The preseason No. 16 team placed two players, Banogu and senior wide receiver and return specialist KaVontae Turpin, on preseason All-Big 12 teams.
A force on the defensive line, Banogu separated himself as one of college football’s best pass rushers last season as he recorded 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss, good for second and third in the Big 12 in each respective category.
Last season’s successes have transitioned into preseason hype as Banogu’s name has been mentioned on four award watch lists: the Bednarik Award Watch List, the Nagurski Trophy Watch List, the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List and the Hendricks Award Watch List, along with being nominated for the AFCA Good Works Team.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Banogu said. “One of the better things I do is just putting my head down and getting to work since I got here. I don’t let the outside stuff dictate how I train. At the end of the day, you have to play football and make plays, I’m in the business of doing that.”
Banogu finished his junior campaign as the conference’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Big 12 first team.
Fresh faces are ready to shine on offense
TCU’s offense will see many new faces beginning this weekend, including both the quarterback and on the offensive line.
Patterson tabbed sophomore Shawn Robinson as the starting quarterback for Week 1 over transfer Michael Collins.
“He’s very explosive and capable of doing a lot of things most quarterbacks aren’t doing,” senior right guard Trey Elliot said. “The more you play, the more you feel confident. He has a lot of confidence right now.”
Patterson praised Robinson’s “escapability” as the major deciding factor between the two teammates but had one simple expectation for Robinson this weekend.
“I’m just trying to find a way to win,” Patterson said. “Just like I told him before the Texas Tech game last year, we don’t have to score 40 points for us to be successful. Just score one more than Tech, and we did. That position already has so much more pressure.”
TCU will look to exploit Robinson’s dual-threat abilities all season while simultaneously trying to limit any injury he may risk by using his legs outside the pocket.
“There’s a lot of games in the season so you can’t decide to run over the whole world,” Patterson said. “There’s some fourth downs where you may do that, but it’s all about getting back to the huddle.”
Patterson credited former quarterback Kenny Hill for preparing both Robinson and Collins for the upcoming season, calling him a “steady hand” this offseason by sharing his insight from NFL camps he attended this summer.
“To have a guy come back as a student assistant and understand what he’s supposed to be seeing in the offense, from a player’s perspective, our quarterbacks have become more calm,” Patterson said. “There’s another guy in their ear saying ‘It’s going to be alright. I went through this, too, and this is what happened.’”
Lined up with Robinson is a new-look offensive line that still needs to earn Patterson’s trust, a group tasked to replace four NFL-caliber players.
“They’ve never played that much in a game,” Patterson said. “I feel like we are a lot better now than we were at the beginning of the spring. These guys have to get better every ball game.”
No games off
Banogu, Elliot, Patterson and the entire TCU football team are refusing to overlook their week one opponent, Southern University, after their 2016 season opener. South Dakota State, another FCS team, gave the Horned Frogs an opening weekend scare by dropping 41 points on them in Fort Worth.
Patterson’s squad looks to take the season week by week to limit distractions, especially with their week three showdown with Ohio State University in Arlington looming.
“A lot of things stand out because we’re not going to take an opponent for granted,” Elliot said. “We’re going to look at them like we look at Ohio State. They’re Ohio State for us. They’re a great team, we’re going to look at every team the same way.”
In Patterson’s eyes, Southern is as good an opponent they’ll face all year. The Jaguars will return four of their five starters on the offensive line from last season, and all three of their quarterbacks are experienced, with each seeing playing time last season.
The Jaguars will also return nine defensive starters and saw their best wide receivers return to school.
Led by Robinson, the Horned Frogs will kick off the 2018 season 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium against the Southern Jaguars.
Patterson said he is grateful for the early start, giving his team more time to prepare for next Friday’s contest against Southern Methodist University in Dallas.