FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU has been dealing with such extreme injury issues that during the final spring practice on Tuesday, 25 players did not participate.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” coach Gary Patterson said. “There’s a lot of young guys out there. You’ve got to push through. We lost 35 from the graduating class, we only have 60 guys out there.”
The injuries range from some of the younger, inexperienced players all the way up to elite defensive lineman Ross Blacklock and Ben Banogu. The Horned Frogs lost a massive senior class after the 2017 season. That makes dealing with the injuries far more difficult. Patterson said all 25 players did not participate in any practice.
“This the lightest number we’ve ever had,” Patterson said. “Last year was actually the most returners since we only had eight seniors. When you lose a big class, you end up with a light group. We actually could have added a couple more wide receivers but some situations prevented that. It would have helped.”
TCU did add 15 redshirt freshmen, who will have an opportunity to compete for playing time after sitting out last season. In addition to the returners, TCU has four early enrollees. However, only three are playing. Quarterback Justin Rogers is only throwing in practice. Eighteen additional players will join the roster in the summer.
However, the injuries could be a blessing in disguise when it comes to building depth. Redshirt freshmen had a chance to move into starring roles during the spring.
Patterson pointed specifically to defensive tackle Terrell Cooper, who replaced Blacklock on the interior of the defensive line during the spring. Safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt also got extra work during the spring game. All of these units will improve dramatically when the upperclassmen get healthy.
“All the freshmen really came along,” Patterson said. “Sometimes the redshirt freshmen had to take every rep in practice. Some played both the first- and second-team reps.”
Getting those players experience during the spring could pay off during the season if the team deals with injuries.