2012 Program Preview - TCU

The tats. The hair. The eye black. Pachall is a quarterback for all America to embrace. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

When the Southwest Conference dissolved in the mid-90s (tear, sniff), TCU was one of three teams to join the WAC along with SMU and Rice. Since, it's been a long climb back into the major conference fold. Dennis Franchione righted the ship as the Horned Frogs transferred to Conference USA, giving way to Gary Patterson's insane run these past 13 years: 109-30 regular season record, 7-4 bowl record and a 2011 Rose Bowl win.

For all the successes, TCU found its way into the Big XII this year via a Big East move that was cancelled when Texas A&M joined the SEC. And now?

With a backloaded schedule finishing their season with five ranked teams in succession, there's nothing left to do but win and elevate the program into the upper echelon of college football. Were it so easy...

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

Frogs O' War (SB Nation TCU community), SB Nation Dallas, SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN, CBS Sports preview

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Blaize Foltz
G
RS Sr.
5
Skye Dawson
WR
Sr.
UD
Josh Boyce
WR
RS Jr.
2-3
Casey Pachall
QB
Jr.
4
James Fry
C
RS Jr. UD
James Dunbar
OT
RS Jr. UD (dismissed due to academics)


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Kenny Cain
LB/S
Sr.
5
Ross Forrest
DE
RS Sr.
UD
Stansly Maponga
DE
RS Jr.
2
David Johnson DT/3-4 DE
RS Soph.
3


Summary

There's quality on both sides of the ball. Pachall was impressive in 2011, and I think Boyce is one of the more underrated WR prospects in the country. Maponga is a terror on the other side, and Johnson is versatile enough to sneak into day two contention I think.

TCU's recent success on the field has improved things on the recruiting trail, so expect TCU to continue to factor early on in future NFL Drafts.

Key games

Oklahoma State (away) - Week 9 (Sat., Oct. 27 - TBD)

The five-game stretch that will in all likelihood define TCU's season starts with a trip to Stillwater. With TCU's next game at West Virginia, this is the more winnable of the two. That doesn't make this a must-win game, but it is a can-win. Good teams win the can-wins. And that's just good ol Englishin'.

Texas (away) - Week 13 (Sat., Nov. 24 - TBD)

Sandwiched between home games against Kansas State and the season-ending Oklahoma contest, this could very well have Big XII title implications (as obviously the TCU-OU game could as well). But this is the last game of the year in Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Under the warming glow of Godzillatron the weekend after Thanksgiving, as families across the state enjoy the fried, blackened, grilled and smoked feats of their labor amid the popping of cans and bottles, the feeling of...oh dear god, I miss Texas.

Key matchups

DE Stansly Maponga v. Texas Tech OT LaAdrian Waddle, Week 8 - Sat., Oct. 20

I'm eager to see Maponga go up against the bigger tackles in the conference. That includes the massive frame of Waddle (great name, BTW) who stands at 6'6", 330 lbs.

QB Casey Pachall v. Oklahoma St. CBs Brodrick Brown & Justin Gilbert, Week 9 - Sat., Oct. 27

Even without Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State can score points. A lot of points. If TCU is to knock off the Cowboys, they'll likely need to put up a handful of touchdowns or so. That means Pachall's going to have to get the ball into the end zone against OSU's fine cornerback duo. Replicating those performances last year like the Baylor season opener, the SMU game or the Boise State explosion might be a step too far, but I'm not turning the tv off for a moment in this one.

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