TCU football notebook: Offensive line trying to find momentum in final days of spring camp

New faces have been plentiful during TCU football’s spring training camp as transfer and younger players make their case for playing time.

That holds especially true for the offensive line which must replace Andrew Coker, Brandon Coleman, Willis Patrick and John Lanz from last season. The Horned Frogs hit the transfer portal hard to find experienced options and landed Bless Harris from Florida State, Carson Bruno from Louisiana Tech and Remington Strickland from Texas A&M.

The new faces are trying to gel with returners like Coltin Deery, senior tackle Mike Nichols and sophomore Ben Taylor-Whitfield. As spring practice begins to wind down, Deery said the offensive line is starting to turn the corner.

“I really, really like this group,” Deery said. “We’re really all coming together. Bless, Bruno, Strickland they all came in and we’ve all been gelling. I’ve never been a part of an o-line where we’re hanging out every weekend. This o-line, we’re hanging out on the weekends. We’re doing everything together, getting lunch together.”

The bond between the offensive linemen have grown stronger in large part due to the challenge they’ve been facing everyday from Andy Avalos and the Horned Frogs’ aggressive new defense.

With only three practices and the spring game remaining, it’s safe to say that the defense and defensive line in particular has won the battle so far in the spring. The new scheme, which includes a lot more blitzes than last year, has been tough to go against and players like Notre Dame transfer Nana Osafo-Mensah and Tulane transfer Devean Deal have made an immediate impact as well.

Almost every practice the offensive line and defensive line matchup against each other in 1-on-1s. There were a string of practices when the offensive line lost too many matchups and had to do updowns as punishment for being on the losing side. That was around practice No. 5, but since there there’s been steady improvement and more competition.

“They’ve been pushing us a lot,” Bruno said. “We’re getting better every single day because of them. They go hard, so we go hard.”

One of the best plays from the unit happened Monday when on third down the offensive line created a big enough crease for Cameron Cook to race through for a 75-yard touchdown. The run blocking in general has been mostly solid and the interior offensive line is probably more ahead of the tackles at this point.

Of all the offensive linemen Bruno has probably been the most consistent after starting 24 games the last two seasons at Louisiana Tech.

“The one guy I really, really like his effort has been Carson Bruno,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “I think he shows up everyday, works hard and goes a bit unnoticed. I love how consistent his efforts been, I think his play has been pretty consistent.”

Bruno was proud to hear the positive feedback from his head coach, but isn’t letting it get to his head.

“It feels good, it’s great to hear,” Bruno said. “I try to work hard and things like that happen. I just show up everyday and try to do my best.”

There will still be more tinkering to the unit once spring practice is over as the Horned Frogs still have areas that need to be addressed. San Diego State transfer Cade Bennett will be here in the summer along with a number of true freshman and whatever portal additions the Horned Frogs bring in.

It’s a work in progress, but the unit is starting to find momentum as spring camp winds down.