Adrian Peterson and the Oklahoma Sooners offense are only a couple of the many tests the TCU defense will face this season in a schedule filled with unfamiliar opponents.The Horned Frogs will look to improve on its 99th ranking in total team defense from last season, and experience may be the key to improving that ranking since the TCU defense includes a majority of juniors and seniors.
Defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas said he expects the defense to have a more productive season than last year. He also said competing in games is one of the most important ways to becoming a more well-rounded player.
The Frogs have two seniors on top of the defensive-line depth chart, defensive tackle Ranorris Ray and nose tackle Jared Kesler.
Sophomores, left end Chase Ortiz and right end Tommy Blake, fill out the line.
“Our front four is really doing well,” Bumpas said. “Ortiz was a pleasant surprise, and he has been performing well at the left end spot. (Ray) is our natural leader, and Kesler is doing exceptionally well at nose guard.”
Bumpus said Blake has had a decent preseason and provides some depth at end.
Ray started every game for the Frogs last season and collected 38 tackles, which was good enough for sixth on the team.
The rest of this year’s line saw a significant amount of action in 2004, except for Ortiz, who was a squadman.
Ray said he and his teammates have been on the same page during the preseason.
“We have improved a lot from last year’s team,” he said. “There were some players who were iffy to the scheme, but now everyone knows what they have to do.”
TCU features sophomore David Hawthorne and redshirt freshman Jason Phillips at the two starting linebacker positions.
Hawthorne is coming off a season-ending knee injury which occurred in the South Florida game, and Phillips is going to be seeing his first action in a Frog uniform.
“Years in the past we had a lot of guys coming back that had already made a name for themselves,” Hawthorne said. “Now the younger guys have to make a name for themselves and step up. Everybody stepping up, you can actually notice it.”
The Frog secondary will feature seniors free safety Jeremy Modkins and cornerbacks Quincy Butler and Drew Coleman.
Butler is the most experienced out of the three, having started eight games last season and completing 56 tackles, which tied for second on the team.
Bumpas said the squad is healthy for the season opener at Oklahoma, but he said injuries are part of the game, and the team will have to fight through them as the season goes on.