After being a prime time player in the Big 12 the last two seasons, winning a conference title in 2014 and coming darned close again in 2015, the TCU Horned Frogs enter the 2016 season as a dark horse rather than expected front-runner. All Everything quarterback and ace bowl game bar room brawler Trevone Boykin is gone, as is stellar wideout Josh Doctson and four fifths of the starting offensive line.
The defense returns some good talent, but for the Frogs to again challenge for a Big 12 title, the rebuilt offense will have to come around sooner rather than later. If that offense is not cooking by the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma, TCU has no shot at winning that one. West Virginia and Texas Tech in the middle of the conference schedule could also give the Frogs trouble if the offense is still not in top form.
That offense does have some possibilities, though. Wideouts Kavontae Turpin and Deante Gray should be among the best in the Big 12, and Kyle Hicks is a competent running back.
Quarterback is the most interesting position, however. Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill was recently named the starter. He is a talented player, but his sophomore season in College Station was something of a train wreck.
Hill began the season with a Heisman-type performance in obliterating South Carolina. Perhaps presaging “head case” problems to come, however, Hill’s parents copyrighted the quarterback’s new nickname “Trill.” Trill, however, finished the season on the bench, incurred a two-game suspension for violation of team rules, and missed much of 2014 spring camp after an alcohol-related arrest. To say the least, Hill is a shaky peg upon which to hang a team’s hopes. If Hill implodes, TCU could go down in flames.
Turpin will, without question, be one of the Big 12’s most dangerous receivers-cum-return men. As a freshman, Turpin caught 45 passes for 649 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 14.4 yards per grab. He also averaged 27 yards per kick return and 11 yards per punt return.
Turpin has blazing speed combined with the ability to change direction on a dime. And despite a lack of size, he is fearless going over the middle, and indeed, is at his most dangerous on crossing and seam routes. If Kenny Hill can keep his head together for an entire season and stay out of trouble, Turpin will make him look good.
Defensive end Josh Carraway is a returning first team All Big 12 performer for the Frogs. Last season he recorded 47 tackles with 11.5 tackle for loss, nine sacks, nine quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries.
Carraway, who plays standing up, is more like a hybrid end/linebacker than a true defensive end. He does an excellent job of reading plays and maintaining containment on his side of the field. Carraway has excellent vision and uses his hands well to shed blocks.
As the sack and quarterback hurry numbers show, Carraway is also capable of pinning his ears back and going after the quarterback. Therefore he is very adept in both a read-and-react role, or as an attacking defensive end.