TB Robert Merrill

2003 Statistics

Coach: Gary Patterson
27-11, 4 years
2003 Record: 11-2
at Tulane WON 38-35
at Arizona WON 13-10
at South Florida WON 13-10
UAB WON 27-24
at Houston WON 62-55
at Southern Miss LOST 28-40
at Southern Methodist WON 20-13
Boise State LOST 31-34

2003 Final Rankings
AP-25, Coaches-24, BCS-18

2004 Outlook

The mantra of a team having something to prove was never truer than for this TCU squad. In losing the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl (in their home town, on their campus, nonetheless) after they had gone 11-1 and reached as high as number six in many polls, TCU set themselves up for an off-season of coulda-woulda-shoulda evaluations that won't stop until the Horned Frogs again take their opponents down on a regular basis. But consistency has become a TCU trait - they are currently one of sixteen I-A teams that has gone to a bowl game in each of the past six seasons.

Head coach Gary Patterson is a defensive specialist who has just gone and gotten another defensive mastermind, Dick Bumpas, to head his morphed unit. Bumpas' stints at Houston and the Naval Academy produced accelerated results, and he is already a 4-2-5 believer at his core (he installed this defense at Houston from 1999-2002 for optimal success). With this side of the ball in the worst shape, we will really see whether the coaching can do what it feels is its strongest suit. Any early failures here will be quickly adjusted, but such adjustments may take a few close games to catch on and therefore instill the character and force necessary to make this defense gel. The trial-by-fire they are sure to get with Northwestern and Texas Tech. will test all, as well as the season's direction.

Most valuable for TCU is its offensive balance and efficiency. The ways the Horned Frogs use Hassell, Gunn and company make defenses wonder what the next weapon utilized will be. This was enough to skate through 2003 (11-2, 7-1), that is until they ran into a reborn Southern Mississippi defense (that cost them the C-USA crown), and then Dinwiddie (who only "out-offensed" TCU). The schedule is set for another Horned Frog run that can again make the BCS committee squirm, but expect that effort to fall a loss or two short (again, USM will do them late in another close one). That will likely make TCU finish just out of the Top 25 for the first time in three years. But never count Patterson out, no matter what the scenario, for he surprises on a regular basis.

Projected 2004 record: 9-2
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 3 DB - 2
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Brandon Hassell, 240-136-8, 2039 yds., 10 TD

Rushing: Robert Merrill, 201 att., 1107 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Reggie Harrell, 58 rec., 1012 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Lonta Hobbs, 9 TD, 54 pts.

Punting: Jerome Braziel, 66 punts, 38.9 avg.

Kicking: Mike Wynn, 0-1 FG, 0-0 PAT

Tackles: Jeremy Modkins, 99 tot., 72 solo, 2 TFL

Sacks: Brandon Johnson, 3.5 sacks

Interceptions: Mark Walker, 5 for 25 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Cory Rodgers, 23 ret., 22.1 avg.

Punt Returns: Cory Rodgers, 32 ret. 11.0 avg.


OT Anthony Alabi


OFFENSE: Bruce Galbert-WR, John Glud-OG, Stanley Moss-TE, Kenny Hayter-FB, Ricky Madison-TB, Nick Browne-K
DEFENSE: Bo Schobel-DE, Chad Pugh-NT, Robert Pollard-DE, Josh Goolsby-MLB, Brandon Williams-SS, Tyrone Sanders-CB

Well, what this unit embodies is a true reflection of the entire offense's approach. Senior Brandon Hassell is the guts and glory of any ball advancement - he runs it about half as much as he passes, same as his 1a, junior Tye Gunn (also is a great leader). Hassell is the deemed starter, as he filled in expertly when '03 season starter Gunn went down, so expertly they often kept him in when Gunn was again healthy. They shared time in two games, both victories, so that can work. But regardless of the QB situation, the Horned Frogs are in great shape here, even with one of the many backups.

Running Back
The ground attack will thrive with two proven tailbacks returning. Much will be expected from these two quick, durable backs, Robert Merrill and Lonta Hobbs. They led the nation's 18th-rated rushing offense with authority. Close to 25% of the runs were by the QBs, so the RB-unit's average per run was well over the team's average. Hobbs is the Horned Frogs chosen leaper near the endzone (nine TDs), as well as a short-yardage boon (team 47% third-down conversion rate). Sophomore Merrill is a bit quicker to the hole, proven by his 5.5 per carry average, and is the featured back, so to speak. Depth is scarce here, but talent exists as recruiting classes have stacked hungry and eager backs in the TCU ranks. The lack of FB utilization is a marginal call for this multi-dimensional scheme. But this accompanying position has some takers, so expect much from two-back sets.

Wide Receiver
Senior Reggie Harrell leads a receiving corps that will have well-placed role-players for optimum results. Harrell is a former state and junior Pan-AM games 110-meter hurdles champion, and has proven he can not just stretch the field, but can pull constant double-teams. Sophomore Cory Rodgers is a go-to hands-type, with his five receiving TDs (team's most in '03) as proof. Harmon and DePriest are slot and three-receiver set guys with speed and more speed. With the returning nature of all the talent positions, the coaches should make something of their chemistry and look more to the RBs as receivers. Only a handful of passes went their way in '03. Regardless, we feel the unit will show much-improved results.

Tight End
Senior Cody McCarty is a proven seem-splitter who makes safeties and LBs commit and stay home on his routes (15.9 yards per catch). Chad Andrus assures the Horned Frogs they have two who can do this, and they often use creative formations so both are in and this can make defensive coordinators crazy.

Offensive Line
The line returns four starters from the group that led the nation's 26th-rated (total) offense. The entire right side stays intact, and, as well, (NC.net Honorable Mention) Anthony Alabi at left tackle is the same, making the promise of offensive continuity one this line can assure is kept. Much is required of big men in TCU's scheme, and these guys weigh in as big as the state they represent, while moving like Horned Frogs in a hot July sun. They go two-deep with upper-classmen and size, so don't expect injuries to water-down the unit's level of play.

Many of the expectations for team success will be placed on this side of the pigskin, especially with so few new players needed (eight of eleven starters return). This was one of six programs in 2003 to average both 200 yards per game each running and passing, for a balance that few stopped. Expect more of the same, with roll-out, play-actions, and disguised sequences foes will again be limited to stop. But one weakness was the offense's predictability in the red-zone. Only 12 passing TDs means they relied too much on the ground. Carry the lesson over and this can make stopping the Horned Frogs in these do-or-die scenarios as easy as stacking the box with run-blitzes, as Southern Miss and Boise State did (both TCU losses). Passing the ball just 10% more often than in '03 would make defenses that much more honest and therefore more pliable for future scoring marches. TCU's offense will be awesome, but just how awesome will go a long way toward determining the team's final destiny.


WR Reggie Harrell


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Brandon Hassell-Sr (6-1, 199) Tye Gunn-Jr (6-3, 214)
FB Marcus Draper-Fr (5-11, 233) William Jackson-Fr (6-0, 237)
TB Robert Merrill-So (5-10, 203) Lonta Hobbs-Jr (5-10, 218)
WR Cory Rodgers-So (6-1, 186) Quentily Harmon-So (6-1, 184)
WR Reggie Harrell-Sr (6-3, 215) Michael DePriest-So (6-0, 198)
TE Cody McCarty-Sr (6-4, 259) Chad Andrus-Jr (6-4, 235)
OT Anthony Alabi-Sr (6-6, 325) Michael Toudouze-Jr (6-6, 312)
OG Stephen Culp-Jr (6-4, 307) Shane Sims-Jr (6-3, 300)
C Chase Johnson-Sr (6-3, 302) Ben Angeley-Jr (6-4, 299)
OG Zach Bray-Sr (6-3, 312) Stephen Simmons-Sr (6-1, 327)
OT Herbert Taylor-So (6-4, 282) Matty Lindner-Fr (6-4, 272)
K Mike Wynn-Jr (5-10, 200) ..



Defensive Line
This is an area of major concern. Three all-time TCU greats are gone, and with them 51 of the team's 135 tackles for loss in 2003. Brandon Johnson, the lone returning starter, will miss spring ball with a knee injury from last campaign. There are three who have significant playing time on the line, but with Johnson being the unit's strongest link, we expect a large drop off in this unit's production. And seeing how the line was the defense's one lone shining dimension they built all around in 2003, you can tell then why this will be true. But the talent exists, so the amount the line slips will, too, go a long way toward the team's final destiny. Expect little, but don't be surprised when more comes with such great defensive minds behind them calling the shots.

This area boasts Martin Patterson, the senior who will be the one lone returning starter here as well as the "Mike" and glue for the entire defense. Logo Tevaseu is a smallish all-around athlete who has an innate nose for the ball, but will struggle against any larger offensive lines that, too, can move well. Logo and U of Colorado-transfer Andy Ward will be the "SAMs" for this 4-2-5 alignment. Due to the weak line, all LBs will primarily be run-support in the beginning, so opposing offensive coordinators should be able to exploit this fact with underneath passing after play-action fakes pull them in. It will be a tough campaign for the LBs of TCU, so again expect to see these guys everywhere on the field, but with limited success for how thin they will be spread.

Defensive Back
Some might say this secondary is a somewhat battered and torn from last year's 98th pass-defense ranking. But the talent here (which held off foes who were forced into passing attacks by the stellar line) is again strong and will keep play in front of themselves. Senior Mark Walker will again lock-down his receiver, and Chris Peoples has the size such that a team with two large snarlers won't have any advantage. Quality safeties abound at TCU, with Marvin Godbolt leading their way. Jeremy Modkins was the team's second leading tackler in '03, and, along with newbie (former-QB) Brian Bonner, will form a threesome with Godbolt that will make opponents throw less. All five back here are also strong in run-support.

The roles reverse this time for the defensive units. The line will need all the help it can get, and the LBs will have their hands full enough such that we should see some rather regular seven-man alignments up front. That means a safety would be committed, and this will help, if done properly, to protect against foes' underneath routes. If TCU winds up with eight in the box due to run-stopping issues, expect the defense to be a detriment and cost the Horned Frogs many of the close ones. The secondary has the talent to be whatever the other dimensions lack, so expect that bend-but-don't-break approach.


CB Mark Walker


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jamison Newby-So (6-3, 252) Chase Ortiz-Fr (6-3, 245)
DT Brandon Johnson-Sr (6-3, 298) Ranorris Ray-Jr (6-3, 275)
NT Zarnell Fitch-Jr (6-3, 304) Terence James-So (6-2, 300)
DE Andrew Calovich-Sr (6-1, 221) Maurice Bouldwin-So (6-4, 270)
MLB Martin Patterson-Sr (6-2, 228) Shawn Brooks-Jr (6-0, 202)
SLB Logo Tevaseu-Sr (5-9, 210) Andrew Ward-So (6-2, 228)
CB Mark Walker-Sr (5-10, 200) Quincy Butler-Jr (6-0, 179)
CB Chris Peoples-Sr (6-2, 174) Jerome Braziel-Sr (5-11, 170)
WS Marvin Godbolt-Sr (6-0, 208) David Roach-Fr (6-1, 207)
SS Brian Bonner-Fr (5-11, 203) Ken Lewis-So (6-0, 204)
FS Jeremy Modkins-Jr (6-1, 191) Elvis Gallegos-So (6-0, 199)
P John Braziel-Sr (6-3, 216) ..




Junior Mike Wynn is a gifted kicker who has easily handled kickoff duties. But now he moves into his destiny as the field goal specialist he was meant to be. Look for no drop off from what departee Nick Browne did, and that was a lot. Wynn should easily be just as solid.

John Braziel is a senior who can hang them up there for good air time and placement. He is a control kicker who can put it inside the 20 about a third of the time. The Horned Frog net punting results will be likely worse due to the defensive revamping, so the hole from which TCU may need to be dug will increase in size unless this coverage area is solid.

Return Game
Cory Rodgers will make his return efforts of both KOs and punts even stronger. The sprinter in him will surely learn more as his sophomore swagger increases with each one he almost breaks. He offsets the liability that the defensive depth will create when punts are marginally covered.


With starting QB Brandon Hassell out with a foot injury, backup QB Tye Gunn has progressed nicely this spring, especially in his pocket-passing abilities. Gunn claims he feels he's finally at 100 percent, after about a year and a half of recovery from injury. Robert Merrill had a very productive spring and will be one of C-USA's top backs. Kenny Boyd moves over from safety and provides some pop (as well as depth) to that backfield. WR Michael DePriest has the ability to make something out of nothing when catching the football. He'll help stretch the field this fall. The Frogs brought in Junior College All-American, Brent Hecht to help bolster the TE spot. Former University of Cincinnati kicker, SOPH Chris Manfredini, will transfer to TCU and petition the NCAA to become eligible to play right away.

The defense this spring was, in a word- FAST. Patterson feels this squad can become one of the best he has ever fielded, but it will take time and effort. The Frogs got great play from their secondary, especially at the CB positions. JUCO newcomers, Quincy Butler and Drew Coleman, as well as backup safety Elvis Gallegos have consistently outmanned their offensive counterparts. Sadly, though, Coleman suffered a season-ending knee injury, so he's out of the picture. In his absence, RSF Roderick Knight must step up his play. A few newcomers may get field action early on if they live up to their potential.

CB Quincy Butler (jr)
CB Roderick Knight (rsf)
TE Brent Hecht (jr)