With TCU opening spring practice Friday, here are three questions for the Horned Frogs this spring:
1. How will the offense evolve under Sonny Cumbie?
The last two years, TCU's offense was a two-man show. Before the 2014 season, coach Gary Patterson brought in Doug Meacham from Houston and Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech to modernize the Horned Frogs' attack. And though Meacham was the primary playcaller, Cumbie had a big role in devising game plans and installing the offense. But with Meacham now at Kansas, the offense is now Cumbie's alone to run. It remains to be seen how Cumbie being in charge will change the attack. But it could include a renewed focus on establishing a running game to take pressure off QB Kenny Hill while giving versatile running back Kyle Hicks more opportunities to make plays.
2. Can QB Shawn Robinson actually challenge Hill?
Ideally, TCU would like to redshirt or at least sit their incoming ESPN 300 quarterback, giving him another year to develop under Cumbie before he presumably takes over in 2018. But after a disappointing 2016 campaign, TCU has its eyes set on a big bounce-back season in 2017. With Hicks, a deep receiving corps and talent and depth at the back end defensively, the Horned Frogs have the complementary pieces to make a run at the Big 12 title. That won't happen, however, unless Hill eliminates the negative plays that so plagued TCU last season. If Hill demonstrates progress in his second year as TCU's starter this spring, the Horned Frogs can stick to their plan of bringing Robinson along slowly. But if Hill struggles this spring -- and Robinson shines -- the Horned Frogs could have a decision to make in the fall.
3. How will the Horned Frogs rebuild up front defensively?
TCU boasts arguably the best linebacking combo in the league in Travin Howard and Ty Summers, who were Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big 12 last year in tackles. The Horned Frogs, however, have to rebuild up front with Josh Carraway, James McFarland and Aaron Curry all out of eligibility. Defensive line coach Zarnell Fitch did a terrific job this recruiting season restocking the cupboard with talented prospects. But while those players develop, TCU will have to lean on the likes of rising seniors Mat Boesen and Chris Bradley to step in and help stabilize the defensive line.