Last year as the college football season approached, the TCU Horned Frogs were on just about every BCS Bowl Buster list in addition to being ranked in the preseason top 25. Though the top 25 ranking was perhaps deserved, apparently the BCS bowl pundits did not bother to consider that TCU would be playing in Austin the second week of the season piloted by a freshman quarterback at the helm.
Eight days into the campaign, all of the talk of TCU being this year’s Boise State became so much scrap. Now, a year later, although Rivals.com did select TCU as the Mountain West team on the rise, you would think TCU had fallen off the end of the earth as they are not even meriting an honorable mention on anybody’s list.
However, the fact of the matter is, TCU is going into the 2008 season in much better shape than last year, not least of all because their quarterback, Andy Dalton, now has 13 games under his belt. But for TCU fans, the promise does not stop there.
TCU lost only four offensive and defensive starters that made significant contributions last year. These are the leading receiver Ervin Dickerson (40 receptions), the cornerstone of their defense — DE Chase Ortiz, David Hawthorne (a starting linebacker) and Brian Bonner, who was excellent in the secondary and on punt returns. At all other starting positions TCU will be returning either starters from last year or players with extensive experience as backups.
In addition to a returning starting sophomore quarterback, TCU brings back every running back who touched the ball last year, four of their top five receivers, a strong defensive front and linebacker corps, a slightly improved offensive line and experienced starters in the defensive secondary.
Not to say however, that this frog does not have its warts. Namely, lack of great talent among the experienced receivers, uncertainty about how the key tailbacks will respond after a season filled with injuries as well as lack of experienced depth in the secondary. Additionally, both the expected starting punter and field goal specialist will be freshmen so it remains to be seen how these new faces will actually perform on the college stage.
Furthermore, Texas Christian’s non-conference schedule includes Oklahoma and Stanford and an expected-to-be-greatly-improved SMU team. These games, along with the usual TCU quirky schedule of two to three Thursday games which include key games against Utah and this year’s BCS bowl buster in-waiting Brigham Young, are going to make a better-than-last-year TCU team work hard to get back to a 10-victory season.
Over the next couple of months I will be taking a closer look at the underexposed Horned Frogs, if only because they are likely to go into Norman on September 27th with a 4-0 record and ranked in the top 25 to face the probable top 10 Sooners.