Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Questions revisited: #7

For years, TCU defenses have excelled in large part due to the quality play on the defensive line. Junior-to-be Stansly Maponga is just the latest in a long line of star defensive ends to have worn the purple and white (and black...and silver...and red?), but one elite pass-rusher does not a great line make. The uncertainty of who would be lining up opposite #90 and the depth behind the starting duo is what made defensive end the #7 question facing the team heading into spring practice.

Before we can get to the issue of depth, we have to start with Maponga himself. Near the end of spring practice, Patterson commented that Maponga was "not as good as you'd want him to be. He's now a junior. We need him to be more. We need him more in leadership, we need him being physical, we need him in every area."

So did Maponga have a bad spring? Has he hit a wall in his development? I guess those are possible, but I think this is a motivational tactic by Patterson. He knows he's got a great player in Maponga, and this is his way of challenging him to reach his potential.

On the subject of leadership, another name mentioned as a candidate to fill one of those roles on defense was Ross Forrest, the former walk-on who recovered the late fumble against Boise State that opened the door for the Frogs' comeback win. He is likely the other starter, but may be pushed for that spot when Matt Anderson (who was hurt all of last year and into the spring) comes back.

There weren't a whole lot of mentions of the players lower on the depth chart battling for spots in the rotation, but Patterson did make the comment that "at least two of those four young ones will push the older guys for positions."

My best guess is that the four "young ones" are sophomore Cliff Murphy, redshirt freshman Austin Terry, and the true freshmen that will be here in the fall- Devonte Fields and Terrel Lathan. Which means that the "older guys" would be Maponga, Forrest, Anderson and Jon Koontz- who played was a pleasant surprise in his reserve role last fall.

While defensive tackle wasn't on our list of questions before the spring, the plentiful depth at that position has been worn a bit thin. DJ Yendrey is obviously gone, and sophomore David Johnson was also hurt during the spring. We aren't sure of the severity of his injury or how long he'll be out, but in his place guys like Chucky Hunter, Jon Lewis, Ray Burns and Davion Pierson got some extra reps in practice.

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