The year was 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President, and the United States was coming out of the back end of the Great Depression. Also, holding significance to this year is the last year that TCU was able to win it all in football. 77 years later TCU has expectations in place for the 2015 season to be crowned National Champions for just the third time in school history. Even though these expectations are really high, TCU has the confidence that they can get the job done and they will make the dream into a reality. Outside of just having a Heisman frontrunner at QB, here are five keys that will be revealed this summer to help TCU win it all in the fall.
1) Wide Receiving corps: Yes, it helps having a quarterback under center that is as dynamic as Boykin, but you still need talent to haul in the passes and TCU has just that. With nearly every wide receiver returning to the unit from last season, TCU should continue to exploit many a secondary for big plays. Leading this talented unit is Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee. These two receivers bring different elements to the passing game but can really do it all on the field. While, Josh Doctson can post up any defensive back in the red zone and come down with the jump ball, Listenbee will just flat out run past you and beat you deep. Both wide receivers, after totaling a combined 106 receptions, 15 touchdowns and 1,771 yards, should only improve these stats across the board and could position themselves for some serious consideration for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best receiver in college football. Outside of Doctson and Listenbee, there is the speed that Ty Slania and Deante Gray bring to the passing game. Like Listenbee, Gray and Slania can change directions on a dime and have the elusiveness in the open field to take a slant pass to the house. With these four receivers leading the way for a second season in TCU’s spread offense, Boykin should have a legitimate chance to win the Heisman, because the passing game will continue to put up gaudy numbers.
2) Running back: Behind starting running back Aaron Green, who tore up defenses in the second half of the season to the tune of 922 yards and 9 TDs, is some talented young backs in Kyle Hicks and Trevorris Johnson. All three running backs should have a big year this season, as it is important to have a balanced offense that can hurt defenses in multiple ways. With Aaron Green leading the attack and wearing defenses down, lighting, Hicks and the thunder, Johnson, will provide plenty of highlight reel plays as cleat marks are left on the backs of defenders. Expect Green to contend for All American status and capture a spot on the All-Big 12 Football First Team.
3) Defensive Line: While TCU’s defense took some major losses this offseason as they lost both starting linebackers, Big 12 defensive player of the year Paul Dawson, stalwart defensive backs Sam Carter, Chris Hackett and Kevin White, the defensive line virtually remains intact. Even with having to replace Chucky Hunter at defensive tackle, who was a great player, TCU’s defensive line should be one of the best in the Big 12. Players that could really make their names well known among the defensive line this season include Davion Pierson, Terrell Lathan, James Mcfarland, Mike Tuaua, and new starter Chris Bradley. The depth of the defensive line is so strong, that players can be interchangeable amongst the line to fit whichever type of offensive team TCU is facing. I truly believe this unit could be one of the best defensive line units that TCU has ever had, and the talent is there where multiple players could wind up as draft selections down the road.
4) Secondary: Outside of the linebackers, TCU’s secondary was the next unit that was hit the hardest by departures. With Chris Hackett, Kevin White, and Sam Carter graduating and declaring early for the NFL draft, TCU will need players to step up and take over. The holes left by these three players will not be easy to fill but it will help that returning starters, Derrick Kindred and Ranthony Texada, will be there to help transition the new guys in. Kindred will be able to help replace the leadership that the secondary will be losing. Texada should be the next corner in line for TCU that should grow and develop into a premier talent on the outside. New starters to keep an eye on this season in the secondary is safety Kenny Iloka, cornerback Torrance Mosley, who is replacing Kevin White, and safety Denzel Johnson, who will be replacing Sam Carter. If the secondary can gel and come together this summer then they should be good to go during the fall. However, TCU could find itself in a couple of shootouts early on while the new pieces come into place.
5) TCU’s coaching staff: The fifth key to TCU being able to unlock this dream season and turn it into a reality is a key that is not found between the hash marks. TCU’s greatest offseason win was being able to keep their coaching staff mostly intact. With returning offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sunny Combie, TCU’s offense should be even more explosive in the second year of their teachings. It really will be essential for TCU to develop and add some new wrinkles to the play calling as the rest of the league will not be caught off guard this year. The burden of the departures of the defense will have to be carried by the offense in the early going of the season, and it helps to have the right captains in place maneuvering the ship. On the defensive side of the ball, it truly helps to have mastermind Gary Patterson knowing how to get a defensive unit together, and while I do expect the defense to bend in the early goings, I don’t expect them to break. Patterson will have the defense ready to go and the right players on the field. It is also important to have a head coach that understands that each season is a new and it doesn’t matter what you did the previous year.
In the end TCU will have a different set of expectations on them going into this season compared to last year. Coming into last season TCU had to prove everyone wrong that didn’t believe TCU deserved to be in the Big 12. This year TCU has to prove everyone right that they can get the job done and make it into the College Football Playoff for a chance to win it all. No matter how high they start in the preseason rankings, I fully expect TCU to still carry that chip on their shoulder. That’s just who and what TCU’s football team is under Patterson. So, with TCU unveiling these 5 keys to winning it all, TCU fans should be in for a special season, a type of season that hasn’t been accomplished in the history of the program since 1938.
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