DALLAS – With the Big 12 Media Days in full swing Monday, the TCU football team looks to eliminate a bad taste left in the mouths of many after last season’s 4-8 disappointment.
“We have to prove that that’s not what TCU’s about,” wide receiver David Porter said. “That’s not what we do. We come here to win championships.”
“Really excited about getting that taste out of our mouth,” Patterson said. “The only way to do that is to get back and get going.”
The Frogs went 2-7 in conference play last season, but lost four of those seven by four points or less. Only two of TCU’s eight losses came by more than 10 points.
“We definitely have the talent to do good,” Hunt said. “It’s just a few mistakes. That’s what kills it.”
When asked how the team can change those close losses into close wins, Patterson replied his team needs to be smarter, and said a lot of that comes with age.
“We have a lot more depth as a football team coming into the season,” Patterson said.
In addition to added depth, the staff adds a pair of new offensive coordinators to the mix in Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie.
The pair is expected to help the Frogs run a revitalized up-tempo offense this season, similar to the offenses of several Big 12 counterparts.
“It gives us an opportunity to level the playing field as far as throwing the football,” Patterson said. “I’m excited to see what that works out to be coming into the fall season.”
In addition to being faster, Porter mentioned the new offense is more fun to play, especially at the receiver position.
“It’s very fun,” he said. “It’s that type of offense you want to be in.”
TCU ranked eighth in the conference in scoring offense and ninth in total offense. Only one Big 12 team scored fewer touchdowns than the Frogs last season: the lowly Kansas Jayhawks (1-8 overall, 0-9 Big 12).
“It’s really a change of philosophy,” Patterson said. “How you practice. How you do everything.”
As for who exactly will be dropping back to pass this season, Patterson remained mum on naming an exact starter. That said, he did allude to the competition coming down to two players: senior transfer Matt Joeckel and returning starter Trevone Boykin.
Joeckel joins the program after graduating from Texas A&M in the spring.
“We’ll go out and throw the ball like three times a week,” Porter said. “Seven on seven or whatever. Just go out there and throw the ball to work on timing.”
Patterson mentioned Boykin has lost 15 pounds in the offseason and seems faster and quicker.
“He wants to be the guy,” Patterson said.
When asked if Patterson would prefer to start a different quarterback and move Boykin back to receiver, the all-time winningest head coach in program history was pretty frank.
“I would prefer to win,” he said.
Despite starting seven games at quarterback in the absence of Casey Pachall, Boykin emerged as one of TCU’s most electric receivers last season when given the chance. The junior finished the 2013 season with 26 catches for 204 yards.
“As I said a year ago, Trevone Boykin would be a lot better if he had 100 Trevone Boykins to throw to,” Patterson said.
A Veteran Defense
As for the defensive side of the ball, the Frogs return 10 starters, including former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year DeVonte’ Fields.
“Everybody came back this last year,” Hunter said. “Everybody knows what we need to work on so it’s a great team bond as a whole.”
The media selected Fields as the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last week, despite the defensive end missing most of last season with a foot injury.
Patterson said the selection surprised him in part because of the high level of competition.
“We’ve got some guys I think are as good as he is up front,” Patterson said.
“What people don’t understand is Terrell Lathan was just as good a player as [Fields] was as a freshman…people talk about Chucky Hunter, but Davion Pierson was also a very good defensive tackle.”
The selection also surprised Hunter because of Fields’ limited play, but Hunter said he was still happy for his teammate.
“I’m kinda surprised, but I’m grateful he got that,” Hunter said. “I’m happy for him and, hopefully, he can just step up to it.”
The Frogs had 32 sacks and led the Big 12 in rushing defense last year. Lathan recorded 25 tackles and a team-high five sacks in his sophomore season.
In the backfield, TCU looks to replace co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jason Verrett at cornerback. The San Diego Chargers selected Verrett in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Carter, one of the few seniors on the defense, said his role as a leader hasn’t changed now that he’s one of the most experienced veterans on the team.
“Even with Jason and Elisha [Olabode] last year, I felt like I was a leader on defense,” he said. “If you’ve been a leader, you’re going to be a leader when people are around and when people aren’t around.”
Carter has been selected to the All-Big 12 second-team the past two years. The former quarterback has 120 tackles and nine interceptions 36 games with TCU.
For Carter, Hunter and the rest of the Frogs, the 2014 season is a chance at redemption.
“When good times come, bad times come too,” Hunter said. “When you have your bad times, you just gotta get back to the good times.”
“I feel like that happened for a reason. God put that situation in our lives for a reason. We can overpower it, if we really want to, as a whole team.”
The Frogs open their season Aug. 30 against Samford. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. from Amon G. Carter Stadium.