TCU coach Gary Patterson is adapting to change this fall camp.
“We’re working with the three’s and four’s a lot,” Patterson said after a recent practice. “How do you get those guys on the field? They may not play offense or defense, but they start four games on special teams. If you punt it eight times, that’s 32 plays that someone doesn’t have to take. Then, you put the next redshirt in the next four games then you have 64 plays someone didn’t have to play. For us, everybody is being tested a lot more than we ever have.”
Patterson called the depth of this year’s squad among the best of his tenure, particularly at the skill positions. On special teams, it would make sense to rotate reserve defensive backs, linebackers and receivers throughout the season.
But the redshirt rule also applies for injuries later in the season. As Patterson said last month, freshmen sometimes aren’t ready to play early on in the season but develop enough to become an option later in the year.
Again, that would limit the number of snaps (and the number of opportunities for a player to be injured).
“It’s an unbelievable rule,” Patterson said last month at his Patterson Foundation fundraising event. “We haven’t changed the redshirt rule since it was like 10 games with 125 scholarships. Now we have 85 scholarships and play 14, 15 games.”
The big question, though, is how schools will handle the redshirt rule with highly-touted prospects, especially at the quarterback position. Yes, it’d be good for programs to get the future stars game action, but the right opportunity has to present itself.
Patterson and his coaching staff could find themselves in this predicament later this season with regards to freshman quarterback Justin Rogers.
Rogers is working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee, and likely won’t be an option when TCU plays its early-season games. Those are the games, against Southern on Sept. 1 or possibly SMU on Sept. 7, where the games aren’t expected to be close at the end
Those lower-pressure situations would be ideal to get a freshman like Rogers some game action. But, if TCU wants to get Rogers in a game this season, it’s best bet may be hoping for blowouts against Big 12 schools like Kansas (Oct. 27) or Baylor (Nov. 17).
All of this is hypothetical for now, but it’s something that Patterson and his coaching staff are preparing for in fall camp. The Frogs will make sure every player is ready to go when the season arrives in a little more than three weeks.
The redshirt rule gives schools incentives now to do so. After all, that was the incentive to implement it.
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being,” said Blake James, Miami athletics director and chairman of the Division I Council that passed the rule change.
“Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”