Ball Hawk: Hackett strengthens TCU secondary

Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Bryan Bennett (3) runs from TCU safety Chris Hackett (1) of Tyler during their college football game Sept. 7 Fort Worth. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

FORT WORTH — After redshirting as a true freshman, Chris Hackett posted impressive numbers in his first season at TCU in 2012.

In 13 games, 10 of which were starts, the former John Tyler High School safety finished with 61 tackles, 1½ tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

However, the young defensive back wasn’t content with his performance last year for the Horned Frogs. He resolved to carry his approach from arriving in Fort Worth in 2011, one of getting better every day and every week, forward to use his 2012 success as a springboard to bigger accomplishments in 2013.

And thus far, he’s done exactly that. In TCU’s season-opening loss to LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, he finished with 10 tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss.

And in the Frogs’ 38-17 win over Southeastern Louisiana he had four tackles and one interception.

It continued on Thursday in Lubbock. In the loss to Texas Tech, the Tylerite had four tackles and an interception. He now has four career interceptions.

Hackett feels that even though TCU lost to LSU, starting the season against an SEC foe, especially a formidable one like the Tigers can only help them in 2013.

“I think it prepared us real good to play a nonconference game and as big of a game as it was to play LSU. It lets us know what we have and what we need to work on,” he said. “I think it was very big, playing in the Cowboys’ stadium, which was my first time. It was just really another game to get better and try to get another win to start off the season.”

He credits upperclassmen in the secondary like Sam Carter and Elisha Olabode for taking him and other young players under their wing to not only show them how things work under TCU head coach Gary Patterson but to also pass along sage advice as to how they can find success in the college game.

Their positive influence not only allowed him to thrive last fall as a redshirt freshman, but it also helped lay the groundwork for him to start his sophomore year in such strong fashion.

“Yeah, last year I tried to just get better every week coming into each game. I just wanted to get better,” Hackett said.

Before the start of the season, few picked the Frogs to be much of a factor in the race for the Big 12 Conference title. And now that TCU has lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall to a forearm injury, those odds appear to have gotten a bit longer of the Frogs winning the conference or even contending for that matter.

However, that lack of respect from the media isn’t of much concern to this young safety or his teammates.

“You always have a chip on your shoulder but like I said, we’re not worried about the other games. We’re just going to take it week-by-week and see what the end results are,” Hackett said.

NOTES: The Horned Frogs are off this week and return to play Saturday, Sept. 28 when they face rival SMU in Fort Worth. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1.

Steve Hunt is a Frisco-based freelance writer.