TCU head coach Gary Patterson was in high spirits throughout the two-hour workout. And why not, he's got one of the top teams in the Big 12 this season. But for now, it's all about teaching and less evaluating.
"It wasn't bad, they pushed through," Patterson said of Thursday's practice. "We had some guy's cramp up but that's normal because we were going hard. It's hard to get used to a day like today, but I thought it was pretty good."
As usual, fans and media always want to get a look at the newcomers who are making the transition into college football. Of course, TCU did play 16 true freshmen in 2012 so getting a glimpse of the newcomers is a must.
Could there be another youth movement developing?
"Ranthony Texada has a chance to be in our two-deep at corner, the other guys got to keep working because they're a long way for where we need them to be," he said. "Denzel (Johnson) is a guy that understands the best but they're all getting better."
Linebacker depth is one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest on the entire roster this season. The Frogs have just a handful of scholarship players on the roster but yet again a pair of freshmen caught the coach's eyes. Patterson is quick to admit both have a long way to go but he liked what he saw in their first day.
"The guys I was really happy with today was Sammy Douglas and Paul Whitmill," he said. "Paul hasn't played a lot of linebacker but he did some things the first day. We're still a long way from being superstars but I thought for the first day of teaching it was a good thing.
All was not positive for the Frogs' new freshmen as Patterson wasn't pleased with the kicking portion of practice; noting that his young troops need to learn how to finish.
Patterson's message to the team following practice was simple; they have to continue to practice hard to accomplish the goals of winning games; starting August 31st against LSU.
"We've got to be better every day, you try to be better than LSU every practice," Patterson said of what he told his team. "That's how you win your first ball game; you practice better than the team you play in the first three ball games. That's what you have to do, that's what our goal has always been here. Be the best football team we can be; we don't worry about anyone else."
PATTERSON REACTS TO FABULUJE NEWS
On Thursday TCU released a statement saying junior offensive lineman Tayo Fabuluje had left the team for personal reasons. According to Patterson, the coaches weren't caught off guard with the news.
"It's been a family problem for about two months," Patterson said of Fabuluje. "He just couldn't do it anymore."
Fabuluje's departure leaves a hole at tackle. Patterson spoke to the media on Wednesday about the offensive line being a concern. He doesn't know where his line play is after just one practice, noting they're playing basketball at the moment, but he knows they can only use who's available.
"We'll just see, we haven't played our first ball game. You've got to play the guys that want to be here," he said. "It's as simple as that."
RETURN GAME IMPROVEMENT
Several players took reps at returning punts and kickoffs on Thursday. Waymon James, Ty Slanina, Deante' Gray, Kolby Listenbee, Cam Echols-Luper, B. J. Catalon and Ranthony Texada were all involved in the return game. Last season the special teams received a lot of criticism, especially on punt returns. While Patterson is still in the evaluation process for other units, he noticed the group already looks improved from a year ago.
"There was about six of them out here; Cam Luper, Texada, there were about five guys I thought looked like they fielded them better than last fall," he said. "I was really kind of surprised. I think it's a better group overall than we were a year ago. They don't have the pure speed that Skye does, but Deante' and Ranthony are awfully fast."
Patterson spoke of Pryor's journey to TCU, which all transpired basically unnoticed.
"He was a guy that was a plus one in high school, you get to take one extra class in high school to get yourself eligible and California is later in graduation anyway so he wasn't able to come in during the summer," Patterson said of Pryor. "He's not quite used to the humidity but I think slowly but surely we'll push him through all of that stuff. He's a big body, I can tell you that. He's three of me."
A NEW RELEASE
Trevone Boykin has drawn criticism for his throwing motion, basically described as a sidearm motion. Boykin looked to have a higher release on Thursday and it showed.
"He's worked in the spring and also the summer time; he's got the ball higher," Patterson said of Boykin.
Jordan Moore READY TO SHINE
Of course, Moore has a very talented group of runningbacks on the roster, but he received some good reps on Thursday, even using his speed to haul in a deep pass in 7-on-7 play.
Patterson is happy to see Moore's progress.
"Way fired up about him, he's a big back," Patterson said.