Defensive line has long been a team strength for TCU under coach Gary Patterson. Last year, the D-line accounted for 17.5 of the team's 27 sacks and helped hold opponents to just 99.7 rush yards per game and just 228.5 total yards per contest. Lost to graduation are the very solid Wayne Daniels, Cory Grant and Kelly Griffin, but as usual there is plenty of talent ready to go on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.
The starting defensive bookends this fall will be sophomore Stansly Maponga (6-2, 265) and senior Braylon Broughton (6-6, 272). As a full-time starter in his redshirt freshman season a year ago, Maponga recorded 32 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble on his way to 2nd Team All-MWC and 2nd Team Freshman All-America honors. Broughton, who is perhaps the most physically intimidating athlete on the Frogs' roster, is finally ready to step into a starting role after three years as a reserve. He had at least one tackle in every game last year, and broke up two passes while also recording his first career sack. If one or both of these guys realize and fulfill their enormous potential this fall, watch out!
Unfortunately, the injury bug has already struck the depth behind Maponga and Broughton. Sophomore Matt Anderson (6-3, 245), who played in 8 games as a true freshman last fall and was being counted on to be a key contributor in his second season, will miss all of 2011 with an injury. Junior Ross Forrest (6-4, 265), a former walk-on who burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2008, started one game last year and is the most experience reserve end. Redshirt freshmen Blake Roberts (6-4, 242) and Cliff Murphy (6-4, 260) both spent last year bulking up after stellar high school careers, and will hopefully provide quality depth. Junior walk-on Jon Koontz (6-2, 230) is also listed on the depth chart.
Inside, juniors DJ Yendrey (6-4, 273) and Jeremy Coleman (6-2, 290) are slated to be the starting defensive tackles. Yendrey, a converted end, has been very impressive, totalling 31 tackles and 5 sacks in his first two seasons. He started the last 5 games of 2010 after Kelly Griffin broke his ankle against Air Force. Coleman, who was a major recruiting victory for TCU has played in 24 games over the past two seasons, is ready to step in as the hole-clogging nose tackle in the Patterson 4-2-5.
Backing up Yendrey and Coleman will be sophomore Ray Burns (6-1, 290) and redshirt freshman David Johnson (6-2, 270). Burns, who has yet to play in a game at TCU, reportedly had a very impressive spring that caught the eye of Coach Patterson. Johnson is a weight-room addict with an incessant motor. Sophomore Bryant House (6-4, 297), who was a high school teammate of Burns and James Dunbar at Maud HS, has also yet to contribute on the field but was part of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Super Team his senior year.
Three impressive true freshmen will be suiting up for the Frogs this fall, and all are currently listed at tackle. Chuck Hunter (6-1, 305) and Davion Pierson (6-2, 318) both have the size to be able to challenge for playing time right away on the inside. Jon Lewis (6-2, 275) may end up at tackle or end in his time at TCU.
How big of a concern is the defensive line to you? Do you think they can match last year's sack totals, and who do you think will lead the team in that category this fall? Who do you think will step up into stardom this fall, and who do you see dominating on the D-line in future years for the Frogs? The comments section awaits your opinions...