A year after they earned a spot in the Big 12 title game, the TCU Horned Frogs needed a strong close to the 2018 season just to secure a bowl bid.
Injuries and anemic offense played a big role in the downward spiral by head coach Gary Patterson’s squad. The frustrations led to one major casualty as quarterback Shawn Robinson opted to transfer out of Fort Worth. As such, Patterson has a QB derby on his hands this spring.
The battle under center headlines the biggest spring football stories for TCU in 2019.
5 Storylines to Watch During TCU's Spring Practice
1. Competition at quarterback
The Horned Frogs started three different QBs in 2018: Shawn Robinson, Mike Collins and Grayson Muehlstein. Justin Rogers and his case of drop foot even got a little run in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Robinson transferred out, and Muehlstein used up his eligibility. Collins and Rogers return, joined by freshman Max Duggan and graduate transfer Alex Delton from Kansas State. That makes for a crowed QB room.
Patterson and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will begin the process of finding a starter this spring, although it probably won’t end until August.
2. Replacements at defensive end
Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier combined for 14.5 sacks last year, giving TCU the toughest pair of edge rushers in the Big 12. With the duo off to the NFL, the Horned Frogs are auditioning candidates to fill their shoes.
Shameik Blackshear, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, looks to be in the mix for playing time. Other candidates include redshirt freshman Ochaun Mathis and junior Brandon Bowen.
3. Finding a big-play threat
When the Horned Frogs lost receiver and return man KaVontae Turpin in the middle of 2018, they lost their most dangerous offensive player. TCU struggled to find anyone who could match Turpin’s explosiveness.
Junior wideout Jalen Reagor is still suiting up for the Frogs, so it’s not as though the passing game is bereft of weapons. They will get a chance to look at some potential playmakers to join him at receiver this season.
4. Linebackers wanted
Graduation ravaged TCU’s linebacking corps at the end of the season. Arico Evans, Juwaun Johnson and Ty Summers, three of the team’s top six tacklers last season, are gone. One starter, Garrett Wallow, returns.
Now a senior, Montrel Wilson finds himself competing for a spot on the first team. Additionally, ex-safety DeMauryon Holmes is making the switch to LB this spring. Listen out for news on his progress leaking out of camp in the coming weeks.
5. Keeping up the momentum
TCU appeared to be cratering after eight games last season. The Horned Frogs were sitting at 3-5, with one of those losses coming against the putrid Kansas Jayhawks.
TCU notched wins in four of its final five games to end the year with a winning record. The victories included a 10-7 overtime triumph in the Cheez-It Bowl over California in a game in which Patterson patched the team together using duct tape and chicken wire.
If TCU can carry over some of the confidence it built during a strong close to the ‘18 season, it could help key a bigger turnaround this year.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.