You don’t ask a player to fill the shoes of an All-American. At least you don’t frame it that way. Every player is replaced eventually, it’s just that some leave bigger shoes to fill than others.
Two-time All-America cornerback Jason Verrett was as dominant over the past two seasons as a cornerback can be, and TCU’s defense was able to lean on him repeatedly.
So who’s up next?
“Probably nobody,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I’d say we got one starting corner and everybody else is a 2, even Ranthony [Texada].”
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Kevin White, who returns as a third-year starter, is the lone cornerback with much experience, but who will line up with him in 2014?
Patterson has been excited about the progress of Texada, a redshirt freshman from Frisco Centennial. Texada has impressed coaches since going through his first August camp with the team last summer.
“I didn’t know he’d come along this quick,” Patterson said. “It’s not about running by them. It’s about playing the ball in the air against the big 6-foot-4 receiver. Ranthony has probably done the best of the group. He’s a lot better than what we predicted he’d be coming into it. And we’re pretty happy with him.”
Even if it’s not Texada, Verrett’s replacement will have little to no experience. Another redshirt freshman, Cyd Calvin, is listed below Texada on the spring depth chart, but the competition will increase in August when five defensive backs join the fray, including junior college transfer Corry Omeally and DeSoto’s Nick Orr.
“So we’ve got plenty of guys who are going to fill all those positions,” Patterson said.
More offense, more problems
The biggest burden that comes with installing a new offense falls on the quarterback. That’s especially true when it’s a fast-paced, up-tempo spread attack like the one new co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie are installing.
“He’s got to find the places to throw the ball where it’s supposed to be and do the reads,” Patterson said. “It’s more on the quarterback than it is everybody else.”
Patterson declined to get specific about what has kept Trevone Boykin as the clear No. 1 quarterback. But he did say after Thursday’s practice, the sixth of 15 this spring, that, as a group, the quarterbacks’ knowledge of the new offense is improving.
“Every day we’ve gotten better,” he said. “This is practice six.”
“That was the most team practice we’ve ever done this early [in spring]. We just felt like we’ve got to grow some [positions] up and we’ve got to learn the offense. We had one more 10-minute period than we usually do. A lot of teaching.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson on spending about half of Thursday’s practice in a scrimmage-like setting.