TCU head coach Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense is not an easy one to pick up if you’re a player. With the field divided into three sections (d-line and linebackers, weakside corner and weak safety, strong safety, free safety and strongside corner), every must know their assignments and execute well for the defense to be successful.
Now imagine you’re a new coach for Patterson. You not only have to learn the defense yourself, but be able to translate that into coaching young men on the field.
That’s exactly what Demontie Cross is doing right now. Cross, formerly the linebackers coach at Kansas, was hired by TCU in January to replace Randy Shannon after Shannon left for Arkansas. Cross has had to learn the intricacies of playing linebacker at TCU while simultaneously relaying that information to his players.
According to Patterson, Cross is doing very well.
“He’s done a real good job for being in the first six days of practice of understanding the concept and picking it up because he was a 3-4 guy,” Patterson told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “I think he’s making them a lot better.”
That’s good news for TCU fans, who watched the most experienced linebacker on the squad, Kenny Cain, graduate, and another linebacker, A. J. Hilliard, transfer to Texas A&M.
Currently, it’s a three-pronged battle for the two starting spots, as Joel Hasley, Marcus Mallett and Paul Dawson all duke it out. How responsive those guys are to Cross’ coaching will play a huge impact.
It’s imperative that the linebackers are up to speed by the start of the season, as they’re the clear weak link in an otherwise incredibly strong defense. How they play in space in the pass-heavy Big 12 will certainly impact TCU’s overall success in 2013.
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