The TCU football team hit the Morris Practice Fields on Monday afternoon for their first practice of the 2014 season.
The Frogs donned helmets and shorts for the first workout.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson was in good spirits following the practice as he lauded the play of several newcomers; particularly at corner and running back. Overall, Patterson sees a bigger and faster team from a year ago.
“We had some good young corners that made some plays; Torrance (Mosely) and Nick Orr. The two young running backs looked good; Kyle Hicks and Shaun Nixon. It’s a bigger, faster looking football team.”
Hicks, a former four-star recruit, was injured last season and redshirted in 2013 and Nixon is a true freshman from Lake Travis. Patterson likes what he sees early on from the duo.
“Since the end of spring Kyle has really come on,” Patterson said of Hicks. “Shaun Nixon has gained fifteen pounds since he got here; he’s 196-pounds. He’s gained muscle and gotten faster to be honest with you. You talk to the coaches and I always ask the seniors who had a good day and those were the two names that came up.”
The biggest position battle heading into fall camp is at quarterback with Trevone Boykin and Matt Joeckel vying for the top spot. Patterson joked on Monday that he hasn’t named a starting quarterback just yet, unless you consider him to be the next Frogs’ gunslinger. The coach did say that all of the quarterbacks had their moments throughout the practice.
Matt Joeckel and Trevone Boykin shared reps with the first team on Monday.
“The quarterbacks were all about the same; everybody made pretty good throws,” Patterson said. “The freshmen worked in with the three’s; we work a lot of three’s in practice in pass skelly then we also do in team periods.”
Patterson went on to say that his quarterbacks and offense in general didn’t miss a beat from the spring. If anything, they’ve improved.
“Offensively we’re throwing the ball a lot better than we did by the end of the spring,” he said. “We knew going through the summer that we’d be able to do that. We get 15 practices in the spring then they come out and throw on their own. Then you add a guy like Joeckel that’s been in this offense so you’re ahead of the curve.”
Overall, Patterson says quarterback and receiver are the two biggest positions where players have a chance to step up. Along with the quarterbacks, Patterson said true freshmen Emanuel Porter, Corey McBride and Andre Petties-Wilson all had good days.
While the offense appeared to pick up where they left off in the spring, the defense had some good plays according to the coach. Patterson said both cornerbacks, Kevin White and Ranthony Texada, continued to work with the first team and “had good days”.
Seeing an up-tempo offense everyday has already helped the defense according to Patterson.
“The faster they go the more we get used to it and can make calls and change up our defense and do things too,” he said. “It helps us.”
ELLIOTT WORKING AT DEFENSIVE TACKLE
True freshman Trey Elliott was recruited to TCU as an offensive lineman, but on Monday the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder worked with the defensive line. Patterson says it’s his and his staff’s job to find out where a player fits in best and for Elliott it was the plan all along to start him on the defensive side of the ball. The coach didn’t rule out a switch back to offense however.
“Wherever it looks like they could be the best player is what we’ve always done,” he said of putting athletes at the right position. “Elliott right now is a d-lineman but there’s a great chance he’s going to end up going back to the o-line. But, we’re going to give him a couple of days because we told him we’d give him the opportunity. It’s one of the things I talked to him about when I recruited him.”
FABULUJE IN SHAPE
In the spring, the familiar face of Tayo Fabuluje was back on the Frogs’ roster and the mammoth offensive lineman was vying for a starting position at tackle. The only problem for the 6-foot-7 tower according to Patterson was his conditioning; or lack thereof.
Fast forward to today, Patterson is happy with the shape his big lineman is in.
“He’s down to 340, he was over 370 in the spring,” Patterson said. “He’s lost around 36 pounds.”
FINDING A HOLDER
Matt Brown handled the holds on special teams the last two seasons and since he graduated in May, his job is up for grabs. Patterson says one guy is standing out at the moment to take over the position.
“Zach Allen will be the guy that will push to be the guy,” Patterson said.
Patterson went on to say it’s unlikely that he’ll travel five quarterbacks though.
HAPPY FOR DALTON
News broke on Monday that former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton signed a 6-year, $115-million deal that makes him one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Patterson says if Dalton’s path in Cincinnati is similar to his path at TCU (he won the Rose Bowl in his fourth year), it could be a big year for Bengal fans.
“I was fired up for him,” Patterson said of Dalton. “It took him four years here and this will be his fourth year with the Bengals. In his fourth year here he played good against Oregon State, Utah and Wisconsin.”
Devonte Fields STATUS
Defensive end Devonte Fields did not practice with the team on Monday and is scheduled to meet with university officials on Tuesday to find out whether or not he’ll be reinstated to school. Patterson says he hasn’t spoken with his star defender but says a meeting will take place after Fields’ meeting with university officials.
“I haven’t talked with him; he has a meeting tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll be talking to him one way or another.”