Horned Frogs prepare to start season against Jackson State

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TCU football is just a few days out from its season opener against FCS team Jackson State and the anticipation of putting a losing season behind them is growing stronger as kickoff nears.

“There’s a lot of excitement — a lot of guys going out there and making plays,” senior cornerback Ranthony Texada said of the practices leading up to week one. “We are just really excited to see what we can do out there this season.”

The Horned Frogs closed out the 2016 season with a 6-7 record after losing to Georgia 31-23 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

“Anytime you end the season with a loss, you want to come back and get back to what TCU is and that is establishing that winning culture again,” Texada said. “So that is definitely what we are going to try to do this season.”

Jackson State will be hoping for an upset. The Tigers went 3-8 in head coach Tony Hughes’ first year, but the defense could provide a challenge for TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie in his first game calling plays for the Frogs.

Last season, Jackson State allowed only 188 passing yards per game. Defensive lineman Keontre Anderson, who led the FCS in tackles for loss in 2016 with 25.5, is returning.

Quarterback Kenny Hill feeling confident about the offense. He said he noticed the offense clicking throughout fall camp.

“The receivers look really good and look in rhythm and in sync, so I’m just excited to get ready and get going,” he said.

On the defensive side, Texada said he’s also seen improvements on the offense.

“We have a lot of depth at the receiver position, and you can never have too much depth,” Texada said. “There’s a lot of guys that can go out there and perform.”

Head coach Gary Patterson said the freshmen receivers have provided extra competition in camp.

“Jalen Reagor and Kenedy Snell have obviously done well,” Patterson said. “Al’Dontre Davis, even though he’ll redshirt, we’ve really been excited about the athletic ability of the guys we have. Older guys, there’s obviously quite a competition at the one spot between Taj [Williams], Jalen Reagor and [John] Diarse.”

Patterson said senior running back Kyle Hicks is 80 and 95 percent and will be a game-time decision. Sophomores Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson are prepared to carry the load if needed.

Offensively, Jackson State averaged just 18.5 points and 308.5 yards per game last season, compared to 31 points and 463.2 yards per game for TCU in what was widely considered a down offensive year for the Horned Frogs.

Patterson mentioned that the Jackson State defense was easier to plan for because it hadn’t changed from last season, but the offense was more of a challenge. Jackson State’s quarterback play was spread amongst multiple players in 2016, and the team brought in a new offensive line coach this summer from Texas Southern causing the TCU staff to go back and watch more film.

TCU vs. Jackson State is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium.