It’s springtime in Texas. The bluebonnets are blooming, the birds are chirping, the temperatures are in the 80s, and it’s time for the other main sport in the state besides football…spring football.
Hey, who said we’re one-dimensional?
The Horned Frogs end up their spring sojourn with the annual purple/white game this Saturday, and here are a few of the questions that they are seeking answers to.
Is Tank Carder Ready To Take Over the Frog D?
A lot of press has been written about the Frogs' need to replace some key starters on the defense, especially All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes and All-Conference linebacker Daryl Washington. But defense, as coach Patterson likes to remind people, is about passion.
And that means leadership.
Carder was second-team All-Mountain West in 2009, was the team’s second leading tackler in 2009, and is a unanimous preseason All-Mountain selection for the upcoming season.
With the spotlight on him, will the junior linebacker contribute in those intangible areas that define a team leader? Look for his performance Saturday to give us a hint.
Speaking of defense, it looks like Juco transfer Stansley Maponga, with an athletic and productive camp, has the inside track for the starting defensive end position vacated by Jerry Hughes. A good performance from him Saturday should wrap up the spot.
In the defensive backfield, Jason Teague and Greg McCoy are slotted to take over the vacated cornerback positions. Both saw plenty of action last year, including significant reps in the Fiesta Bowl. The main question in the defensive backfield is...
Will UCLA Transfer Aundre Dean, Who Is a Converted Running Back, Make the Transition and a Significant Contribution at Safety?
He is a great athlete, but the jury is still out on that question. I'm thinking he'll get a ton of reps Saturday in an effort to answer this one.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is tied for career wins at TCU with immortal Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, and is the current win leader amongst active college QBs. Which begs the question...
Who Backs Dalton Up?
Casey Pachall, a four-star redshirt freshman, would seem to be the favorite “on paper” given his stellar prep credentials.
Sophomore Yogi Gallegos, however, is having a good camp and is not conceding the position. The better performance Saturday should lead to a No. 2 position on the depth chart.
Speaking of Dalton, Who Has his Back?
Four starters return on the Frogs' O-line, but the missing link is a big one—All-Conference left tackle Marshall Newhouse, who is expected to go in the third or fourth round of the NFL draft.
Currently Juco transfer Zach Roth is getting a good look, and there is also the option to move RT Marcus Cannon over and put Roth in at right tackle.
Coach Patterson has been decidedly non-committal on this, however, publicly stating that the position is still “wide open.”
Don’t be surprised to see another performer other than Roth get the nod for that open tackle position (either right or left side).
Finally, It Will Be Open Season for a New Long Snapper in the Program
That is one of those little publicized, but key positions that make a program click.
The Horny Toads, who return eight starters on offense, seven on defense, and their punter and kicker, should start 2010 ranked in the top 15 (possibly top 10).
They kick off the season versus Oregon State (Pac 10) in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and then play a lower division Tennessee Tech team, Conference USA's SMU led by June Jones and his resurgent offense, and the Big 12 patsy Baylor, who have not had a winning season since cell phones and the Internet came into use.
If they can take care of business at Jerry World, they should be undefeated before entering Mountain West conference play.
Here's blood in yer eye.