The TCU football team completed its third day of practices this week wearing full pads in a two-and-a-half-hour session. The practice had many highlights on both offense and defense this afternoon including some spectacular catches and some bullish type running. Some of the questions that were presented before drills began are now getting some answers.
With a couple of weeks left of practice before the April 9th Spring Game, some depth chart concerns are beginning to take form.
One question on most fans minds these days is who is backing up Tye Gunn?
It appears in the early going the quarterback depth chart looks as follows:
1st - Tye Gunn
2nd - Chad Huffman
3rd - Kyle Kummer
4th - James Battle
Gunn, now in his fifth year on campus, has had a strong spring so far. He's looked very good throwing the ball with the exception being the scrimmage from two weeks ago when he was 0-for-7 passing. Tye looked very good yesterday throwing the ball in full team drills, he hooked up with Michael DePriest on a couple of nice balls over the middle. And with the main concern being his health, he has looked very agile so far. He appears to have no problem running the ball, which is a very good sign. Right now he is head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacks which might have one worry if the injury bug gets to him yet again.
Huffman has worked his way from near the bottom of the depth chart into the back up role. In the scrimmage Huffman was easily the best quarterback that day, and his numbers proved it. Chad's running ability is the best of the QBs on the roster and he showcased that ability today in full team drills with a couple of nifty escapes. Huffman at this point is working with mostly first-team skill players along with Gunn and looked good on a couple throws over the middle but like I stated earlier, he may be making his best plays with his decision making.
Where is highly touted 2004 recruit Shae Reagan?
Many believed that Reagan may have had as good a shot as any coming into Spring, but so far he hasn't managed to climb the depth chart. He undoubtably has a very strong arm but he has had problems with his accuracy. He doesn't appear to have grasped the offense either, although that may be due to his lack of reps. One thing I've noticed is when other positions need a quarterback for a certain drill, Reagan is usually the man that's sent. He didn't take any snaps during the full team drills today so I would say he's down by Jeff Ballard on the roster.
What happened to the receivers' hands?
The receivers had one of their worst days I can remember early on when it seemed like everyone was dropping a ball. The throws were on the mark most of the time, maybe they're just knocking off the rust from not practicing for a week. The silver lining however is that most of the drops occurred in position drills but they still heard an ear full from good 'ol Coach Winder. A couple receivers had some nice grabs including a nice one handed catch by Donald Massey, a player who continues to impress me. In the full team drills the receivers looked much better as the receivers looked to have glue on their hands. Michael DePriest had another impressive showing going over the middle, he really looks like he's ready to have a breakout year. Walter Bryant had an impressive 'jump ball catch' over Vernon Russell also in the full team session. Harmon had a quiet day, but his counterpart Rodgers had a couple of nice grabs and nice runs. I would say Rodgers and Massey look the most dangerous in the open field, they both have very good moves.
O-line missing a key player
Just when it seemed like the o-line was beginning to take form, the Frogs lost lineman Will Oliver to a shoulder injury. Oliver was working extensively with the 1st unit until the injury. It's unsure when he may return, but the word is he definitely won't be back this spring, maybe in the fall. I've heard they're not going to rush it. Matty Lindner worked the right guard spot today, though I'm not sure if he'll be playing their exclusively. The rest of the 1st unit remains the same as follows:
LT- Michael Toudouze
LG- Shane Sims
C- Stephen Culp
RT- Herbert Taylor
The unit along with Lindner looked very impressive today in one on one drills and the full team session. They created some nice holes for the running backs on more than one occasion and created some nice pockets for the QB's. With an average of 300 pounds the Frog line has looked good going against the d-line rotation.
Secondary still learning
With last year's defensive woes carrying over to this year, the coaches have focused mainly on the secondary. Patterson himself has been seen working extensively with the group, especially face to face if you know what I mean. The secondary has some very nice athletes but some are still getting the scheme down at this point. One player I've heard coaches are high on is Steven Coleman. Coleman has very nice size and looks the part of a big time safety, plus he's not afraid to lay on a big hit. I think from the constant tutoring from the coaches that he is still learning the system, but he's working with the 2nd team right now so he must be doing something right. The unit looks very good in one on one drills but when the full team comes over is when the problems begin. The receivers routinely abused the middle of the defense today early on but as the session went on the backs began to click. I like the enthusiasm they're showing going to the ball, and helping out with the run which they're very good at. Don't get me wrong the unit isn't bad, I just think with more reps they'll begin to take shape.
So who's getting the reps with the first team defense?
Based on what I've seen the last few practices this is the first team at each spot:
Jared Kesler- Very strong and good at stopping the run. Looking good so far in workouts.
Zarnell Fitch- Disappointing year last year, looks to have turned corner with impressive plays.
Tommy Blake-Pass rushing specialist has picked up where he left off last year. Look for good things.
Ranorris Ray- So far Ray has looked stronger this year. Has had some impressive days in camp.
Robert Henson-Henson has shown an ability to get to the ball and reads plays well, although he had somewhat of a rough day today in full team.
David Hawthorne-Very good at reading the play as it develops, also has good lateral speed.
Eric Buchanan- Eric has had some good days at reading the pass and helping out with run. Has been drawing praise from the coaching staff all spring.
Jeremy Modkins- I think Modkins is the leader of the defense, he does a good job of calling the coverage and directing other players. I think a potential All-Conference award is in his future.
Brian Bonner- Bonner has looked good on blitzes and run support, he also looks good at covering the deep ball.
Quincy Butler- It's like night and day from last year, Butler is living up to his hype this time around. He routinely looks good in one on one drills and full team. He's also had some impressive int.'s this spring.
Drew Coleman- Coleman may be the most improved defensive player from last year. He's made some spectacular interceptions so far, and he doesn't leave his zone which is a huge plus.
Overall I think the defense has more speed than last year, it will be hard to replace Martin Patterson and Marvin Godbolt, but I think with another year of experience the defense is making strides to erase the performance from last year.
-Who is Gabe Nwuli? The answer is a tailback who is getting reps as the 4th RB. The defense should remember his name and number as he laid out a few guys today with some strong runs, including a plowing of a safety.
-Nwuli wasn't the only member of the hit squad. Steven Coleman had some nice hits on a couple of plays, including a big hit on Detric James.
-Butler also had a big hit on a receiver running an out route, that hit drew some ooohs.
-Otis McDaniel had a nice catch and run in full team drills but.... He didn't sprint to the end zone and the defense didn't pursue him too fast either. The big deal you may ask? That play of no hustle bought the entire team a reward of up and downs. Ouch!
-Massey may be as quick if not quicker than Rodgers. I didn't think that was possible but I just can't wait to see what move he'll put on next.
-The dynamic duo of Merrill and Hobbs had some impressive runs today. They both look very good, I can't wait to see them in the spring game.
-Brent Hecht had an impressive catch and run today in the final team drill. It covered about fifty yards.
-James Battle looked okay today in the limited reps he got, he still has some wild throws out of bounds but overall he did good reading the coverage.
-Drew Coleman had another diving interception today.
-Eric Buchanan also had a nice pick today returning it down the sideline.
-Oliver of course didn't practice today because of his shoulder.
-Darius Ingram didn't suit up today, he had a boot on his foot but trainers say it isn't nothing serious.
-Freddie Stoglin didn't suit up again, still nursing the knee.
-One of the better safety Alums, Curtis Fuller, was in attendance at Thursday's practice.