TCU's Offense Should Be Most Improved in the Big 12 in '14 with New Assistants

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterDecember 17, 2013

Nov 30, 2013; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson before the game against the Baylor Bears at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Bears defeated the Horned Frogs 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If offenses were generally down in the Big 12 in 2013, then TCU's was in the gutter. 

The Horned Frogs finished tied for 87th in scoring offense, averaging 25 points a game. There were plenty of reasons why: offensive line problems, the injury to quarterback Casey Pachall, an underperforming group of wide receivers and so on. 

Ultimately, though, TCU missed former offensive coordinator Justin Fuente; TCU's offense just hasn't been the same since he left to become Memphis' head coach following the 2011 season.

Frogs head coach Gary Patterson tried shaking things up midseason (mid-game against Oklahoma State, in fact) when he gave play-calling duties to co-offensive coordinator Rusty Burns over Jarrett Anderson.  

That was a temporary change. Patterson has since brought on new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham from Houston and Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech to be the team's new quarterbacks coach. The hires are already stirring interest, including from ESPN's Jake Trotter.

In his only season at Houston, Meacham directed an offense that finished 35th in the nation in scoring, averaging 284 yards passing a game. His offensive philosophy has Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's fingerprints all over it, having served as an assistant for the Cowboys from 2005-12. 

Though Cumbie will oversee the quarterback spot at TCU, he focused on wide receivers at Texas Tech under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. A former Red Raiders quarterback, Cumbie has a background in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense. The Red Raiders finished second in passing offense in 2013. 

Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Cumbie could still have a say in the Frogs' offensive game plan even if his title doesn't reflect it: 

Cumbie, who had the co-OC title in 2013 at Texas Tech, will help Meacham run the TCU offense even if it’s not part of his title, the source said.

It could be a matter of semantics. Cumbie wanted to work directly with quarterbacks and have a bigger say in the offense in Lubbock, but his role on Texas Tech’s staff was limited by head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s focus on quarterbacks and calling plays.

Between Meacham and Cumbie, TCU's offense should be improved in 2014. If nothing else, it can't get much worse.

The Frogs will have to replace several starters along the offensive line, but if they can get some continuity up front and not have a revolving door like they did this year, there's room to grow. TCU is young everywhere else, so theoretically, it can only get better at spots like wide receiver and quarterback. 

It will be interesting to see if TCU goes with redshirt freshman Tyler Matthews or Trevone Boykin as the starting quarterback next year—or, potentially, one of two true freshman coming in. Boykin has started 14 games over the past two seasons, but he regressed significantly this year. Once Pachall returned from his broken arm against Texas, Boykin looked more comfortable as an athlete. 

Patterson has shown a willingness to make necessary changes. The combination of Anderson and Burns was born out of a need to replace Fuente, but the experiment didn't work.

The combination of Cumbie and Meacham should yield significantly better results.


Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All stats courtesy of the NCAA. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval