A lot has happened since TCU squeezed out a win against Minnesota. Not even to into the second week of game action, TCU has lost both starting linebackers in Sammy Douglas with an injury for the season, and freshmen Mike Freeze is taking a leave of absence from the team. In addition, the leading sack artist Senior DE James McFarland has to under go season ending surgery on his big toe. If getting the defense caught up with the offense wasn’t hard enough, these new challenges will have outsiders doubting the Frogs. However, one should never count out a Garry Patterson led D.  With Stephen F. Austin coming to Fort Worth this weekend, here are three defensive players I see auditioning and fulfilling the motto ‘next man up’.

With the linebacker starting spots cleaned out again, true freshman Montrel Wilson is one of the names being penciled in. Wilson was once a BU commit as a safety before making the wise decision to come play for Patterson. With his background as a safety at Fossil Ridge High, Montrel Wilson has shown the range to be able to play in space and be an asset in coverage as he had 3 interceptions as a senior. This will be huge as the season goes on and TCU gets into league play against all the spread offenses. Wilson also has the size to be able to defend the run at 6 “3” 208 pounds and he finished his senior season with 115 tackles. The only real knack on Montrel is game experience, but there is no better way to get his feet wet then against the LumberJacks at home. Look for number 20 to be flying around the field on Saturday.

The other player who is going to need to continue progressing is redshirt freshmen Ty Summers. After suffering a season-ending injury of his own last year, Summers is back and is looking ready to contribute. Having played the majority of the game against Minnesota, finishing with seven tackles, Summers did not look rusty. In TCU fashion, Ty Summers also did not play linebacker in High School. Instead he lined up on the opposite side of the ball as a Dual-Threat Quarterback. Summers finished with 2,001 passing yard and 31 rushing touchdowns for Reagan High. Being now the most experienced linebacker for TCU, number 42 will be relied upon to be the quarterback of the defense. At a position that has been hit the hardest from departures and a season ending injury, finding a player to be able to plug in has not been easy. However, alongside Montrel Wilson, Ty Summers and Wilson should be able to man those two starting spots and grow as the season goes on.

Now in order to fill in for the production and havoc that James McFarland was able to dish out last season it is going to take more then one guy. The good news is that the defensive line is the most experienced unit for the Frogs. TCU’s defensive line also played pretty well last game against Minnesota. Left defensive end Terrell Lathan was bringing the pressure all night as he had a great showing, finishing with a sack and forced fumble, which then was recovered by right end Josh Carraway. While both of these players are great, as well as Mike Taua, TCU would still like a rotation along the defensive line to keep pass rushers fresh. Which is why number 92, big ole 6-6 and 275 pound sophomore, Bryson Henderson should get Horned Frog fans acquainted with his game. Henderson should be able build off what he was able to contribute last year as he finished with two tackles for a loss.  Henderson has the size to disrupt the pocket and even saw time last year at defensive tackle. This will be a good game for TCU to begin developing a new rotation along the defensive-line, as it will be used as a strength moving forward.

With all the decimation and turnover one should expect TCU’s defense to go through growing pains. It will be up to the offense to carry this team early in the season and their showing against Minnesota needs to be vastly improved. However, only one game into the season, TCU is not ready to throw in the towel. The expectation in Fort Worth is still to make the College Football Playoffs. That is still the ultimate goal and with Boykin at helm for the offense and Patterson fielding the defense, this team will continue to do what it does best, defying the odds.

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