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FORT WORTH (AP) – TCU coach Gary Patterson never really dwelled on the Big 12 co-champion Horned Frogs getting left out of the first four-team College Football Playoff.
Patterson wasn’t exactly surprised by the snub, and quickly focused his team on the Peach Bowl.
Now less than two months after a 42-3 bowl romp over top-10 Mississippi to wrap up a 12-1 record, the Frogs start spring practice Saturday for a new season — one in which they are expected to be one of the top-ranked teams and a playoff contender.
“I’m not thinking about us any differently right now than I did a year ago,” said Patterson, going into his 15th season as head coach. “I have more concerns right now than I did last year.”
A year ago, TCU went into spring practice coming off a 4-8 season while installing a new faster-paced spread offense with new co-coordinators.
The Frogs now have 10 returning starters for an offense that was second nationally with 46.5 points a game and fifth with 533 total yards a game while sharing the Big 12 title with Baylor in only their third season in the power-five league. Quarterback Trevone Boykin, the Big 12’s offensive player of the year last season, is back.
“I’m sitting in this staff room last year right before two-a-days started, how do we win six games, because some of those teams we hadn’t beaten yet in the league,” Patterson said. “I go back to the same premise, now how do you go to those places that are really tough to win at, and you’ve got to go win. … To me, it’s tougher to be able to repeat this year than it was because we had 10 games in the state of Texas.”
TCU plays this season at Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma — all teams the Frogs beat at home last season. They also open at Minnesota, instead of playing an FCS team at home like last year.
Here are a few things to know about TCU’s spring practice, with 15 sessions spread over several weeks, including a week off for spring break, before concluding April 10:
BOYKIN’S BREAK: Boykin didn’t miss any games after breaking a small bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist midway through last season. Patterson said Boykin will be a full participant in spring practice until being held out the last three or four practices in early April. “He’s going to go back and we’re going to make sure that gets fixed right,” Patterson said, with being specific on exactly what that entailed. But Patterson said Boykin would have plenty of time to be ready for summer workouts, including weights and conditioning.
BOYKIN’S BACKUP: Asked who would be Boykin’s backup, Patterson said, “It’s open game right now.” Zach Allen is the only returning quarterback other than Boykin who has thrown a pass — he completed both of his attempts late in TCU’s 82-point game against Texas Tech. Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein both redshirted after being part of TCU’s 2014 signing class.
LEADING THE DEFENSE: Safeties coach Chad Glasgow and linebackers coach DeMontie Cross were promoted to be co-defensive coordinators. They replace defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, who retired. Dan Sharp, who directed special teams last season, takes over as defensive line coach. The 65-year-old Bumpas, who was at TCU for 11 seasons, also coached defensive linemen. Patterson, as he always has, will still call defensive plays.
LOST DEFENDERS: Among the departed defensive starters are linebackers Paul Dawson (135 tackles, 20 tackles for loss) and Marcus Mallet (100 tackles, 11 1/2 TFL), the top two tacklers in TCU’s 4-2-5 scheme. Safety Derrick Kindred is the only of the top six tacklers back from last season. Chris Hackett is bypassing his senior year of eligibility, joining fellow defensive backs Sam Carter and Kevin White in the draft. Defensive end Chucky Hunter also finished his career.
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