Nov 9, 2019; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Baylor Bears running back JaMycal Hasty (6) is tackled by TCU Horned Frogs safety Ar’Darius Washington (27) in the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Baylor won 29-23 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this week, I broke down the TCU offense, which is full of question marks for anybody on the outside looking in. The same cannot be said for a TCU defense that returns a handful of stars at key positions, including a couple of players who could be considered the best at their position in the Big 12.
The Frogs are always good defensively under Gary Patterson and 2020 should be no different. Here are five things to know about the unit.
1 – Nobody better at defending the pass
The Horned Frogs have led the league in pass defense, as well as total defense, in each of the last three seasons. They are expected to be near the top in that category again this year with a unique scheme built on confusing quarterbacks, plus a safety duo considered one of the best in the country (more on them in a second).
Pro Football Focus has TCU with the highest-graded Power 5 secondary with returning players in the country. The program also led the country in interception percentage and incompletion rate last year.
Those statistics go a long way towards explaining how the Frogs finished second nationally in three and out percentage.
To put it simply, nobody in the league historically defends the pass better than Gary Patterson’s group.
2 – The Big 12’s most productive linebacker
First-team All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-American linebacker Garrett Wallow is back for his senior season after leading the league in tackles a year ago with 125.
He also recorded a team-high 18 tackles for loss and ranked ninth-nationally with 10.4 tackles per game.
Wallow might be the best linebacker in the Big 12 and can be expected to make plays consistently each and every week.
3 – Emerging star at defensive end
Last season, Ochaun Mathis solidified himself as a rising star along the defensive front while compiling 40 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks during his redshirt freshman campaign.
Mathis, along with defensive tackle Corey Bethley, will be a cornerstone of the Frogs’ defensive line this season. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Manor, Texas native could be a prime breakout candidate for Patterson’s defense in 2020.
4 – Elite at safety
Few programs in college football boast a better safety tandem than Trevon Moerhig and Ar’Darius Washington. Both players are on The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman’s list of college football freaks and were the two highest-graded safeties in the country against Power 5 offenses in 2019.
They are the only safety duo in the country to each record 90 grades in pass coverage since 2014, according to Pro Football Focus. Their nine combined interceptions last year were also more than 41 FCS teams.
5 – The steadying constant
At the end of the day, defense will always be the constant at TCU as long as Patterson is the program’s head coach. That was the case before the program jumped to the Big 12 and has remained so ever since.
The Frogs have led the Big 12 in total defense in five of their eight seasons since joining the league and they can be expected to be in contention for a sixth in 2020. While the offense might be in a process of adjustment with a number of new pieces at every position, expect the defense to hit the ground running with a bunch of returning stars at every level.