What we learned in spring ball was that Coach Patterson is more-than-usually paranoid about folks learning what his football team is like in 2012. And, considering how paranoid he usually is about that kind of thing, this is saying quite a bit. Patterson closed all but a few minutes of a few practices to the media.
So the tidbits we have are, generally, only those tidbits that Coach Patterson would like us to have. So we have to trust that El Bulldog is giving us true tidbits, or we have to throw up our hands and admit that we have no idea what’s going on with TCU football at the present. (TCU roster and schedule)
We’ve said it before, however, and there’s no better time like the present to say it again—ignorance is no barrier to commentary—so let’s dive in.
The bad news in spring is always injuries. TCU suffered the usual compliment of these, the only one that causes real concern is at defensive tackle, where **** may have torn an ACL, which rehab may extend into the season. Definitive word never trickled out of camp, so we’ll see in August. This, coupled with DJ Yendrey’s premature exit from the program, means TCU is thinner than hoped up front.
The good news, as far as is divined, centers around three players who redshirted last season, and two walk-ons (that are probably on scholarship now, but that’s always a difficult question to answer with as tight-lipped a program as TCU). Only one of those five is on offense, wide receiver LaDarius Brown. Learn that name—although you won’t have to work very hard once the season begins, because he’s going to make a name for himself. He’s 6-4, 220, fast, and almost uncoverable. He was the highest rated recruit in the Big East (tied with one other player) and the Mountain West (outright) two years ago, and after a redshirt season, is going to be the Horned Frogs’ other Josh Boyce.
The four remaining headliners this spring are all on defense. Our focus was on linebacker going into spring, and the answers to TCU’s frightful inexperience at the position appear to have come in the form of two sophomore walk-ons from Aledo, Danny Heiss (6-1, 220) and Joel Hasley (6-1, 215). Heiss was a safety before, and Patterson reports that he’s gaining weight now that he’s not playing in the secondary. Patterson says (again, we’re taking his word for it, and little more) that the two are doing very well at the new position—so well, in fact, that Antonio Graves, who had moved to linebacker at the beginning of spring, is moved backed to safety.
Possibly the best news out of spring camp for the Horned Frogs is in the secondary, where redshirt freshmen Travoskey Garrett (boundary corner, 6-1, 195) and Chris Hackett (free safety, 6-2, 200) were prominent. Again. In their redshirt years it was apparent that Garrett and Hackett, and LaDarius Brown, were going to be top notch players for TCU. This spring we heard, repeatedly, that these three are playing up to expectations. Patterson says Garrett is the only player on the team who can cover Brown. He says Garrett is good enough to start, and to allow Jason Verrett to move over to field corner, his more natural position.
So, better play from the corners? Yes, please. This alone would have made the difference between last season’s 10-2 regular season and a sparking 12-0 capped by a third consecutive BCS appearance.
Chris Hackett may not start, but his emergence at free safety (which we heard about last season until Hackett was injured) is important, because TCU is still searching for that coach on the field to replace Tejay Johnson. Hackett was already penciling himself into that role in fall camp last season, and he’s still in the mix with Elisha Olabode for the starting nod this season.
Coming up: more movers on the o-line, quarterback, receiver, runningback, safety, and some moderately-informed guesses about the incoming freshmen.