TCU coach Gary Patterson said his defense is not as seasoned as it might seem.
“It’s not an experienced group,” Patterson said after practice Tuesday. “That’s what you guys keep saying it is. It’s a bunch of guys that played. These guys are freshmen and sophomores. We have five seniors out there. We’ve got about seven juniors. Everybody else is freshmen and sophomores.”
TCU returns seven defensive starters, plus four others lost to injury last season: defensive end James McFarland, linebacker Sammy Douglas, safety Kenny Iloka and cornerback Ranthony Texada.
McFarland, defensive end Josh Carraway, defensive tackle Aaron Curry and safety Denzel Johnson are senior starters.
But sophomores are also listed as the starters at defensive tackle (Breylin Mitchell), linebacker (Montrel Wilson) and free safety (Niko Small or Markell Simmons). Redshirt freshman Jeff Gladney is listed as a starter at cornerback opposite Texada, a junior who played only three games last season.
The inexperience can show up in practice.
“They’re still freshmen and sophomore bodies,” Patterson said. “They don’t know how to handle how we practice. So until we can do that, they need to understand — we can get to a lot of places, but we were just average today.”
Patterson cautioned, however, that ups and downs are typical in fall camp. He was happy with the defense a day earlier.
“Last night, they had an unbelievable practice,” he said. “Today, it wasn’t unbelievable. I praised them last night. Today, it was just not as good. ... I fully expect them to be OK. I just want them to understand that OK’s not all right. They don’t expect that out of me.”
Patterson said co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have told him “nothing” about the quarterback competition.
“I haven’t even asked,” Patterson said. “We’re still in five days of teaching. I don’t even look and see who’s running with the 1s.”
Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer are the front-runners for the quarterback job. Their first tests come Wednesday in a scrimmage. Another is scheduled Saturday.
Patterson said his kickers, led by place-kicker Jonathan Song and punter Adam Nunez, were “fair” on Tuesday.
“Yesterday was better,” Patterson said. “They’re always judged by their last kick. I’ll be honest with you, we’ve punted the last couple days really well. Very happy where we’re at right now. We’ve got to kick better. Mostly in the field-goal part.”
TCU is replacing four-year players Jaden Oberkrom and Ethan Perry.
▪ Patterson said receiver Emanuel Porter returned to practice this week after missing time because of the death of his father.
▪ Sophomore defensive end Tipa Galeai has been “probably the surprise” of camp, Patterson said. “Had the best camp defensively for us.”