The Frogs are coming off their most successful season since their last national championship in 1938 with a win over Michigan in the college football playoffs and an appearance in the national title game. TCU is losing a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and recently lost offensive coordinator Garrett Riley to Clemson.
This offseason is an opportunity for Sonny Dykes to build on a very successful first season and again prove that TCU will be the team to beat in the new Big 12.
Get adjusted to the new offensive coordinator: Losing Garrett Riley for a bigger school or bigger role at some point was inevitable as he won the Broyles award for the top assistant coach in the nation this season and was going to have bigger opportunities and responsibilities available. The good news for Frog fans is that Dykes has repeatedly proven that he has a fantastic eye for coaching talent as Riley is only the latest in many of his assistant coaches getting bigger opportunities and jobs.
Frog fans should not expect a huge scheme change with the new offensive coordinator as Dykes came up as an offensive coach and had a large part in the play design and play calling on the offensive side of the ball last season and will no doubt hire someone with similar views and schemes. Dykes will still have a heavy influence in the offense next season so much of the play design and game planning will be similar to what fans saw in 2022.
The need for a new offensive coordinator quickly increased due to the change in quarterback happening for TCU. There will be a QB competition for the Frogs and getting an offensive coordinator in to help oversee the competition and teach all potential candidates the playbook will be very helpful in the Frogs having strong quarterback play next season. Getting the quarterbacks familiarized with the new offensive coordinator and vice versa will make the transition to a new starter much smoother.
Stabilize the quarterback room: TCU is losing the Heisman Trophy runner-up from the 2022 season in Max Duggan to the NFL draft but should return the winner of the preseason quarterback competition at TCU in Chandler Morris. That by no means should indicate that Morris will have a better season than the magical campaign that Duggan had in 2022 but should show fans that Morris is a very capable quarterback and that the coaching staff has a good amount of trust in him.
Even with Morris available to take over the starting job, the Frogs need to add to the quarterback room this offseason via the transfer portal to at the very least find a backup for Morris. Josh Hoover is the only other quarterback on the roster that attempted a pass last season following the departure of Duggan to the draft and former 4 star recruit Sam Jackson to Cal as a transfer. The Frogs have been linked to a couple of former highly rated recruits at the position that are in the portal in Walker Howard from LSU before he ultimately committed to Ole Miss and Sam Huard from Washington.
Huard was a 5-star recruit in the 2021 class, ranked as the number 12 overall recruit and the 3 ranked quarterback in his class. Huard only attempted 2 passes in the 2022 season but had more opportunities in the 2021 season and was underwhelming at best. He completed just 52% of his passes on 42 attempts for 241 total yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 interceptions. The potential is still there with Huard and Dykes showed the ability to rehabilitate transfer quarterbacks while at SMU, turning Shane Buechele and Tanner Mordecai into very good college quarterbacks after transferring from Texas and Oklahoma respectively.
Bringing in a transfer quarterback, whether it be Huard or Howard or someone with more experience, is very important not only for depth at the position but to also add to the competitiveness in the room. The quarterback competition this past offseason (along with a new coaching staff) resulted in Max Duggan taking a huge leap in his 4th year at TCU leads to better offseason practices and pushes all candidates in the competition to perform their best.
Replace offensive weapons: The Frogs are losing a lot of talent at the skill positions to graduation and the NFL draft this offseason with wide receiver Derius Davis announcing he will be headed to the draft, fellow slot receiver Taye Barber expected to go with him, running back Kendre Miller potentially declaring early, and wide receiver Quentin Johnston being projected as a very early 1st round pick probably declaring for the drat as well.
Dykes and the rest of the coaching staff have done an excellent job finding players to fill in for these losses both through the transfer portal and high school recruiting. There are also a few players already on the roster that are ready to step into a bigger role as well with Savion Williams and Jordan Hudson set to see a dramatic increase in target share and Emani Bailey looking to be featured much more in the backfield.
Tight end Jared Wiley recently announced that he would be returning to TCU for another year which was a big-time win for the Frogs as the tight end room was relatively thin compared to the other skill positions and Wiley had an excellent 2022 season as a very reliable and big target on third downs as well as in the red zone. Even with Wiley returning, there will be a lot of new featured players at the skill positions next season and the coaching staff needs to figure out and communicate with their quarterback on who will be the go-to guys in specific situations so that whoever starts at quarterback for the Frogs can start to develop chemistry with their pass catchers and running backs.
The receiving attack will look very different next season for the Frogs as the ball will be spread around more assuming Johnston declares for the draft. There is a lot of talent on the outside and certain players have specific strengths for the coaching staff to take advantage of with Williams thriving in jump ball situations and being able to run deep routes well and Hudson having a great ability to track deep balls, make contested catches, and create separation from man coverage.
Bailey is a downhill runner with breakaway speed and fellow running back Trent Battle has good receiving ability out of the backfield. The talent is there with the returners along with the transfer portal and high school recruit additions to replace the talent being lost. The coaching staff should be able to transition to the new set of weapons offensively this offseason.
Reload upfront (on both sides of the ball): TCU loses all 3 interior offensive lineman including their best offensive lineman in 2022 in second team All-American left guard Steve Avila, center Alan Ali, and right guard Wes Harris this season. The Frogs are also expected to lose their best defensive lineman from the 2022 season in Dylan Horton as well as their best linebacker in Dee Winters to the 2023 NFL draft.
Both defensively and offensively, the Frogs need to find new playmakers up front. Sonny Dykes has already found a potential difference maker in the very talented Tommy Brockermeyer at offensive tackle. Brockermeyer is a product of Parish Episcopal high school in Fort Worth and spent the past two seasons at Alabama after being ranked the number 6 overall recruit and the number 2 offensive tackle in his class. Brockermeyer did not see a lot of playing time while at Alabama in part due to injury but can help a TCU team out immediately that struggled at times pass protecting against good edge rushers last season.
The Frogs emphasized the interior offensive line in the 2023 recruiting cycle with 3 interior offensive linemen having signed their letter of intent to TCU on signing day. Cooper Powers was the highest-rated interior offensive lineman to sign with TCU this cycle coming out of De La Salle high school in California. De La Salle is a very storied high school football program and is the subject of the movie When the Game Stands Tall and Powers has a chance to compete for playing time immediately with the losses upfront for TCU.
Shad Banks is the most likely candidate to take the starting linebacker spot vacated by the loss of Dee Winters. Banks started a few games this season for the Frogs including Texas, due to Winters being suspended for the first half because of a targeting call in the previous game, and in the Big 12 Championship Game against Kansas State, due to an injury to Johnny Hodges. Both games were very tough matchups against two of the best running backs in the Big 12 in Bijan Robinson and Deuce Vaughn and Banks had a great game against Texas and a very solid game against Kansas State.
Banks has sky-high potential as a great athlete for the position as he played wide receiver in high school and just finished his second season playing linebacker in college. The Frogs also have a few highly touted defensive line recruits that could compete for the starting defensive end spot left by the departure of Horton. Markis Deal and Avion Carter were the first and third ranked recruits respectively in the 2023 recruiting class for TCU. The pass rush was not a strong suit for the defense last season and Deal and Carter both have the potential to contribute to improving that immediately.
The pieces are available for the Frogs to reload and potentially improve upfront on both sides of the ball and getting the new starters ready for big seasons in 2023 could make the difference in competing for a conference championship and winning a conference championship next season.
Improve eye discipline defensively: Arguably the biggest weakness for the TCU defense last season was their slower reactions to plays that involved misdirection of any kind. Good motions and fakes will cause most all defenses to lose a half step but the Frogs were especially exposed by those plays last season. The Baylor game and Big 12 Championship game stand out especially as two instances where the TCU run defense was exposed by counter runs and misdirection.
This weakness was in part due to the implementation of a completely new system to the Frogs and there should be improvement with a better understanding of the defense. That being said, it should still be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff to work on the defense reading their keys as opposed to getting caught up ball watching and getting tricked by eye candy drawn up by opposing offenses.
Even with the amount of talent TCU is set to lose this offseason, there is a real opportunity for Dykes and the rest of the coaching staff to capitalize on the recruiting advantages this past season has brought and maintain their current position at the top of the new Big 12. There are a few coaching points and positions to solidify this offseason to ensure that happens and if those things are accomplished expect the Frogs to be firmly at the top of the conference and competing for another Big 12 Championship and in the conversation nationally as a contender.