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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: 2023 Season Predictions

Our staff gives predictions for the upcoming TCU football season.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Texas Christian Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

TCU’s Offensive MVP:

Anthony: OL Brandon Coleman. Ok, the correct answer is Chandler Morris, the QB has to be good for the team to be good. My take here is that Chandler Morris has no chance to become TCU’s Offensive MVP unless Coleman - and the offensive line as a unit - takes a step forward. Coleman grew from spot starter at Guard as a sophomore to full time starter at Tackle as a junior; like Steve Avila did last year, if he can make another leap up the ladder to All-Conference or All-American and early round NFL Draft level for his senior season, whether at guard or tackle, the TCU offense will be cooking.

Russ: WR John Paul Richardson. The former Oklahoma State wide receiver brings plenty of experience to the Horned Frogs. Additionally, Richardson had an excellent spring camp and made multiple plays during TCU’s annual Spring Game earlier this year. Richardson appears to be a favorite target of quarterback Chandler Morris, as he’s continued to make plays during fall camp and could finish the season as TCU’s No. 1 receiver. The Horned Frogs have incredible depth at the wide receiver position this season and I think Richardson will be the man who emerges as the top target.

Miles: WR Savion Williams. This answer is more along the lines of “if TCU is prolific on offense then it is because this guy had a breakout year.” The biggest question mark coming into 2023 for the TCU offense is who replaces the production lost from the departure of Quentin Johnston. Williams is 6-5, 225, runs a 4.5 40, and I think this is the year he finally realizes his potential. If he does TCU will win a lot of games.

Drew: RB Emani Bailey. With Kendal Briles replacing Garrett Riley as the offensive coordinator, the TCU offense will become more run-heavy than it was a season ago. Kendre Miller was able to put up incredible stats in 2022 despite the offense being primarily pass-first. With the departure of Miller to the NFL, Bailey projects to be the workhorse and should be in line for a monster year behind two veteran offensive tackles and a scheme that is very beneficial to running backs. Bailey showed that he has plenty of talent in limited opportunities in 2022 and is primed for a breakout 2023 season.

Austin: QB Chandler Morris. Unlike the rest of the staff, I decided on the quarterback as the offensive MVP. Morris may seem like the obvious answer, but he isn’t due to his lack of pedigree. Although Morris was the starter on opening day last season, his reign quickly came to an end after an injury while playing Colorado. Next, Duggan took over and the rest is history. Knowing Morris was given the keys to the offense before the beginning of last season, he clearly has talent. With the ability to use his legs, as well as pass from the pocket, Morris is a “do-it-all” type of quarterback. And luckily for Morris, the Horned Frogs possess a quality offensive line to go with a superb core of playmakers.

TCU’s Defensive MVP:

Anthony: DL Damonic Williams. As the lone returning starter on the defensive line, the sophomore will serve a huge role in 2023. No longer just a young space-eater up front taking on blocks to funnel production to Dee Winters or Dylan Horton, Williams’ game is expanding. He’s working pass rush techniques and potentially taking snaps from the defensive end spots this fall. Wherever he lines up, he has opportunity to become a dominant force, amassing TFLs and sacks while torturing offenses all season.

Russ: CB Josh Newton. There’s a reason Newton was named a Preseason AP All-American as well as a candidate on multiple preseason award watch lists. The former Louisiana-Monroe transfer was a lockdown corner opposite Tre Tomlinson during the 2022 season and should have no issue stepping into the No. 1 corner role this fall. Newton has already assumed a leadership role on this team and could very well play himself into NFL Draft consideration with another strong season. The Big 12 features several talented wide receivers and Newton will have an opportunity to showcase his talents as the season progresses.

Miles: SS Mark Perry. Perry returns after a season with 84 tackles. The TCU secondary has to be better in 2023, and Perry will lead the way. We’d like to see him more involved in pass defense with a couple of interceptions.

Drew: FS Bud Clark. While Newton is the best player on the defense (and probably the whole team), I think opposing offenses will do their best to avoid throwing to his side of the field. With that in mind, there will be a lot of opportunities for Clark to make plays. Perhaps the best ball hawk in a very talented secondary, Clark has all the athletic tools to be a star for the Frogs. Clark was hurt coming into the 2022 season and should benefit from a healthy off-season and fall camp. TCU lost their two best pass rushers this offseason and will need the secondary to step up while they look for replacements in the front 6. Clark seems most apt to take the needed step into stardom.

Austin: FS Bud Clark. Another vote for Clark! Clark is a true ball hawk in the secondary. He recorded five interceptions a season ago, and could easily repeat as the interceptions leader in 2023. Playing alongside Josh Newton, Mark Perry, Avery Helm, and Millard Bradford, Clark may be an afterthought, or he could become the best player in the secondary. The latter should come true, even if a player like Newton is a future NFL draft pick. Clark is an energizer in the secondary, who flys around, hits hard, and makes plays on the ball.

TCU’s Newcomer of the Year:

Anthony: CB Avery Helm. While there are many incredible new weapons on the offensive end, I’ll look to the defensive backfield for a newcomer primed for the biggest impact on TCU’s success in 2023. The 6-foot-1, 185 pound Florida Gators transfer will be tasked with filling the shoes of 2022 Thorpe Award winner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson as the cornerback looking to lock up the outside along with Josh Newton. He still has a camp battle with fellow newcomers Mason White and Channing Canada to earn that starting role; if whomever fills that role is successful, the TCU defense will be tough to break in 2023.

Russ: RB Trey Sanders. The former five-star prospect has dealt with a wealth of injuries and unfortunate circumstances throughout his career, but I think he’ll have a chance to hit the reset button after a lengthy stint at Alabama. After losing two NFL running backs in Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado, TCU will need two more players to emerge in the backfield. Although Sanders has missed a little time in fall camp for what’s being described as load management, I think he and Emani Bailey step up to carry the load. I also think it would be a great story should Sanders emerge from 2023 fully healthy and performing at a high level.

Miles: LB Jonathan Bax. Bax arrived in the spring as a 3-star edge recruit, and he’s now looking like he will be a major contributor at linebacker for the Frogs. At 6-3, 235, Bax has the size to play on the edge, but is also versatile enough drop in coverage. Bax impressed during the spring and summer, and will only continue improving. I don’t know if he’ll be starting early in the season, but there’s a good chance he is by the end of the year.

Drew: WR Jaylon Robinson. Robinson was a star in 2020 for UCF but has had two down years since then at UCF again in 2021 and then at Ole Miss last year. He will have ample opportunities to regain his 2020 form in an offense that lost three starting receivers this offseason including their two top slot options. Robinson has had a very strong fall camp and should fit well into an RPO-heavy scheme from Briles. Look for Robinson to immediately be a top target for Chandler Morris.

Austin: WR Jojo Earle. The local product Earle starred at nearby Aledo High School. Earle was fantastic in high school as an all-around player, before playing sparingly in a loaded Alabama offense. He did score two touchdowns last season and returned thirteen punts for the Crimson Tide. Seeing Earle in the Derius Davis role wouldn’t be surprising. Both players are slot receivers, with the ability to make guys miss in open space. The Horned Frogs typically have a vaunted return game and Earle may be the next player to star while returning punts for TCU.

TCU’s most difficult game:

Anthony: at Kansas State, Oct. 21. The Big 12 Championship rematch is the final game of eight straight weeks of football for the Frogs, with the bye week to follow. Guaranteed to be a physical brawl in Manhattan, TCU will be out for revenge for the result in Arlington last December. Even without superstars like Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Deuce Vaughn, with Horned Frog killer Will Howard still behind center the Wildcats will be a major threat. The stakes are likely to be very high, not just for conference positioning, but for the potential of having to put up with another year of irrational KSU faithful claiming a conference championship is a better result than a Playoff win.

Russ: at Texas Tech, Nov. 2. Strange things always seem to happen when the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders square off in Lubbock and I think 2023 will be no different. TCU will also be coming off of what will certainly be a tough challenge in a road matchup against Kansas State, which will be the eighth game in eight weeks for TCU. Expectations for Texas Tech seem to be higher for the 2023 season, given the team’s recent success in recruiting.

Miles: vs Baylor, Nov. 18. My reasoning doesn’t have much to do with Baylor. It has more to do with the way TCU’s schedule sets up. Prior to the Baylor game TCU is at Texas Tech, then they host the Texas Longhorns at home. Those 2 will probably be the best offenses in the Big 12, and Texas is going to be the most physical team the Frogs play this year. After Baylor, TCU has a road trip to Oklahoma. This game could be Baylor’s “national championship” and their schedule leading up to this game is much more friendly than TCU’s.

Drew: at Oklahoma, Nov. 24. A nationally televised game in Norman, Oklahoma on Black Friday for the last game of the season will be a very tough test for the Frogs to face. After a down year in 2022, Oklahoma appears ready to bounce back toward its usual standard of play. Starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel returns and year two of Brent Venables should result in an improvement on the defensive end. Oklahoma is an offensive lineman factory, they return a couple of very solid running backs, and the defense is filled with veterans. Expect this game to be a very tough end to the season with potential Big 12 title game implications.

Austin: vs. Texas, Nov. 11th. TCU faces off against UT following an extremely tough stretch of games. Prior to facing the Longhorns, the Horned Frogs square off against BYU, Kansas State, and Texas Tech. These four games pose the toughest test on the Horned Frogs schedule and it culminates with a matchup against the Longhorns. UT is always so talented across the board but doesn’t always live up to the hype. This year might be that year. Quarterback Quinn Ewers, wide receiver Xavier Worthy, tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, and tackle Kelvin Banks Jr. all look to build upon fantastic campaigns a season ago.

TCU’s regular season record:

Anthony: 9-3. Frogs lose at KSU and at OU, but only drop one of Texas Tech, Texas, or Baylor.

Russ: 9-3. I think TCU will once again be in position to contend for a Big 12 title, but the second half of the schedule presents several challenges and a lot will have to go the way of the Horned Frogs (like they did in 2022) for the team to see double-digit victories.

Miles: Floor: 5-7, Ceiling: 10-2, Projection: 8-4. I wouldn’t be surprised if TCU starts 7-0 and finished 1-4. The back end of the schedule is brutal, and if the Frogs have any injury issues it could get ugly. If TCU stays healthy, there’s a real argument to be made for 10-2.

Drew: 9-3. TCU did a good job of reloading through the transfer portal and gets their three biggest rivals at home this season. Texas Tech on the road on a Thursday night terrifies me as do the trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma. I think the Frogs steal one of those on the road and drop one game at home to either Texas or Baylor.

Austin: 9-3. The Horned Frogs have certainly reloaded, but the losses are too tough to overcome, so another 13-win season may be insurmountable. The three likely losses on the Horned Frogs' schedule are to Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Texas. Back-to-back away games in Manhattan and Lubbock are extremely difficult, while the Longhorns are just too talented this season.

TCU’s Bowl game (if any):

Anthony: Pop-Tarts Bowl vs. Notre Dame. If given opportunity, I’d expect the Alamo Bowl to select Texas or Oklahoma in the last season with those programs as a potential bowl tie-in. While this result may seem a bit disappointing after the 2022 Fiesta Bowl, a winter trip to Orlando with a chance to get to double-digit wins vs. a national brand would be a solid consolation.

Russ: Alamo Bowl. Should TCU reach double-digit victories, then I believe the New Year’s Six Games will be in play. Being conservative, though, I’ll slot the Horned Frogs to once again battle for the Alamo, where they’ve had success in recent years, knocking off Pac-12 opponents such as Stanford and Oregon. Given the current conference realignment climate, it’d also be fitting for a Big 12 school to deliver one final blow to a Pac-12 opponent.

Miles: Alamo Bowl. Not sure I see TCU getting a NY6 game.

Drew: Pop-Tarts Bowl. I’m not confident that the Big 12 gets a playoff bid this year, leaving the Sugar Bowl and Alamo Bowl bids to the two teams in the Big 12 Championship. The Frogs making it to Arlington would take an incredible run through the gauntlet that is the back half of the schedule and I don’t know if the Frogs have the team to do that again this year. Nine wins with a chance to make it double digits in a bowl game would be a great season for a team that lost a ton of talent to the NFL this offseason.

Austin: Liberty Bowl. Coincidentally, the last time TCU played in the Liberty Bowl, Georgia happened to be on the opposing sideline. And, like last season, the Bulldogs defeated the Horned Frogs. Although Georgia isn’t a likely Liberty Bowl team, watching the Horned Frogs square off against an SEC foe would be an exciting matchup. If Texas A&M is capable of piecing together a solid season, a bowl season matchup against TCU would be an intriguing one.

Best new member of Big 12 (BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF):

Anthony: BYU. While the Cougars are picked near the bottom of the conference and may find tough sledding against the top of the conference and in road environments, I think they will be alive in the conference title race longer than anyone is willing to admit right now. BYU will surprise by getting bowl eligible in its first season in the conference. With its first conference game coming in Lawrence in Week 4, the Cougars could flip the conference narrative early and perhaps be in the Top 25 when arriving in Fort Worth in Week 7.

Russ: UCF. Head coach Gus Malzahn brings Power 5 experience from his days at Auburn and the Golden Knights are looking to improve on a 9-5 performance during the 2022 season. UCF does have a difficult Big 12 schedule to manage, with contests scheduled against Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, but the team’s early-season schedule should be easy to manage. UCF also has experience playing in big games in recent seasons, which I think will help the Golden Knights with their Big 12 transition.

Miles: I think it’s going to be UCF and I don’t really think there’s a close second. Houston lost too much offensively. Cincinnati lost their whole freaking program. BYU only returns 4 starters on offense. UCF could be the best of the bunch at 6-6.

Drew: UCF. Out of the four newcomers, UCF looks to have the most stable transition to power five, at least in year one. They return both their starting quarterback and their head coach which cannot be said for the other three teams. John Rhys Plumlee had a solid 2022 and should improve in his second year in the starting spot. Gus Malzahn won’t be fazed by the increased difficulty on the schedule after having to navigate the SEC West while at Auburn.

Austin: BYU. The Cougars have had numerous successful seasons since going Independent in 2011. BYU can easily continue success as a part of the Big 12. The Cougars continuously roster above-average talent and are a very well-coached team. Former USC and Pitt Quarterback Kedon Slovis comes over to stabilize the BYU offense. Alongside Slovis, BYU has the requisite playmakers to make some noise in the Big 12.

Big 12 Championship match up & winner:

Anthony: Oklahoma over Kansas State. The Championship will not be a rematch this year. With these two top contenders not matched up in the regular season and both getting TCU at home, these two have the easiest path to AT&T Stadium. The Sooners were gifted a batch of cupcakes as a going away present from the Big 12 schedule makers, with only four away conference games, all coming against teams projected near the bottom of the league (Cinci, KU, OSU, BYU). OU avoids three of the other top-six squads from the preseason poll (KSU, TTU, Baylor) while getting Texas at the Cotton Bowl and TCU at home to end the season. If the Sooners do not make it to Arlington in December, Brent Venables may not have the opportunity to coach a game in the SEC.

Russ: Texas over Oklahoma. I know Texas is favored in the preseason every year and the Longhorns always seem to underwhelm and fall way short of expectations, but there’s simply too much talent on the 2023 roster for this team to fall short this time. I also have to believe Oklahoma bounces back from a mediocre 2022 campaign with Dillon Gabriel back for his second season as a Sooner. Head coach Brent Venables should have his defense in a much better position to compete and I think seeing the Longhorns and Sooners battle one last time as members of the Big 12 would be an entertaining experience for all.

Miles: Texas over Kansas State. Let me start by saying that I hate making this prediction. I hate Texas. Always have, always will, but they have the most talented roster in the Big 12 and it’s not even close. The problem over the last decade for Texas has been a lack of talent and depth in the trenches, and Sark has fixed that problem. I won’t be surprised at all if Texas runs the table and finds their way into the playoff. They honestly should.

Drew: Oklahoma over Texas Tech. I can’t see Oklahoma having anywhere close to as bad of a season as they did last year and I think they win the Big 12 one more time on their way out behind a great year from Dillon Gabriel and the best defense OU has produced in some time. Joey McGuire has complete buy-in from his team and fans and that can go a long way in a league where the margins are often very slim between good teams and bad teams.

Austin: Texas over Kansas State. As I’ve mentioned before, UT is a loaded team. Their offense is full of five-star recruits and phenomenal players. Quinn Ewers is a good quarterback and he has a wealth of receiving talent. The defense, like last season, is average but still employs plenty of talent. As for the ‘Longhorns' hypothetical opponent, the Wildcats seem to always be a surprise contender. Kansas State doesn’t lure the best recruits, but they’re always well-coached. Although Deuce Vaughn left for the NFL, quarterback Will Howard will get the opportunity to demonstrate his worth.

College Football Playoff teams & National Champion:

Anthony: Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson. Georgia over Alabama. The Bulldogs are inevitable. While the three-peat is an incredibly challenging feat, UGA is simply much better than every team it will play until the SEC Championship. Perhaps new QB situations at the top three seeds knock one of them out, but even so there’s virtually no chance any of those teams are losing two games. The same can be said for Michigan where a pathetic non-conference slate gives a schedule with only two games of consequence all season, but the Buckeyes get the best of Blue in the Big House this time. Here one-loss Alabama is obviously in over the Wolverines, but also the one-loss ACC Champion Clemson Tigers earn the fourth spot with a much more challenging schedule.

Russ: Georgia, Michigan, LSU, Clemson. Georgia over Michigan. Head coach Kirby Smart has molded Georgia into a college football juggernaut and I don’t see any teams getting in the way of the Bulldogs in 2023. Clemson is fortunate enough to have all of its tough opponents (Florida State, Notre Dame and North Carolina) at home and I think Cade Klubnik will take a big step forward. LSU should benefit from having Jayden Daniels back for another go-around and Ohio State will have a much tougher schedule this year with Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan all coming on the road. Michigan, however, has a cupcake schedule with only Penn State and Ohio State presenting significant challenges.

Miles: Georgia, Penn State, Clemson, Texas. Penn State over Georgia. The Bulldogs might already be a lock to play in the playoff. Their schedule is trash, and they should steamroll through the SEC this year. They’re the most talented team in the country, so Carson Beck only has to be average for them to get in. Penn State is my most iffy pick here, and is reliant upon Drew Allar becoming a stud (which I think he will). The Nittany Lions have a rough schedule with Ohio State and Michigan, but I think they can get it done if they stay healthy. They beat the Bulldogs because of the battles they face during the regular season.

Drew: Georgia, Michigan, Clemson, USC. Georgia over Clemson. Georgia feels like a shoe-in for the playoffs and national championship at this point as their only real test during the regular season will be a road game against a Tennessee team that is losing their quarterback and top two receivers. Michigan gets Ohio State at home and their trip to Happy Valley is a day game (lame move by Fox) while returning their quarterback and top two running backs. Clemson will be helped out a lot by a new offensive scheme and Cade Klubnik is a star in the making at quarterback. Caleb Williams goes wild in the last year of the Pac-12 in his third year under Lincoln Riley and USC has a year reminiscent of Riley’s Oklahoma teams. Kirby Smart completes the three-peat despite the change at quarterback as Brock Bowers and a very talented receiving corps make the transition smooth.

Austin: Georgia, Texas, Michigan, USC. Michigan over Georgia. Once again, Georgia should make the College Football Playoff. Georgia is such a talented squad and always features a top-tier defense. Additionally, Georgia doesn’t have the toughest schedule, so a perfect record heading into bowl season isn’t too far-fetched. Texas is as talented as any team in the nation, especially on offense. The Longhorns feature one of college football’s best offenses and will play multiple tough teams, and a conference championship game in route to a playoff appearance. Michigan was in it a year ago and should be back The Wolverines return many of their players. JJ McCarthy should be a Heisman favorite, and the running game boasts the best 1-2 punch in all of college football. USC has Caleb Williams. Williams can make any team special. Although the defense may not be on par with the other teams listed here, the Trojans boast an experienced roster with a plethora of talented transfers. I would like to mention Florida State. I believe they’ll finish as a top-6 team, just on the brink of the CFP.