2011 Coaches Preseason Poll: Why TCU Should Be Ranked in the Top 10
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The coaches poll came out today and TCU starts at No. 15 in a typical knee jerk reaction to the loss of Andy Dalton, much of his receiving corps and a few great defensive players.
To be fair, Auburn from the SEC got even less respect and starts at No. 19 after Cam Newton leaves for the NFL, and stud D-lineman Nick Fairley. While Auburn lost a lot, like TCU there is a core of experienced players with a national championship that are going to play with a chip on their shoulders...
Here is a look at why TCU should be ranked in the top 10 to start the season.
Solidly Top 10
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With a top 10 defense and one of the best backfields in the country, this team can and should be in the top 10 at the end of the year.
Growing pains will be felt with players stepping into starting roles, but most have enough playing time to ease the transition and senior leadership comes from a group who have never known a losing season at TCU.
Top 15 is a reasonable starting point for a program that lost so much to graduation, but this is a top 10 team, and could be playing for a BCS at large berth in Boise come November.
Backfield: One Word...Depth
Wesley can Fly
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TCU was a run-heavy program for most of the Patterson Era until Dalton changed all that. Yes we had some solid passing and receiving, but "we only need to win by one point" was Patterson's credo as he was building his program.
With Andy Dalton gone and a young QB running the show, it is again up to the running game to take pressure off of Pachall and give him time to develop—and more importantly gain confidence.
The running game is deep with young talent, and while the Frogs lost out on all world recruit Johnathan Gray (Aledo, TX) they are not going to have any problem getting another 4 or 5-star back to come to Ft. Worth after this season
Ed Wesley Primed to Breakout
Ed Wesley is poised for a breakout season
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Wesley broke the 1,000-yard barrier last season and scored 11 touchdowns; so to call 2011 a breakout season for the junior would be a bit of a disservice to his nearly 1,800 career rushing yards.
But with a young QB in Pachall, and a more run-balanced team this season, do not be surprised to see him approach LaDainian Tomlinson-type numbers by the end of the year.
Paired with fellow junior Matthew Tucker, Wesley can not be given too much attention, and this gives him room to roam.
Prediction for 2011:
1,800 Rushing yards
200 Receiving Yards
Matthew Tucker Gives TCU Two 1,000-Yard Rushers
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Matthew Tucker has taken a back seat at least in the media to his backfield mate Ed Wesley, but with nearly 1.400 yards and 15 TD's, he is a major part of the rebuild at TCU.
Like Wesley, Tucker is a bruising RB and has a nearly five-yard per carry average over his first two seasons. This along with Patterson's history of running the ball a lot will give TCU a tandem that can be the best on the country for 2011.
1,100 yards Rushing
150 yards Receiving
The Rest of the Backfield: Solid
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Waymon James is another running back with 500-plus yards and calling him a backup is a little bit of a stretch for a guy who got 87 carries last season.
Look for James to continue to produce in a prolific TC running game, and if one of the big two lose time to an injury, James is more than ready to step into a starting role.
Fullback Luke Shivers is a TD machine as he scores over half the time he takes a hand-off. With eight TD's in 13 carries over the past three seasons, this senior knows where the ball is supposed to end up. Eht End zone.
Aundre Dean is another standout back whose day will come in the TCU offensive scheme. Patterson is not afraid to use multiple options in the backfield and Dean is just another card in Gary Patterson's incredible hand.
And this is just the beginning. Ethan Grant out of Coconut Grove was the No. 15 RB in the 2010 class and looks to be a major player in the next two seasons as the starting tandem graduate after the 2012 season.
Linebackers: Move over Ohio State
Tanner Brock on the Butkus Award watch List
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Tanner Brock and Tank Carder are both on the Butkus Watch List and lead a TCU defense that has been the nation's best over the past three seasons.
Tanner Brock makes the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik lists as well, and led the Frogs in tackles last season.
Tank Carder is the better known of the pair, and after his deflection of Wisconsin's game-tying extra point attempt in January's Rose Bowl, he was a national hero to all of the little guys who dreamed of beating the neighborhood bully.
With this pair and the relative inexperience on the D-line expect a blitz-heavy package on passing downs. And while the defensive backfield will be senior-heavy, it will likely be a younger player who steps up to lead the D-backs.
For now the focus falls squarely on the shoulders of Carder and Brock.
Casey Pachall...he's Not Andy Dalton
He's not Andy Dalton
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And that may be a good thing for this team with a rebuilt O-line and a young receiving corps.
More athletic than his predecessor, and unlike Dalton, he has two full years in Patterson's system before being thrown to the wolves.
Having big game experience is going to be a weakness, but we all saw last season that guys can step in and make a difference (see Cam Newton).
Is Pachall another Cam Newton? Doubtful, but he can play and has watched the winningest QB in TCU history win week-in and week-out with smarts. Pachall is going to be a smart, Gary Patterson QB.
Growing pains could be evident early in games against Baylor and Air Force, but by the time TCU gets to Boise, he will be a seasoned winner.
No Dropoff at Receiver
Copperas Cove's Josh Boyce
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Josh Boyce and Antoine Hicks are the best receiving tandem in the MWC this season, and while they have a young QB and will likely see a run-oriented offense, either of them can stretch the field, and that threat alone opens running room for Wesley and Tucker.
The receiving corps does not stop with this pair and the last two recruiting classes have pulled in big time players who will be able to fill the shoes of Jimmy Young and Jeremy Kerley.
Don't expect the air to be filled with footballs this season, but when Pachall lets one fly, there will be some capable receivers on the other end ready to fly.
Gary Patterson...this is no stepping stone
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There is no coach today who has done more with less than Patterson, and with the move to the Big East in 2012 that is changing rapidly.
Patterson is still winning with athletes ranked as 2 and 3-star players coming out of high school, but not for much longer. The past two classes have begun chipping away at the glass ceiling so called mid-majors have been limited to the occasional 4-star and a few 3-stars.
How long until CGP gathers in his first 5-star, and what will he be able to do with a player who does not need quite as much development as the 2-stars like Jerry Hughes and Tank Carder?
For years TCU fans and alumni have dealt with the coaching carousel every year. Patterson could leave Ft. Worth for Michigan, USC, Ohio State, or any other perceived MAJOR college power team, and every season he has remained at TCU.
At Ft. Worth, Patterson is the JoPa of TCU.
Why would he leave like Franchioni did for greener pastures of first Alabama and then Texas A&M where he was fired after a lackluster reign in College Station? Now he is starting over with a soon-to-be BCS division Texas State.
For 2011 Patterson is the mastermind behind yet another top 10 run by the Frogs.