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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: BYU Cougars

The staff gives thoughts and predictions as BYU returns to Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday

TCU’s Jerry Hughes wrecked QB Max Hall and BYU as part of a big TCU win in 2008. Who will make the impact with the series renewed in 2023?
Photo by Sharon M. Steinman/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

TCU & BYU engaged in heated battles from 2005-2011 as conference foes in the Mountain West. After over a decade apart, where does the rivalry stand in 2023 and where would you put the Cougars in the rivalry hierarchy going forward in the New Big 12?

  • Anthony: It’ll likely become a situation where whenever both teams are contenders the rivalry will be turned all the way up again, but any other time it’ll just be another game on each other’s schedule. Given the time and the disparity in performance since these programs went separate ways, perhaps it’s only a rivalry to Mountain West old heads like me, just like the Iron Skillet is really only a rivalry to TCU fans of an earlier generation. It’ll certainly slot a significant tier break behind Baylor and Texas Tech, but likely in that large next tier of rivals with Utah and K-State and OK State and maybe even Colorado and Arizona.
  • Austin: I don’t believe there is much of a rivalry at all as of now. But, I do foresee the rivalry potentially renewing. Both TCU and BYU tend to have good athletic programs, thus it wouldn’t be surprising to see these two battle it out year after year.
  • Drew: The rivalry has died down a considerable margin, obviously, but I think a few years where both teams are good at the same time could reignite the flame. I don’t think this rivalry ever gets to the level of TCU-TTU and I think the TCU-Utah rivalry will be bigger once they join but the BYU rivalry could slot right in behind Utah.
  • Miles: Definitely potential for this to develop into one of TCU’s biggest rivals now that they won’t play SMU every year.
  • Russ: It’s hard to gauge where exactly the rivalry is considering how long it’s been since these teams squared off. I think there’s potential for this rivalry to gain steam moving forward, however, especially with the TCU and SMU series likely coming to a close.

What are your expectations for the TCU offense with Josh Hoover behind center?

  • Anthony: I think TCU will simplify its offense for Hoover, particularly in this first start; get him quick reads, attempt some deep shots when the defense is loading the box, and a heavy dose of Emani Bailey. Just like with Morris at QB, the offense’s success will likely be determined by whether the offensive line can keep him clean long enough to get comfortable
  • Austin: Fewer quarterback runs and RPOs. Hoover does have a big arm, but I could see the Horned Frogs playing it relatively safe. Relying on the runs, screens, and easy completions over the middle of the field with the deep ball sprinkled in here and there.
  • Drew: I think we see a pretty big change in offensive scheme with Hoover at quarterback. The offense had become very quick game and RPO heavy to play to Morris’s strengths but Hoover profiles more as a straight drop back passer that can make plays due to arm strength.
  • Miles: Not sure how different it will look, but one can hope that they find a way to get the passing game going with Hoover.
  • Russ: I think we’ll see TCU take some more deep shots down the field. That dynamic of the Horned Frog offense has been nonexistent with Morris under center and perhaps it’s because the coaches think Morris can execute the underneath and short-yardage throws better than Hoover can. But I’d like to see the offense take some shots this weekend.

We’ve covered TCU’s red-zone issues, but BYU is on the opposite side of the spectrum: dead last in the Big 12 in yards per game, but top-15 nationally in red-zone scoring and still averaging 31 points per game. What can the Horned Frogs do defensively to flip that script and keep the Cougars out of the endzone?

  • Anthony: Get that BYU offense off the field early, don’t even allow them into the red zone where their athletic giants at WR & TE can big-body the TCU secondary. The TCU defense has gotten burned on 3rd & 4th downs some this season, but will need to force more punts and long FG attempts to keep the Cougars away from the red zone.
  • Austin: It’s gotta be forcing the action and creating turnovers. This BYU squad is quite methodical, which usually does present good red-zone results. Forcing hurried throws with a good pass rush and making plays in the secondary will be essential to slowing down this red-zone attack.
  • Drew: This could present a challenge for the TCU defense which feels like it has been more of a bend but don’t break unit this year. The key for the Frogs this week will be to stop the run on early downs and force BYU into obvious passing scenarios. I am not worried about the secondary and if the Frogs can confidently call blitzes because of longer third downs, I think the Frogs will have success.
  • Miles: BYU likes to slow the game down. They’re only running 60 plays a game (TCU runs 70). The mindset of this team is obvious - we don’t care about putting up big numbers, we just want to score when we have the ball. The biggest thing the Frogs could do to flip this script is force turnovers.
  • Russ: TCU’s secondary will need to step up and create some turnovers. Whether it’s Josh Newton or Bud Clark or someone else in the secondary, the Horned Frogs cannot afford to lose the turnover battle this weekend.

Offensive MVP vs. BYU

  • Anthony: Josh Hoover. It’s his time to shine. Many TCU fans have been calling for more Hoover in this offense and we’ll see what he can show on Saturday. He’ll be able to play somewhat carefree ball and should be put in position to make all the plays necessary to deliver success for the TCU offense.
  • Austin: The only answer is Emani Bailey. Hoover will have to play well and mistake-free, but the offense rests on Bailey’s shoulders. The Horned Frogs don’t have one receiver on the roster with more than 300 yards. Without the starting quarterback and a go-to receiver, Bailey will certainly be in line for 20-plus touches.
  • Drew: I’ll go Savion Williams. I think the Frogs take more shots down the field against BYU and Williams has the skill set to succeed on jump balls. I think Savion is best as a physical receiver that can win down the field and Hoover has the arm to get the ball to him.
  • Miles: The receiver room. TCU’s passing game struggles are not just the fault of Chandler Morris. TCU receivers have not been able to consistently create separation in their routes. Maybe it’s time to give some of the younger guys a run-out and see if they can do better.
  • Russ: Emani Bailey. He’s been the best player on this offense right now and I expect the Horned Frogs to give him a heavy dose of the football against BYU this weekend..

Defensive MVP vs. BYU

  • Anthony: Paul Oyewale. The defensive front has been shut out the last two weeks, zero zero sacks and very little pressure on opposing QBs. If BYU QB Kedon Slovis is hassled, he will make mistakes. I want to see Oyewale treat Slovis the way Jerry Hughes treated Max Hall.
  • Austin: Avery Helm. The former Florida Gator is tied for the team lead in pass deflections, but has yet to record an interception in his collegiate career. Considering the BYU offense is pass heavy, all the defensive backs will be heavily involved.
  • Drew: I’ll take Paul Oyewale. I think he gets a sack on Kedon Slovis and a few TFLs in the run game to lead the TCU defense.
  • Miles: Namdi Obiazor. He’s done a great job stepping up during the absence of Johnny Hodges and is leading the team in tackles. He’ll play a big role in helping stop the run, putting BYU in obvious passing situations.
  • Russ: Bud Clark. I think the standout free safety makes some big plays in the secondary and intercepts Kedon Slovis at least once.

Final Score

  • Anthony: TCU 24-20
  • Austin: TCU 24-23
  • Drew: TCU 31-27
  • Miles: TCU 28-24
  • Russ: TCU 21, BYU 17