imposing. He is every bit of 6-foot-6, 280-pounds of nothing but solid muscle. He wasn't at a camp when I saw him; it was actually at the end of one of the spring practices. I remember very well when all of us media were talking with Patterson in the post-practice interview and he walked by and all of our heads turned. Smith looked college ready then and my jaw dropped when I heard he was still fifteen at the time.
His sister does attend TCU and competes for the track team. I would like to get an update on Smith, but now that the season has started he's been shut off to the media and believe it or not, coaches too. They don't want any recruiting distractions getting in the way of what they're trying to accomplish on the field.
How is the O-line coming along especially with having Thompson back? Are you worried about having true freshmen listed as 1 & 2 at the RT position?
Answered most of this question above. In regards to Thompson, I want to see that he's back out there and that the knee is working out for him okay. I've heard that he will be brought along slowly so hopefully we'll a more in-depth answer to that question this week.
How many spots are left for the 2013 class and who do you think the staff goes after?
With 14 commitments, I keep hearing the number 20 being thrown around. Obviously it's been discussed plenty of times but I think the two big hosses they would love to add is Justin Manning and Andrew Billings. That would give the Frogs 16 commitments and I can see them pursuing at least one to two more offensive linemen. Some of those names are Josh Outlaw, Alex Mayes, Christian Daimler and Zack Ziemar. Of course, they'll still pursue guys like Caleb Benenoch and keep Joas Aguilar warm in the meantime as well.
You are an NFL owner, who is your first pick off TCU's roster?
Put me on the spot why don't you! The roster is full of talent and for some of these guys three and four years from now they're going to make it tough on actual owners. But for me I go with the full package; can he play, is he a team player, how is he off the field? After evaluating those three things, the answer is very easy; Josh Boyce.
Let's talk about the player first. As a receiver Boyce is on pace to shatter school receiving records. He always gets open and he is clutch. I've seen him catch balls in practice with two guys in coverage. If it's one on one coverage, forget about it; Boyce will win. Period. He has 4.35 speed and runs some of the best routes you'll ever see a receiver run.
Team player...check! Boyce is constantly coaching the younger receivers on how to get better; he even coaches the defensive backs on how to cover better. When asked earlier this year if he would rather become just the second Horned Frog to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards or have four receivers reach 500 yards, without hesitation Boyce voted for the success of his teammates.
When it comes to off the field we certainly don't follow Boyce around 24/7. But those around the program will tell you he's one of the best and nicest kids you'll ever meet. Boyce is rarely without a big smile and is constantly in an upbeat mood. You've got to admire that about a person.