FORT WORTH, Texas -- Replacing an All-American defensive end like Jerry Hughes is never easy, but according to TCU coach Gary Patterson, they will just keep plugging in players to a system that works.
"I was wondering if I'd ever have a team like the 2008 team," Patterson said. "We lost seven starters that started clear back when we beat Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma. I was like, 'How in the heck are we going to replace those guys?' Then all of the sudden a Jerry Hughes takes a Tommy Blake's place, and [linebackers] Daryl Washington and Tank Carder took Robert Henson and Jason Phillips' place.
"That's our whole thing, and I think we're finally starting to get a little closer to it, what we try to do is not be a good football team every once in awhile, but a good program. And that's what good programs do--the next guy just steps up and finds a way."
However, Patterson said this year he won't have a pass rushing threat like Hughes (11.5 sacks last year). Hughes graduated and was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
"I don't think we have a Jerry Hughes on our team at defensive end," Patterson said. "But we have all the rest [of the defense] coming back, and all the rest of them are a year older of playing, and so all the rest of them might be able to make up for [the loss of] Jerry Hughes."
Patterson and a handful of his players talked to media at TCU's Reporting Day luncheon on Wednesday. Senior defensive tackle Cory Grant said someone will step up and help the defense transition.
"Every year you're going to have something different," Grant said. "It was Jerry Hughes last year and the year before that. Now we're just going to need that guy to stand up, and we never know who it's going to be. It could be somebody who's expected to be or someone who is not. Only time will tell and two-a-days is the beginning point for that."
Patterson said earlier this summer he may consider running the defensive ends by committee, as senior Wayne Daniels will still take a lot of snaps on the right, but the left side will be filled with some combination of senior Clarence Leatch, junior Braylon Broughton, sophomore Ross Forrest and redshirt freshman Stansly Maponga.
Carder said everyone in the blitz packages will need to step up to create pressure, but he isn't worried.
"I'm sure with [Hughes] leaving, somebody else wants to step into his role, whether it's Wayne Daniels, Kelly Griffin or Cory Grant," Carder said. "I'm sure everybody will step up, and there won't be just one monster on the defensive line, we'll all be monsters."