The last two seasons at TCU have been defined by trying to win games by running the ball, controlling the game’s tempo, and playing great defense. Over those two seasons the Frogs are 12-13 with a 7-11 mark in Big 12 play.
The trendy move for someone like Patterson after falling short for a couple of seasons is to replace the staff on the opposite side of the ball to his own area of expertise. When a coach is replacing a coordinator who’s ultimately just been a sock puppet, like when Charlie Strong fired Vance Bedford or Tom Herman reassigned Tim Beck, that’s generally a really bad sign. Patterson has the move he’s used before to shake things up on offense with a new hire.
Here’s the problem, if the last two years for TCU have featured a revolving door of freshman quarterbacks and decent attempts to run the football then how much of this is on the OC? You could try to blame OC and QB coach Sonny Cumbie for the instability at QB, but that would require blaming him for frequent injuries to Mike Collins, Shawn Robinson, Matthew Baldwin, and Justin Rogers. That seems unfair, to put it mildly, particularly when he recruited those talents to Ft. Worth in the first place.
Shawn Robinson bailed on the program but why was that? Something about being injured and pushed to play anyways? That’s not in character for Gary Patterson, is it? Have we ever heard anything like that about him before?
A shake up at offensive coordinator would essentially push the blame for TCU’s conservative approach on offense on an OC dealing with a defensive-oriented head coach and a constantly shuffling collection of young QBs. As observers of the TCU program can attest, Patterson certainly has little patience for QBs that turn the ball over and put his defense at risk. Cumbie’s brilliance in the past was developing Trevone Boykin and Kenny Hill in the past to manage games and play within conservative parameters. Max Duggan has a chance to arrive at a similar level with his natural talent and arm strength, which can allow him to take shots and avoid throwing regularly over the middle of the field. He just needs time.
But there’s a chance that Cumbie won’t be around this time to manage that development if Patterson opts to overhaul the offensive staff. In that even, some program could get a steal hiring Cumbie and obtaining a top line recruiter, Air Raid maestro, and QB coach.
Patterson of course will have a much more experienced and settled defense next season, although he’ll likely shuffle it around all offseason to optimize, and he needs to win to maintain his position with the university in light of the program’s expectations and comparisons to rival Baylor. His decision on whether to fire or demote Cumbie will be a big one, as would any subsequent moves to make changes in staff or philosophy on offense.
However it goes though, this should all be on Patterson.