Trying to glean a strong overview of a football team from its spring game can be a difficult endeavor.
Besides the obvious big plays — touchdown passes or interceptions, for example — it's tough to discern a legitimate take away. Especially when 20 players, including multiple expected starters, aren't even on the field because of various levels of injury. That was the case for TCU's spring game on Saturday.
But a few things were blatantly obvious from Saturday's cold day of action. The Horned Frogs, which finish up spring camp with practices on Monday and Tuesday, can bank on at least five things going into August:
1. The O-line? Oh, boy — It's no secret that TCU's offensive line has huge shoes to fill. The spring game didn't do much to lessen those concerns. TCU quarterbacks were "sacked," — and we're using quotes because plays were called dead as soon as a defensive player got within sniffing distance of a quarterback — at least five times. While that is joyous for the defensive line, it's a bit worrisome for the offense line, which has to replace four starters. Anthony McKinney, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College who enrolled in January, could be the answer at left tackle. Coach Gary Patterson knows it won't be easy replacing the group of departing seniors.
"Those are guys who won 40 ball games," he said. "To ask this next group to be [that good is asking a lot]. We had a pretty good defensive front [in the spring game]. We’ve come a long ways since the beginning of spring ball. I don’t know if anybody is overly impressive to me right now. We have a lot of things to do before August."
2. Self centered — Center Kelton Hollins has been limited this spring with a lower leg injury. He'll be expected to start in August. Three players have rotated reps at center this spring. "We won’t really know what he’s like until we get in the fall," Patterson said. "He's done good, but it takes X amount of practices to become good. If we didn’t need practices, then we wouldn’t practice and I’d have a lot more time at home."
3. Backed up — One of the areas of the offense Patterson was most pleased with was the backfield. Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. Olonilua caught a touchdown pass from Shawn Robinson on the first drive of the game. "Two guys who really stand out, I think we have two really good running backs," he said. Anderson averaged six yards a carry and had 768 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games in 2017. Olonilua averaged 5.2 yards a carry and rushed for 330 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore in '17.
4. Taye Barber — The true freshman receiver has impressed since enrolling in January. He caught a touchdown pass from Michael Collins on Saturday. Barber has excellent speed and should give the offense another deep threat. Along with Jalen Reagor, who had 576 yards and eight touchdown receptions as a sophomore in 2017, and KeVontae Turpin, Barber will help replace departing seniors Desmon White and John Diarse.
5. Special team question — The Frogs' leading kick and punt returner Turpin returns. So do place kicker Jonathan Song and punter Adam Nunez. "I’m excited about where we’re at [on special teams]," Patterson said, although he was disappointed with some of the punting on a windy, cold Saturday. They do need to replace long snapper Lucas Gravelle. Patterson said a long snapper was expected in camp in August.