TCU is the first MWC team to finish spring drills. Has it answered any spring questions?
The personnel along the lines was the Wimple's biggest question, and the apparent answers are interesting. The value of experience is showing: the Braylon Broughton and Jeremy Coleman, often called the two most talented linemen on the team, didn't make the first team this spring. The first-team defensive line seems set: Jerry Hughes, Kelly Griffin, Cory Grant, and Wayne Daniels; the second team is Clarence Leatch, Henry Nuitei, Jeremy Coleman, and Braylon Broughton. All of these linemen are juniors but Hughes (senior) and Broughton (sophemore). The Wimple expects Leatch and Nuitei to push their respective ones hardest.
The DTs do not seem quite as stout as Cody Moore and James Vess were; hopefully the graduates' replacements will grow more overpowering this summer and fall. That said, the first team line is better than the half-surprised first-team line that gave up too many plays in 2007. Griffin, much grown and seasoned, will have started in both squads.
The offensive lines are also interesting. Left to right, the first-team line appears to be Marshall Newhouse, Kyle Dooley/Blaise Foltz, Jake Kirkpatrick, Zach Roth/Josh Vernon, Marcus Cannon. That's a highly mixed group of youth and experience. Newhouse is the only senior of the five. One thing's clear: the Frogs are deep, big, and have a lot of young players in tight competition for starting and playing minutes up front.
The Frogs' second pressing question coming out of the bowl season was who would (attempt to) replace Jason Phillips. Henson's successor was clear: it's going to be senior Daryl Washington, who has been phenomenal. Phillips' successor appears to be Tank Carder, the sophemore. Tank has risen to the challenge, and has turned heads. And smashed heads. He's fast, physical, and knows where to be.
Behind Carder and Washington are a talented, but young, group of future Frog stars. Greg Burks, baby Brock (the Wimple calls him that only while anonymous!), Kris Gardner, and three other incoming all of whom the Wimple expects to redshirt.
In the backfield, Ed Wesley appears as good as advertised. Chris Smith has turned in his second stellar spring. The Wimple can only guess if it'll result is more PT this fall than it did last. It appears the Frogs will boast three of the best freshmen runningbacks on their roster come August-- Dwight Smith apparently is likely to enroll, joining Matthew Tucker and Waymon James in the nation's best class of tailbacks this fall. With Turner returning, Smith, Jai Cavness, Jercell Fort, and Wesley booming, the Wimple hopes all three of the new guys will redshirt.
The backup QBs appear competent-- Yogi Gallegos looked like the sharpest passer in the spring game, but he turned his knee and will certainly be out of action for a bit-- hopefully not into August, but don't expect updates from tight-lipped TCU. Casey Pachall started like a true freshmen only months out of high school, (which is exactly what he was) and ended the spring looking much more competent and confident. He's tall and quick, as advertized, and looks good in purple. [update: snide remarks above notwithstanding, CGP says publically that Yogi's injury wasn't as bad as feared, and that he should be back in action by June 1. CGP also says (and this surprises no one) that if Yogi's in playing form by Sep 5, Pachall will redshirt.
Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders didn't play the spring game, giving room to see Greg McCoy and Jason Teague look good at corner. Ibiloye is making plays at safety now.
The returning starters looked great. Dalton is the master; Hughes is unblockable; Washington is everywhere; Sir Demarco Bledsoe (not a returning starter, but you wouldn't know it) will be all-MWC, at least; Tejay Johnson, Marshall Newhouse, Jimmy Young, Antoine Hicks, Alonzo Adams... all look ready for great seasons.
The Frogs will re-break all the offensive records they broke last year, with one exception: time of possession. They'll throw too many touchdown passes, and be too much softer in the middle of the D-line to best that mark.