TCU defense No. 1 -- again

TCU has made a name for itself with its defense, and with good reason. The Horned Frogs led the nation in total defense for a third straight year. That means TCU has now finished first in that category more times (five) than any other program since the NCAA began tracking statistics in 1937.

All five of those top rankings have come under head coach Gary Patterson (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2010).

The Rose Bowl champion and second-ranked Horned Frogs are the third team to lead the nation in total defense in three consecutive seasons (Toledo, 1969-71; Oklahoma, 1985-87).

TCU actually finished No. 1 in six defensive categories: scoring defense (12 points), pass defense (128.8 yards), pass defense efficiency (94.9 rating), opponent third-down conversion percentage (24.1) and fewest first downs allowed per game (12).

As for the total defense, TCU allowed 228.5 yards a game -- 11.2 yards better than its 2009 average and the second-best mark under Patterson. Only the 2008 squad (217.8 yards) was better.

What makes the mark even more gratifying is the way the Horned Frogs were able to rebound despite losing NFL draft picks Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington, and both starting cornerbacks.

The 2011 season will provide a critical test for both the offense and the defense. TCU returns six defensive starters and just five on offense. Defensively, TCU will need to find a replacement for Tejay Johnson, a three-year starter who quarterbacked the defense. TCU also loses three of its starting defensive linemen, including Wayne Daniels, who led the team with 6.5 sacks. Second leading tackler Colin Jones also will be gone, along with Alex Ibiloye.