Defensive end L.J. Collier impresses in TCU's spring game

Defensive tackle L.J. Collier warms up at the TCU spring football game, Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Defensive tackle L.J. Collier warms up at the TCU spring football game, Saturday, April 7, 2018.

TCU defensive end L.J. Collier had three sacks (by my unofficial count) in Saturday's spring game.

The good day for the senior defensive end is an indication of two things: That coach Gary Patterson had reason to praise him earlier this spring and that the TCU offensive line is still a work in progress.

Collier, who has collected 8 1/2 sacks in the past 27 games (all as a reserve) is primed to step up into a starring role for the Horned Frogs' defense in 2018.

TCU coach Gary Patterson entered the stands during the Horned Frogs' spring game on Saturday.

"Here’s what L.J. has to learn," Patterson said. "He played about 15 plays a game last year. He’s got to get where he's in shape, and like I told him, where he can play 40 plays. How do you get to where you play 40 plays?"

Collier, Patterson said, will probably need to "redefine his body" some by becoming leaner and quicker.

That could come in June when the team really ramps up its conditioning work in preparation for August camp.

TCU's spring practice, which wraps up with two final workouts on Monday and Tuesday, has its disadvantages when spread out of as long it has.

TCU prepares to hold the annual spring football game between the offense and defense.

"Guys don’t get in better shape. It’s hard to go out here and go six to nine plays in a scrimmage because you're not in that kind of shape," Patterson said.

Many of the players likely to start on defense in 2018 were unavailable on Saturday while recovering from injuries. Defensive end Ben Banogu, defevensive tackle Ross Blacklock, linebackers Montrel Wilson and Garret Wallow (sick) and cornerback Julius Lewis did not play.

Defensive end Brandon Bowen, who hasn't played in two years while recovering from a shoulder injury, blocked a pass at the line of scrimmage from Michael Collins.

"He’s farther along. We still have a ways to go," Patterson said. "It’s hard to be a good player if you haven’t played in two years. I don’t care who you are."

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