Former TCU player may be top candidate to coach linebackers

Senior quarterback Bram Kohlhausen will likely start Saturday’s Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
Senior quarterback Bram Kohlhausen will likely start Saturday’s Alamo Bowl against Oregon. Star-Telegram

TCU coach Gary Patterson allowed co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach DeMontie Cross the opportunity to coach through Saturday’s Alamo Bowl despite Cross accepting the position of defensive coordinator at Missouri.

While still on staff, Cross hasn’t always been present in Fort Worth as he has been traveling back and forth to Missouri to take the first steps in his new position.

Holding down the fort has been graduate assistant and former TCU and NFL linebacker Jason Phillips, Patterson said Friday.

“I have one of those guys on my staff, a young GA, that since Coach Cross has been going back and forth between Missouri and here, that’s done an unbelievable job of coaching our linebackers,” Patterson said of Philips.

With the history Phillips has with Patterson and the TCU program, he could be a candidate to coach linebackers next season.

In his five years at TCU, Phillips recorded 315 tackles, 38 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. He was the first Mountain West Conference player to earn first- or second-team all-conference honors in four straight seasons, and his 194 career unassisted tackles rank seventh all-time at TCU.

Phillips, the son of Waller High School coach Jim Phillips, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He played in the league through July 2013 as a member of the Panthers and Eagles.

Kohlhausen edge

Patterson echoed the thoughts of his co-offensive coordinators Friday, saying senior walk-on Bram Kohlhausen holds the edge to start at quarterback Saturday against Oregon over redshirt freshman Foster Sawyer.

“Probably, if they were asking me, Bram — for the simple reason of the last game both of them played in,” Patterson said.

Kohlhausen last saw the field in the later portion of TCU’s 30-29 loss at Oklahoma — when he fell a 2-point conversion short of overcoming a 30-13 deficit when he entered the game.

It’s been a roller-coaster season for the senior out of Houston, who saw significant playing time against Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma but lost his father to cancer Nov. 7 — the day of TCU’s 49-29 loss at Oklahoma State.

Kohlhausen traveled to Houston to be with his family but returned to Fort Worth on the Tuesday before the Kansas game to practice with the team.

“He’s one of those kids that walked on, had a chance to play as a quarterback in the system,” Patterson said. “I said, ‘Take all the time you need,’ and was back for Tuesday’s practice. He’s committed to TCU.”

Rookie play-caller

Before any questions could be asked at Friday’s press conference, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich announced the promotion of wide receivers coach Matt Lubick to offensive coordinator.

The Alamo Bowl will be Lubick’s first chance to call plays. He began his career in 1995 under his father, Sonny, at Colorado State.

“A job audition against Gary Patterson is not your best one to be judged against, so we want to try to keep that off the table,” Helfrich said. “Lub’s done a great job, as well as the rest of our offensive staff, trying to plan an attack against TCU.”

Lubick joined the Ducks in early 2013 and has served as the program’s passing game coordinator.

Over the past two seasons, Oregon has accumulated 7,812 yards passing while averaging 14.4 yards per catch in 2014 and 14.5 this season.

“You watch from the sideline, Mark is very involved,” Patterson said. “The rest of their staff is very involved. I saw a comment, he really feels great about how they’ve meshed the running and passing game together.”