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2022 TCU Football Preview: Defensive Line

The Frogs return a handful of talent on the D-Line this year.

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TCU’s D-Line unit has produced an immense amount of talent over the years. From Jerry Hughes to Ben Banogu, the Horned Frogs have been blessed with top-notch talent up front for years. Now, in a new era of TCU Football, only time will tell how the new-look defense will transpire in coach Sonny Dykes’ new system.

The good news is, the Frogs return nearly the entire defensive line rotation from a year ago. The bad news is, Ochaun Mathis, the Frogs’ sack leader from last season, is now a Nebraska Cornhusker. Not to forget Khari Coleman, who joined Zach Evans in the transfer portal and is headed to Ole Miss.

Of course, Mathis and Coleman are tough to replace, but the Frogs have depth at the line in 2022. Dylan Horton, George Ellis III, Soni Misi, Terrell Cooper, and Colt Ellison are all back for another round, this time lining up in Joe Gillespie’s expected 3-3-5 formation.

Aside from the returners, the Frogs have seven freshmen D-Linemen listed on the roster along with a handful of transfer players brought in by Coach Dykes. The most prominent of the fresh faces on campus include Tymon Mitchell, Landyn Watson, Lwal Uguak, and Michael Ibukun-Okeyode.

Mitchell is a 315lb beast of an interior d-tackle that transferred after two seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs. Watson, a redshirt freshman, was ranked as the No. 32 weakside defensive end in the country by ESPN coming out of high school and showcases crazy speed coming off the edge. Uguak comes to Fort Worth by way of transfer from UConn where he recorded 34 tackles and 3.5 TFL in 10 games last season. Last but certainly not least, Ibukun-Okeyode is a 6-6, 250 lbs edge rusher that was ranked no. 23 in Texas by 247Sports.

Every last one of these guys has the potential to step up and fill the roles left behind by Mathis and Colemen, but it will certainly be interesting to see how things pan out in a new 3-3-5 formation.

Although the secondary play with remain relatively similar to what Frog fans were used to under Patterson’s 4-2-5 scheme, this will be a new look entirely for the D-Line.

Frog fans are well aware the 2021 season was less than ideal for various reasons, but the defense was certainly a weak point. In 2021, the Frogs finished 122nd in terms of team sacks per game, nearly dead last in division 1. Speaking of that horrid rank, the Frogs also finished 122nd in the country last year in rush defense, giving up 222 ypg and 5.79 ypc.

It goes without saying, but that kind of output can’t happen in 2022.

A lot has changed from week 12 a year ago to fall camp now, so only time will tell how this new-look squad will actually perform on the field. From the looks of it, though, all signs point towards improvement from the defensive line unit under Gillespie’s leadership this season.