It’s been close to two months since a Big 12 team played football, but teams all across the conference are getting ready to go back to work for spring. Drills, drills and more drills will once gain be the order of the day as college football players everywhere don their gear to go through practices.
It’s time for us to turn our attention to what those practices might mean. We’re giving a preview of each team in the conference and exploring the questions they’ll try to answer in the coming weeks.
Next, we look at a team that has grabbed headlines for their off-the-field issues. TCU had a strong season last year and managed to grab a spot in the Big 12 championship.
They could find their way there again, but a lot of young players will need to step up. That starts today, when the Horned Frogs open up spring practice.
PRACTICE BEGINS: FRI, March 2
SPRING GAME: SAT, April 7
LOCATION: Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)
On the offensive side of the ball, there are a lot of parallels to 2016 for the Horned Frogs – a lack of experience on the offensive line and the need to break in a new quarterback will be among Patterson’s concerns.
Can the Frogs prevent a major dip in production like what happened two years ago? The quarterback position may help them there, as former five star recruit Shawn Robinson steps in as the most likely full time guy now. His only real competition come fall might be another five star, Justin Rogers, but he’s been recovering from knee ligament surgery and most likely will not practice this spring.
Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will have his work cut out for him in trying to figure out what TCU should do with the big uglies. The most experienced guys are Lucas Niang at tackle and Cordel Iwuagwu at guard.
The other positions will have to be decided during spring.
Kelton Hollins may takeover at center. The Frogs signed a JUCO tackle, Anthony McKinney, who might provide another starting spot for them, but Austin Meyers is another name to watch there as well.
The biggest question might be who will take over the other guard position – the Frogs have a few players on the roster there, but that will be another spot to keep an eye on.
Of course, TCU has recruited talent at receiver. Jalen Reagor gave some good flashes in 2017 and Omar Manning could really break out for the Horned Frogs. There’s not a lot of veterans in the clubhouse, so these spring reps will be crucial for this group.
Running back is probably the strength of this offense. Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua are the best duo in the Big 12, meaning they will probably be leaned on in 2018. Will anyone step up behind them to help carry the load?
On defense, TCU has to replace six starters from last year’s unit. That includes the need to find a pass rusher at weakside defensive end and a strongside linebacker. At linebacker, Montel Wilson, who has played well, might find some competition from senior Arico Evans.
There are some upperclassmen who may come on in the secondary. Ridwan Issahaku, Tony James and Vernon Scott are names to watch who could step up to fill in starting spots in the back. Also look for Innis Gaines, who sealed TCU’s Alamo Bowl win with a late game pick, to rightly have his eye on a starting safety spot.
Overall, there are plenty of questions for Gary Patterson to answer this spring. The offensive line has the most uncertainity by far. If the Horned Frogs can find some answers there over the next month and stay healthy, though, another run at the championship looks possible.