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Frogs O’ War Roundtable: Houston Cougars

The staff gives predictions for the 2023 Big 12 opener.

Nicholls v TCU Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Are there takeaways from the Nicholls game that suggest TCU has righted the ship?

Miles: I don’t care about FCS games. I don’t count them when I look at stats, so I don’t have any takeaways from it.

Austin: Not really, the score should have been 60-3 or something like that. Morris looked sharp but the run game didn’t look like it did in week one.

Russ: I think the Nicholls game was a step in the right direction for Chandler Morris and the special teams units. However, TCU left much to be desired on both offense and defense. The Horned Frogs still have a lot to prove heading into the Houston matchup.

Anthony: Some of the troubles were cleaned up: fewer penalties, better tackling, made FGs. However, there were still opposing WRs running wide open, still multiple turnovers, and TCU’s offensive playcalling often left the Frogs unsuccessful. We should learn a lot more in Houston on Saturday.

Drew: While the defense took a step forward against Nicholls State, the offense looked much choppier than it did in week one. Hopefully, the vanilla offensive gameplan was intentional given the weaker opponent but nothing looked smooth on offense for the Frogs.

This is Houston’s first Big 12 game as a league member. What are your long-term expectations for the Cougars in the conference?

Miles: Recruiting needs to pick up, but there’s enough talent in Houston for them to be competitive. They SHOULD be one of the top 5 programs in the Big 12 in the next few years.

Austin: Houston generally has a dominant season every few years, I could easily foresee that happening sometime soon. There’s so much recruiting talent in Houston and throughout Texas that Houston won’t be bad for long.

Russ: I think Houston will eventually become a recruiting hot bed due to its large market size and new status as a Power 5 (Power 4) conference member. Houston has had some success in recruiting circles, even signing players like former four-star wide receiver Matthew Golden over TCU, so the Cougars will definitely emerge as a bigger threat.

Anthony: With the right recruiting and coaching staff, Houston should be highly competitive pretty quickly. Even if they are getting 2nd-tier recruits from the the greater Houston metro, that can build a top half of the Big 12 roster. Not sure if Holgorsen is that guy anymore, but if they get it rolling, the sleeping giant should awake with a fury.

Drew: I’ve said in previous articles that I think Houston has the potential to be the best addition to the Big 12 from the AAC. Houston is overflowing with talent at the high school level and while bigger schools will take the bigger recruits, the Cougars will definitely take a step forward in recruiting now that they are in a better conference.

Houston Head Coach Dana Holgorsen & QB Donovan Smith have a wealth of Big 12 experience. Will the Cougars offense find success against TCU?

Miles: Dana is one of the better offensive coaches in college football. He’ll have some stuff schemed up. Smith will make some plays with his legs. But I don’t think the Cougars score 30.

Austin: I have faith in Dana, but not Smith. He has played solid, but unspectacular this season and never really wowed at Texas Tech. I think the offense will have a so-so day.

Russ: As much as the TCU defense has struggled this season, I thought the Horned Frogs did well to contain dual-threat quarterbacks like Jalon Daniels, Adrian Martinez and others last season. I don’t have much confidence, but we’ll see if that trend continues this year.

Anthony: I don’t think Smith is as accurate a passer as Shedeur Sanders, but wide outs Matthew Golden and Samuel Brown are going to be a challenge for a TCU secondary that has struggled this season. If TCU can avoid the big plays and make sure tackles underneath, UH may accumulate yards, but never hit that moment that breaks the game open.

Drew: I am not a big believer in Smith as a passer and while Houston has talent at the wide receiver position, they are pretty dependent on underclassmen to produce. I think the TCU defense plays more like the unit we were expecting coming into the season and shuts down Houston.

Offensive MVP vs. Houston

Miles: Emani Bailey. This Houston defense is BAD. I’d love to see Bailey go for 200 on the ground.

Austin: Chandler Morris. Houston allowed 400 passing yards to the Rice Owls, Morris should at least throw for more than 300 yards.

Russ: Savion Williams. The 6-foot-5 receiver has had a lackluster start to his season, but facing a Houston defense that has struggled against the pass, Williams could finally emerge and become the leading target that TCU’s offense desperately needs.

Anthony: JP Richardson. Y’all see what Rice’s Luke McCaffrey did to this Houston defense last week (7-99-2) or UTSA’s Josh Cephus in Week 1 (9-123-1)? If Richardson is healthy, he should similarly feast on the Cougars in this one.

Drew: Jaylon Robinson. He saw a large increase in targets against Nicholls State and he is explosive in and out of his breaks to create separation. I think he has a big game against the Cougars.

Defensive MVP vs. Houston

Miles: Literally anyone, please? The Frogs have only forced 3 turnovers so far. Nobody has had a double digit tackle game. I was very critical of the effort and intensity of the defense after the Colorado game. At this point, I don’t care who it is, someone needs to step up and lead by example on this defense.

Austin: Josh Newton. It’s time for Newton to show what he’s capable of. After being selected a preseason second-team All-American,

Russ: Johnny Hodges. TCU’s linebackers will have a hefty burden in containing Donovan Smith and I think Hodges leads the charge. He’s been TCU’s best linebacker so far.

Anthony: Give me Bud Clark. Golden & Brown are going to test Helm & Newton and there will be times those outside corners are left on an island, but it’ll be the Safety support that keeps them in check and Clark picks off Smith at least once.

Drew: I think Johnny Hodges gets a couple of sacks and racks up tackles in run defense to give TCU fans a bit more confidence in the defense.

Final Score

Miles: TCU wins 52-24

Austin: TCU wins 45-31

Russ: TCU wins 38-24

Anthony: TCU wins 59-27

Drew: TCU wins 41-21