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2023 TCU Football Position Review: Quarterbacks

We take a look, and grade, the performance of the quarterback position from this season.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our newest series where we will be grading the TCU Horned Frogs football program by position group. This will be more than just a box score scouting, but I can’t promise you that I will be watching every single snap of every single player from this season. I will, however, provide as much evidence as possible to justify my opinions that are presented in each article. We’ll start off with the only position that matters, according to the playoff committee.

The quarterback position gets far more attention than any other spot on the field and that makes sense. To the casual fan, the quarterback is the player being watched before the ball is snapped, and he’s generally also being watched post-snap.

We’ll start our grading with the redshirt sophomore, Chandler Morris. Morris won the starting job last year, but was injured in the first game. Once again, his season was cut short by an injury during the Baylor game, and he did not play again this year. Let’s start by taking a quick look at Morris’ stats from the year.

Chandler Morris through 6 games:

133/203 for 65.5% completion, 1532 yards, 12 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 11 sacks, 143.5 passer rating, 73.1 QBR. Morris also rushed for 249 yards on 45 attempts and had 3 touchdowns on the ground.

Not bad numbers at all, but not elite either. In my opinion, Morris received a little too much hate with his performances, and that’s mostly because he threw 2 really bad interceptions against Colorado. Let’s take a look at some of his plays from this season.

This was probably the best throw Chandler Morris made this season. When he catches the snap he peeks to his left, holding the safety playing the middle of the field (Colorado is in man-free here). Morris knows his 6-7 tight end is going to be 1 on 1, and that’s a matchup you take any day of the week in the red zone. Morris delivers an absolute dime that only his man is going to have a shot to catch.

Another great play here. Morris knows he’s probably getting pressure given the look the defense is giving. He takes a quick peek to the bottom of the screen to see if he can throw a quick fade. When he sees that’s not an option he works back to the right, finding his “hot” receiver. The throw could’ve been better, but a touchdown is a touchdown. Great decision making here, and he held on to the ball as long as he possibly could.

Then, of course, there was some bad. This one here is a late throw over the middle of the field, which is the ultimate bad decision for a quarterback, especially in the red zone. It honestly looks like Morris never saw the high safety, which is strange because he looks right and then works back to the left side of the field.

Then there’s this one. The media and broadcast gave all the credit on this play to Travis Hunter. Don’t get me wrong, Hunter made a great play on the ball here, but he also got some help from Morris who failed to understand the defensive scheme. Let’s break it down.

First, let’s talk about the play call. This is a common scheme run in the red zone because it can be impossible to cover if the defensive scheme is wrong. TCU is running double slants with the top 2 receivers and a wheel with the RB. The idea is that the 2 receivers “screen” the linebacker chasing the back on the wheel. So when Morris sees cover 0 (man-to-man defense) pre-snap, he believes the wheel will be open and that’s what he throws. My opinion - Morris made up his mind before the ball was even snapped. He never actually read the defense once the ball was in his hands.

The problem is that Colorado put a little twist on their cover 0 scheme. Instead of the DBs chasing the slants inside, they pass them off to the next man. The linebacker is now looking to wall off the slot receiver, and Travis Hunter is now responsible for the wheel. Morris makes the throw. Hunter picks it off.

After the Colorado game, Chandler Morris would throw for 10 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. His performance was pretty poor in the Iowa State game, but outside of that he did just about everything you’d want your quarterback to do.

It’s also worth noting that for some reason Chandler Morris was pressured A LOT more than Josh Hoover. Whether it was the scheme, or offensive line play, I don’t know. I’ll look into it more when I do my grades for the offensive line. Morris was pressured on 37% of his pass attempts. Just go back and watch the SMU game, it seemed like he was getting hit every time he made a throw.

Chandler Morris’ 2023 Grade: B+

When Chandler Morris got hurt redshirt freshman Josh Hoover stepped in. Hoover had an up and down year where he performed a lot better at home than he did on the road. TCU featured the pass game significantly more with Hoover at quarterback. He had 58 pass attempts against BYU, 52 against Texas Tech, and 58 against Oklahoma. Morris’ high on the season in attempts was 41 against West Virginia. Hoover definitely has the arm talent, but he’s going to have to grow significantly in terms of decision making to become an elite quarterback.

Josh Hoover 2023 Stats:

185/298 for 62.1% completion, 2206 yards, 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 8 sacks, 134.8 passer rating, and a 77.1 QBR.

One of the things I found most interesting when looking at Hoover’s splits was his performance by field position. Take a look below.

Interestingly, Hoover was almost perfect when the TCU was backed up. 14/17 (82.4% completion percentage), 245 yards, and a touchdown. On the flip side, Hoover really struggled between the 20s (open field) which is awfully strange. Generally, quarterbacks are at their best in this area because there isn’t as much pressure to be perfect. My opinion, Hoover was a little too relaxed between the 20s and he often forced throws he shouldn’t have. Look a little further, and you see that Hoover was pretty great inside the opponent 20. While his completion percentage wasn’t great at 46.8%, Hoover didn’t throw a single interception in the red zone, and that’s part of the reason TCU improved their red zone offense as the season went on.

When you look at the tape on Josh Hoover you see a quarterback who has incredible confidence in his own arm. He’s not afraid to take chances, and he’s got the belief that he can make every throw. And he can. However, that confidence often resulted in bad decisions being made. Let’s take a look at a few clips.

Hoover had a great game against BYU in his first start, throwing for 439 yards on 37/58 passing. The freshman was able to showcase his arm talent all afternoon. The clip above is a great example of the attributes Hoover brings to the table. Good feet in the pocket, quick reads, and delivering a great throw to the backside of the play.

Later in the BYU game you see some more of the arm talent on display. A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is to make this throw. Rolling out to your left as a right handed quarterback, and hitting a 20-yard out route. It’s impressive stuff.

I can’t say that I hate the decision to make this throw, but it almost feels like Hoover was a little early on this one. Add in the fact that the throw is behind his receiver and suddenly it looks like he just chucked it up into double coverage. This type of turnover is the difference between being a bowl team and staying at home in December, however.

Once again, this clip shows you what Hoover is capable of. He works from right to left, which forces the safety to vacate the middle of the field, and delivers an absolute laser to the backside dig for the touchdown.

This one didn’t end up mattering because the game was out of reach, but it’s probably the worst decision Hoover made all year. Pause this video 5 seconds in and you’ll count SEVEN BYU defenders around the ball. It’s a great example of that confidence that Hoover has in his own arm. Yes, the receiver should’ve made the catch, but at the end of the day this is a ball that should not be thrown.

A few weeks later against Kansas State we saw a similar throw made from Hoover. This time he tries to hit Jojo Earle in the slot, but the throw is into triple coverage and Earle never had a shot. This throw probably should’ve gone to the top of the field to Warren Thompson’s outside shoulder.

I saved the best for last. In my opinion, this is the best throw Josh Hoover made all season. This is a NFL level throw, period. In fact, at the NFL level this throw wouldn’t have been as hard to make because the hashes are more narrow. This throw epitomizes everything that Hoover brings to the table. He shows great poise as his right tackle is getting blown up and stands tall in the pocket. The throw is on a rope to hit the 12-yard comeback on the far sideline. This is a throw that most college quarterbacks can’t make. This play call, in a situation where TCU was backed up, tells me that the coaching staff has great confidence in Hoover’s ability.

Josh Hoover’s 2023 Grade: B

2024 Outlook

Many of you will probably disagree with me giving Hoover a lower grade than Morris and that’s fine. Hoover absolutely has the better arm. I think he’s a more talented quarterback than Morris. However, Hoover has to become a better decision-maker if he’s going to be the guy long-term. Far too often, Hoover would make poor decisions or try to fit the ball into the tight windows. Hoover did not take care of the ball well enough. Hoover threw an interception in every game except the Baylor game. A quarterback’s most important job is to take care of the football, and this is where Josh Hoover has serious work to do. While 15 touchdowns to 9 interceptions doesn’t look terrible, it could have easily been 12 interceptions (Texas Tech literally dropped 3 picks in that game). Chandler Morris does not posses as much arm talent as Josh Hoover, but he did a better job of protecting the football this year. That matters to coaches. Morris also brings a dual threat to the table.

The fact that Chandler Morris has not entered the transfer portal tells me that this will probably be an open competition in the spring. If there’s a clear winner of the competition during spring, I would be very surprised if the other does not transfer. Personally, I think Josh Hoover has greater upside long-term. The arm talent is definitely NFL level, but he’s going to have to make significant strides for TCU to be able to reach that potential. But that’s not to say that Chandler Morris couldn’t be great either. Regardless of the outcome, TCU fans can rest easy knowing their quarterback situation is better than most others in the country.