SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|TCU Horned Frogs (Big Twelve #3)|
|AP NR USA NR||Strength:#43 Success:#91 Overall:#50|
|Record: 4-8||Bowl: None|
|Picks: AP #35 | USA #31 | Lindy's #45 | Athlon #39 | Steele #18|
|Record: 8-4||Bowl odds: 96% Playoff odds: 1%|
There's pretty widespread recognition that TCU greatly underperformed at 4-8 last year (Strength #43, Success #91) and that's reflected in their pre-season rankings.
6 ret. starters
|2013 Scoring Offense: #89 (raw) #67 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2014 Projected Scoring Offense: #38 (adjusted)
Co-coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham are implementing a no-huddle hurry-up offense. Considering their pedigrees (Texas Tech, Houston) we can envision a much faster offense with amped-up scoring.
|2013 Passing Rank: #76 (raw) #44 (adjusted)||2013 Sacks Allowed (adj.): #56|
|2014 Projected Passing Rank: #36 (adjusted)
||2014 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #56|
Casey Pachall (1,468 yards, 6 TDs, 10 int) and Trevone Boykin (1,198 yards, 7:7) each started about half of last season; Boykin is back, Pachall is not, and grad transfer Matt Joeckel (298 yards, 2:0 at Texas A&M) is the likely starter. Six of the top nine receivers are back including #1 Josh Doctson (440 yards) as well as Boykin (#5 w/204) who undoubtedly will spend more time at WR assuming he's not needed at QB. #4 Brandon Carter (370) was dismissed over the summer. Joeckel should be used to the faster pace and have a decent senior year.
|Rushing||2013 Rushing Rank: #114 (raw) #108 (adjusted)||2014 Projected Rushing Rank: #95 (adj.)
Last year was an anomaly for TCU: a just plain bad rushing team. Three of last year's top four rushers are back led by BJ Catalon (569 yards) with Boykin showing up here, too (#2 with 313) and Aaron Green (#4, 232) looking for more playing time. The offensive line returns three starters, more or less: center Joey Hunt started full-time while Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai started most games; they also have Tayo Fabuluje back from '12. TCU's ground game will improve.
|2013 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #25 Pass Defense per-game: #15 Per-attempt: #9|
8 ret. starters
|'13 Scoring Defense: #55 (raw) #22 (adjusted)||'13 sacks: #22||'13 picks: #4|
|'14 Projected Scoring Defense: #24 (adjusted)
||'14 sacks: #14||'14 picks: #5|
TCU has two starters back in the defensive line but not the one they were counting on. Devonte Fields had a spectacular 2012 (10 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss) and took a medical redshirt last year. He was set to return but has been "separated" from the university after attacking his girlfriend. Top tackler Paul Dawson (9.5 tackles for loss) does return to the linebacker corps, while the secondary loses Jason Verrett (14 pass breakups) but returns Sam Carter (5 interceptions). In all 8 of the top 9 tacklers are back, and if it weren't for the faster tempo on offense (which will give foes more time on offense) we would show improvement in the scoring defense ranking. Still, it looks to be roughly the same as last year, borderline top 25 after adjusting for opponents.
- Kicking Game: Jaden Oberkrom (14 of 18 FG) and Ethan Perry (40.3 yards per punt) are both back.
- Return Game: BJ Catalon had a touchdown return on a kickoff last year while averaging 26.5 yards per attempt, and main punt fielder Cameron Echols-Luper (13.4 ave) is also back. Deante Gray had a touchdown return in 2012 and could fill the gap left by Brandon Carter.
- Turnovers projection: Pachall and Boykin threw 17 picks between them, and Joeckel shouldn't have that many as a senior. The defense, however, probably won't match last year's 19 picks.
- Injury correction: Both the offense and defense were slagged with injuries, with both among the highest rates in the country. This was a major reason they underperformed and a big reason why everyone is expecting the team to bounce back in a big way.
Coaching/Recruiting 2014 Recruiting Rank: #44 2013 Recruiting Rank: #36
Gary Patterson has been at TCU 13 years, and these days that makes him an elder statesman among coaches (he started in 2000; only four FBS coaches started before then, two of them in 1999). This year's recruiting class is fair, ranking in the lower-middle of the Big Twelve. In the last few years Patterson has been dealing with a lot of discipline issues, and this off-season was no exception as two key players were dismissed.
TCU made a good game of it but in the end LSU beat the Frogs 37-27, and not long after that the injuries started piling up. They lost to Texas Tech (20-10) and Oklahoma (20-17), then lost three in a row to Oklahoma State, Texas, and West Virginia (in OT). They dropped their last two by 2 points and 3 points to K-State and Baylor. In the end they beat just Kansas and Iowa State in the Big Twelve and lost 4 games by a field goal or less.
Last year's prediction: We had TCU #24, but everyone had them in the top 25: the AP, the Coaches, and the national magazines, and we were the lowest of those. We projected an 8-4 season which turned out to be the reverse of what happened (the four losses we picked did occur, at least). It's pretty clear that injuries destroyed last year's team and that hardly anyone had an accurate prediction for Frogs last year.
TCU 2014 schedule & forecast
Straight up: 9-3 Cume: 8-4 Bowl eligible: 96%
Deja vu: we're predicting an 8-4 season again for the Frogs, and game-by-game it looks like it could be even better. The only games we pick against TCU are Oklahoma, Baylor, and Texas, and two of those are pretty close.
Samford, Minnesota, and SMU look like wins of varying certitude, then they have Oklahoma at home and they have a decent shot there. Baylor on the road looks like their only certain loss from a pre-season vantage point.
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are both at home and should be wins, and West Virginia (road), Kansas State (home), and Kansas (road) should be, too. There's enough uncertainty with games like these four that the cumulative projection ends up at 8-4.
Texas on the road is a probable loss, but who knows how good the Longhorns will be this year? Iowa State at home should be a win, too. That's a lot of wins and possible wins, making an 11-1 season seem like a reasonable possibility. A berth in the College Football Playoff is a small possibility, too. But more likely it's some other bowl game; last year they missed a bowl for the first time since 2004, but they should be back on track in 2014...unless they have terrible luck with injuries again.
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SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128