Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. The exception that proves the rule
Sometimes surviving is enough.
By the end of the 2015 regular season, TCU was playing without its two star receivers, its best defensive end, and seemingly most of its linebacking corps and secondary. The depth chart for the Alamo Bowl featured 17 freshmen and 12 sophomores. A backup strong safety had played middle linebacker for most of the year. Its star quarterback had missed time with injury and then got suspended for the bowl.
That Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs trailed Oregon 31-0 at halftime was only a bit jarring. Teams sometimes just run out of gas. As Ole Miss proved after getting shellacked by TCU the year before, then going 10-3 in 2015 (and doing the bowl shellacking itself), there is only temporary shame in getting blown out in the postseason. TCU's season just needed to end.
Lady Luck turned against TCU in every way imaginable. In a way, that made sense. As I wrote in 2015's preview, luck had played a large role in converting the Horned Frogs from an excellent team into one that nearly made 2014's Playoff. They dealt with fewer injuries than almost anyone in the country in 2014, and they had benefited from Houston-level good fortune in turnovers (plus-6.3 points per game of turnovers luck, per my numbers).
In 2015, they dealt with more injuries than almost anybody. Turnovers luck swung eight points in the other direction, to minus-1.8 points per game.
Still, they had gone 10-2, with a funky deflection to beat Texas Tech and a huge comeback to beat Kansas State. With their backup quarterback, they barely beat an absolutely dreadful Kansas. But their high points were ridiculously high (a 50-7 win over Texas, 40-10 over West Virginia), and even at the end of the regular season, when attrition was clearly taking a toll, they came within a missed two-point conversion of beating CFP semifinalist Oklahoma in Norman, then outlasted Baylor in a monsoon.
And then they unleashed a 31-point comeback against Oregon and beat the Ducks in overtime. All the bad luck and freshmen in the world, and they finished 11-2 and 26th in S&P+. And now all of those freshmen and sophomores are sophomores and juniors.
The S&P+ projections that I put out in February didn't take into account players returning from injury. I hadn't had enough time to compile that information yet. They don't take into account the stats of incoming transfers either. I will put out an updated projection sometime in August, and when I do, I'm figuring TCU will benefit.
The Horned Frogs' No. 31 projection in no way reflects what I assume to be their capabilities in 2016. As I was compiling the stats and tables below, I got the impression I was putting together the preview of a top-10 or top-15 team.
I like where I've taken the S&P+ projections through the years, but consider TCU the exception that proves the rule. The Horned Frogs are pretty used to that. They won the Rose Bowl in 2010 as a Mountain West team. They nearly made the 2014 Playoff a year after going 4-8. They don't follow college football's normal order. And I cannot wait to see what they do this fall.
|Record: 11-2 | Adj. Record: 11-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 19 | Final S&P+ Rk: 26|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|12-Sep||Stephen F. Austin||N/A||70-7||W||95%||100%||+18.6|
|26-Sep||at Texas Tech||60||55-52||W||57%||68%||-7.3||-4.0|
|10-Oct||at Kansas State||81||52-45||W||70%||94%||+10.5||-2.5|
|17-Oct||at Iowa State||79||45-21||W||84%||99%||+14.8||+3.0|
|7-Nov||at Oklahoma State||40||29-49||L||10%||0%||-24.4||-25.5|
|Points Per Game||42.1||7||27.2||64|
2. A justifiable fade
Even with the near-upset of OU and the comeback against Oregon, TCU became a shadow of its former self. The Horned Frogs were ultra-resilient but flawed, thin, and young.
- First 8 games:
Record: 8-0 | Avg. percentile performance: 81% (~top 25) | Yards per play: TCU 7.7, Opp 5.1 (+2.6)
- Last 5 games:
Record: 3-2 | Avg. percentile performance: 47% (~top 65) | Yards per play: TCU 5.4, Opp 5.2 (+0.2)
When a team gets hot late, then returns the primary reasons for that hot streak the next year, we can take a small-sample rise as a hint of what's to come.
Alternatively, when a team fades late in the year but seems to have addressed the causes of the slump, it doesn't have to mean much moving forward.
TCU must replace a ton of senior difference-makers -- QB Trevone Boykin, RB Aaron Green, WRs Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee, three all-conference offensive linemen, safety Derrick Kindred. But through transfers and the depth caused by having to play so many guys last year, the Frogs seem more well-equipped than I anticipated of thriving after them. The offensive line is a concern, and while there are appealing candidates, we won't know that the quarterback position is settled until we see it. But the potential is off the charts.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||47.9%||15||Succ. Rt. +||105.7||52|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||28.0||33||Def. FP+||28.5||47|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.8||39||Redzone S&P+||101.3||71|
|Q1 Rk||18||1st Down Rk||19|
|Q2 Rk||85||2nd Down Rk||34|
|Q3 Rk||29||3rd Down Rk||13|
3. They kept Meacham and Cumbie
Texas' Charlie Strong tried to steal TCU offensive co-coordinator Sonny Cumbie. Fellow co-coordinator Doug Meacham interviewed for the North Texas head coaching position and was at one point considered likely to end up with the job.
Patterson has lost key assistants before, and with varying degrees of impact. Offensive coordinator Justin Fuente left after 2011, and the offense endured a two-year slump until Meacham and Cumbie came to town. Longtime defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas retired last winter, and while the defense mainly regressed because of injuries and youth, it still regressed.
Patterson did lose one-year defensive co-coordinator Demontie Cross to Missouri, but he kept Cumbie and Meacham for at least one more year. Patterson has a plan for everything, and he probably knows what he's going to do when these guys leave for head coaching jobs. But with a few new pieces to break in (and one hell of a receiving corps), keeping them for one more year could pay off beautifully.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|6'1, 205||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9090||214||321||2649||23||8||66.7%||14||4.2%||7.6|
|Foster Sawyer||6'5, 230||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8891||11||27||155||2||3||40.7%||3||10.0%||4.9|
|Grayson Muehlstein||6'4, 210||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8550|
|Brennen Wooten||6'1, 188||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8575|
|Kyle Hicks||TB||5'10, 210||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9165||56||262||3||4.7||4.2||37.5%||0||0|
|Trevorris Johnson||TB||5'11, 226||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8553||42||262||0||6.2||4.0||50.0%||1||1|
|QB||6'1, 205||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9090||38||269||0||7.1||7.1||47.4%||3||1|
|KaVontae Turpin||WR||5'9, 153||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8505||20||116||0||5.8||3.8||50.0%||3||1|
|Shaun Nixon||TB/WR||5'10, 195||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9229||16||66||0||4.1||3.5||37.5%||0||0|
|Foster Sawyer||QB||6'5, 230||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8891||11||62||0||5.6||2.1||54.5%||0||0|
|Sewo Olonilua||TB||6'3, 225||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9399|
|Darius Anderson||TB||5'11, 194||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8715|
4. Where did the big run plays go?
Quarterback is a question mark until it's not. At the end of spring ball, the race for the starting spot was a tie between two high-upside, potentially low-downside candidates:
- Kenny Hill, who erupted over the first half of 2014 at Texas A&M, then faded, lost his job, and transferred.
- Foster Sawyer, who completed just one of seven passes against Kansas and eight of 18 against Oklahoma.
Even with Hill's struggles in 2014, he still finished the season having completed 67 percent of his passes while rushing for 7.1 yards per non-sack carry. That is a staggering combination. Sawyer proved he could steal a few yards here and there with his legs, and if harnessed properly, he's got a strong arm and potential accuracy.
I felt like Hill got an unfair shake in College Station, blamed a disproportionate amount for a midseason A&M slump. He could be very good, and if Sawyer ends up beating him out, that says more about Sawyer than Hill.
Either way, TCU is going from seasoned QB to new starter. A good running game would be a boon for any new starter, but that might be a problem area. While the Horned Frogs were reasonably efficient on the ground, they didn't generate nearly as many big plays as expected. Those they did get seemed to come from Boykin and not the actual backs. We'd seen big plays from Aaron Green before, but few came in 2015.
If Hill wins the QB job, he'll provide a mobile element, but whoever starts at tailback, be it junior Kyle Hicks or sophomore Shaun Nixon (who temporarily moved to wideout last year), could help a lot by taking advantage of open-field opportunities. They might be hard to come by early, with the loss of four 2015 starters on the line.
But at the very least, TCU does return five players with starting experience up front, and with the return of tackle Aviante Collins from injury, along with 2015 starter Joseph Noteboom, the Frogs are set at both tackle positions.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Shaun Nixon||TB/WR||5'10, 195||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9229||69||47||501||68.1%||14.0%||7.3||62.3%||42.0%||1.50|
|KaVontae Turpin||SLOT||5'9, 153||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8505||61||45||649||73.8%||12.4%||10.6||68.9%||49.2%||2.06|
|WR-X||5'10, 183||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8700||50||36||582||72.0%||9.8%||11.6||72.0%||N/A||N/A|
|WR||6'0, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8731||46||32||383||69.6%||9.0%||8.3||56.5%||N/A||N/A|
|Desmon White||SLOT||5'7, 160||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8089||31||19||258||61.3%||6.3%||8.3||67.7%||51.6%||1.45|
|Emanuel Porter||WR-Z||6'4, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8833||30||14||213||46.7%||6.1%||7.1||66.7%||43.3%||1.56|
|Jarrison Stewart||WR-Y||6'0, 188||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8619||29||21||265||72.4%||5.9%||9.1||48.3%||62.1%||1.41|
|John Diarse (LSU)||WR||6'1, 209||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9186||28||13||137||46.4%||10.6%||4.9||39.3%||35.7%||1.11|
|Kyle Hicks||TB||5'10, 210||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9165||22||13||104||59.1%||4.5%||4.7||40.9%||31.8%||1.32|
|Jaelan Austin||WR-Z||6'2, 200||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8600||14||10||137||71.4%||2.8%||9.8||35.7%||64.3%||1.46|
|Charlie Reid||TE||6'4, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||3||3||24||100.0%||0.6%||8.0||33.3%||66.7%||1.29|
|Corey McBride||WR||6'1, 187||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8501|
|Andre Petties-Wilson||WR||6'1, 190||So.||NR||NR|
|Taj Williams||WR-Z||6'3, 180||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9115|
|Ryan Parker||WR||6'2, 180||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9050|
|Isaiah Graham||WR-X||6'1, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.9115|
|Camron Williams||WR||6'3, 210||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8791|
|Dylan Thomas||WR||6'1, 186||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8686|
|TreVontae Hights||WR||6'3, 180||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8569|
|Artayvious Lynn||TE||6'6, 247||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8368|
5. So many options
Whether Hill or Sawyer is at quarterback, the only thing that might slow down this passing game is a bad running game. If the new QB is facing too many passing downs, that could be a complication. But with this receiving corps, you or I at QB could make a few plays.
TCU got a head start on replacing Doctson and Listenbee when both got hurt last year. Considering backups Deante' Gray and Ty Slanina were already out as well, that forced Meacham and Cumbie to dip down the depth chart. The offense didn't fade as much as it could have. KaVontae Turpin was a stick of dynamite in the slot, fellow freshman Jarrison Stewart produced a 62 percent success rate, and then-sophomores Desmon White (efficiency) and Emanuel Porter (explosiveness) showed at least one-dimensional potential.
They're all back, as is sophomore Jaelan Austin, who caught four passes for 67 yards in the Alamo Bowl and was listed as the starting X receiver at the end of spring.
Add to this group LSU transfer John Diarse and two four-star JUCOs (Taj Williams, Ryan Parker), and you've got enough candidates to ensure that the top three or four receivers are of high quality.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Joey Hunt||C||11||37||2015 1st All-Big 12|
|Halapoulivaati Vaitai||LT||11||31||2015 2nd All-Big 12|
|Brady Foltz||RG||12||25||2015 2nd All-Big 12|
|Aviante Collins||RT||6'6, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8398||0||23|
|Joseph Noteboom||LT||6'5, 315||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8482||13||13|
|Matt Pryor||RG||6'7, 350||Jr.||NR||NR||4||4|
|Austin Schlottman||C||6'6, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8220||3||3|
|Patrick Morris||LG||6'3, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8619||0||1|
|Garrett Altman||C||6'4, 272||Jr.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Ty Barrett||OL||6'5, 316||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8767||0||0|
|Ryan Griswold||OT||6'5, 270||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8227||0||0|
|Trey Elliott||LT||6'4, 285||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7944||0||0|
|Sam Awolope||OT||6'6, 292||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8713|
|Jozie Milton||C||6'2, 310||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8569|
|Cordel Iwuagwu||LG||6'3, 298||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8469|
|David Bolisomi||RT||6'6, 315||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8409|
|Chris Gaynor||RG||6'5, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8559|
|Austin Myers||OL||6'5, 302||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8932|
|Lucas Niang||OL||6'6, 295||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8569|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||38.0%||31||Succ. Rt. +||113.9||25|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||31.7||33||Off. FP+||30.7||48|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.7||91||Redzone S&P+||119.7||14|
|Q1 Rk||39||1st Down Rk||20|
|Q2 Rk||34||2nd Down Rk||47|
|Q3 Rk||12||3rd Down Rk||18|
6. Injuries create depth
That TCU's defense was great in the second half makes no sense whatsoever. With this many freshmen, and with so few known entities, we could have assumed the Horned Frogs would come out with a decent game plan, perform well early, then fade as the opponent adjusted. Instead, it was the opposite.
Now just imagine what the Horned Frogs might do with actual depth. Every linebacker from last year's corps is back, along with 2014 backup Sammy Douglas, who lasted only one game last year before getting hurt. Six of last year's top eight defensive backs return, along with corner Ranthony Texada (hurt in Game 3) and safety Kenny Iloka (hurt in Game 2).
There's a little turnover to account for up front with the loss of ends Terrell Lathan and Mike Tuaua and tackles Davion Pierson and Tevin Lawson. But the return of James McFarland, a stud in 2014 who missed all of 2015, will help significantly.
Seriously, TCU got a combined six games out of McFarland, Texada, Iloka, and Douglas and won 11 games. That's just unfair.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Josh Carraway||DE||6'4, 250||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||13||36.0||4.8%||11.5||9.0||0||2||1||2|
| James McFarland
|DE||6'2, 250||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8820||13||35.0||4.8%||12.0||7.0||1||3||3||0|
|Aaron Curry||DT||6'2, 270||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8673||12||31.0||4.2%||4.0||3.0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Bradley||DT||6'2, 275||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8174||13||20.5||2.7%||4.5||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Bryson Henderson||DE||6'6, 275||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8510||12||9.5||1.3%||2.5||1.5||0||0||1||0|
|Tipa Galeai||DE||6'5, 235||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8495||7||6.0||0.8%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Breylin Mitchell||DE||6'4, 270||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8832||5||3.5||0.5%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Joseph Broadnax||DT||6'0, 300||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8593||5||3.0||0.4%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|L.J. Collier||DT||6'4, 275||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8379|
|Casey McDermott Vai||DT||6'4, 282||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8148|
|Mat Boesen||DE||6'4, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8680|
|Ross Blacklock||DT||6'4, 326||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.9057|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Travin Howard||SLB||6'1, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8315||13||84.0||11.3%||8.0||1.0||1||2||3||0|
|Ty Summers||MLB||6'2, 235||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7744||13||64.5||8.6%||4.0||1.0||1||1||0||0|
|Montrel Wilson||MLB||6'3, 210||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8445||12||45.5||6.1%||4.0||2.5||0||1||1||0|
|SLB||6'3, 215||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8469||13||14.0||1.9%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Alec Dunham||SLB||6'1, 213||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8572||12||10.5||1.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Paul Whitmill||SLB||6'0, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8768|
|Semaj Thomas||LB||6'2, 230||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8593|
|Tyree Horton||LB||6'0, 225||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9081|
7. James McFarland might not even start
Okay, fine, McFarland will probably start. But with the return of Josh Carraway and a nice spring from JUCO transfer Mat Boesen, he ended up listed as an *OR* starter with Boesen at the end of spring ball. That speaks volumes right there.
Tackle depth could be an issue. Aaron Curry and Chris Bradley are solid, and sophomore Breylin Mitchell had a nice spring. But compared to other areas of the defense, there appear to be fewer intriguing options in the middle. But maybe that's more of an endorsement of the rest of the defense than an indictment of the tackle position.
Linebacker is loaded. Travin Howard eventually took well to his new position after moving from safety, recording eight tackles for loss and still defensing three passes. Sophomores Ty Summers and Montrel Wilson had their moments, Douglas is back, and four-star JUCO Tyree Horton is on the way.
TCU went from brilliant to mortal against the run last year; with actual experience and depth, expect a shift back toward the former.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Denzel Johnson||SS||6'2, 210||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7926||13||66.5||8.9%||13.5||2||1||8||0||0|
|Nick Orr||WS||5'10, 187||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8377||13||43.5||5.8%||3||1||1||9||1||0|
|Ridwan Issahaku||SS||6'1, 193||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8294||13||32.0||4.3%||2||0||0||4||0||0|
|CB||5'10, 170||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8500||13||28.5||3.9%||3.5||1||1||7||0||0|
|Torrance Mosley||CB||5'10, 160||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8382||7||18.0||2.4%||0||0||0||3||0||0|
|WS||6'2, 209||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8625||13||14.5||2.0%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Julius Lewis||CB||5'10, 170||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8212||12||14.5||1.9%||2||0||0||4||0||0|
|Michael Downing||WS||5'11, 175||Jr.||NR||NR||13||13.5||1.8%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Arico Evans||SS||6'2, 204||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8176||12||5.5||0.7%||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|DeShawn Raymond||CB||6'1, 188||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9001||11||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Niko Small||FS||5'10, 180||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8482||12||2.5||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Wesley||CB||6'0, 198||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8796|
|Cyd Calvin||CB||6'1, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||NR|
|Tony James||CB||5'10, 162||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8635|
|Jeff Gladney||CB||6'0, 175||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8061|
|Markell Simmons||FS||6'1, 200||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8680|
|KeShawn Somerville||CB||5'10, 170||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8800|
|Innis Gaines||S||6'2, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8614|
8. Don't even try
Texada was emerging as a standout cornerback when he got hurt. His injury meant CB duties went to Corry O'Meally on one side and a combination of Torrance Mosley and Julius Lewis (together: 2 TFLs, 7 PBUs) on the other. That O'Meally's gone hurts a bit, but with Texada back and Mosley and Lewis no longer a sophomore and freshman, respectively, things looked good on the edges heading into spring ball.
Lewis was lost for the season with a conditioning injury, however, which forced others like four-star sophomore DeShawn Raymond and redshirt freshman Jeff Gladney to step up. By all accounts, they did so.
The good news is that, even if corner is merely good, perhaps the best set of safeties in the country will be more than capable of helping out. Denzel Johnson combined 13.5 tackles for loss with nine passes defensed last year, and thanks to the return of Iloka, TCU has three seasoned pieces for the other two starting spots, plus JUCO Markell Simmons.
TCU's pass defense was as efficient as ever in 2015, ranking 10th in Passing Success Rate+. Inexperience led to a few more big-play glitches than normal; I don't expect that to continue.
|Jonathan Song||5'10, 170||So.||1-1||0-0||N/A||0-0||N/A|
|KaVontae Turpin||KR||5'9, 153||So.||27||27.0||0|
|KaVontae Turpin||PR||5'9, 153||So.||17||10.6||1|
|Special Teams S&P+||18|
|Field Goal Efficiency||17|
|Punt Return Success Rate||68|
|Kick Return Success Rate||53|
|Punt Success Rate||85|
|Kickoff Success Rate||20|
9. Losing Oberkrom hurts a lot
I can to some degree write off turnover on the offensive and defensive lines. I can explain why players like Boykin and Doctson won't be missed as much as we anticipated. But I cannot understate how important Jaden Oberkrom was to TCU. That he has graduated could hurt a lot.
You never know how good a new kicker will be -- it's almost a total crapshoot -- but Oberkrom was maybe the best long-ball kicker in the country (outside of Florida State's Roberto Aguayo, at least); TCU lost just three games in 2015-16, but that could have easily been five or six without him.
In KaVontae Turpin, TCU does return one electric special teams play-maker.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|3-Sep||South Dakota State||NR||27.8||95%|
|22-Oct||at West Virginia||33||-3.0||43%|
|Projected wins: 7.1|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||27.5% (18)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||31 / 35|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||0 / 4.6|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-1.8|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||48% (29%, 68%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||10.0 (1.0)|
10. This is a top-15 team
Every team has a list of ifs, the caveats that will make the difference between a disappointing season and an incredible one. Considering what TCU loses from last year's squad, I assumed the list of ifs separating the Horned Frogs from a conference title run would be pretty long. But it really isn't.
- IF ... QB is between competent and solid ...
- IF ... the offensive line is competent ...
- IF ... injuries don't hit tackle and cornerback too hard ...
... then TCU is a Big 12 contender.
That's not a bad list, especially considering the potential at QB. And if the Frogs find another competent kicker to perhaps decide one or two close games, then they could be a Playoff contender again.
The numbers don't tell the same story. The way I create my S&P+ projections undersold how much talent TCU returns, especially on defense.
I used the numbers to introduce the idea that we might've been too high on TCU a year ago (and we were), but I'm going against them this time. Iffy projection or not, this is a top-15 team. The question is whether it can be even more.