Around the Horned With Brian Estridge
Oct. 1, 2003
Don't jump off of the cliff or the bandwagon just yet. Recent injuries, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, have caused some TCU fans to panic. But as our colleague at ESPN, Lee Corso, says, "Not so fast my friends." Now, I admit that I am the first person who is going to miss seeing the playmaking ability of Tye Gunn on the field, not to mention the obvious leadership that he brings to the team.
And when it comes to Ricky Madison, you always know that you will get 100 percent. I can't help but flash back to a conversation that Ricky and I had during the week prior to the Navy game. Ricky was reflecting back on his career and he shared with me that he felt like it was going to be his year. He also told me how important it was for him to go out on a high note. Now, we must wait on a possible hardship appeal for Ricky after what was shaping out to be the best year of his career.
He may not be on the field, but he'll be in the locker room and in the meetings and his guidance will carry these young Frogs through the season. Because that's what men of character like Ricky Madison do. They lift teammates up and bring them along. That's why his name was one of the first to make it on Coach Patterson's "I'm in" board.
I know that these most recent injuries have rattled the faithful, but they have not rattled the family. Gary Patterson and his staff don't panic, they don't point fingers, they don't place blame, they simply get their team and their players ready. Today it is time for more Frogs to contribute. Just like the team's theme from a season past, it's "time to step up." Whether it be Brandon Hassell, Lonta Hobbs or some yet-to-be-determined Frog, now is their chance. The good news for the Frogs is that they will not see any panic from this coaching staff because they have prepared for days like this.
Through solid recruiting classes the past several years, to an off-season strength and conditioning program run by Donnie Sommer that just may be the most thorough in the country, to a spring that saw them prepare for situations just like this, the Frogs will be ready come kickoff.
Brandon Hassell gets the start at quarterback, a familiar place for the Arlington native. No, not because he has started a lot of games for the Frogs, but because he has prepared for the challenge. Throughout the entire spring, Brandon prepared as the starter, taking the majority of snaps, leading the offensive huddles and going beyond the call in film study. His attention to detail in meetings has not gone unnoticed. One professional scout who sat in on one of Coach Dick Winder's quarterback meetings thought for sure that Brandon was the starter because of the questions he asked and the notes that he took. I, for one, have enjoyed watching the maturation of Brandon into a team leader. He commands respect from his teammates, raves from his coaches and I think in time, applause from the fans.
The running back situation is a different story. With Madison out of the lineup for the season, the sophomore sensation Lonta Hobbs will carry the majority of the load, but he won't be the only one. There is a good chance that we'll get to see young Robert Merrill, the speedy redshirt freshman who has dazzled in practice. Now, he will get a chance to shine when the lights are on for real. And with Kenny Hayter joining them in the backfield, the Frogs have the speed, power, and most importantly, the depth to overcome the challenge of replacing a senior like Ricky Madison.
In every season you have events and injuries that look like they could wreck an entire schedule or team. And they can, if the proper planning and preparation haven't occurred. Fortunately for all of us, those just happen to be two areas in which Gary Patterson and his staff excel. So don't panic, don't point fingers, just watch the latest Frogs rise to the occasion, respond to the challenge and carry on the Frog tradition.
From the streets and avenues of North Texas to the information superhighway, I'm Brian Estridge. We'll see you on the radio.