We're still four months away from football, but when you compare the kind of year the baseball team is having with the kind of year that we all expect that the football team could have it's easy to want to look ahead to football season. To feed our football lust, we're looking at each of the position groups coming out of spring ball, and the secondary is up first.
The Big 12 has a reputation as the home of high flying spread offenses that cause defensive coordinators to lose sleep, but in Gary Patterson's case I imagine that deep inside this secondary is one that he's really happy with (he would never admit this, of course). It's easy to understand why this secondary is exciting though, they were the best in the Big 12 last year, and everyone who was on last year's depth chart is back again in the post spring edition in the same positions, with the exception of Jonathon Anderson's move to shore up the depth-lacking linebacker position and Deante Gray hopping to offense. Let's have a quick look at each position.
Personally if you had asked me which of TCU's juniors were most likely to turn pro, I would've guessed our first team All-American Cornerback Jason Verrett would've been the one to make the jump. Instead both Josh Boyce and Stansly Maponga are off to the pros while Verrett will remain in purple for his senior year, looking to pick up where he left off. The offenses of the Big 12 are poorer for this decision, as Verrett will likely surpass his team leading 6 interceptions this year and will likely feature prominently on all-america teams once again this year. On the opposite side so far Kevin White is holding off his heralded challengers so far, despite giving up three inches and twenty pounds to both Jenkins and Garrett. Experience is extremely valuable in the secondary, and White certainly has that, which combine with his improved play as last season progressed to make him the leader opposite #2, but if he's on the opponent's top man I imagine he'll have help.
I'll say it right off the bat: Elisha Olabode is my favorite player on this TCU defense and him not being on the All-Big 12 team last year was a travesty, sham and mockery all at once. Olabode was a turnover creating machine, scored two touchdowns on defense and was a master of deflecting balls that others in the secondary were able to capitalize on. Also he did this.
Which was pretty glorious. Chris Hackett seized the weak safety job as a true freshman and thrived, collecting a pair of picks, forcing a fumble and picking up two others that Olabode forced- exactly the kind of teamwork you want to see in the secondary. Hackett is a Sophomore this season, so we'll be treated to another three years of watching him stalk the secondary for the Frogs and he's a likely name to watch in the captain discussion for the Frogs in 2014 when Olabode and Verrett graduate. Sam Carter is the strong safety once more, and he too had a great season for the frogs last year, keeping his name out of the announcers mouths when the ball is in the air (the second best thing you can have from a safety, while interceptions from an Olabode type are the best) and absolutely crushed in run support, which was necessary given the weakness of linebackers not named Kenny Cain last year. Indeed, Carter was so instrumental in run support he actually started at MLB next to Cain in one game before moving back to strong safety. Now with Anderson moved to linebacker, Carter will stay snug at safety this year, and as a result I'd take TCU's secondary over any in the nation- even Alabama's.
New quarterbacks of the Big 12 (of which there are many- Baylor, Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Kansas and West Virginia will all have new quarterbacks this year) beware, passing the ball on TCU will be the hardest challenge of your year.