Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
2013 SEASON IN REVIEW: By all accounts, the 2013 season was one of great disappointment for Gary Patterson and his TCU Horned Frogs.
The campaign got off to a rough start as TCU dropped a 37-27 decision to LSU, and the team alternated wins and losses over its next several games. Its victories came against Southeast Louisiana, SMU and Kansas -- not exactly the cream of the college football crop.
The Frogs lost three straight from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2 (Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia) before notching only their second conference win in a 21-17 decision at Iowa State. TCU would fall to both Kansas State (33-31) and Baylor (41-38) to close the regular season, and at 4-8 it meant the Horned frogs would fail to go to a bowl game for only the second time in the last 16 years.
Patterson, while certainly not happy with how last season played out, is ready to turn the page and begin the process of climbing back up the Big 12 ladder.
"Really excited about getting that taste out of our mouth. The only way to do that is to get back, get going."
OFFENSE: TCU's offense was rather inept last season, ranking near the bottom of the Big 12 in scoring (25.1 ppg), rushing (118.6 ypg) and total offense (344.8 ypg). The loss of most of the starters, including nearly all the skill position players, from that unit can be viewed as either a curse or a blessing, but the guys who are back should help propel the Frogs to greater heights this time around.
A totally new offensive system, under the direction of co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbrie should also give the squad a boost.
The quarterback job will either go to the athletically-gifted Trevone Boykin or Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel. Both have a different skill set, but each has the ability to lead the team up and down the field. Helping in that regard will be a receiving corps, that could feature Boykin should Joeckel get the nod under center, as well as junior Josh Doctson (36 receptions, 440 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Patterson knows consistent play from his quarterback is the key to having an efficient offense.
"I think the key is to find the guy that has the swagger, that allows us to move the football, score the points and the guy that's not going to turn the ball over," he went on to say, "Felt like last year, if we just would have done that, we would have had an opportunity to win a couple more ball games."
The run game boasts a pair of fleet-footed backs in juniors B.J. Catalon and Aaron Green, the former of whom rushed for 569 yards and 6 scores a year ago. The offensive line, which has three starters back in the fold, needs to show more consistency.
DEFENSE: The TCU defense was actually pretty darn good in 2013, allowing just 356.4 ypg to rank second in the Big 12, with its effort against the run being the best in the league at a mere 130.8 ypg.
With the majority of the starters back for another go, the Frogs could be even better this season. It all starts up front where guys like senior Chucky Hunter and junior Davion Pierson will try and make up for the loss of talented-but-troubled star Devonte Fields (2013 Big 12 Freshman of the Year) who was released from the team recently after being suspended earlier this summer for his alleged involvement in an off-the-field issue.
The linebacking corps should be very strong, as senior Paul Dawson is back as the team's top tackler (91), and joins fellow seniors Jonathan Anderson and Marcus Mallet as guys who have the talent and experience to get the job done.
The secondary lost some key contributors, but seniors Kevin White and Sam Carter, along with junior Chris Hackett return to hopefully make this a real area of pride after the team had such an outstanding campaign in 2013 (second- most interceptions in the Big 12 at 19).
SPECIAL TEAMS: The kicking game should be just fine as juniors Jaden Oberkrom and Ethan Perry are back after putting forth steady performances last season. The return aspect of things should also be in good hands, as Catalon was one of the top kick returners in the league last year (26.5 ypr), while sophomore wide receiver Cameron Echols-Luper ranked third in punt returns (13.4 ypr).
OUTLOOK: TCU needs a bounce-back year after stumbling its way through the 2013 campaign. The schedule opens with winnable games against Samford, Minnesota and SMU, the first two being at home, but then comes the start of Big 12 play.
The first half of the conference slate is much tougher than the second, as early bouts with Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State will tell Patterson all he needs to know about his team. Win a couple of those and the Frogs could be on the road to success. Lose most, or all of them, and it will take a near- perfect run down the stretch to get them back to a bowl game.
It's a safe bet the club will be bowling once again, but just what tier that postseason experience is in is anybody's guess.