2013 Spring Blitz: Safeties

The TCU football team is just over a week away from their first practice of the spring. Today, we take a look at the safety unit and what to watch for during spring camp.

The Frogs return four safeties who saw significant playing time last season, three of which are starters. That bodes well for a defense that ranked #1 in the Big 12 last season.
Sam Carter
Elisha Olabode
Chris Hackett
Derrick Kindred
Zach Jackson
RS Freshman
Trenton Thomas
Geoff Hooker

Returning Statistical Leaders
Tackles: Olabode; 71
INT: Carter and Olabode; 4
PBU: Carter; 14
TFL: Carter; 6.5


STRENGTHS: Experience, size, speed
WEAKNESS: Depth, Depth, Depth

Hackett had a breakout year as a redshirt freshman
What a year a difference makes. What was said about the corners from last year could be said just as much for the safeties, they made huge improvements in 2012. Of course, you're talking about three players who didn't see a lot of playing time in 2011 so for them to come in with the inexperience and help TCU to the fourth best pass defense in the Big 12 is pretty amazing. Elisha Olabode played as good at free safety as you could ask for. He had a couple of key plays during the season, including the fourth game of the season against SMU with a key interception that helped the Frogs secure the win. Olabode finished with 2 interception returns for scores. Sam Carter did a complete 180 from his freshman season and quite honestly was the best safety for the Frogs last season. Carter was second on the team with 4 interceptions and tied for 5th in the Big 12 with 14 pass breakups. He was just as impressive helping out the run with 64 tackles, 3 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Chris Hackett emerged in the SMU game and never relinquished his started position at weak safety. Hackett finished fifth on the team with 61 tackles, including a season-high 11 against Oklahoma.

With three great players returning, depth is a concern with the departure of several players. Gone from last year's team are Jamie Byrd, Quincy Aldridge, Antonio Graves and James Bailey (who left before the 2012 season). It's rumored that Jonathan Anderson has moved to linebacker and we already know Jordan Moore has moved to runningback .

What to watch: Who adds depth at each position?

With only six scholarship players on the roster and one walk-on, developing depth is key for now until help from the 2013 class hits campus this summer. While we know Olabode, Hackett and Carter are likely starters, what we don't know is who backs those guys up, or let's go a step further and define them as guys who challenge the starters. At free safety Olabode looks to have a stronghold at the position and the backup behind him is the biggest question. Will Zach Jackson line up at free safety or will he play weak? Trenton Thomas seems to be the forgotten man at the position but the fifth-year senior certainly knows the position. Like Jackson, Thomas could also play some weak. At strong safety Carter is the starter but Kindred could give him a run for that spot. Kindred obviously showed last season that he could compete and at times during fall practices he even worked with the first team defense. Geoff Hooker saw playing time last season late in the game and looks to be yet another walk-on player who could make a contribution to the Horned Frogs. Of course, if Jonathan Anderson hasn't moved positions and is still a safety he adds good depth and was once a starter.

Breakout player: Derrick Kindred

Kindred is one to watch this spring
Kindred came to TCU as a little known prospect out of San Antonio and the next thing everyone knew was that the true freshman was seriously competing to be the starting strong safety. Although he didn't start, Kindred definitely added significant depth to the secondary, especially when the Frogs' faced West Virginia and they utilized a 4-1-6 defensive scheme. Kindred is also regarded as one of the hardest workers on the team and is already up to 205-pounds, which is a good thing considering the strong safeties play so close to the line of scrimmage. Will Kindred compete for a starting spot? It will be fun to watch!

Keep an eye on: Zach Jackson

Surprisingly, Jackson spent 2012 as a redshirt, but it was close on whether or not he'd play. He was on the travel squad for a couple of games. During the fall, Patterson spoke highly of Jackson some days and others he "had growing up to do", which basically means he needed to pick up the scheme more than anything. Jackson spent time at free safety and weak safety last season and could be a natural fit at either one of those spots. Jackson has good size and speed which makes him the perfect safety prototype in Patterson's system.

Spring predictions
- Kindred receives the most praise
- Zack Jackson gets the nod as backup weak safety
- Jonathan Anderson still gets reps at safey

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