TCU coach Gary Patterson was on the Mountain West spring conference call Tuesday. Here are a few tidbits.
-- Patterson traditionally begins preparation for Air Force during the spring, and this year was no different -- especially since the Falcons appear so early on the schedule. After playing at Baylor, the Horned Frogs travel to Colorado Springs to face a team that should be just as good or even better than the 2010 edition. Air Force presents a unique challenge with its triple-option offense, and Patterson feels you can never start too early in your preparations. TCU worked on Air Force five days in the spring.
"If you want to win conference titles, you have got to go and beat good teams," Patterson said. "An Air Force team with a senior quarterback is one you should always take very seriously and so we are."
As for whether Air Force is a dark horse to win the league this season, Patterson said, "I know this much: Troy [Calhoun] and his staff do a great job coaching. Every year they give everybody a run for their money."
-- Patterson said five or six true freshmen could have an opportunity to contribute this season. A few of those are expected to come from the receivers. In fact, Patterson called the incoming receivers group "the best recruiting wide receivers class we have ever had." Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown could see the field early and often.
-- There is plenty of depth at running back with Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James returning. Wesley took no reps during spring practice. But when asked whether there were plenty of carries to go around for the season, Patterson said, "Any time I've ever said we have too many running backs, usually we lose them all. I don't think it's a position you can ever have too many, especially when you run the football. This year will be no different."
-- Patterson reiterated that new starting quarterback Casey Pachall is in a better position to lead than Andy Dalton was when Dalton became the starter, simply because Pachall has had game experience. That includes extended playing time last season against New Mexico, when Dalton got injured. Patterson was asked whether TCU would get back to having its defense lead the way with a quarterback who manages the game. He said, "Andy only became a hero when he hit the Rose Bowl. Andy was unbelievably efficient. Casey does the same things."
He noted that this team is different from the Rose Bowl team, but the goals never change -- even with a young quarterback. TCU wants to get back to BCS bowl games. "That will be Casey's charge," Patterson said.
-- One of the big questions is on the offensive line, where TCU loses Jake Kirkpatrick and Marcus Cannon. But Patterson noted his players have a chance to grow up in a hurry because they face a deep and strong defensive line in practice. Patterson called the defensive line "as close to as good as anybody we are going to play this year."