Sure, it’s July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our annual countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last year’s eventual CFP semifinalists were ranked Nos. 1, 5, 8 and 14 on our 2017 list.
Our Top 25 — so far:
Today’s team: No. 15 TCU
The Horned Frogs’ best-case scenario: The Horned Frogs find an offensive line, a steady quarterback and a running game and compete for a title.
Their worst-case scenario: New quarterback Shawn Robinson doesn’t mature and TCU takes a real dip on offense. The season could look more like 2016 and 6-7 than last year’s 11-3.
Inside the Horned Frogs
Coach: Gary Patterson (19th year, 160-57)
2017: 11-3, 7-2 in the Big 12 (beat Stanford 39-37 in the Alamo Bowl)
Returning starters: 2 offense, 6 defense
Goodbye: QB Kenny Hill; RB Kyle Hicks; OT Joseph Noteboom (3rd, Rams); WR Desmon White; OT Matt Pryor (6th, Eagles)
Spring cleaning: Gary Patterson reworked his defensive coaching staff, in part, to give himself a break. Besides his head coaching duties, Patterson also had been in charge of linebackers the past two years. But he made defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow specifically in charge of linebackers. Glasgow played the position at Oklahoma State, but he’d coached safeties at TCU for 17 years. Paul Gonzales moved from cornerbacks to safeties. Patterson then elevated former TCU safety Jeremy Modkins, who had worked as a staff analyst. … Defensive end Ben Banogu decided to return for his senior season and is in the mix for a possible spot in next year’s first round. Earlier this month, he was voted the Big 12’s preseason choice as defensive player of the year. … At the end of spring drills, Patterson said Robinson was at the top of the depth chart. Michael Collins, who transferred from Penn, is in line for the second-string job.
PASSING: Shawn Robinson, 13-27-184, 3/0 (2nd)
RUSHING: Darius Anderson, 128-768-8 (1st); Sewo Olonilua, 64-330-7 (3rd)
RECEIVING: KaVontae Turpin, 41-394-1 (2nd); Jalen Reagor, 33-576-8 (4th)
TACKLES: S Ridwan Issahaku, 66 (2nd); LB Ty Summers, 64 (5th)
SACKS: DE Ben Banogu, 8.5 (2nd); DE L.J. Collier, 4 (T-3rd); LB Ty Summers, 4 (T-3rd)
INTERCEPTIONS: CB Jeff Gladney, 2 (2nd)
Returning All-Big 12 players (3)
Offense: WR KaVontae Turpin (all-purpose, 1st team)
Defense: DE Ben Banogu (1st, defensive newcomer of the year); DT Ross Blacklock (defensive freshman of the year)
Models of consistency: Patterson probably doesn’t get the attention he deserves nationally, but his Horned Frogs have been a model of consistency. TCU is one of five programs in the country to finish in the final top 10 in at least three of the past four years. The Frogs are 40-13 over that stretch.
Is Robinson up to the task?: Since the Big 12 is a quarterback league, it makes sense to say TCU’s success is contingent on Robinson, who will be a sophomore. He was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country when he signed with TCU out of DeSoto in 2017. Robinson started one game last fall — on the road against Texas Tech — when Hill was nursing an injury. The Frogs won but the offense didn’t really flow. Robinson’s 84 yards rushing led the team. But he didn’t respond well when Tech forced him to throw. He was 6 of 17 for 85 yards. The offensive line is raw and untested, so the unit probably can’t be counted on save Robinson early in the season. The Frogs are missing four starters from last year’s unit.
There’s Turpin, and there’s Big Turpin: Receiver/returnman KaVontae Turpin, on paper, is the most dynamic offensive player for TCU. He probably was at his best on special teams and averaged 16.2 yards per punt return and 30.8 on kicks last year. There’s another player Patterson really likes — freshman Taye Barber, who is a bigger version of Turpin. Watch to see how many touches he gets as TCU finds its offensive identity.
2017 national rankings
Scoring: 29th (33.6 ppg) — right above No. 30 Appalachian State, right behind No. 28 Wisconsin
Points allowed: 15th (19.0 ppg) — tied with Ohio State, right above No. 17 Marshall and Iowa, right behind No. 14 LSU
Passing: 52nd (245.1 ypg) — right above No. 53 Vanderbilt, right behind No. 51 Virginia
Rushing: 53rd (174.1 ypg) — right above No. 54 Virginia Tech, right behind No. 52 Northwestern
Total offense: 45th (419.2 ypg) — right above Nos. 46 Troy and Mississippi State, right behind No. 44 Tulsa
Total defense: 19th (331.4 ypg) — right above No. 20 Southern Mississippi, right behind No. 18 Florida State
|DATE||OPPONENT||LAST YR'S RESULT (IF PLAYED)|
|Sept. 1 (11 a.m., FS1)||Southern|
|Sept. 7 (7 p.m., ESPN2)||at SMU||W, 56-36|
|Sept. 15 (7 p.m., ABC)||Ohio State|
|Sept. 22||at Texas*||W, 24-7|
|Sept. 29||Iowa State*||L, 14-7|
|Oct. 11 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)||Texas Tech*||W, 27-3|
|Oct. 20||Oklahoma*||L, 38-20|
|Oct. 27||at Kansas*||W, 43-0|
|Nov. 3||Kansas State*||W, 26-6|
|Nov. 10||at West Virginia*||W, 31-24|
|Nov. 17||at Baylor*||W, 45-22|
|Nov. 24||Oklahoma State*||W, 44-31|
|* Big 12 game|
Note: TCU-Ohio State will play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington; TCU lost to Oklahoma again in the Big 12 title game
The key game: Sept. 15, Ohio State, AT&T Stadium
The last 5 years
|YEAR||W-L (CONF.)||RANKINGS||BOWL, RESULT|
|2013||4-8 (2-7)||20th / —||No bowl|
|2014||12-1 (8-1)||— / 6th||Chick-fil-A, W|
|2015||11-2 (7-2)||2nd / 7th||Alamo, W|
|2016||6-7 (4-5)||13th / —||Liberty, L|
|2017||11-3 (7-2)||— / 9th||Alamo, W|
|Total||44-21 (28-17 Big 12)||3-1 in bowls|
Note: Ranks are that year’s preseason/final ranking
Our Top 25, by conferences
Big 12 — No. 15 TCU, No. 19 West Virginia, No. 25 Texas
ACC — No. 16 Virginia Tech, No. 21 Florida State
SEC — No. 17 Mississippi State, No. 24 LSU
Pac-12 — No. 20 USC, No. 23 Oregon
Mountain West — No. 18 Boise State
AAC — No. 22 Central Florida
Coming tomorrow: Our No. 14 team
Want a hint?
This school has won one Heisman Trophy but has had players finish runner-up six times — including last year.