Thursday, February 23, 2012

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #2

One of the most difficult- and most beautiful- things about the TCU defense is that, in the 4-2-5 scheme, the linebackers and safeties are each asked to essentially perform the duties of a player and a half. When things are going right, it can seem at times like there are 12 or 13 players on the field because of how swiftly the Frog defenders close the open spaces that opposing offenses seek. When things are going as well, the intricacies of the scheme can seem to overwhelm inexperienced defenders, delaying reaction time and resulting in extra yardage gained and points scored by opponents. That's why, with such a young group of safeties, this position is second my list of questions facing the Frogs heading into spring practice.

Coming into spring as tentative starters are junior Elisha Olabode at free, sophomore Sam Carter at strong and sophomore Jonathan Anderson at weak safety. Olabode, who played well at corner as a true freshman out of Cedar Hill in 2010, totaled 15 tackles as well as 2 pass break-ups and a fumble recovery last year while playing in all 13 games as Johnny Fobbs' backup at free safety. Carter, a converted quarterback, had 8 tackles in 11 games last year to go along with a pass break-up. Anderson, seen as many by the safety with the most star potential, had 49 tackles a year ago while making one start. He opened many eyes with his performance in the win over BYU, when he had 11 tackles (6 of them solo) and an interception.

The only other safeties on the roster with game experience are junior Trent Thomas and sophomore Geoff Hooker. Thomas started four games early in the season, and ended the year with 18 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. He opens spring as the third-team weak safety. Hooker, a walk-on from Sherman, earned himself some special teams playing time late in the 2011 season and registered 3 tackles. He is the third team option at free safety.

A trio of redshirt freshmen open the spring as second-stringers at each of the safety positions. Chris Hackett, out of Tyler, will be gunning for Olabode's job at free. James Bailey, a speedster from Everman, will be working to unseat Carter at strong and Quincy Aldridge, out of Whitehouse (the same high school as Luke Shivers) will be chasing Anderson's role as starting weak safety. A fourth redshirt freshman, the hard-hitting Florida native Jamie Byrd, comes into spring as the third option at strong safety.

If there is one position at which Patterson isn't hesitant to make a quick switch, it is safety. He will change his depth chart multiple times while he figures out which combination of athletes will make the most plays, and that is especially true now that Chad Glasgow is back to coach the safeties after spending one year in the barren wasteland they call "Lubbock". If starting and second-team positions are not set in stone by the end of spring drills, look for a talented trio of true freshman (the Georgia duo of Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore as well as Derrick Kindred out of San Antonio) to be given their own chance to break into the rotation.

Who do you predict will step up this spring to claim starting roles at each of the three safety positions? Which of the redshirt freshman will impress the most? The posts about the rumored new logo showed that you guys are wanting to have your voice heard in the comments section, so let's hear your opinions!


Cowtown Food Junkie said...

I think the only safety spot that's pretty much a lock is Anderson at WS. Every other spot will be open. Everything I've read about Hackett says that he is an absolute stud, so I wouldn't be surprised him to start or at least play quite a bit behind Olabode. Have also heard that if Hackett can lock down the job that Olabode could move to Corner where it seems like we need the depth more anyway. Sam Carter should improve at SS, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Bailey overtake him. This group of redshirt safeties is highly touted, and I expect to see them contribute this year. Also, don't count out Jordan Moore. He is an athletic freak and has starting as a True Freshman as one of his goals. Doubt he achieves that, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see him get some snaps at FS and returning some kicks.

Slay Purple said...

Depth Chart I would like to see:
FS: 1) Hackett, 2) Moore
SS: 1) Carter, 2) Bailey
WS: 1) Anderson, 2) Aldridge
Tons of potential. Hopefully we can get a Free Safety established that can fulfill the role Tejay Johnson played.

EdK said...

Well, Carter (and Thomas) lost his starting spot after the Baylor debacle and played sparingly after that, so I'm not sold.

Anderson is going to be better than Cuba, I think.

I don't know about Olabode. He seems too small, not fast enough, not tough enough. But even Fobbs grew on me by the end of last season, so who knows.

Hopefully, one of the freshmen is outstanding.

Tyler said...

We have to find an elite safety to go along with Anderson. Colin Jones and Tejay, and Stephen Hodge and Tejay before that.

We've got three more years from Anderson and we should be in great shape if we can find a FS that is elite. I'm hoping Jordan Moore can play that position very quickly... or that Hackett learns the position very well.

Worth Hills Caddy said...

Anderson is going to be the shit.

Also, I saw J Verrett crossing University yesterday. I seriously thought it was a girl at first. Check for yourself.