What We Know
Returning Starters: Offense - 8, Defense - 9
Gary Patterson Can Coach Defense
So long as Gary Patterson is the head coach in Fort Worth, there will be little question with respect to TCU's defense prowess. Add in the fact they are returning nine of their eleven starters from last year's defense and things are looking up for the Horned Frogs in 2013. The headliner is of course sophomore sensation Devonte Fields who terrorized Big 12 offenses last year the way no true freshman truly should be able to. The other obvious name is somewhat of an unexpected on in Jason Verrett and not because he's new to TCU or the Big 12, but because so many expected him to leave early for the NFL Draft. In Fields and Verrett, TCU returns arguably two of the Big 12's best defensive players at their respective positions and two of the better defensive players in the entire country. Add to that an experienced secondary and linebacker unit and Patterson could easily have the class of the Big 12 on defense this year.
Schedule Makers Did Them No Favors
Whether it is their season opener August 31st against LSU in 'Jerry World' or Big 12 road trips to Lubbock, Manhattan, Norman, and Stillwater the Horned Frogs have a rough go of it in 2013. If they are contending for the Big 12 title come November they will certainly have earned it with this schedule.
Three Question Marks
The Quarterback Battle: Who Wins the Job?
Like seeming several other Big 12 schools this off season, TCU is in the midst of a quarterback battle of their own. Most assume that embattled former starter Casey Pachall will eventually win the job, but Patterson has been adamant that Trevone Boykin had a great spring even with Pachall receiving a majority of the first team snaps. Patterson even went so far as to list the two as co-starters in his post-spring depth chart, but then again it's a post-spring depth chart so enough said.
Barring another off-the-field incident, it would be a surprise if Pachall isn't eventually named the starter. Boykin has his strengths and can certainly do some things outside of the pocket with his athleticism that Pachall cannot, but the track record of offensive success under Pachall is greater at this point and seems like the more likely outcome.
Brandon Carter And Then . . .
Following the unexpected loss of leading receiver Josh Boyce, TCU returns a somewhat inexperienced wide receiving unit in 2013. Brandon Carter is the most familiar name to Big 12 fans and an explosive player capable of making plays in a variety of ways all over the field.
The Horned Frogs will also have the services of 6'4" 208 pound Ja'Juan Story who was a raw, but highly touted recruit a couple years ago when he originally signed with the Florida Gators. Story sat out last season after transferring so it will be interesting to see how much progress he has made during that time off.
LaDarius Brown and Cam White are both guys who played last season, but finished with just 27 and 21 receptions respectively.
Special Teams That Aren't So Special
After starting out the season strong, including a 6-for-6 field goal kicking performance in an overtime loss to Texas Tech, then freshman kicker Jaden Oberkrom closed out the season missing at least one field goal attempt in each of TCU's final five games.
TCU also had an issue hanging onto the ball last year during punt returns, but the primary culprit for most of those fumbles, Skye Dawson, has since moved on to the NFL.
So the Horned Frogs will be looking for more consistency from both units in 2013 in an effort to help them win games rather than potentially cost them a victory.