TCU has plenty of options to take load off the pass

Posted Friday, Aug. 08, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information

Yard markers

TCU will be looking for more punch in its running game for 2014. A by-the-numbers look at the running game in 2013:

• 3.5 yards, team average per rush

• 7 touchdowns by Trevone Boykin

• 20 team touchdowns

• 47 yards, longest run

• 80 first downs

• 118.6 team yards per game

• 569 yards by B.J. Catalon

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

TCU is trying to find a quarterback, but also a quarterback’s best friend — a running game.

That might take a while.

Shaun Nixon, Kyle Hicks and Aaron Green emerged in the first week of practice. But there is also the leading rusher from the past two seasons, B.J. Catalon, and Trevorris Johnson to consider. Any one of those names is a candidate to better the modest 569 yards that led the team a year ago.

“I feel like our running backs are probably the strongest position we have,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie said at the start of fall practice. “There’s five guys there that are really good players in the backfield and also out of the backfield.”

It could take the Horned Frogs past the first game to settle on one runner. If they even have to.

“Every year I’ve said we have a lot, we’ve ended up with the third-team guy starting,” coach Gary Patterson said. “It usually means your 1 and 2 guy are down. We’ve got to be careful with how we use them. There are some people who have some abilities. They’re all just so young.”

Catalon rushed for 569 yards last year and 582 yards the year before. But those are the lowest and third-lowest totals for a rushing leader at TCU since 1981, the year before the start of the Kenneth Davis era

Can the new up-tempo offense produce a 1,000-yard rusher, which the Horned Frogs have lacked for three seasons (and eight of the past nine)?

It won’t be because of lack of opportunity. Co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham promises that if the defense “clears the box” to defend against the pass, TCU will hand off plenty.

“A lot of our run game has screens and quick routes attached to it, so there are a lot of times I’ll call a 50-50 game, but it ends up being 60-40 because there were too many guys in the box, or they were loading up the box,” he said.

The Frogs have high hopes for Hicks, who hurt his knee as a high school senior at Arlington Martin and redshirted last year. But he was a four-star recruit whom TCU pried from Texas, a victory that energized the recruiting department. Now they are eager to see him full speed.

Nixon, a true freshman from Lake Travis, is 15 pounds heavier than when he arrived on campus, Patterson said, and looks faster.

Johnson and Green are the biggest backs in the group, each 5-foot-11 and more than 200 pounds.

“We have some guys that are so explosive,” Meacham said. “Those guys have really good ball skills, have that make-you-miss ability, have speed and power. They’re really good players. We have a really good stable of backs.”

Catalon may get extra duty as a kickoff returner, so if the Frogs opt to take some of the beating off of him, it will open up snaps for the others.

And if the passing game develops behind whoever wins the quarterback competition, it could help the running game just as well.

“If that’s our strength, then guess what? They’re giving us the run game — we’ll run it,” Meacham said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a throwfest.”

TCU might hang in there in a runfest, too.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Wednesday, September 17Full Scoreboard
Los Angeles 9/17 3:10 PM ET
Colorado TV: SportsNet LA
San Francisco 9/17 3:40 PM ET
Arizona TV: CSN-BA, FSN-AZ
Toronto 9/17 7:05 PM ET
Baltimore TV: SNET, MASN 2
Boston 9/17 7:05 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NESN, ROOT-PIT
Washington 9/17 7:10 PM ET
Atlanta TV: MASN, SPSO, ESPN
Miami 9/17 7:10 PM ET
NY Mets TV: FSN-FL, SNY
NY Yankees 9/17 7:10 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: YES, Sun Sports
Cincinnati 9/17 8:05 PM ET
Chicago Cubs TV: FSN-OH, CSN-CHI
Cleveland 9/17 8:10 PM ET
Houston TV: STO, CSN-HOU
Chicago WSox 9/17 8:10 PM ET
Kansas City TV: WCIU, FSN-KC
Detroit 9/17 8:10 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-DET, FSN-N
Milwaukee 9/17 8:15 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-WI, FSN-MW
Seattle 9/17 10:05 PM ET
LA Angels TV: ROOT-NW, FSN-W, ESPN
Texas 9/17 10:05 PM ET
Oakland TV: FSN-SW
Philadelphia 9/17 10:10 PM ET
San Diego TV: CSN-PHI, FSN-SD
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, September 17Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 3Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Tampa Bay 8:25 PM ET
Atlanta TV: CBS, NFL Network
Sunday
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Dallas 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Denver 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET
Carolina TV: NBC
Monday
Chicago 8:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, September 17Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard