The TCU Horned Frogs experienced more than a handful of injuries last season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. One was a season-long injury to defensive end James McFarland.
Last season was supposed to be McFarland’s senior year in Dallas-Fort Worth, but he sustained a freak injury during two-a-days last season.
McFarland broke his left big toe after planting on a sprinkler head during practice. With that injury, McFarland was unable plant, unable to be fully explosive and it is hard to walk without the usage of your big toe. That injury cost the 6-foot-2, 250-pound West Monroe, Louisiana, native his 2015 season and affected TCU’s sack output as it dipped from 39 in 2014 to 32 last season.
However, since he sustained a season-ending injury, McFarland earned a medical redshirt which allows him to have a redo at his senior year in 2016. With having a now-healthy McFarland, his return to TCU’s starting lineup gives the Horned Frogs the best defensive end duo in the Big 12.
You have to go back to 2014 to realize how special McFarland truly is.
McFarland was a disruptive and dominant force for TCU during the 2014 football year. Throughout the course of that season, the 6-foot-3, 255 pound defensive end tallied 41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Those seven sacks was the highest on the Horned Frogs roster in 2014.
Not only did McFarland consistently produce at a high level in 2014 for TCU, but he came up big for the Horned Frogs in big time games.
Two years ago, TCU faced off against the Ole Miss Rebels in the Peach Bowl in what was suppose to be a highly contested battle. However, McFarland made sure that game wasn’t close.
The Horned Frogs blew out the Rebels 42-3 and McFarland earned the defensive MVP award of that game. McFarland recorded 4 tackles–including one sack–and a pick six against Ole Miss.
— TCU Athletics (@TCU_Athletics) August 28, 2015
So McFarland is a truly dominant force for TCU and maybe an even more dominant one for them in 2016.
“McFarland looks better than I’ve ever seen him,” said TCU head coach Gary Patterson to the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Now, who is the second half of what could be the best defensive end duo in the Big 12? That would be 6-foot-4, 250 pound senior Josh Carraway.
Entering this year, Carraway is seen as the Horned Frogs’ top star. It is not hard to see why.
The Flower Mound Marcus, Texas, native was one of the constants on a depleted TCU defense last year. Carraway led the Horned Frogs with nine sacks–good for fourth in the conference. While leading TCU in sacks, Carraway also posted 47 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. Those numbers helped him earn First Team All-Big 12 last season.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 4, 2016
This offseason Carraway was named preseason First Team All-Big 12 and is seen as one of the top defensive ends in the country as he was one of two (Kansas State’s Jordan Willis is the other) Big 12 players named to the Ted Hendricks award watch list–which is given to the top defensive end in the nation.
While the the combo of McFarland-Carraway will contend for the title of the best defensive end duo in the conference, they will face competition from the tandem of Kansas State’s Jordan Willis and Tanner Woods. However, the duo of McFarland-Carraway have proven to be effective in year’s past.
Two years ago, McFarland and Carraway combined for nine sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 74 tackles. But with TCU’s 2014 and 2015 sack leaders both healthy entering this season, the duo could help the Horned Frogs top over 40 sacks in 2016. If they help TCU accomplish that sort of merit, they should prove to be the best in the Big 12 and could possibly wind up being the best defensive end tandem in the country.