Ever since Gary Patterson has taken over at TCU, the Horned Frogs have been a fun football team to watch. Since Patterson officially arrived in 2000, the Horned Frogs have only had two seasons in which they didn’t make a bowl game. He’s had six seasons where he’s finished in the top-10 in the of the AP Top 25 poll and has made appearances in the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Altogether, he’s been successful there, and he’s done a good job developing players. Not every player has been great at the next level, but his most recent well-known draft picks are Josh Doctson and Jerry Hughes.
This season, there could be two more well-known edge rushers from TCU by the time it’s all said and done. In a few weeks, both of these players will be turning in their successful senior seasons for a week’s worth of practice at the Senior Bowl.
L.J. Collier and Ben Banogu have both been productive for the Horned Frogs despite taking two different paths to get there. Let’s preview both players and set some expectations for their week at the Senior Bowl.
Ben Banogu, EDGE, 6’4″ 249 lbs
Coming out of Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas, Banogu wasn’t the most touted prospect. He was a two-star recruit and had offers from Montana State and Louisiana-Monroe. He chose Louisiana-Monroe and was productive during his redshirt freshman season. He posted 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Banogu then transferred TCU and he has prospered ever since.
Since his arrival to the Horned Frogs, he has posted 112 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks. Without question, Banogu has been the more productive edge rusher for TCU over the last two seasons, and he wins in a variety of ways.
One area that the TCU defensive line wins is with their ability to run a variety of line stunts. Whether they’re slanting hard inside or running the TEX stunt, these players work together to disrupt plays at the line of scrimmage. On the play above, you can see the Horned Frogs running the TEX stunt. Once the defensive tackle starts angling out towards the left tackle, you can see Banogu come off the edge and bend at the LOS. If this was a pass from the quarterback he’d get deeper into the backfield, but since the running back gets the ball, he reads this really well and makes a great play on the football.
Banogu isn’t going to win in every area on the field. There are times that he doesn’t always get the edge. When he does put it together, he does a good job flattening to the quarterback and creating pressure. More often than not, he’s going to win with his lower body, hip flexibility and his ability to sell moves from outside-in or vice versa. His explosion is there, and overall, he’s instinctive and does a good job reading the backfield as it develops. Banogu could put himself in good position to have a successful week in Mobile with his work ethic.
L.J. Collier, EDGE, 6’4″ 276 lbs
When I put on the film, Collier instantly stood out. He was winning with power and seemed prepared on just about every rush. It surprised me because Collier wasn’t the highest-rated recruit in the country when coming out of Munday High School in Munday, Texas. He was a three-star recruit and had offers from Texas Tech and TCU. Ultimately, he chose the Horned Frogs.
On the play above, you can see Collier standing up against the left tackle. Even though he’s a bit delayed off the snap, he does a great job with the long-arm technique to beat the left tackle. In the process of his pass rush, you can see how he gives some hesitation inside before positioning his lower body outside of the left tackle. These are moves that he does consistently through games, and he’s definitely taken a step in the right direction.
Collier finished his senior season with 42 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and six sacks, all career highs, and you can tell that he’s really starting to figure it out. He’s not going to win with athletic ability, but he’ll certainly be able to power his way through offensive linemen. Meanwhile, he’ll come to the table with a pass rush plan and will execute with a variety of pass rush techniques. His athletic testing will determine where he finishes on plenty of boards, but his performance at the Senior Bowl will be the baseline of where he starts.
Image by Melissa B. Triebwasser via Frogs of War.