TCU defensive end Devonte Fields is back and stronger than ever.The sophomore who returned to the field this spring after missing the last nine games of 2013 with a foot injury hopes to return to the dominant form he showed as a freshman when he led the Horned Frogs with 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.“We’re cautiously optimistic about him,” TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas said Tuesday during a Big 12 teleconference. “He’s gotten back his strength.”Bumpas said TCU strength and conditioning coach Don Sommer told him recently that Fields is stronger than he was two years ago when he earned Big 12 defensive player of the year honors from the Associated Press.“So he’s getting his strength back, his foot feels good and he’s starting to show up and make plays again,” Bumpas said.Fields suffered the same foot injury as former TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga. Bumpas, a former All-American defensive tackle at Arkansas, says the size of today’s linemen might contribute to a rash of similar injuries.“I don’t know what causes it. The kids are getting so big ... and the torque they put on those foot bones I think is becoming more of a common problem across the country. Why that is, I don’t know,” he said.Bumpas filled in for coach Gary Patterson, who was unable to participate in the teleconference because of a previously scheduled engagement.Offensive plusBumpas praised the transition into an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that new co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie oversaw this spring. One of the ancillary perks of TCU’s new offense is making the defense better.“It forces the kids to have to make decisions quickly; it forces them to think quickly and forces them to think when they’re tired,” he said. “That’s one of the things I think that offense does so well is they get people on their heels, gets them tired. And then all of a sudden, somebody makes a mistake, and before you know it, the floodgates are open.”Bumpas said the fast-paced attack excites offensive players.“Now they’re seemingly taking the fight to the defense rather than aligning themselves like chess pieces,” he said. “I know the offensive line and running backs like getting up there quick. It was a great transition. I think it’s a good move.”No Allen updateLSU defensive end Jordan Allen, who reportedly is interested in transferring to TCU, has yet to make an announcement.Bumpas could not comment on the status of Allen per NCAA recruiting rules.Allen (6-foot-6, 255 pounds) has one year of eligibility remaining and can play immediately since he graduated from LSU. He attended West Monroe High School in Louisiana along with TCU defensive linemen Chucky Hunter, James McFarland and Terrell Lathan.
Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @StevensonFWST