• Led by a solid defense, TCU comes in at No. 20 in SI's 2016 college football preseason Top 25 rankings.
By The SI Staff
August 09, 2016

Team breakdown


Key returning starters: WR KaVontae Turpin, WR Ty Slanina, WR Emanuel Porter, LT Joseph Noteboom

The Horned Frogs are loaded with inexperience and youth, and they don’t have much time to figure things out before Arkansas rolls into town Sept. 10. Cumbie and Meacham have engineered one of the top offenses in college football over the last two seasons, but that was with an All-American (Boykin) running the show, and another All-American (Doctson) catching some wild passes. Is junior Kenny Hill, a former Texas A&M starter, capable of the same theatrics? Or will sophomore Foster Sawyer win the job?


Key returning starters: DE Josh Carraway, DT Aaron Curry, DT Chris Bradley, LB Montrel Wilson, S Denzel Johnson

TCU was built on defense, and the Horned Frogs will have to go back to that identity this season while the offense gets settled. Fortunately, they’re finally healthy, and they return a lot of important pieces. Carraway, the 2015 sack leader, is back, as is 2014 sack leader James McFarland, who sat out last season because of a broken toe.


Leader in rushing: Kyle Hicks. The 5’10”, 210-pounder will have to carry the offense early, but if he can keep up his 4.8 yards-per-carry clip, he’ll be just fine.

Leader in receiving: KaVontae Turpin. The Horned Frogs need a go-to receiver, stat, and the sophomore speedster has terrific acceleration.

Leader in tackles: Travin Howard. The junior and top returning tackler (105 in 2015) will be pushed by fellow linebacker Ty Summers (86 tackles in 2015).

Leader in sacks: James McFarland. He’ll be anxious to take the title away from Carraway after a year on the bench.

Opposing coach's take

"Trevone Boykin was absolutely tremendous at getting out of bad plays, and they won’t have that dynamic anymore. Same with Josh Doctson, who could catch everything. It’s going to be really interesting to see how they replace those guys … I like (receiver) KaVontae Turpin a lot. He’s explosive, and they use him well on some speed sweeps and reverses. He can be a big-time guy for them. They have a lot of new faces, but I don’t think they’ll change their scheme much at all. Meacham and Cumbie are good at throwing new wrinkles into game plans each week, and they’ll keep that up. They play at a fast pace, which is always an advantage because it stretches the defense. And since Meacham and Cumbie got there, that whole offense plays with confidence. A lot of kids have played the last couple seasons so even though they lost a lot, those returning guys will be comfortable.

Defense, that’s their bread and butter. When you’re playing TCU, you better have some new stuff, and you better be able to execute it. If you just try to run what you ran the week before without any adjustments, Patterson will know exactly what’s coming and you will have problems. They have a couple of blitzes but for the most part, they just do what they do so well. They consistently don’t give you anything. … One of the guys they get back is (Ranthony) Texada. He’s the type of corner who’s so good, they stick him on your best guy then roll coverage the other way. Patterson and his staff don’t get enough credit for developing talent.

On special teams, you do not want to kick the ball to Turpin. He’s dangerous on every return."

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Impact newcomer

TCU will have to replace Doctson by committee, and teammates believe Porter, a 6’ 4”, 210-pound junior, is due for a breakout season. His long frame allows him to sky above defenders for the ball, and he’s spent the offseason getting stronger. He won’t lead them in receiving yards, but look for Porter to make some big plays in big moments.

Key numbers

4.8: Yards per rush last year for 5'10", 210-pound Kyle Hicks, a junior who'll need to carry the offense while the new QB settles in.

562.8: Yards per game last season, third best in the FBS.

21.5: Combined career sacks for senior defensive ends Josh Carraway, the 2015 team leader with nine, and James McFarland, the '14 team leader with seven, who missed last year with a broken toe.

191: Combined tackles in '15 for OLB Travin Howard (105), now a junior, and MLB Ty Summers (86), a sophomore.


Sept. 3 South Dakota State
Sept. 10 Arkansas
Sept. 17 Iowa State
Sept. 24 at SMU
Oct. 1 Oklahoma
Oct. 8 at Kansas
Oct. 22 at West Virginia
Oct. 29 Texas Tech
Nov. 5 at Baylor
Nov. 19 Oklahoma State
Nov. 25 at Texas
Dec. 3 Kansas State

Top 25 rankings

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