It’s no secret that TCU Football has gathered some buzz over the course of the offseason. After more than two decades with one man at the helm, the Horned Frogs have endured a full-on coaching change for the first time since Elton John and Aerosmith topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Throughout spring practices, TCU fans were given a tease into what they can expect in the fall under the new coaching regime. Off the field, there were some noticeable differences as to how the program is run.
For example, when was the last time TCU Football allowed fans to attend practice? Nobody knows because it’s been that long, frankly, I forgot that was even a thing college football programs did until Dykes came along.
Another noticeable difference is the culture surrounding the program. Although it’s difficult to determine anything concrete from social media videos and inside looks brought to us by TCU Athletics, there is a sense of comradery going around this team.
These players visibly enjoy playing alongside one another, and really seem to be buying into whatever Sonny is engineering from his office in the Carter.
Fun social media videos are one thing, but throughout the spring football game on Friday, you could tell this group was having a good time while doing what they love.
Although the game itself wasn’t necessarily action-packed, we learned a decent amount about this team from just 30 minutes of football. And thanks to Sonny prioritizing media availability, we learned a whole lot more from the man running the operation in a post-game interview.
Throughout the presser, Dykes preached the idea of building a culture and having his players buy in to what the Frogs have going on.
“The biggest thing for us was number 1, start to build a culture and know what that looks like,” said Dykes. “Everyone has a way of doing things and we have a specific way we want to do it. That’s always a period of adjustment and sometimes that can take a while.”
“I’ve gone places where it’s a 6-month buy-in, 12-month buy-in, 18-month buy-in, and I don’t feel like that was the case at all here. After some rocky days early, the buy-in has been really good,” said Dykes.
Building a culture is one thing, but building a winning football program is a whole ‘nother conversation. Sonny seems to be feeling confident in both aspects:
“I think in some ways we’re probably ahead of where I thought we’d be, but we got a long way to go,” said Dykes. “A lot of work needs to be done, but these guys will put the work in.”
In terms of on-field production, Dykes spoke very highly of the Wide Receivers as the position group had a solid outing as a whole on Friday.
“Derius, Taye, Gunnar, all three of those inside receivers have had really solid springs. I kind of expected those guys to make plays like they did,” said Dykes. “I feel really good about that position group, it’s probably a strength of our team.”
One of those receivers mentioned, Gunnar Henderson, chimed in to shift the praise over to the defense, as the Senior claims they’ve made “great strides” over the spring.
“We got a lot better from day 1,” said Henderson. “The biggest stride was our defense, they made some great strides. Our defensive coordinator, all those guys lined up on the sidelines, they got those guys right.”
Although the receiving core got some well-deserved attention after a solid spring, everyone still wants to know what’s going on with Max Duggan and Chandler Morris. Rather than discussing who is taking first-team reps or who’s taken charge of the offense, Dykes elected to praise both his QBs after a productive few weeks of practice.
“We feel like they [Max and Chandler] both can execute our base offense and give us a chance to go out and move the ball consistently,” said Dykes.
Now that Spring practices have come to a close, the Horned Frogs shift their focus to what could be a long, drawn-out summer full of potential transfers and new signings. Just because we got to see Purple vs White on Friday doesn’t mean those roster sheets won’t look a lot different come kickoff on September 2nd.
Especially when looking at a program in the midst of a transition like TCU, a lot can change in a few months, and Coach Dykes is well aware. When asked if he expects any major transfer exits this summer, Dykes responded with: “I don’t, but it’s college football, you know?”
“We have a good culture, I think our guys are excited about the future and they know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s important to maintaining and keeping a roster together, is not only how the players feel about themselves, but the overall program,” said Dykes.
The man in charge also hinted at the possibility of adding more talent through the transfer portal this summer, though nothing is a guarantee.
“The thing about college football is you’re always trying to improve your roster every day, it’s about roster management, looking for someone that can improve your roster, and doing the very best you can to get as many good players in your program as you possibly can,” said Dykes.
Just as Dykes and co. have to focus on the here and now, they also have to make sure the program is prepared for the future. What felt like hundreds of recruits were in attendance for Friday’s spring game, which was a beautiful sight to see considering all the recent changes in the program.
On the recruiting side of things, Dykes emphasized that nothing is a race, and they’re focused on getting the best possible players to the Fort.
“We’re certainly not going out and trying to get as many commitments as we can right now, we’re trying to get the best players,” said Dykes.
Overall, Friday’s spring game was an excellent first look into what’s setting up to be an incredibly exciting season of TCU football. To conclude the post sprig game presser, Dykes was asked about the atmosphere and feedback from the fans to which he responded with a big smile across his face:
“Thanks to the fans, the turnout was unbelievable. Student turnout was awesome, it’s just fun to be a part of it.”
The next time Frog fans will see Dykes lead the Horned Frogs out onto the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium will be week 2, TCU’s home opener against Tarleton State.