Continuing on in our preview bonanza, today we will take a look at the linebacking corps for both teams. Much like TCU, Boise rings up quite a few of their tackles from the linebacker position. Also like the Frogs, Boise inflicted quite a bit of punishment with a young, first time starting linebacker this season. Let’s see how they match up. Unlike the Frogs, they don't have trained assassin in a mock turtle neck giving them marching orders, nor a sleeping giant mustachioed field general drawing up schematics in the shadows.
JC Percy – FR, 6-1, 214. 2nd team All WAC
64 Tackles, 4.5 TFL, 0.5 sack, 2 Breakups, 2 Defensed, 1 FR, 1 FF
Aaron Tevis – SO, 6-3, 228.
47 Tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 1 Breakup, 4 Defensed, 1 FR, 1 FF.
Derrell Acrey - JR, 6-1, 235.
32 Tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 breakup, 3 defensed, 1 QB hurry.
Daron Mackey – JR, 5-11, 233.
36 Tackles, 4 TFL, 3 breakups, 3 defensed, 1 QB hurry, 1 FF.
Looking at the depth chart, it would appear that Tevis and Acrey started the year at the two linebacking positions, but due to a strong season from freshman JC Percy or maybe an injury, Acrey was dethroned and only played in 11 of their 13 games. Percy played in all 13. Do I care to do the research? Not a bit, because Percy looks like their answer to Tank Carder and that can only mean bad things for the Frogs. Not to mention Tevis who pulled in 3 INTs on the year from the middle of the field. It also should stick out to you that three of their four primary LBs forced a fumble on the season which definitely sounds like they are from the school of Patterson. While they don’t feature any tackling machines such as Daryl Washington, these guys are all very solid and are fully capable of blasting a ball carrier or dropping back into coverage. The youth sticks out to me, but the fact that their two leading tacklers are a freshman and a sophomore who got more reps than two juniors, one of which started last season, tells you that these kids are for real. Now let's talk about the things I at least pretend to know about.
Daryl Washington – SR, 6-3, 234.
99 Tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 1 breakup, 4 defensed, 1 QB hurry.
Tank Carder – SO, 6-2, 232.
81 Tackles, 10 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 10 breakups, 11 defensed, 1 QB hurry, 1 FR.
Tanner Brock – FR, 6-3, 237.
31 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 Tackle sans helmet.
While it’s not unusal for a linebacker to lead a team in tackles, it’s still pretty impressive to look at the linebackers who have come through our program under Patterson. Martin Patterson currently holds the TCU single season record with 131, and if you consider how many tackles you can recall D Wash being in on, and then realize he came up 32 short, that should really make you wonder why NFL GMs passed the guy over. Still, 99 tackles is 99 tackles, and Washington had been waiting three years to be able to do that. Jerry Hughes is the face, but this defense really begins and ends with Daryl Washington and it’s just a shame he had to wait until his senior year to start because he is one of the best we’ve ever had. He was a leader and did exactly what was expected of him on and off the field and you can’t emphasize his impact enough. He's a sure-fire NFL prospect and whoever picks him up is going to get an outstanding player.
However, I recently had a discussion regarding who is the best defensive player for TCU and, while the general consensus was Hughes or D Wash, a few of us, myself included, agreed that you can’t have that debate without including Tank Carder. How phenomenal has that guy been? Sure, he has a fantastic linebacker name, but he still came into the season fighting for his starting role with Tanner Brock and actually looked like he had lost it for a moment. No matter, all he did was come in and finish second on the team in tackles, finishing with 20 more than the next guy, Alex Ibiloye. Look at that pass coverage as well – 11 pass breakups? Teams seriously threw at him enough times for that to happen? His back breaking INT against Utah more or less sealed that game, although it can be argued that it was already won, and can definitely be credited for pushing Washington into getting his against UNM. I think the fact that he was egging D Wash on pre game about how he had a pick six, so why couldn’t he get one is all you need to know about this kid. Any sophomore LB calling out his senior counterpart who has more than paid his dues and earned his stripes is a tough edged kid who anyone should want on their team. Watching Tank this entire season was kind of like watching Stephen Hodge last year in the Poinsettia – it was almost like he had a hand in every single defensive stop all year.
Tanner Brock, the latest in the Patterson Defender-BOT assembly line, has gotten his chance much earlier than most, having played in every single game this season, finishing 8th on the team in tackles. We knew this guy was going to be great, now we get to see him do his thing for three more years unlike Henson and Washington. On the surface it hurts our linebacker depth, but if anyone still questions Patterson’s defense development tactics, you probably need to find a new team.
Overall – Again, another one that’s difficult to look at entirely objectively just because our overall defensive numbers are better than theirs, and for the most part every other team in the country. Still, you can’t deny that Boise has as solid a linebacking duo as anyone we’ve faced this season. They may not have had as many tackle opportunities – probably because Boise was beating most of their opponents so bad that teams were forced to fling the ball downfield all game – but it’s easy to see that when given the chance, they made their presence felt. Still, when you look at the overall numbers, it isn’t even close. Also consider that, since Boise played Hawaii on the road, they were given an additional home game to pad those stats this year and still came up short. Perhaps the schemes are different, perhaps the offenses they face are different, but I doubt even Boise fans would consider their two guys to outshine Washington and Carder. Maybe in a couple of years when they're older, but not quite yet.
Edge – Frogs.