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Reviewing the season: Looking back at the 2015 TCU Horned Frogs

As the first day of the offseason arrives nation-wide for college football, Horned Frog Insider looks back at TCU's impressive 2015 season

As the offseason rears its ugly head once again, the staff of Horned Frog Insider looks back on a happier time - the 2015 football season. After an 11-win season despite injuries, off-the-field oddities and a slew of new blood entering the program, TCU gets reviewed once again by HFI's analysts and staff writers.

What was the biggest moment for TCU that blew you away the most this season?

Mitchell Stehly: The Alamo Bowl blew me away as a whole, so for the “moment” that blew me away, I’ll go with the catch. Of course, I’m referring to the miraculous tip off the hand of Josh Doctson into the waiting arms of Aaron Green at Texas Tech. Lubbock is a very difficult place to win, and the Frogs pulled it off in dramatic fashion. 

J.D. Moore: I'm going non-traditional here, and I'm saying a moment that didn't even happen during a game. By far, the most blow-away moment I got from the 2015 season was seeing the student section before the TCU-Baylor game. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and in the middle of a 37 degree downpour at night, TCU's student section was packed to the gills more than an hour before the game kicked off. When the stadium got evacuated due to lightning, the student section booed the PA announcer and began heckling any Baylor personnel that walked onto the field. In 2012, the season finale against Oklahoma had a half-empty student section at kickoff. Now, just three years later, students will fight in the rain and cold and lightning just to see the field an hour before a game starts. That just absolutely blows me away.

Brad Hardcastle: Aaron Green's catch against Texas Tech was not only the biggest play of that game, but perhaps the season. If Green didn't back up Doctson in the end zone, this season could have gone much differently. I had never seen anything like it.  

What was the biggest surprise that you saw this season?

MS: I was shocked by the role that some TCU freshmen were forced into this season. Namely, we saw a pair of true-freshmen, Jaelan Austin and Jarrison Stewart, see increased roles towards the end of the season. Gary Patterson said during fall camp that he expected both to redshirt. Instead, the pair stepped up in some big spots, including the epic comeback in the Alamo Bowl.

JDM: I said in my preseason prediction that injuries were the only thing that could throw off my projections for this season. I expected one or two key injuries (as all season have), but I was stunned to see the plague that hit TCU this season. More than that, I was shocked that Gary Patterson used a team made of duct tape, paper clips and spare chewing gum to create an 11-win team.

BH: There were a lot of big surprises this season: Mike Freeze's departure, the early season arrests, all of the injuries, the Texas Tech game – this was a strange year for the Horned Frogs. But the comeback in the Alamo Bowl was the biggest surprise. No one saw that coming given the 31-0 halftime score. That win really kept heading the program in the right direction and will be remembered for years to come. 

Should this season be viewed as a success, given the lofty hopes of the program in the preseason?

MS: Absolutely. When you consider the sheer gauntlet of injuries the Frogs were forced to overcome, a 11-2 record was a terrific feat accomplished by Patterson and co. Don’t forget, with all the injuries, TCU was one 2-point conversion away from defeating Oklahoma and being crowned Big 12 champions again. 

JDM: The Frogs beat every school in Texas, had an amazing bowl game and did so without half of their starters from the Minnesota game. That's 100 percent a success. 

BH: Absolutely. This team lost too many players to injuries to reasonably be considered a college football playoff favorite. The fact that this team went 11-2 and won its bowl game is nothing short of miraculous. 

Where does this season rank in terms of Gary Patterson’s coaching jobs?

MS: The best. Consider the injuries, suspensions and the departure of starting linebacker Mike Freeze. If you listed off those injuries to me, preseason, I would tell you a 11-2 record would be impossible. Instead, Patterson didn’t fold and nearly lead his football team to a Big 12 championship. That’s tough to beat.

JDM: I wrote earlier this season that Gary deserved the Coach of the Year award after TCU's performance against Baylor. I still stick to that. This was hands down the most impressive coaching job I've ever seen, and it will be just about impossible to replicate or beat it. There was no national championship this year for the Frogs, but given what happened to this team, there's no way you could have coached any better.

BH: I think it ranks in his Top 3. The other two great ones were the 13-0 Rose Bowl year and last season's 12-1 season after going 4-8 the year before. The amount of untimely injuries, arrests and departures make this season one of the most special ears in the program's history. The amount of adjustments that had to be made is astronomical. I'm not sure how many other coaches could have won 11 games given the obstacles he had to overcome. 

What returning player will bring the most excitement to future TCU teams?

MS: Running back Kyle Hicks. I lobbied most of the year for Hicks to see an increased role. He has waited patiently behind Aaron Green, and now the TCU backfield is his. He is a dynamic, physical player who is going to be a special player for the 2016 Frogs.

JDM: Jaelan Austin and Jarrison Stewart are going to be so, so fun as receivers for the next few years. But personally, I'm excited for James McFarland, Kenny Iloka, Ranthony Texada and everyone else who missed this season. 2016 is going to be more loaded than what experts will think.

BH: The obvious answer is KaVontae Turpin. The guy can do everything on offense and will perhaps be the county's most dangerous kick returner next season. He speed, agility and quickness will make him one of nation's best next season, without a doubt. 

What player will TCU miss the most heading into next season?

MS: The obvious choice here is Trevone Boykin. Playmakers and leaders like Boykin don’t come around very often. TCU will be very lucky if Kenny Hill plays anything like what we saw from Boykin over the last two years.

JDM: I wanted to say Trevone Boykin, but then I saw Bram Kohlhausen play. Then I wanted to say Josh Doctson, but then I saw how TCU's young studs played without him as well. The future is bright for TCU when it comes to talent, but I think the heart and leadership of Aaron Green will be sorely missed. The man is wise beyond his years and knows how to keep his head on straight as a senior leader - and that's something really hard to replace.

BH: Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson were historically good this year. Although TCU was able to win without them, doing that over the course of a season will be very, very tough. Although, TCU has some good prospects at quarterback and wide receiver, I don't expect any of them to rival what either Boykin or Doctson did last year. 

What is the final legacy that Trevone Boykin leaves on this program? Is it deserved?

MS: Boykin lead TCU into a new era. After a 4-8 season, many outside of Fort Worth doubted whether or not TCU could compete with the “big boys” in the Big 12. Boykin put TCU on the national stage, leading the team to a 12-1 record and a near berth in the College Football playoff in 2014 while simultaneously shattering nearly every school record. With the pressure of Heisman hype in 2015, Boykin didn’t skip a beat despite being sidelined with an injury at season’s end. Boykin should be remembered as the leader of the team that ushered TCU into Big 12 prominence. 

JDM: He goes down as the 4th-greatest quarterback in TCU history, just behind Andy Dalton, Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien. It is well-deserved, and his final moment as a Frog shouldn't be what he's known for. We all have made stupid mistakes while drinking (and I'm the first to raise my hand in agreement on that), and his mistake shouldn't be what defines him. Let's remember the tender moments with Iowa State and Abby Faber. Let's remember the flip against Kansas State. Let's remember the story of Boykin progressing from wideout prospect to All-Conference quarterback under Doug Mecham and Sonny Cumbie. Let's remember one of the well-deserved TCU greats.

BH: He'll go down as one of the greatest athletes in TCU history. The numbers alone show why he deserves that distinction. But does the arrest in San Antonio tarnish his reputation? I think it does, but it doesn't take away from everything he's done for the program over the last few years. 

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