FORT WORTH — Sometimes, the responsibility for TCU’s 2016 performance seemed to fall fully on Kenny Hill.
Even by the too much credit/too much blame dichotomy of the quarterback position, Hill became a focal point for TCU — notwithstanding a shaky run defense, injuries to key offensive players and an unreliable kicking game.
By Big 12 QB standards, Hill was pretty average last season as a junior with 3,208 yards and 17 touchdowns offset by 13 interceptions and a so-so passer ranking. He will have to be better for TCU to improve on last year’s 6-7 mark.
Here are five reasons why Hill should be improved this season, beginning with Saturday’s opener against Jackson State:
1. Motivation. Ever since his impressive Texas A&M starting debut against South Carolina in 2014, people have wondered when Hill would regain that form. Now is his final chance.
“Been waiting for this one for a while,” Hill said at a Tuesday media session with reporters. “This is my last first game in college. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go.”
While Hill’s story isn’t yet written, the first draft is not far away.
“I’m ready to come out and change the narrative about me,” Hill said.
2. More playmakers. The offensive struggles, which included TCU ranking seventh in the Big 12, went far beyond Hill. TCU receivers had an FBS-worse 38 drops.
Dangerous receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin returns after spending most of 2016 at less than 100 percent. So does Shaun Nixon, who missed last season after recording 47 receptions as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
“All those guys, they can all go,” Hill said. “To have them healthy, I think that’s just the biggest thing.”
Then add freshman Jalen Reagor, who was ranked as a top-100 national recruit with speed and big-play ability coming out of Waxahachie.
3. Familiarity. Coach Gary Patterson admitted that he has a better understanding of Hill.
“I broke him down a little bit too much, maybe not understanding quite as well,” Patterson said. “He and I have a lot better understanding on what we’re trying to get accomplished. Tried to put a chip on his shoulder.”
Patterson even invoked former TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin as an example for Hill’s desire to prove doubters wrong.
4. Improved mechanics. Hill spent countless hours this summer on the practice field.
Part of the time was spent building a better relationship with his receivers. Part was focused on correcting bad habits, especially footwork.
“If my feet are right then my throws are going to be…