Frogs continue to progress at fall camp as season approaches

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After a week and a half of fall camp, TCU head football coach Gary Patterson is continuing to piece together a puzzle that could potentially turn TCU back into a Big 12 contender. He spoke with media after practice Tuesday about how the team is looking just three and a half weeks out from the season opener.

The Scrimmage

TCU took the field Saturday for its first scrimmage of fall camp. After practicing for an hour in hot and humid weather, Patterson said that the players were tired during the scrimmage, resulting in an average outing for the team.

“We looked really tired,” Patterson said. “Kyle Hicks didn’t go, and Sewo [Olonilua] has been out, so in the running game we were down to Darius [Anderson]. Everybody will be back, but we were very careful.”

Patterson said the team worked hard through its first week of camp prior to the scrimmage, another explanation for the lackluster performance.

“By the end of our first week, we had gotten after it pretty good,” Patterson said. “So now, we have got to get to Saturday of this week, and we are only on Wednesday tomorrow.”

Defensive Shuffle

Patterson said there are some parts of the defense that are still giving him trouble.

“There are two positions on defense that I don’t feel as good about where we are at and where we have to keep getting better and they are [defensive] end and strong safety,” Patterson said. “Everywhere else, the ones are good.”

Patterson has moved a couple of his linebackers, a position with ample depth, to defensive end to combat the lack of depth on the outside of the line.

“Ty Summers is right now pushing for a starting spot at defensive end, and we also moved Alex Bush to defensive end,” Patterson said. “Montrel [Wilson] has been out, but our linebackers; we have a lot of depth there. They have played well, and when we get Montrel back, it is going to make us even better.”

Summers and Bush join Louisiana Monroe transfer Ben Banogu and senior Mat Boesen as notable players at end, with redshirt freshmen Isaiah Chambers and Gary Overshown also looking for spots in the rotation.

For Summers, Patterson said that the coaching staff saw the redshirt junior’s ability at defensive end during his first two seasons on campus when he played on the scout team, and he began working on the line again in the spring. He was twice the conference defensive player of the week in 2016 at linebacker, finishing second in the Big 12 in tackles, but the coaching staff sees plenty of upside for him at end as well.

“He knows all of our calls,” Patterson said. “I think he had four sacks yesterday, most on effort. Now, he ran with the two’s, so I don’t know what that means, but he had four sacks yesterday and three more today.”

Patterson mentioned junior Arico Evans and senior Travin Howard as the starters at linebacker, with the depth coming from Sammy Douglas, Alec Dunham and Wilson.

Offensive question marks

During the first week of camp and during the scrimmage, Patterson said that the receivers did not catch the ball well, but he noted that the receiving corps has looked sharper in week two. For the offensive line, there continues to be a significant lack of depth.

“Right now, we just have five,” Patterson said. “We want to get to eight, but right now we have five. We are going to have to get a lot better there. We have had some guys nicked up and some different things, so we’ve got to get better.”

At running back, Hicks has continued to see work off-and-on, but he saw plenty of action at Tuesday’s practice according to Patterson. Olonilua hyper-extended his knee earlier in camp and is out of practice now, but he is expected to be back before the season begins.

Patterson said that Kenny Hill “threw some really good balls today,” but that he has no gut-feeling for Hill’s season and chooses to judge quarterbacks on game days.

Kicker competition

Early on in camp, Patterson has highlighted redshirt sophomore Jonathan Song and Arkansas transfer Brandon Ritchie as the two front-runners at kicker, and he said Tuesday that the two have a 50/50 shot to start and they both continue to look good on the field.

“At the end [of practice], they each kicked at 52-yarder and neither one of them made it,” Patterson said “But they both had the distance, and that is where you start.”

TCU will open up the season on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. against Jackson State in Fort Worth at Amon G. Carter Stadium.