Posted by Bryan Fischer
FORT WORTH, Texas - Amid the construction at Amon G. Carter Stadium, TCU wrapped up their own reconstruction project Thursday afternoon, finishing spring practices in an up-tempo two hour session at the Horned Frogs' home field.
"We got better," head coach Gary Patterson said. "Now we'll see how much better is."
TCU lost 14 starters from their Rose Bowl-winning 2010 team. Linebacker Tank Carder, expected to be the heart of the defense next year, was limited most of the spring while recovering from surgery but wore a red jersey normally reserved for quarterbacks and practiced in non-contact situations. Despite Carder's absense, the biggest issue of the spring might have been to find a replacement for All-American safety Tejay Johnson and figure out the rest of the secondary. In addition to senior Johnny Fobbs, sophomore Trenton Thomas and redshirt freshman Sam Carter both looked ready to handle the added responsibilities.
"I don't know if we're good enough to win but we got a lot better at the safety position," Patterson said. "I thought the young safeties, there was a sophomore and the rest of them were freshmen, did a great job. Running the defense, all the things we do, they did a great job. We have to keep getting better at corner and the linebackers, we should be good there with everyone coming back."
Sophomore defensive end Stansly Maponga looked good during team drills for the Horned Frogs and junior Jeremy Coleman looked quick inside at tackle. The defensive line might actually be the strength of the team if they can figure out a few things before taking on Baylor in the opener.
"With the defensive line, we have to keep getting stronger and better inside at the tackle position," Patterson said. "With the first front, we have a chance to be better than we were a year ago."
Sophomore starting quarterback Casey Pachall looked sharp and clearly had a better grasp of the offense than backup Matt Brown. Pachall threw several very nice passes and didn't mind tucking it and running with it when the pocket started to collapse. With just two quarterbacks on the roster at the moment, Patterson pointed to the offensive line as the only thing stopping TCU from continuing their run atop the Mountain West in their final season in the conference.
"On offense, I think the whole thing comes down to the offensive line progressing and being what we need it to be," he said. "We've got our motto of do it now. Everybody thinks we need a year to grow up but our goal is to come back and win a lot of ball games and do it now."
TCU's 2011 schedule was released earlier in the day and features the team playing three times on CBS Sports Network in their final season before moving on to the Big East in 2012.