TCU Horned Frogs - Ok... yeah, sure... we're 2 months away from the season opener, and 3 months away from conference play. A lot can (and if recent history is any guide... will) happen in that time. All we can do is pray or cross fingers as far as the weird and off-field stuff goes, so we won't waste time on that (though I'm tempted to run a poll on favorite natural and man-made disasters to watch for). Plus, as we all know by now, there's the added uncertainties of completely new offensive leadership arriving with alien technology schemes... the likes of which Froggytown has never seen before. Our peerless mods will be covering the nuts and bolts of this soon, but perhaps I can ease their load just a tad by looking at the roster to see what it might already portend. I'm a stat guy, so let me loose on that. To follow along yourself, HERE is the roster link.
The Roster-farian reggae... everybody dance now!
Until somebody walks off the field, drives off the road, or breaks new ground in pharmaceutical marketing... we have 118 names on the official roster... ranging from 5'5" to is-he-in-the-right-sport 6'10", and from 150 to 350
kilos oops sorry Casey pounds. That breaks down to 46 freshmen (inc. 22 already designated as red shirt, tho that will change by the time practice season ends), only 17 sophomores, 32 juniors, and a still-low 23 seniors. Seems like we've been relying on underclassmen forever. You'd think we were finally due a seasoned team of fully-grown men, and it is a little better when you factor in how much on-field experience they've accumulated. And not just from playing youngsters the past 2 years... we've also quietly absorbed a surprising 20-ish players from jucos and transfers, who bring potential and gameday gravitas to the table. Will Joeckel and Green make the difference?
Position wise... we list an offense with 6 QB, 7 RB, 6 TE (yes, we actually do have those, and should actually use them this year), 17 OL, 2 C, 26 WR; on defense, 11 S, 13 LB, 8 CB, 14 DL, 3 SN, 1 ATH; + special teams of 4 P/PK. Are we deep enough to avoid crippling injuries like the past 2 seasons? These raw numbers don't tell the true picture, until you look at where our experience is... and HAWKEYED will be doing that soon. You've already seen the projected depth chart, based on last year's stats; that will be largely true, but doesn't account for new faces or fresh ideas. With the new offense, past experience may not necessarily equate to what is needed now, so expect some surprises. I hope our coaches are reminding every player of this... that there will be playing and even starting opportunities to be won on the practice field.
Where'd we get those magnificent toys?
It seems a minor point, perhaps more meaningful to recruiting than to current season results, but once you get past the usual news that two-thirds of our roster (81/118) come from TX (with half of these coming from the DFW base), there's some very interesting insights to be had from where the other third come from. Our LA neighbor comes in second with 9 players, then the usual CA contingent with 8. This continues recent trends, and has paid off very handsomely for us, so no complaints there. What's a little worrisome is lack of much success in other areas. Our other neighbors have netted us only 3 from OK and 1 from ARK. We got no B12 respect, with only 1 more from KS. Speaking of conference push, I found it odd that after all our successful years in the MWC, we got zilch from that imprint area aside from the Californians that we always hunt hard, so they are really a separate breed (and no telling how soon our Rose Bowl impression there will wear off). Continued success did come from the GA-FL area, getting 5-2 respectively from them. The rest of the list is 2 each from AZ-MN, then 1 each from NJ-NC-SC-MO. Not much to crow about, albeit we're coming off 2 mediocre years of football.
Lastly, the leadership factor
And no... I'm not talking about player leadership, though that is a factor... and a questionable one of late. Instead, I'm talkin' bout coaching. Despite our recent floundering, no sane person is doubting head coach Gary Patterson. The only doubt about him is whether he stepped back some from recruiting? He's still "the man" defensively. But we were rightly merciless about the offense, which brought about a complete overhaul that only time can judge (most here seem optimistic so far). A 21-man coaching staff seems a bit bloated, even factoring that 4 are GA's and 7 are off-field positions. That leaves 5 on-field for offense (with the 2 newbie OCs in an oddfellow group with the 2 old OCs), and 4 on-field for defense (plus CGMFP, who's heart will always beat for defense). Proven vets Bumpus & Glasgow rarely disappoint, so any defensive problem most likely would come from 3rd-yr coaches Cross (LBs) or Perry (CBs). Expect Patterson to closely assist those critical areas. Offensively is the exact opposite situation, with Anderson (OL) & Burns (WRs) on the hot-seat despite their vast experience, while newcomers (to us) Meacham & Cumbie get a free pass until we can see what they bring as new OCs.
I hope nobody expected any definitive answers from all this. There's too much unknown, and stats are only a part of the picture. I'll trust that our reliable set of mods continue their enlightening ways with the technical side of things. But I don't think any of us knows for sure what our pending chances are until we're at least half-way thru this campaign. All I hope for with this piece is to possibly raise some questions and provoke some thought into a few "pesky" problem areas. We're doing a lot of things right at TCU, but still plenty of room to improve more, and we all know we're overdue on some good luck. Is THIS our year? GO FROGS!