2011 record: 11-2 overall, 7-0 in MWC (1st)
2011 postseason: Poinsettia Bowl (31-24 win over Louisiana Tech)
2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 14/No. 13
Head coach: Gary Patterson (109-30 overall in 12 seasons at TCU)
Offensive coordinator: Jarrett Anderson (16th season at TCU, fourth as co-OC); Rusty Burns (fourth season at TCU, first as co-OC)
2011 offensive rankings: 19th rushing offense (208.6 ypg); 63rd passing offense (231.6 ypg); 28th total offense (440.2 ypg); 9th scoring offense (40.8 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: six
Defensive coordinator: Dick Bumpas (Ninth season at TCU, ninth as DC)
2011 defensive rankings: 25th rushing defense (123.8 ypg); 60th pass defense (223.6 ypg); 32nd total defense (347.4 ypg); 28th scoring defense (21.5 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: seven
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Stadium: Amon Carter Stadium (45,000; grass)
Last league title: 2011 (MWC)
2011 statistics: [view]
The starting quarterback returns. So does four of the top five rushers from 2011 as well as the top four in receiving yardage. In other words, an offense that finished in the top 10 in scoring is loaded once again, which is a good thing as the Horned Frogs will be spending its first season in the offensive-leaning Big 12.
Inexplicably, a TCU defense that hadn’t finished outside the top 10 in points allowed since 2005 plummeted to 28th in that category in 2011. While TCU returns seven starters from that unit, the Horned Frogs did lose two top linebackers whose departures will make an impact. Heading into the Big 12, the last thing the Horned Frogs need is issues on the defensive side of the ball, although 2011 could very well be considered an aberration given Patterson’s defensive track record at the school. The defense isn’t the only concern, either, as TCU must also replace three starting offensive linemen.
As is the case with West Virginia, Missouri, Texas A&M and others, TCU will be adjusting to a newer — and more rugged — conference home this season. How quickly the Horned Frogs adapt to their new surroundings will go a long way in determining how much — or how little — success they will have in their inaugural campaign in the Big 12. As TCU will be moving to its fifth different conference since 1995, we’re guessing that they have this league-swapping down to a science.
Make-or-break game: at Texas, Nov. 22
What better way to enter a new conference than to knock off the state’s bell-cow football program on Thanksgiving Day? Certainly games against the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are important, but putting a Longhorns notch in the belt as TCU attempts to get a foothold in its new league would do wonders for the Horned Frogs. Especially if TCU can help spoil what’s projected to be a rebound season for the ‘Horns.
Heisman hopeful: quarterback Casey Pachall
Andy who? In his first year as the replacement for Andy Dalton, all Pachall did was throw for nearly 3,000 yards and totaled 27 touchdowns — 25 passing, two rushing — in leading the Horned Frogs to an 11-win season. Given the amount of skill players that are returning, Pachall should be in line for a statistical improvement in 2012, which should vastly improve the odds of the junior being mentioned on at least the periphery of the Heisman discussion. Provided he can test clean, of course.