The TCU defense graduated three key contributors in the secondary last year in Greg McCoy, Tekerrein Cuba and Johnny Fobbs and lost a fourth in Devin Johnson, who was arrested Feb. 15 on suspicion of selling drugs.
The Frogs’ secondary, which struggled at times last year and had major letdowns in losses to Baylor and SMU, will be without a senior when TCU enters the Big 12 this fall.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not battle-tested.
Sophomores Sam Carter and Jonathan Anderson and junior Elisha Olabode, all penciled in as the starting safeties, saw extensive playing time last year, with Anderson and Carter both earning starts and Olabode seeing action in all 13 games.
Same goes for TCU’s cornerbacks, Jason Verrett and Kevin White.
Verrett, who’ll be a junior, earned 10 starts last fall while White got playing time in every game as a redshirt freshman last year.
The learning process for those four, and the rest of younger members of the secondary, is a continual one, Patterson said. But at least they’ve proven they can get the job done.
“I want Tejay Johnson right now,” Patterson joked after the Frogs’ second spring practice Saturday. “But it doesn’t work that way. They have the ability to be able to carry it out.”
Patterson said it’s all a matter of getting them to think more critically about the game and to continue to learn as much as they can.
“If they keep trying to become as much of a student of the game as I’m trying to get them to be, then my life becomes easier,” Patterson said.
Graves moves to defense
Patterson said after Friday night’s practice that sophomore Antonio Graves has moved to linebacker.
Graves, who was a reserve wide receiver last fall, was listed as the Frogs’ lone H-back heading into spring practice.
Patterson said he decided to move Graves to linebacker a few weeks ago.
So far, the process is slow-going, which is to be expected, Patterson said.
“Right now, he’s lost as a puppy,” Patterson said. “He and Danny Heiss. You have a guy that was a safety (Heiss) and a guy that was a wide receiver (Graves), and now they’re linebackers.”
Graves led the team with 14 special teams tackles last year and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown against UNLV. Patterson said Graves has proved he has the ability to switch positions – it’s just a matter of getting him in the right place.
“He was an unbelievable player on the kickoff team,” Patterson said. “If you can run and you’re physical, I can teach how to play and do all the other stuff. But right now, he’s deep in alligators.”
The Frogs will have Sunday and Monday off before returning to the practice field Tuesday and Thursday. They’ll scrimmage for the first time next Saturday.
Patterson said the first few days of practice are all about putting in new schemes and teaching different packages and techniques.
“The first five days are teaching days,” Patterson said. “Every day is a new day to teach something new – offense and defense. So we’re going to try to get to next Saturday.”