The college football rankings countdown from Campus Insiders slates the TCU Horned Frogs at No. 17. Here are five things that matter heading into TCU’s 2016 season.
Can the Horned Frogs maintain the fun?
It’s easy to forget now, but TCU didn’t exactly take the Big 12 by storm when it first joined. Now it’s a superpower, mainly because head coach Gary Patterson was able to adapt by getting the passing game rolling. No. 2 in the polls to start last season, the respect has been there, but now that the Horned Frogs are being a bit overlooked, watch out. With the defense that’s returning, and the pieces in place on offense, they should be deep in the hunt for the Big 12 title if …
The quarterback situation must be terrific
The offense was fine when Trevone Boykin missed time last year, but it wasn’t quite as explosive. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill has the skills to bomb away, and Foster Sawyer saw enough good work last year to step in if needed, but everything is there to make the offense rock.
Josh Doctson is done, but the receiving corps remains great. Just one starter is back up front, but the line is full of upperclassmen. Aaron Green is gone, but the returning backs are strong. The quarterbacks should be fine, too.
The defense will be the TCU defense
Last year’s defense was a bit of a concern, with so many key parts needing to be replaced. This year, the Horned Frogs are loaded with one of the Big 12’s best defenses starting with a phenomenal secondary. The line is a brick wall around end Josh Carraway, and the linebacking corps should be among the league’s most talented.
Okay, so the quarterback thing really is a big deal
When Boykin was being Boykin, the offense cranked up 40 points or more in seven straight games after struggling against Minnesota in the opener. The offense didn’t even get to 30 points in November, and it took an epic bowl collapse by Oregon to get over 40 again. It’s on the quarterback to put TCU in the spotlight. Even though the offense doesn’t have to be unstoppable, thanks to the Horned Frogs’ strong defense, it must at least keep up the pace.
What’s going to happen?
Can the Horned Frogs win the big games early on? Arkansas and Oklahoma will be the make-or-break games over the first half of the season, and road dates at Baylor and Texas will be the showdowns over the second half. 8-4 is probably about right – but that might be way, way, way underselling Patterson and this team if – broken record time – the quarterback play is stellar.