With TCU's 11-2 season in the books following a 47-41 triple overtime victory over Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl, it's time to look at the Horned Frogs going into 2016.
Here are five questions for TCU entering the offseason:
1. Is TCU rebuilding in 2016? A case can be made that, at least on paper, TCU is losing a lot of the pieces of its puzzle this offseason. Gone are Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson, Aaron Green, Davion Pierson, Derrick Kindred, Joey Hunt and 10 more seniors who played vital roles for the Horned Frogs over the past two seasons. That’s a lot of leadership exiting the program. Yet, Gary Patterson can point to the fact he relied on 30 freshmen this season as proof TCU will have a deeper squad in 2016. A younger squad, yes, but all that early playing time should pay dividends. There are a bunch of holes and question marks to be addressed this offseason, but be careful when underestimating what they could achieve in ‘16.
2. How good is Kenny Hill? That is the million dollar question for TCU’s conference (and playoff) hopes in 2016. He’s best remembered for his five great starts at Texas A&M in 2014, his three poor ones and then ending up benched and in trouble the rest of that season. By all accounts, Hill’s past seven months at TCU as a scout-teamer have been positive and productive. He seems like a nice fit, too, for this offense -- but can he play up to the standard Boykin set? First things first, Hill will have to actually win the starting job in a competition with Foster Sawyer, a third-year passer who gained some playing experience in 2015.
3. Can the comeback kids make an impact? Six TCU starters were lost early enough in the season that they should qualify for medical redshirts and get a year back. It’s an impressive group, too: cornerback Ranthony Texada, defensive end James McFarland, safety Kenny Iloka, linebacker Sammy Douglas and receivers Deante Gray and Ty Slanina. Their injuries allowed TCU to develop more young players over the course of the season. When these six get healthy, they’ll up the competition level for starting jobs. As easy as it is to fixate on what TCU is losing, don’t forget who’s coming back.
4. What will the new offensive line look like? Hard to overlook the fact that TCU is basically starting from scratch with its offensive line in 2016. With six seniors graduating, right tackle Joseph Noteboom is the only full-time starter returning. Matt Pryor and Austin Schlottman got meaningful starts late in the season and should be first-stringers next year, but who else will step up? There are some talented newcomers on the way -- ESPN 300 tackle Austin Myers and juco guard Chris Gaynor stand out -- but this line will be a critical unit to keep an eye on in spring ball.
5. Can TCU make another Big 12 title run? Take a peek at the 2016 schedule. Horned Frogs fans should be excited about it. It’s not just the fact Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas all have to visit Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU only plays two games outside the state of Texas next season: Kansas and West Virginia. Getting the Sooners on Oct. 1 should give us a good, early sense of whether TCU can once again be a Big 12 title contender.