Friday, February 17, 2012

Top Questions for Spring Practice: #7

Uhhhh, holding much?

As the Frogs move into the Big 12 next year, they will be facing- on a nearly weekly basis- some of the some sophisticated and high-powered passing attacks in the nation. While I'm sure GP will still be dialing up plenty of blitzes, I would expect to see a lot of what you saw this year- the linebackers helping out the "5" more than the "4" in the 4-2-5. This means that a lot of the pressure on the QB is going to have to come from the edge of the defensive line, which is why defensive end is #7 on our list of Top 10 questions heading into spring practice.

From Aaron & Bo Schobel to Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz to Jerry Hughes, Frog fans have become accustomed to seeing top-flight pass-rushing defensive ends over the years. They haven't had an end get to double-digit sacks the past two years, though I expect that little streak to end this fall. Stansley Maponga had a break-out sophomore season in 2011- totaling 9 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss among 55 total stops and a scary-for-opposing-ball-carriers 5 forced fumbles. He'll be one of the leaders of the defense in TCU's first two years in the Big 12, but the depth behind this budding star is what is really in question.

The most likely candidates to start opposite Maponga are senior Ross Forrest, a former walk-on from Odessa, and junior Matt Anderson, who missed all of 2011 with an injury. Forrest totaled 1.5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss last year amongst 32 total tackles. Anderson, who will probably be able to use a redshirt for the 2011 season and therefore only be a sophomore this year, had 4 tackles and a forced fumble as a true freshman in 2010. He's a converted high school safety who has bulked up to 254lbs, and all indications were that he was making incredible progress at adapting to being a defensive end before he went down last year.

Junior Jon Koontz, like Forrest a former walk-on, was a pleasant surprise last fall. A bit undersized at 6'2" 230lbs, Koontz played in all 13 games and totaled 4 tackles for loss amongst 16 total tackles. In a unit that is short on experience, he provides much-needed depth.

This is where losing Blake Roberts hurts. The highly-regarded pass-rusher from Tyler Lee would be entering his sophomore season, had concussions not cut his promising career short. Moving down the depth chart, the Frogs are very short on game experience.

Sophomore Cliff Murphy appeared in a few games last fall, but did not register any official defensive statistics. Austin Terry redshirted in his first season on campus. Both of these guys have a prime opportunity to step up into a contributing role this spring before a promising class of incoming freshmen (Devonte Fields, Terrell Lathan and James McFarland...although he also may play linebacker) arrive for the fall.

Where does defensive end rank in terms of positions that you are worried about for the coming season? Who do you see becoming the starting bookend opposite Maponga, and which younger guys do you think will end up providing quality depth in 2012?


FrogHorn07 said...

Patterson likes to rotate the DL, atleast three maybe four ends will get significant playtime.

Maponga will get 80% of the snaps

Anderson will come back strong and get about 60%

Forrest will be the main gut to rotate with Anderson, he will see 30%.

Koontz will continue to play too about 30% of snaps.

A couple other guys will probably see some field, but those are my main hitters.

Cowtown Food Junkie said...

I think both Fields and Lathan are going to see the field quite a bit as freshmen. Forrest is more suited to being a serviceable backup than an impact player, and that's what we need in the Big 12. I think Koontz falls into the same category. As long as both are backups we'll be fine, but I think we're in trouble if Forrest starts every game this year. Anderson seems like he could be that impact-type player, and hopefully he will take advantage of the double teams that are sure to come Maponga's way. If he can't then Lathan and Fields seem like the type of freshmen that could give us some production like Hunter and Lewis did last year at DT.