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              ***** NCAA Football Preview - TCU Horned Frogs *****
 
 By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: The TCU Horned Frogs made a solid showing in their
 inaugural season as a member of the Big 12, winning twice as many games as
 they lost (8-4), and going 6-3 in conference.
 
 A 56-0 thrashing of Grambling got things off on the right foot, and a 20-6 win
 over Kansas in its first Big 12 bout had TCU feeling awfully good early on. A
 pair of non-league wins over Virginia and SMU followed before the Frogs
 suffered their first defeat in a 37-23 final against Iowa State. A win at
 Baylor the next week put the team in better spirits, but two straight losses
 (Texas Tech, Oklahoma State) and setbacks in four of the final six games of
 the regular season wasn't exactly how coach Gary Patterson had drawn it up a
 few months earlier.
 
 TCU took on Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and dropped a 17-16
 decision, sending the team out on a down note and forcing Patterson and his
 charges to contemplate what could have been, but to also turn an optimistic
 eye to the future.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: TCU quarterback Casey Pachall (64-of-97, 948 yards, 10 TDs, one
 interception) was enjoying a fine start to the season last year, but he had
 bigger issues to deal with off the field as he took considerable time away
 from football to address his substance abuse problems. Apparently in a much
 better place now, Pachall is back for his senior season, and while he appears
 to be the guy Patterson will entrust with running his offense, Trevone Boykin
 (.572 completion percentage, 2,054 yards, 15 TDs, 10 interceptions) did an
 admirable job as a redshirt freshman last season in Pachall's absence and will
 surely get his chance to play as well.
 
 Another guy TCU fans are obviously excited to have back in the fold is senior
 running back Waymon James, the team's leading rusher in 2011 who missed the
 majority of last season with a knee injury.
 
 The receiving corps doesn't feature any standouts, at least not as of now, but
 Pachall is the better of the two signal-callers in terms of accuracy and arm
 strength so expect one or two guys to emerge as major contributors soon
 enough.
 
 As for the offensive line, three starters return, but there are questions
 about depth so staying healthy is obviously paramount to any success the team
 achieves this season.
 
 Knowing that Pachall may be a bit fragile mentally with regard to the personal
 battle he has undertaken, Patterson is trying to deflect any additional stress
 his gunslinger would otherwise have to deal with.
 
 "I'm letting him do his thing, keep the pressure off of him. I think having a
 two-quarterback situation that we feel like we have two quarterbacks now that
 can go win ball games is a positive as far as the pressure type and go
 forward", Patterson said at the conference's football media event last month.
 
 "Casey is a very talented young man. How he handles everything and does will
 be an indication of how well we do in the Big 12 Conference."
 
 DEFENSE: The Frogs were among the best defensive teams in the Big 12 last
 season, allowing an average of 22.6 points and 323.9 total yards per contest,
 the former ranking them second in the league, and the latter leading the way.
 They were particularly strong against the run, yielding a mere 105.4 ypg to
 rank first in the conference and 10th nationally.
 
 Nearly the entire unit is back in 2013, nine starters in all, and the strength
 will likely be the line and the secondary. Junior linebacker Joel Hasley is
 the top returning tackler (79 stops), and sophomore defensive end Devonte
 Fields recorded 18.5 TFL and more than doubled his closest teammate in sacks
 with 10 as he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
 
 Junior strong safety Sam Carter and senior corner Jason Verrett are the
 notables in the TCU defensive backfield, the latter coming up with a club-best
 22 passes defended and six of the team's 21 interceptions a year ago. Carter
 had four picks.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: Placekicker Jaden Oberkrom and punter Ethan Perry performed
 very well last season, especially considering both were freshmen. The return
 game boasts a number of speedy guys capable of making big plays at every turn.
 
 OUTLOOK: It won't take long to see if Pachall, James and company have the
 goods to make a major splash this season as TCU takes on SEC power LSU in
 Arlington, Texas in the season opener on Aug. 31.
 
 The conference opener at Texas Tech could prove difficult, as will trips to
 Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Win more than they lose during
 those bouts and this could be a banner year for the Horned Frogs.
 
 Patterson knows his team has a bumpy road ahead, but believes that playing a
 tough schedule builds character and attracts a certain type of athlete for
 future recruiting classes.
 
 "You're already playing great programs within your conference, but I truly
 believe you've got to cross over every once in a while. Obviously, is it more
 of a risk for a head coach win/loss-wise? Yes, because they've got really good
 players, really great staff, and really great tradition. On the other side of
 it, if you play well or you win, it also puts you in a situation where it
 jumps you in the national spotlight."
 
 
 
 08/20 10:47:40 ET