Reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week taking steps toward anchoring TCU defense

TCU LB Garret Wallow looks ahead to 2019 season

TCU linebacker Garret Wallow looks ahead to this season at Big 12 Media Days. Wallow is expected to be a big part of the Frogs' defense.
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TCU linebacker Garret Wallow looks ahead to this season at Big 12 Media Days. Wallow is expected to be a big part of the Frogs' defense.

Garret Wallow took the step toward being the anchor of TCU’s defense in Saturday’s season-opening victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The junior linebacker had a career-high 13 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, in leading the Frogs’ defensive attack. He earned Big 12 defensive player of the week honors for his efforts.

But, after the game, Wallow acknowledged there is plenty to work on with a looming showdown at Purdue on Sept. 14.

“I feel like we have a lot of growing to do, but that is what you want,” Wallow said. “I told my guys, I am proud of how you played tonight, but when you come to practice be ready to go and get better as a team for the next two weeks.”

Still, TCU’s defense did what it should’ve against an overmatched UAPB squad. The Frogs limited the Golden Lions to just 215 yards of total offense, the fewest yards allowed by any Big 12 team in Week 1.

They had some issues such as giving up a big play on a wheel route, and seeing true freshman cornerback Kee’Yon Stewart beaten for a touchdown. Overall, though, the defense had a promising debut.

Wallow, the team’s top returning tackler from last year (72 stops in 2018), appears poised for a big season. But he isn’t a player who gets too caught up in statistics. Joining the 100-tackle club isn’t a high priority, for instance.

“My goal is everything as a team,” Wallow said at Big 12 media days last month. “I want my team to be successful. I want to win as a team. I want to do whatever I can on the field in order for my team to get the ‘W’ and be successful.

“However many tackles or sacks, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

That’s the mindset coach Gary Patterson wants to instill in all of his players. It’s no surprise that Patterson described Wallow as one of the leaders throughout fall camp, and had Wallow serve as a team captain in the season opener.

Wallow showed that team-first mentality last season. With TCU in the midst of an injury-plagued season, Wallow moved from linebacker to safety in the middle of the year.

“We just put our trust into Coach P,” Wallow said. “We know whatever decision he makes was going to be the right decision and just being good team players. If we had to play two positions, then we would have to play two positions in order to get the job done.

“It was challenging mentally, but I put my trust in Coach. I watched as much film as I could and did the best that I could at whatever position I was playing.”

Now Wallow is doing his part as one of the team leaders. He’s the most veteran player in the linebacker corps.

Sophomore La’Kendrick Van Zandt is starting at middle linebacker, but didn’t move into that position until fall camp. And the top backup is true freshman Dee Winters.

Patterson pointed to UAPB taking advantage of the inexperienced TCU middle linebackers for “probably a third of their offense.”

But that’s part of the growing process for Van Zandt and Winters. Nobody knows that better than Wallow.

“We have to build that chemistry between us because we have not played together very much,” Wallow said. “I am very proud of them. They did very well for their first time out there, they even did better than I did my first time out there. They are very impressive.

“We are just going to keep getting better and better.”

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