A Look At The Midway Point

TCU has built a 5-1 overall record and sit in a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12 with a 2-1 record. Who are the standouts?

It's the midway point of the season and for the TCU Horned Frogs a 5-1 record and 2-1 conference record is pretty much what was expected in the preseason. Let's not be naive though, the season has gone very good when you consider all of the circumstances because of injuries or players missing for other reasons since the season started.

Since Gary Patterson doesn't make excuses for his team, I'll name a few.

- What team in the Big 12 has lost their starting quarterback, starting tailback, started a former walk-on at linebacker, lost other position players to injuries and fielded quite possibly the youngest team in all of college football having played 15 true freshmen.

Yet, there TCU sits with a 5-1 record amidst all of the adversity. Before the season people talked about the task head coach Gary Patterson would have coaching this team and if he did well, it would be regarded as his best year as a coach. Patterson won't evaluate his or his coach's performances until the end of the season, but through six games it has to one of his better years as the Frogs' coach. Anyone disagree?

With six games remaining on the schedule, six very tough games it should be noted, it's time to take a look at what Frogs have really stood out midway through the season to help them get to 5-1.

Offensive MVP: Brandon Carter

Carter has made several big plays this season
Casey Pachall was well on his way to earning this honor before he withdrew from school to enter a rehab facility. So, the most logical choice for now has to be Carter. The sophomore receiver was big time for the Frogs in their first ever Big 12 game on the road at Kansas. His 8 catches for 141 yards were a career high and his two touchdowns were the difference in the Frogs' 21-6 win. Carter had another big game the following week against Virginia, producing his second consecutive 100-yard game with 128 yards and 1 score. His one-handed catch was one of the top catches you'll see this season. Carter narrowly missed his third 100-yard game against Iowa State, finishing with 6 catches for 94 yards. On the year he's hauled in 26 catches for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Runner up: Josh Boyce

Fields is well on his way to an All-American season
Defensive MVP: Devonte Fields

This one was actually a tough decision, but the confusion didn't last long when you look at what Fields has accomplished this season – as a true freshman. So far all Fields has done is record 28 tackles (first among TCU defensive linemen), 6.5 sacks which leads the Big 12 and 11.5 tackles for loss, which you guessed it, also leads the Big 12. Fields is just a half sack shy of tying Aaron Schobels record of 7 that was set in 1997. Fields leads all freshmen with his sack and tackles for loss totals in the country and ranks 10th in the nation among all players.

Runner up: Jason Verrett

Surprise offensive player: Aviante Collins

There are plenty of players to choose from as the surprise player but for now I'm going with Collins. Who would've thought a guy the Frogs didn't offer until a week before signing day would not only get playing time, but end up starting. He's had his ups and downs all season the growing pains that come with being a true freshman starting at a very important position. But, his potential is through the roof and not only has he received reps at right tackle, but he's also got reps at left tackle which is a huge plus.

Runner up: B.J. Catalon

Surprise defensive player: Joel Hasley

This choice was a little tougher just because there are so many new faces on the defense. But in the end, I have to go with sophomore linebacker Hasley. Like Collins on offense, Hasley has had his ups and downs in his first year as a starter but for the former walk-on from Aledo, he's helped the Frogs at a spot where they desperately needed someone to step up this season. Hasley leads the team with 45 tackles while the next closest on the team is Sam Carter's 30 tackles.

Runner up: Chris Hackett

All-Conference candidates:
Brandon Carter
Josh Boyce
Blaize Foltz

Devonte Fields
Jason Verrett
Sam Carter

Let's take a look at the rest of the Big 12.

If I had a vote on where I'd rank the top Big 12 teams at the midway point…

1. Kansas State
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas Tech
4. TCU
5. West Virginia
6. Iowa State
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas
9. Baylor
10. Kansas

Surprise team: Texas Tech
Who would've thought that through six games the Red Raiders would have a 5-1 record? They have done it with a vastly improved defense that currently ranks first in the Big 12 giving up only 243 yards per game. They also have one of the better quarterbacks in the league in Seth Doege, who is throwing for 369 yards a game and has already tossed 21 touchdowns. The Red Raiders lost at home to Oklahoma but their dominating 49-14 win over then #5 West Virginia 49-14 was an eye-opener.

Biggest disappointment: Texas
Is there anybody that thought the Longhorns would struggle on defense the way that they have all season? The Horns defense ranks No. 99 in the country and No. 8 in the Big 12. Last week's game was an embarrassment as they surrendered 63 points to Oklahoma. They are one bad call against Oklahoma State from losing three games in a row, but the third straight loss could happen this week against Baylor. The offense showed flashes early in the season but many are chalking their success up to facing bad defenses.

Where would Baylor be without Williams?
Best offensive player at the midway point: Terrance Williams (Baylor)
It could've easily been a pick for Geno Smith or Stedman Bell but without Williams, where would Baylor be? Williams has 830 receiving yards in just five games and has scored 8 touchdowns. He's worked his way into a first round selection in my opinion.

Best defensive player at the midway point: A.J. Klein (Iowa State)
This isn't a flashy pick but Klein is arguably the Big 12's top linebacker. He has totaled 50 tackles ranking him 6th in the Big 12. He also returned an interception 87 yards against Texas Tech. His teammate Jake Knott could've had the vote as well. There's not a better set of linebackers in the Big 12 that do more for their team than Klein and Knott.

Freshman of the year: Devonte Fields (TCU)
Is there any question that Fields will be named freshman of the year in the Big 12. For that matter, he may be first team all-Big 12 at defensive end. He leads the league with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses.

Play it again: TCU vs. Iowa State
Fans would love to see a rematch between TCU and Iowa State in a week where the Frogs weren't distracted by losing their starting quarterback for the season, missing their starting tailback and giving their new starter Trevone Boykin more than one day to prepare for a tough Iowa State defense.

Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson (TCU)
Think about for a second what Patterson has had to deal with this season and all the players that have been lost along the way. The Frogs have had to play 15 true freshmen this season and he has only one senior that starts on defense. He has 27 players in his two-deep that are either freshmen or sophomores – talk about youth. He's had to play with a freshman quarterback, a freshman tailback, a former walk-on at linebacker, and three freshmen offensive linemen and yet there his team sits with a 5-1 record. Not too shabby.

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