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2021 TCU Football Preview: Offensive Line

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The Horned Frogs scored a big-time transfer over the offseason, which should bode well for a unit that struggled at times last season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 07 Texas Tech at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Protecting Max Duggan will be paramount for the TCU offense this coming season. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs, multiple starters will return this fall and a big-time transfer should provide an immediate boost for Duggan’s blind side.

The Horned Frogs scored two transfers from Memphis this offseason including left tackle Obinna Eze, whose 6-foot-8, 315-pound frame will anchor a unit that allowed 23 sacks in 10 games to opposing teams during the 2020 season. Eze, who started in 25 games over the last two seasons at Memphis, should immediately command TCU’s starting left tackle job.

Redshirt junior center Steve Avila and redshirt senior right guard Wes Harris will return to lead the Horned Frogs in the middle of the trenches. A 2020 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honoree, Avila started his 2020 campaign at center before shuffling over to the right side in the absence of Harris, who missed the bulk of the season with an injury.

Harris, a former four-star prospect, has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but plays like one of the best interior linemen in the Big 12 Conference when healthy. Both Avila (6 feet 4, 314 pounds) and Harris (6 feet 4, 320 pounds) have great size for their respective positions. On the opposite side of the interior, redshirt junior John Lanz emerged at left guard this past season, starting TCU’s final seven games.

The Horned Frogs rotated a few players at right tackle in 2020 including 6-foot-7 redshirt sophomore Andrew Coker, who opened the season as a starter. Coker eventually split time with redshirt sophomore Brandon Coleman, who missed the second half of the season with an injury. TCU also saw redshirt freshman and four-star recruit Garrett Hayes earn playing time at right tackle, appearing in two games.

TCU will certainly have plenty of depth on the offensive line this coming season. Redshirt senior center Coy McMillon has appeared in 35 games throughout his career, while redshirt senior Blake Hickey stepped up with some huge performances at right guard in 2020. The Horned Frogs will have multiple returners at tackle including Marcus Williams, Michael Nichols and Tyler Guyton.

The Horned Frogs run blocked very well in 2020, helping the TCU offense average 5.2 yards per carry and compile 101 first downs on the ground. But while the Horned Frogs rushed for 23 touchdowns and nearly 215 yards per game, the offensive line struggled at times in pass protection, particularly in matchups against Iowa State and Kansas State, who combined for nine sacks and even more quarterback hits on Duggan. Should TCU make strides in providing a clean pocket, expect the offense to show significant improvements in 2021.