With opening night less than two weeks away, TCU Football still has several big questions to answer - on both sides of the ball.
We look at some of the toughest questions remaining as we close in on August 31st, and how they might be answered by game one.
1) Who is TCU Football’s most important player on offense this season?
Jalen Reagor is TCU’s best offensive player, without a doubt. But is he the most important?
You could argue that to-be-named QB1 is in the argument, as is to-be-named starting center. Those two positions have made or broke a lot of college football teams throughout the years.
But as fall camp has closed and game preparation begins, there’s one guy on offense that I am paying a little more attention to, and that’s senior running back Darius Anderson. Almost a forgotten man after suffering season-ending injuries the past two consecutive seasons, Anderson will be set on reminding people why he’s on so many watch lists this fall. He looked downright dominant before being knocked out of the Oklahoma game as a sophomore, and was never quite right a season ago. But Gary Patterson has said that this is the best he’s seen Jet since he arrived on campus, and co-OCs Curtis Luper and Sonny Cumbie have both raved about the shape he is in and the way he has looked. A healthy, effective DA - coupled with Sewo Olonilua and some intriguing true freshmen running backs - takes a ton of pressure off of QB TBA and opens up more opportunities for Reagor. Anderson can be a real weapon in the passing game, or allow Sewo to move out to the slot where he is really unfair to defend.
Here’s hoping Jet reminds everybody that he’s still pretty damn good.
2) Who is TCU Football’s most important player on defense this season?
While guys like Ross Blacklock and Jeff Gladney get a lot of the pub - and deservedly so - in my opinion, the biggest difference-maker is safety Innis Gaines. Gaines can do a little bit of anything, whether it’s covering wide receivers, playing run defense at the line of scrimmage, or blitzing the quarterback. And he does it just as well as about anyone in the country. The difference between TCU’s defense being very good and elite a season ago can be at least partially traced back to when Gaines went out with an injury. Almost immediately after Gaines left the field, Tech started connecting on the deep ball, and ultimately that was a key to their success in that game.
Gaines is back healthy and strong for his senior season, and coupling him with veteran corners in Gladney and Julius Lewis, alongside some physically gifted safeties, and you have the makings of an exceptional secondary. Gaines is a true difference maker for TCU.
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
Look for the Horned Frogs to have a more explosive offense than what we saw last season, exploiting their speed on that side of the ball to make more explosive plays. After the first SA scrimmage of fall camp, coach Gary Patterson said that his team “was throwing the deep ball better than they had since ‘14”, which is a great sign for TCU fans. The ability to get over the top of the defense is what separates good teams from average ones, and the TCU Football certainly has the speed to stretch opposing defenses. With players like Reagor, Derius Davis, Taye Barber, and Mikel Barkley at wide receiver, the Frogs have speed to burn. If they find a QB that can throw it up and let them run under it, it could be a return to the Frog Raid fun of old.
4) What is the most important game on the Horned Frogs’ schedule, and why?
It has to be Texas, right? I am tempted to go with Iowa State, I’ve heard someone make an argument that SMU could be the turning point as far as establishing a quarterback, but...
it’s Texas. If TCU wants to win the league, they’re likely going to have to get past the Longhorns to do it. And playing UT in Fort Worth makes this one a must-win.
To be good, you have to win at home. To be great, you have to win on the road. To be exceptional, you have to beat ranked teams. UT is likely to be that when they come to town on October 26th. Also, if you want to be considered the best in Texas, you have to beat Texas - something that TCU had done four straight times before last year’s disaster in Austin.
Another one to circle? Oklahoma in Norman, where TCU hasn’t won since 2005.
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and TCU’s postseason destination?
Vegas set the line for TCU wins at 7.5, and I’m confident that you would make some money taking the over. Assuming the quarterback situation isn’t detrimental to the offense, I think the Frogs can win nine games and possibly push for ten. Is the Alamo Bowl the ceiling or can this team push for the NY6? I don’t think the Sugar Bowl is ***completely*** out of the question, but San Antonio is a very reasonable destination for this squad. And all things considered, a trip back to the River Walk and maybe another crazy finish wouldn’t be all that bad.
Agree? Disagree? Have different answers for these questions? Let us know in the comments!