Kenny Hill is off to a fast start with six touchdown runs and four touchdown passes for TCU.
Kyle Hicks, too. He has five touchdown runs.
Linebackers Ty Summers, Sammy Douglas and Travin Howard are first, second and third on the team in tackles.
Returner/receiver KaVontae Turpin, before he got hurt, had a punt return for a touchdown and leads the team in all-purpose yardage.
None of this is a surprise through three games.
Those are the names that were expected to come to the forefront for the Horned Frogs. They’re performing as expected.
What’s interesting to coach Gary Patterson is identifying the players hardly anyone was thinking about before the season, the “under-the-radar guys” whose contributions make for a more well-rounded team. They’re always out there.
“As I tell people every year, if you want to have a great football team, it’s never about the guys you guys talk about at Media Day,” Patterson told reporters this week at his press luncheon. “[It’s] the guys nobody knows about; who’s going to be the guy that’s going to step up?”
.763 TCU’s road winning percentage since 2009.
He got the ball rolling with an example.
“Jeff Gladney,” he said, referring to the cornerback. “Here’s a guy that’s just a redshirt freshman that’s played better. He’s played very hard, been physical. He’s going to keep getting better. You’re going to see him have production [because] he’s a track guy. He’s going to come on.”
Gladney left last week’s game against Iowa State with an injured right foot. Before that, he had allowed only one catch against the Cyclones’ top receiver, and it was erased by a penalty.
Patterson said “hopefully” Gladney will be back in time for Friday night’s game at SMU, which would allow the young corner to continue a season that could wind up putting him on the radar.
Gary Patterson is 12-2 vs. SMU.
But he’s not the only one. Here’s a look at five other players who have exceeded expectations heading into Friday’s game against SMU in Dallas:
1. John Diarse, a graduate-transfer receiver from LSU. Caught a team-high seven passes last week against Iowa State and sits fifth on the team in total yards. “I think you’ll see him really help us on the outside,” Patterson said. Diarse caught 28 passes in 25 games at LSU and has 10 in three games with TCU.
2. Deante Gray, a senior receiver who missed last season recovering from knee surgery. It was a given that he’d help on offense, but last week he started at cornerback and looked good. He also kept his special teams duties on kick coverage. “Deante did an unbelievable job of covering punts and kicks,” Patterson said. Could Gray also go back to offense for a play or two if needed? “Yep,” Patterson said.
3. Derrick Green, a transfer running back from Michigan. He got to Fort Worth only a few days before fall camp began, but he got in shape quickly and already has the second-most carries among running backs. Last week, he scored his first touchdown. At 234 pounds, he gives the Frogs short-yardage punch. And after 28 games and 212 carries at Michigan, he came in with a trust factor.
4. Patrick Morris, a junior guard. He earned a starting job in the spring, perhaps in a surprise. “We didn’t know if Patrick Morris could play his first couple of years here,” Patterson said. But there was more. He turned out to be a pretty good center, as well. Good enough that Patterson said he can fill in if Austin Schlottman needs to be used at tackle. “I think sometimes we need just to take a step back and remember what we’re seeing here,” Patterson said. “There’s no substitution for tough and smart.”
5. Adam Nunez, a redshirt freshman punter. Patterson actually started talking up his new punter early in fall camp, and Nunez has lived up to the talk. Replacing four-year punter Ethan Perry, Nunez is fifth in the Big 12 in punting average. He has put five inside the 20, and only one has been a touchback. The defense has allowed points after only five of his 14 punts, and only two drives have started in TCU territory after a punt. And they were at the 49 and 48.
TCU at SMU
7 p.m. Friday, ESPN
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