The TCU Coaching Staff Drawing up the Playbook.
For those of you like myself who have bitten the bullet and paid for an account over at Purple Menace, you know that, despite their wealth of analysis, you're pretty much paying for two things: Recruiting news and off-season practice reports. So I, like just about everyone else who reads the site based on the message board comments, was pretty disappointed this weekend when I tried to access said reports and was told they would be a bit thinner this year. At first I threw up my hands a bit in protest - why am I paying these guys if they're taking away the one thing I enjoy most about the site? Then I read the disclaimer - apparently the coaching staff is to blame, asking the media, and specifically Menace, to tone down their spring coverage this year. After my initial disappointment wore off, I tried to think about this logically and now that lack of access actually has me really excited about next year.
In case you've never read the Menace reports - and seriously, assuming the cutbacks are lifted after the spring, TOTES worth the money - Jeremy Clark and Jeremiah Glenn provide easily the most thorough look at practice of any media outlet. Sure, they give everything the proper purple tinted sugar coating, but they give a very, very complete outlook on what is going on every second of every practice, including player and coach interviews which shed some light on what to expect going forward. But while most years we go into spring/summer knowing 90% of who is going to be playing where and what our offensive/defensive strong points are, with all the turnover this is certainly no normal year. So it makes sense why the staff wouldn't want crucial pieces of information along those lines to be made readily available to anyone with $10 in their pocket. And while we're fortunate that the staff didn't go Mack Brown on us and completely close practices, allowing the guys at Menace to filter out SOME information, it still makes it extremely clear that a good majority of our personnel decisions are by no means decided.
But I think it goes deeper than that. Think about it - we haven't had a true QB turnover since Dalton's first season... but even then, Marcus Jackson was still in the fold, so it's nothing like this year where we only have a two deep QB depth chart with neither player having much experience at all. All signs suggest that Casey Pachall is the front runner and despite all the love for Matt Brown, I can't imagine Casey not being the guy when we take the field in Waco. But based on yesterday's report from the Star-Telegram that Stansly Maponga put Pachall on his ass so hard that he had to take a few minutes to regroup, I think it's safe to say that perhaps not all of the players are firmly behind the guy. Definitely stay tuned in to that race, assuming you weren't already.
I also can't think of the last time we've entered the spring with as many offensive weapons as we have now. There's the current establishment - Josh Boyce, Antoine Hicks, Ed Wesley, Waymon James - but then you have the still unproven guys who are trying to force their way onto the field, guys like Ethan Grant, Skye Dawson, Aundre Dean and the mythical beast known only as "Dwight Smith." This without even mentioning guys like LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter who aren't even on campus yet. Do you realize the things that must be going through the mind of Coach Fuenderson knowing he has that kind of fire power available? On a given play you have room for, what, four of those guys to be on the field? Unless you stick in a tight end which removes one from the equation immediately, although that still leaves you with three of them. What is an opposing team going to do if you forgo a tight end an stick Hicks, Boyce, Grant and Wesley on the field all at once? Play tight coverage and Boyce MURDERS you on a deep route. Play off and dump it to Wesley or Grant in space and get burned. Pack the box against Wesley or try and get to the QB, same thing. Best yet, as suggested last week by shortnkerleys and cryptically noted elsewhere, bring back the WildFrog with Hicks under center and add Brown or Carter to the mix. I realize that can't work ALL the time, but you can bet it'll catch a defense off guard once or twice.
Basically what I'm trying to get at here is that, with an unproven QB and a glut of offensive skill players to protect him, you have to think the offensive staff wakes up in the middle of the night in a fit of giggles thinking of yet another way to exploit our talent. Once the roles are determined, I wouldn't expect business to operate as normal on offense.
And I haven't even mentioned the defensive unit, where we're replacing three linemen, a corner and two safeties. Of course we all trust Patterson's reloading abilities, but don't underestimate the absence of Chad Glasgow this year with that secondary turnover. I wouldn't necessarily expect any huge tactical changes in the vein of the whole "if it ain't broke don't fix it," thing, but with the well documented Patterson tactic of taking high school offensive phenoms and turning them into defensive All-Americans, you can bet he wants to keep that kind of stuff under wraps for as long as possible. Definitely expect some surprises on the position change front.
Sadly, with the lack of nitty gritty practice updates, and I wouldn't want to step on Menace's toes unlike another site I'm aware of anyway, there isn't really a whole lot to report, . And perhaps I'm just trying to make light of the fact that not having the detailed reports I've become accustomed to so I don't go insane this off season. But in light of the circumstances, I really do believe that next year's offensive will be our most exciting yet. Hopefully the Spring Game will prove me right.