Don’t be misled by TCU’s pedestrian 7-6 record last season as the Horned Frogs were one of the most inexperienced teams in the country (only 9 returning starters) and lost their starting quarterback in the fourth week of the season. TCU enters the 2013 campaign as legitimate Big 12 Title contenders with sixteen returning starters and the best defense in the conference. Head coach Gary Patterson always gets the most out of his players as evidenced by the fact that TCU has reached 11 wins in seven of the last ten years under Patterson’s leadership. I look for a huge improvement from the Horned Frogs this season and would not be surprised to see them playing in the conference championship game come December.
- The Horned Frogs enter this season with two of the best quarterbacks in college football in Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin. Pachall is likely the starter after being suspended last season (week 4) after throwing for 948 yards (66.0%; 10-1 ratio). Boykin is an excellent backup and threw for 2,054 yards in 2012 (57.2%; 15-10 ratio).
- Pachall will have one of the conference’s best receiving units to throw to in Brandon Carter, LaDarius Brown and Cam White. TCU also welcomes Florida transfer Ja’Juan Story, who could make an immediate impact.
- My biggest concern for TCU on offense is its offensive line, which only returns 41 career starts after losing two starters. However, coach Patterson always develops excellent offensive lines and I expect improved numbers from this group in 2013.
- The Horned Frogs’ entire 2 deep returns this season as this is clearly one of the best secondaries in college football. Cornerback Jason Verrett, a senior, was outstanding last season and I expect even greater production from him this year. Let’s also note that this unit welcomes LSU transfer David Jenkins, who is expected to pay immediate dividends for defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas.
- TCU also fields an elite defensive line that rivals any group in the nation. Indeed, the Horned Frogs return seven of their top 8 performers from last year’s unit that allowed a mere 105 rushing yards per game (3.2 yards per carry; 29 sacks). Similar to the offensive line, coach Patterson always develops an outstanding defensive front, and this could be his best group in nearly a decade despite losing Stansly Maponga to the NFL.
- There is no weakness in TCU’s defense as it also boasts a veteran group of linebackers led by Deryck Gildon and Joel Hasley.
Finally, TCU also possesses one of the country’s best special teams units, which is also a strength under coach Patterson. With nine returning starters on defense and one of the most successful coaching staffs in all of football, I will call for TCU to reach ten wins this season and contend for the Big 12 Conference Title.