TCU, nationally, had the No. 1-ranked defense three consecutive seasons (2008-10) but slipped to 32nd last season. Now the Horned Frogs move to a conference where defenses are challenged by wide open offenses.
“Our biggest thing is to make people kick field goals,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “We'll be playing a lot of young players, guys in backup roles who have been walk-ons. But we've done that in the past.
“The way people can throw vertically in the Big 12, and the kind of skill people you play both running and passing, I don't know how to analyze it. I think we're going to be better. But on a week-to-week basis, the offenses are going to be better.”
Baylor's depth to be tested
Heisman winner Robert Griffin III isn't the only key offensive weapon Baylor must replace. The Bears also lost wide receiver Kendall Wright, a first-round draft pick, leading rusher Terrance Ganaway and two offensive linemen that were drafted.
“I don't know if you replace those people,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “We had five offensive guys drafted, which is the most in the modern era. It hasn't happened anywhere else in the last 25 or 30 years from what I've been told.
“What we have to do is try to figure out a way to be as productive with new personnel. That's what we've been working on since January since Robert declared. We knew we'd have to figure out a different route to do things. (But) we feel good about the depth we've collected the past two or three years in recruiting.”
Cyclones underdog against Tulsa?
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said it's not difficult to sell his players on the challenge of playing Tulsa in a season opener. The Golden Hurricane is a slight favorite, according to Vegas oddsmakers.
“We're not the ones who were 7-0 late in the season in conference,” Rhoads said. “We have all kinds of respect for Tulsa and their football program. They know how to win.”