TCU has just over a week before they open the 2014 season at home against Samford. The Frogs are winding down two-a-day practices and will hold a “mock game” this Saturday.
Three weeks ago several questions loomed about the direction of the team; who will be quarterback, is the offense moving well, how have the Frogs’ defense performed without Jason Verrett and Devonte Fields.
Answers to those questions were once cloudy, now they’re becoming clearer as each practice passes by.
Patterson is happy with Listenbee's improvement from last season
At quarterback, TCU coach Gary Patterson has stated for nearly the whole camp that the race was between two players; Trevone Boykin and Matt Joeckel.
Patterson declined to name a starter for the Samford game when he last met with the media on Monday. Although he still hasn’t officially named a starter, he did say one has a slight lead at the moment but remained adamant on both signal callers playing in the opener.
“We have two,” he said. “Both of them have done good things; Trevone probably leads but like I said both of them will play.”
Finding consistent receivers to throw passes too was another big question mark heading into camp; more importantly outside receivers. Patterson has lauded the play of junior receiver Josh Doctson all camp as well as freshman sensation Emanuel Porter. However, Patterson said on Wednesday that one receiver has had the biggest improvement of all of the receivers.
“I think you’re going to see all of them keep developing,” Patterson said. “Kolby Listenbee is probably the guy who has the biggest change of everybody. The speed he has, he’s just been hard for us to handle to be honest. He’s getting separation and catching it. It’s been good for us; you don’t want to play him one on one.”
Despite the loss of Fields, Patterson has been impressed with the play of his defensive line. He’s been most impressed with the progress of younger players that has helped the unit gain quality depth.
“I’ve really been surprised by Bryson Henderson at the three-technique; Tevin (Lawson) and Chris Bradley the true freshman,” he said. “They’ll be in a three-man rotation behind the two starters. We finally got McFarland back and that’s made a difference already. This is the first time Lathan has made it through two-a-days and Mike Tuaua (pictured above) has been one of our vocal leaders.”
Josh Carraway is another player that has garnered praise from Patterson this fall. Patterson, who says Carraway weighs between 250-260-pounds, has seen improvement after a redshirt season.
“The best thing that happened to him is we were able to redshirt him,” he said.
Patterson says they still need to add depth at cornerback. Kevin White has had a tremendous camp and Ranthony Texada continues to hold down the starting position on the opposite side. True freshman Nick Orr is currently the third corner and Patterson says they need to find a fourth.
Corry O’Meally and Torrance Mosley are fighting for the position.
“You’ve got Corry and the guy that’s been making a strong move is Torrance,” he said. “He’s really explosive; he’s just got to keep learning the defense.”
Earlier in camp, Patterson mentioned the safeties as being the best position group on his team. Derrick Kindred, Sam Carter and Chris Hackett are all starters but finding their backups has been a tougher task with several players impressing. As of Wednesday, Patterson says two true freshmen had made their way into the two-deep; Travin Howard and Ridwan Issahaku.
Issahaku has garnered praise from Patterson
“Right now Travin is probably a little bit ahead of Denzel,” Patterson said. “And Ray (Ridwan Issahaku) is in front of Kenny Iloka. I’ve really been excited about both of them; Ray was your typical bigger corner that could play safety and Travin has been very explosive; he’s awfully fast and physical.”
One position Patterson would still like to see more consistency at is linebacker.
“The linebackers have been up and down. We have three and Ty Summers has come along,” he said. “We’ve got to keep coming; Paul Whitmill
too. Sammy (Douglas) has been really good on special teams.”
Overall, Patterson says it’s too hard to determine if his team is better than they were last season. The good news however is the improvement he’s seen from them since spring. Time will tell.
“I think we’re a lot further along than what we were at the end of spring,” he said. “It’s hard to tell when you get to this point because you’ve been going against each other. The thing I’ve really liked is the tempo; they’ve practiced hard together and as a team.”
Patterson said on Wednesday that Cameron Echols-Luper and Deante’ Gray are the likely starters at punt return. Patterson also said Boykin could also return punts when the occasion is right.
“Punt return is Cam, Deante’ Gray and Trevone,” he said. “At kickoff return it’s Kyle Hicks and B.J. There are five or six guys that can go back there. Trevone is a punt return special occasion guy; just on special occasions.”
Earlier in the week Patterson mentioned that offensive tackle Aviante Collins had an injury that would likely cause him to miss the first two ball games. Patterson said Collins’ recovery is moving along better than expected.
“Aviante might be doing drills by the end of this week,” Patterson said. “Hopefully he’ll be back by the second ball game.”
The Frogs will travel as a team to the movies tonight according to Patterson. The coach didn’t know what movie his team would see, but he’s quite sure what he’ll be watching.
“I’m going to stay and game plan Samford,” he said. “I’ve got to watch my own movies.”
MEET THE FROGS
TCU will hold the annual Meet the Frogs this Saturday, August 23rd. TCU will hold a mock game inside Amon Carter stadium at 11:00am which is open to the public. Afterwards, fans can head to the Sam Baugh Indoor Facility to meet Frog players and get autographs beginning at 12:30.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson and his team concluded two-a-day practices on Wednesday.