TCU looking for Kenny Hill to regain ‘swagger’ this season

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TCU quarterback Kenny Hill was criticized for leading a Horned Frog offense that won only six games last season,  but head coach Gary Patterson isn’t convinced Hill should be scorned.

“The quarterback gets blamed a lot for a lot of things, but to be honest with you it isn’t always the quarterback’s fault,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “I think he lost a little bit of confidence at the end of the year and not all of it was his fault, I think maybe I was too tough on him.”

Hill led the Big 12 in interceptions thrown with just 17 touchdown passes, but Patterson said his wide receivers were also culpable for the less than stellar season.

Patterson said TCU’s most recent quarterback to make it to the NFL, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin, needed at least two wide receivers in order to taste success for the Horned Frogs.

“I think Trevone Boykin was a good player, but I also think Trevone Boykin was a good player because of Kolby Listenbee and Josh Doctson, and  wide receivers and quarterbacks have to grow together to be great,” Patterson said. “They have to live together, throw together, think together, spend time off the field together because that’s how you get better at all that stuff, and there has to be a chemistry otherwise you won’t become what you want to be become.”

While wide receivers who demand the ball can be labeled divas, a la Terrell Owens, TCU wants to see that level of assertiveness from their pass-catchers.

“We have to have a couple of wide receivers step up and say ‘I’m the guy: throw it to me and I’m going to catch it because that’s what great throwing offenses do,’” Patterson said. “Great wide receivers catch balls that aren’t perfect: too high, too low, too outside, or over the middle.”

Hill also put in extra work to start next season on the right note by visiting quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. in San Diego over spring break. Whitfield Jr. has trained some big name signal-callers at his camp in previous years, including Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller and Tajhj Boyd.

Patterson said he’s looking for the confidence Hill showed at the beginning of last season to sustain the entire 2017-2018 campaign.

“We need the swagger we saw early in the season from Kenny, and you have to look like throwing a pick doesn’t matter to you, but it does because you can’t let the rest of your offense know it matters or gets to you, and have to be able to give them that confidence,” Patterson said. “Trevone [Boykin] was great about it, he had ice in his veins, no matter how hard I got on him, and he was throwing the next throw, which is what you have to do.”

With TCU running an Air-Raid, no-huddle, uptempo attack predicated on rhythm passing, the chemistry between Hill and the wide receivers is of the utmost importance.

“The faster he gets in the flow of a game, the better a player he is,” Patterson said. “Point is, what do we have to do to get that done? Some quarterbacks, it’s throwing the quick throws.”

Hill led Big 12 signal callers in rushing, and his 10 rushing touchdowns were second on the team to running back Kyle Hicks. Patterson said he has seen benefits when Hill gets involved early in a game with his legs.

“Some quarterbacks, it’s running the football,” Patterson said. “We’ve got to find out with Kenny which one that is.”

TCU returns to Amon G. Carter Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday for their annual spring scrimmage game.