Big 12 Preview: TCU

30 Aug

Quarterback Casey Pachall might find himself phoning a friend more often this season, as Big 12 defenses are probably a bit superior to those in the Mountain West.

Overview: Transitioning from the Mountain West to the Big 12, the Horned Frogs are coming off an 11-2 year in which they went undefeated in their conference. Their total defense ranked 32nd in the nation, and their total offense ranked 28th. After 57 wins over the last four seasons, TCU looks to prove it can have similar success on a bigger stage.

With an arsenal of solid running backs – three that ran for more than 700 yards each last season – and veteran Casey Pachall at the quarterback spot, the Horned Frogs have the weapons to stick around in high-scoring Big 12 games. Two starters return on the offensive line, including senior center James Fry.

On the other side of the ball, TCU brings back three of four starters on the defensive line. Linebacker Kenny Cain, who led the team in tackles last season, returns as well. In the backfield of the Horned Frogs’ 4-2-5 defense, cornerback Jason Verrett will be the mainstay, accompanied by one fellow junior and three sophomores.

Schedule: It may be a tale of two schedules for TCU this year. First half: Grambling State, Kansas, Virginia, SMU, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech. Through that period of time, the Horned Frogs could quite conceivably go 7-0. Then comes the hard part. TCU plays at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, at home against Kansas State, at Texas and at home against Oklahoma to finish off its inaugural season in the Big 12. Talk about going out with a bang.

Projection: The Horned Frogs could be 7-0 going into the harder segment of their schedule, but if that does not go perfectly, they could be 6-1 or 5-2 before they even hit some of their best competition. Since TCU plays all the upper-echelon league teams later in the season, it might be in for a losing skid after a great start. Still, I think seven or eight wins for the Horned Frogs sounds reasonable.

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