The TCU defensive line features some seasoned veterans to accompany the first-time starters in a position group that is still dealing with the aftermath of Devonte Fields‘ departure. The loss of Fields gives unsung players the opportunity to prove themselves, but losing a player of Fields’ quality would hurt any team. However, the Frogs do return one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the Big 12.
Defensive Tackle: #96 Chucky Hunter
TCU returns two veterans at the tackle position, including second-team All Big 12 lineman Chucky Hunter. Hunter will be a formidable run-stopper in 2014 for the Frogs. Serving as the only senior on the defensive line, he will be expected to lead on the field and in the locker room. Hunter has received multiple preseason accolades, including being named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list for best defensive collegiate player and to the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list for best collegiate lineman.
Nose Tackle: #57 Davion Pierson
Accompanying Hunter in the interior of the line is redshirt junior Davion Pierson. Having started at the defensive tackle position since his freshman year, Pierson brings critical experience to the line. He, along with Hunter, will have to stop opposing running games for the defense to be successful, especially in Big 12 contests. Coach Patterson spoke highly of Pierson throughout the team’s fall camp, saying that the tackle was having the best camp of his life. This is great news for TCU fans, and bad news for the running backs of TCU’s future opponents.
Defensive End: #90 Terrell Lathan
Despite losing the starting job to Mike Tuaua, Lathan will be an impactful player at defensive end for the Frogs in 2014. Lathan, a junior, led the team with five sacks in 2013. He started five games last year and will see significant minutes this year because the speed of Big 12 offenses requires plenty of substitutions. Lathan, along with others, will provide necessary depth at the defensive end position for the Frogs.
Defensive End: #93 Mike Tuaua
After witnessing his performance against Samford, listing Tuaua as a breakout star for the upcoming season is a no brainer. In the season opener, he recorded seven tackles, 3½ of which were for a loss. Tuaua also forced two fumbles. This stellar performance earned him an honorable mention from College Football Performance Awards as the National Defensive Lineman of the Week. This marks Tuaua’s fourth straight start dating back to last season, securing his spot at the end position for the Frogs. His eye-opening season debut is helping fans quickly forget about Devonte Fields’ absence. It won’t be hard to miss Tuaua flying through opponents backfields this season while racking up sacks, especially with his flowing hair.
Defensive Tackle: #99 Tevin Lawson
Although he saw action in nearly every game last year, expect to see more of true sophomore Tevin Lawson this year. Lawson will back up Chucky Hunter and will play significant minutes when Hunter needs a breather. Lawson impressed as a true freshman last year, totaling seven tackles in limited playing time. He was highly recruited out of high school and should do a commendable job filling in if Hunter has to miss time because of an injury.
Defensive End: #94 Josh Carraway
The battle to see who would start at left defensive end between James McFarland and Josh Carraway carried on late into fall camp, resulting in Carraway earning the spot. He may be an unfamiliar face for Horned Frog fans considering he has only seen the field in four games, all of which were during the 2012 season. However, the redshirt sophomore may soon become a household name, considering he beat out an experienced junior for the starting spot. Carraway will be expected to join Tuaua as menaces for opposing quarterbacks this season.
The defensive line should be a solid unit for the TCU defense in 2014, although significant injuries could provide challenges as the corps lacks depth at the defensive tackle position. The emergence of Tuaua at defensive end is very encouraging and makes the loss of Fields less apparent. Returning both Hunter and Pierson will be significant for the run defense, considering they led the Frogs to the best rush defense in the Big 12 last season.