TCU ended the year on a high note last season, They will need more of that magic in 2016. Our college football betting handicapper breaks down the team's strengths and weaknesses.
2015 in Review
The TCU Horned Frogs (+2500 to win National Championship at BetOnline) had a tale of two seasons in 2015, starting 8-0 while obliterating opponents, then fading with a 3-2 stretch as injuries (and Trevone Boykins' suspension) took their toll on the team. Still, the team that started the season ranked 2nd in the nation ended their season on a high note by completing a thrilling 31-0 triple-overtime comeback over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. TCU now finds itself entering the 2016 season ranked 7th in preseason polls and one of the favorites to take the Big 12. But it does so after losing Boykins to the Seattle Seahawks, where he is destined to be the backup to Russell Wilson.
The loss of Boykins is definitely the biggest question mark of this team going forward and the backup QB from last year, senior Bram Kohlhausen, is gone as well. Both Kenny Hill, a transfer with experience from Texas A&M (+6600 at Bovada), and Foster Sawyer, a 6' 5”, 230 lb. sophomore, looked good in the spring, though. Either one should be able to competently handle the passing game going forward.
This is especially true as the talent coming back for TCU for receivers is excellent. Although seniors Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee will be gone after successful careers, they were out for some time due to injury in 2015 which allowed underclassmen to get game experience. They have six returning receivers who have seen significant playing time as transfers or in JUCO programs, so the depth is there for at least 3 or 4 of them to rise to the top.
Acerbating the question at quarterback is the loss of RB Aaron Green and 44 starts on the offensive line. Three All-Big 12 offensive linemen are gone, including center Joey Hunt who followed Boykins to the Seahawks. Luckily, Junior Joseph Noteboom is slated to shift over to left tackle and senior Aviante Collins is expected to start at right tackle after missing 2015 with an injury.
TCU will miss one of the best placekickers in the country in Jaden Oberkrom in 2016, as he graduated after going 59-60 in PAT's and 10-11 in field goal attempts over 40 yards in 2015. This loss could be worth a win in 2016.
TCU has a definite advantage on defense with depth, although they got it by forcing underclassmen into playing time as their stars left with injuries. Every linebacker returns from 2015, and junior Sammy Douglas, who missed 2015 with an injury, returns as well. Their defensive line gets stud James McFarland back this year, who after compiling 13 tackles for loss in 2014 missed 2015 due to injury.
The defensive secondary is also a huge strength for the Horned Frogs, and senior safeties Denzel Johnson and returning starter, Kenny Iloka, will lead the way. These safeties are big and worthy of being checked out by NFL scouts. The corners merely have to be ‘good' for the passing defense to be ranked in the top ten in the country in 2016.
The Horned Frogs are ranked 7th in the country, but could face at least six games where they should near pick'em or underdogs against Arkansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Texas. They should be double digit college football odds favorites in at least six games, though, so a bowl appearance is practically a lock at this point.
As of now, you can find TCU's season win total listed at 8.5 games, which would force them to go at least .500 in games that they are at an even playing level or an outright underdog. The Over makes for a good college football pick. They do have a superior defense, though, and like my write-up of Houston earlier, I believe that a good defense can mask some offensive struggles. The schedule looks to be back-loaded as well which would help a new quarterback and run game take shape before the real tough matchups occur. It will be close, but 9 wins should be attainable by this squad that went 11-2 in 2015.
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