Schedule Challenges: TCU’s Freaks at safety

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Another year, another group of talented TCU defensive backs.

Even without Jeff Gladney, who was drafted 31st overall by the Minnesota Vikings, Gary Patterson’s Horned Frog defense has two nationally recognized freaks manning the safety positions.

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman included junior Trevon Moehrig and sophomore Ar’Darius Washington on his College Football Freaks List. The list annually attempts to “spotlight the guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.”

Moehrig, out of Smithson Valley High School, was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2019. He recorded 62 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and four interceptions. Feldman called him “the latest in a long line of Gary Patterson’s standout DBs.”

Washington, a third-year player from Shreveport, LA, was the Big 12 defensive freshman of the year last season. His 46 tackles and 5 interceptions also placed him on multiple freshman All-American teams.

At 5-foot-8, what Washington lacks in size he makes up with impressive strength. Feldman noted several lofty strength numbers, including a 39-inch vertical leap.

Making Feldman’s annual list of freaks that in its past included Tristan Wurfs, Myles Garrett, and Jadeveon Clowney is no small feat. Washington and Moehrig were ranked 23rd and 33rd on the 50-man list, giving TCU two of the most athletic safeties in the entire country.

That’s a positive in the pass-happy Big 12, but playing defensive back in the conference of Flyover Football is more than just athleticism. TCU is in good shape there with Moehrig and Washington.

TCU was 35th in defensive SP+ last season, 39th in rush defense, 27th in pass defense, and 27th in total defense. All solid defensive numbers for a team that finished 5-7 playing in the Big 12.

The Horned Frog offense may still be a work in progress, with new special assistant Jerry Kill entering the building to assist Patterson and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie. But with two bona fide freaks in Washington and Moehrig patrolling the back end, moving the ball down the field against TCU should continue to be a task requiring significant effort and execution.