In exactly 8 days, the much-anticipated Texas spring game will take place at Royal-Memorial Stadium. The last time the Longhorns took the field in uniform, they fell 31-9 in a forgettable ending to the Charlie Strong era.
Memories of that day should be clear from the players’ minds as they finish up their first spring camp under coach Tom Herman, and by the time the Horned Frogs and Longhorns meet again on Nov. 4 they hope to be playing for a Big 12 title rather than bowl eligibility.
There’s a long way to go for both teams in that regard, but here are five stats you need to know about the Horned Frogs heading into 2017:
Gary Patterson’s team found itself in undesirable company last season, becoming one of four Power Five schools (Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss) to win at least 10 games in 2015 and finish with a losing record in 2016. Making matters worse, the Horned Frogs were projected to be a top 15 team before the season started. After flirting with the College Football Playoff the previous two seasons, TCU was one of the most disappointing teams in the land.
Those who were super high coming into 2016 were banking on quarterback Kenny Hill to adequately fill the void left by Trevone Boykin. They were right about one thing: Hill’s performance went a long way in determining the success of the team. Contrary to popular opinion, though, Hill wasn’t terrible. Sure, his 13 interceptions were a league high, but he also threw for 3,208 yards and 17 touchdowns. Consistency will be key in his senior campaign.
Remember the name Kyle Hicks. TCU’s leading rusher and pass-catcher became the first Horned Frogs running back to be named team MVP since LaDanian Tomlinson. Pretty good company, right? Hicks led TCU with 1,042 rushing yards and also hauled in a team-high 47 receptions. The Arlington product should feature prominently again this season.
No one in the Big 12 tackled more in 2016 than Travin Howard. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker from Longview ranked ninth nationally with 130 total tackles, including 72 solo. Of the Big 12’s top seven tacklers, three were Horned Frogs. Linebacker Ty Summers (121 tackles) also returns.
For all those tackles, few came in the red zone. Despite ranking second in the Big 12 in total defense, opponents had a field day against the Horned Frogs when they made it inside the 20-yard line. Teams scored 90.7 percent of the time, including 30 touchdowns (20 rushing) and 19 field goals. TCU was the only team in the league that didn’t force at least one turnover in such situations. For a defensive coach like Patterson, that had to be maddening.
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