TCU received some incredibly good news on Monday morning, when Gary Patterson, during the weekly Big 12 teleconference, said that Travin Howard and Niko Small would be available for Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said he expects LB and leading tackler Travin Howard and DB Niko Small to return from injuries for Big 12 title against Oklahoma.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) November 27, 2017
This is a huge boost for TCU’s defense, especially with Nick Orr suspended for the first half of the game. Needless to say, any time you get your all-time leading tackler back, it’s a good thing, and getting a season-long starter in Niko Small back is no footnote either.
TCU’s depth at linebacker and safety have been apparent over the past few weeks without Howard and Small, as Arico Evans and Markell Simmons have stepped into those starting roles and performed very well. The two have combined for 18 tackles over the past two games, to go with an interception and a pass breakup. They’ll undoubtedly be called upon on Saturday to step in at times, too, and it’s good to know they’re up to the task.
Yes, TCU is fighting an uphill battle, but getting Howard and Small back is great news for a defense that has something to prove against the Sooners.