TCU-South Dakota State preview

BY foxsports • August 30, 2016

The last time quarterback Kenny Hill started a season opener he was playing for Texas A&M, passing for 511 yards as a sophomore to lead the Aggies to a 52-28 win over South Carolina on Aug. 28, 2014.

TCU coach Gary Patterson no doubt would take a repeat performance when Hill makes his first start for the 13th-ranked Horned Frogs in Saturday's 2016 opener against South Dakota State (Fox Sports Net, 8 p.m. ET). But he isn't asking Hill to do anything extraordinary against the Jack Rabbits of the FCS.

"Kenny has a lot to prove, but as I told him, our job is just to win," coach Gary Patterson said. "It's not to put up big numbers, not to do anything else. Put the ball where it's supposed to be, run the ball when you're supposed to and get ready to play."

Hill, who transferred to TCU for the 2015 season after losing his starting job after eight games with the Aggies, beat out sophomore Foster Sawyer for the starting job with the Frogs. He passed for 2,649 yards his last season at A&M before falling out of favor and spent last year running TCU's scout team.

Foster was a backup in 2015 and played in four games, completing 11 of 27 pass attempts for 155 yards with three interceptions.

"Our biggest thing probably is talking to Foster about how we've got to keep coming," Patterson said. "We need two quarterbacks, and really three."

Against South Dakota State, Hill will face a defense that held opponents to under 198 passing yards per game last season. The Jack Rabbits return 15 starters from an 8-4 team and are ranked No. 8 in the STATS FCS rankings, the third time in the last four seasons they have earned a spot in the preseason top 10.

TCU, meanwhile, has made the preseason Top 25 for the ninth time in the last 11 years. The Horned Frogs have 13 starters back from an 11-2 team that came within two points of winning the Big 12. A 30-29 loss at Oklahoma dropped them to 7-2 in conference play, tied with Oklahoma State for second behind the 8-1 Sooners.

This will be only the fifth time in Patterson's 16 season that the Frogs have opened the season at home, though twice they opened in nearby Arlington, Texas, officially a "neutral" site.

The Frogs have won their last two season openers and 11 of their last 13. But they have won their last 14 home openers.

Defense has been a big key in that success. In 11 of the wins in their home openers, they held their opponent to 17 points or less.

Their only loss under Patterson in home openers came in his first year, ironically against Northwestern State, then an I-AA program (now FCS).

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