Very quietly, TCU has become one of the most consistent programs in the nation under head coach Gary Patterson. The Frogs have had ten double-digit win seasons in his fifteen seasons as the head coach in Fort Worth, and are 58-19 since 2010.
But with just three returning starters on offense, and having said goodbye to one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in program history in Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, most experts are predicting a step back in 2016 for TCU.
Not me. The Frogs have a favorable schedule with their toughest road games at Baylor (who knows what to expect in Waco after the offseason the Bears have endured?) and Texas (the Longhorns should be much-improved, but aren’t ranked in the Top-25 to start the season). Their toughest home game of the season, against Oklahoma October 1st, comes the week after TCU plays on a Friday (extra day of preparation) and the week before the Sooners play their rivalry game against Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
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TCU also has a star-in-the-making in former Southlake Carroll and Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill, who Patterson confidently says has his life back on track. After having two conversations with Hill during the spring and summer sessions, it is clear why coaches believe he’s matured and is now ready for his second stint in the spotlight (the Frogs defensive players all rave about Hill working with the scout team in 2015, with one player referring to his play as “unstoppable” at times). They also return eight starters on defense, which is where the defensive-minded Patterson prefers his experience.
It’s hard to consider a team ranked 13th in the nation as a total underdog, but with the majority of the Big 12 Conference talk about the defending champion Oklahoma Sooners, the Frogs are absolutely under-the-radar entering the 2016 season. And while that might annoy TCU fans, Patterson clearly loves it, having already spoken at Big 12 media days about the disrespect his players feel going into the season.
The Frogs will get an early opportunity to make a statement to the nation when they host an Arkansas team ranked just outside the Top-25 in week two of the season. I think that will be the first win of many, as the Frogs have a real chance to make the College Football Playoff in 2016.