CFT preseason No. 15: TCU

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2010 record: 13-0, 8-0 (1st, Mountain West)

2010 bowl: 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl

2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 2nd/2nd

Coach: Gary Patterson, 11th full year; 98-28 overall, 61-18 conference (C-USA and MWC)

Offensive coordinator: Jarrett Anderson, third year; Justin Fuente, third year

2010 offensive rankings: fourth, scoring offense (41.6 ppg); 12th, total offense (476.9 ypg); 10th, rushing offense (247.4 ypg); 53rd, passing offense (229.5 ypg)

Defensive coordinator: Dick Bumpas, eighth year

2010 defensive rankings: first, scoring defense (12 ppg); first, total defense (228.5 ypg); fifth, rushing defense (99.7 ypg); first, passing defense (128.8 ypg)

Returning offensive starters: 4

Returning defensive starters: 4

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Stadium: Amon G. Carter Stadium (grass; 44,008)

Last league title: 2010

2011 schedule: [view]

2011 roster: [view]

2010 statistics: [view]

Snapshot: How do you top last year’s magical season, which ended with an unblemished record and a Rose Bowl win? Unless you win a BcS title, you don’t. Matching last season’s success will be difficult for the Horned Frogs as, aside from defending BcS champion Auburn, they return the fewest number of non-kicking starters this year.

Arguably the biggest loss in that wave of attrition is quarterback Andy Dalton, the most prolific signal caller in the school’s history whose leadership skills may be missed even more than his on-field production. Fortunately for Dalton’s replacement, sophomore Casey Pachall, he’ll still have the team’s leading rusher and leading receiver, yardage-wise, back and at his disposal for at least another season. Additionally, the skill positions are deep in talent, which should allow Pachall the opportunity to ease into some very big shoes that need filled.

On the other side of the ball, TCU has led the country in defense each of the past three seasons and, despite losing more than half of its starters, should be in the position again to, if not outright lead, be a top-ten unit nationally. If you’re looking for a chink in the defensive armor, it could be the secondary, althoughdefensive coordinator Dick Bumpas seems to plug-and-play annually at any position and usually ends up smelling like roses, especially last year (see what I did there?).

While there may be a hiccup or two along the way in TCU’s last season in the non-automatic qualifying Mountain West before moving to the AQ Big East, and even with a new quarterback, anything less than an eighth 10-win under Gary Patterson would be wholly unacceptable given where the program’s been for the past decade.

Make-or-break game: Nov. 12 at Boise State

Honestly, could there be any other game mentioned in this space for TCU? With Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent) leaving the Mountain West this year, and the Broncos entering, there’s approximately a .00001-percent chance that this game will not decide the conference championship and, perhaps, a bid to a BcS bowl game. Adding a little spice to what should already be a delectable main course — this game was originally scheduled to be played at TCU. After the Horned Frogs announced they were moving to the Big East, the MWC switched things up and moved the game to Boise. Yes, TCU wasn’t pleased with the move. Yes, TCU will remain displeased up until game time. Whether that extra motivation — along with their level of play — is enough to get past Boise’s home dominance remains to be seen.

Heisman hopeful: Honestly, none, unless Pachall surprises in his first year as a starter, which I guess wouldn’t be that much of a surprise given the offensive system that’s been in place for many a year. Also, we’d be remiss in not mentioning linebacker Tank Carder, who’s simply a bad-ass football player more than worthy of carrying a destructive first name.

Postseason projection: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

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BYU RBs coach AJ Steward takes same job at Arizona

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The revamping of Kevin Sumlin’s Arizona football coaching staff continued late last week. This time, though, the revamping is on the offensive side of the ball.

Friday, the Wildcats announced that AJ Steward (pictured) has been hired by Sumlin as running backs coach. Steward will replace DeMarco Murray, who left earlier this month to take the same job at his alma mater Oklahoma.

At 29, Steward will be the youngest member of Sumlin’s staff. The 32-year-old Murray had previously held that title.

“We couldn’t be happier to be welcoming AJ to the Arizona Football Family,” the Arizona football head coach said in a statement. “AJ brings a work ethic and experience that will impact the development of our student-athletes in a very positive way. His passion for the game, passion for making a difference and his recruiting background make him a great fit for our staff.“

The past two seasons, Steward was the running backs coach at BYU. Prior to that, Steward had served in the same capacity at Rice for three years (2014-17).

Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2012-13.

“My wife Virginia and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Tucson and make the University of Arizona our home,” Steward said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my coaching career under someone like Coach Sumlin, and I can’t wait to get to work with our young men!”

Four-star 2017 DB Deon Jones tweets transfer from Maryland

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A once highly-touted member of the Maryland football program is on his way out. Probably.

Late last week, Deon Jones took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a likely move away from Maryland football. According to the defensive back, he will graduate from the university in May.

Not only will he be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020, he will have another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

“I will forever be a TERP and I cannot thank this university enough for all of the opportunities they have afforded me over the past 3 years,” Jones wrote.

A four-star member of the Terrapins’ 2017 recruiting class, Jones was rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Maryland regardless of position. Only one signee in the Terps’ class that year, running back Anthony McFarland, was rated higher than Jones.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Jones appeared in 21 games the past two seasons. He started six of those contests, with all six of those starts coming this past season.

Jones will finish his time with Maryland football with 51 tackles, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss and one pass defensed.

More than a dozen players have left the Maryland football program since last season began, including a pair of quarterbacks.

Ex-Wisconsin WR Marcus Randle El arrested, charged in double homicide

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A former member of the Wisconsin football program is at the center of a very sad and disturbing situation that began developing early last week.

According to multiple media outlets, Marcus Randle El turned himself in to police in Chicago Saturday afternoon after a warrant for his arrest had been issued in connection to a double murder in Janesville, Wisconsin. The 33-year-old Randel El is facing two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

From the NBC television affiliate in Madison, WI:

Early Monday morning, 30-year-old Seairaha Winchester and 27-year-old Brittany McAdory were found shot near the intersection of Midvale Drive and Deerfield Drive in Janesville. They were taken to a hospital where they died.

During the news conference announcing the arrest, Lt. Charles Aagaard said investigators recovered video footage confirmed Winchester and McAdory went to the T.A. Express gas station around 2 a.m. that morning and left the store in McAdory’s black Jeep Cherokee. Investigators say their evidence indicates they planned to meet with Randle El, who was also in the area.

A little more than an hour later, a passing motorist spotted the victims lying in the road, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Aagaard explained. They were both taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment where they both later died as a result of their injuries.

According to police, a murder weapon hasn’t yet been recovered.  Randle El has also denied responsibility for the murders.

From 2004-07, Randle El, whose brother, Antwaan Randle El, was a star quarterback at Indiana, played wide receiver for the Wisconsin football program.  He caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown during his time with the Badgers.  He also ran for another 29 yards on 11 carries as well.

Randle El also has an extensive criminal history dating back to his time as a member of the Wisconsin football team.  In 2005, he was arrested twice — once on a battery charge involving a female and another incident of battery involving a teammate.  In 2018, he finished serving what was originally a six-year sentence after allegedly kidnapping his three-year daughter at gunpoint.

Antwaan Randle El, incidentally, is entering his second year as an offensive assistant for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Vanderbilt QB Mo Hasan tweets transfer to USC

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For Mo Hasan, the quarterback is hoping that USC football, his fourth school, will be the charm.

In December, Hasan took the first step in transferring from Vanderbilt by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. Nearly two months later, Hasan took to Twitter to make the surprising announcement that he has decided to transfer to USC football and continue his collegiate playing career with the Trojans.

The 2020 season will serve as the graduate transfer’s final year of eligibility.

Hasan, who began his career at Syracuse as a walk-on, came to Vandy from Coffeyville Community College in 2018.  His first season with the Commodores, the Florida native played in five games.  This past season, he played in two, including his first career start. That start, though, proved to be his last appearance as Hasan suffered a concussion in the Missouri loss and missed the last five games.

In his seven appearances, Hasan completed 11-of-17 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.  He also ran for 79 yards on 16 carries.

In Nashville, Hasan will likely be missed most, though, off the field.

Hasan, a Miami native, also gained national exposure for spearheading Second Spoon, a non-profit organization that distributes extra food from the athletes’ dining hall to the homeless living on Nashville’s streets. He appeared on various national TV programs to promote Second Spoon, including NBC’s Today Show.

Given the makeup of the quarterback room, Hasan’s decision to transfer to USC football is surprising. To say the least.

JT Daniels, who opened the 2019 season as the starter before suffering a torn ACL after starting in 2018, and Kedon Slovis, who replaced Daniels and went on to set a slew of school records as a true freshman, both return in 2020 (probably). Fifth-year senior Matt Fink, who started in place of a concussed Slovis in one game last season, is expected to return as well.

Fink, though, flirted with a transfer to Illinois in the spring of last year. The quarterback ultimately opted to remain with USC football. Obviously, a move away from the Trojans at some point before the 2020 campaign kicks off on Fink’s part is not out of the equation.

For what it’s worth, Daniels’ dad stated in December that his son has no intention of transferring from USC football.