There were a lot of issues with TCU's offense in 2013, there's no way around it. However, a lot of those issues stemmed from issues with the offensive line, which consistently provided opposing linemen and linebackers free lanes to the quarterback. This forced TCU to run an offense that consisted of a lot of screens and short passes to get the ball out of Pachall/Boykin's hands quickly. The result was a paltry 6.48 yards per pass attempt.
Overall, TCU ranked 72nd in the FBS with 226.3 passing yards per game, with 17 interceptions and 14 touchdowns. Sure, we can also point to dropped/tipped passes and poor decisions by the quarterbacks as part of the issue, but a lot of those bad decisions came under duress.
Meanwhile, the rushing offense was exponentially worse, ranking 110th in the FBS with 118.6 yards per game and 1,423 yards for the season and 20 touchdowns. This was, in large part, due to the quick abandonment of the run when the Frogs fell behind (which left fans screaming for Anderson and Burns heads more than anything else), but it was also in part to the inability of the offense to run block consistently and effectively.
As we begin the final two week sprint to National Signing Day 2014, TCU has made it abundantly clear that bringing in bodies for the offensive line is one major goal for this recruiting class. Below we see the four current offensive line commits for 2014 (rankings pulled from Scout.com).
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Not seen on this list is Tayo Fabuluje, the former BYU Cougar turned TCU Horned Frog turned BYU Cougar, who is making plans to return to the purple and white this spring. Fabuluje was listed at 6-7/315 in a recent ESPN article discussing his return to TCU.
Two names to really pay attention to above are Frank Kee and Ty Barrett.
Kee comes to TCU as a JUCO transfer from Tyler Junior College, and is a guy that can be placed in the mix at guard right away. Meanwhile, Barrett is one of my favorite recruits in this class, in part because he's a big body that is from the DFW area, but also because he's been actively recruiting other guys to TCU. Two of his big targets? Offensive linemen Braden Smith and Connor Mayes, names that should be very familiar to TCU fans.
Braden Smith is a 5-star lineman from Olathe, Kansas who has TCU very high on his list. It appears to be coming down to TCU, Texas A&M and Auburn for Smith's services, who has said he'll be making his decision on Signing Day, February 5th. TCU is in a good position with Smith because his sister is a part of the Track & Field team for the Frogs, and he'll also be visiting TCU last, on January 31st.
Connor Mayes is a name most Frog fans know because he has family ties to the university. Mayes is currently committed to the University of Minnesota, where his older brother also plays football. It seems like Mayes is a pretty solid commit to the Gophers, but I wouldn't completely write him off just yet.
When we look at some of the guys already on the roster we have reason to get excited as well. Guys like Matt Pryor, Joseph Noteboom, Chad Childs and Lloyd Tunstill should be contributors in 2014 too.The competition for playing time should be fierce in 2014, and hopefully that draws out the best in some of these guys and results in improvements on the field.
Finally, the coaching change at the OL position should help breathe life into the unit as well. The rumor running around right now is that Jarrett Anderson will be taking over as offensive line coach from long-time coach Eddie Williamson. That may cause people to pause, but the fact of the matter is that we can't see things get much worse than last season, and maybe Anderson can be successful with a more focused task.
Regardless, improvements must be made along the offensive line in 2014. It seems like the pieces are falling into place, with a few shoes left to drop. Now it's a matter of what the coaches can do with it.