We all know the TCU defense was a mess this year. The unit battled consistency issues all year. The linebacker position was, in my opinion, really hurt by the injury to Johnny Hodges. After playing 834 snaps last season he was only on the field for 261 this year. The Frogs had to rely on some guys who were not expected to play significant roles this year.
Namdi Obiazor led the defense in snap count this year, playing 817 snaps. Obiazor’s PFF grade came out at 72.9. Even better, his tackling grade was 82.3, ranking 29th out of the 359 linebackers who played at least 300 snaps this year. Obiazor finished the year with 102 tackles and four sacks. He had a missed tackle rate of 10.5 percent (for reference the worst group of linebackers were around 20 percent). Outside of the Texas Tech game, where he missed four tackles, Obiazor had a solid season. He was one of the three best players on the TCU defense this season.
LB Namdi Obiazor (@namdi4k) has been a tackling machine this season! The rangy OLB shows instincts to slip blocks in traffic w/ range in space & smooth tracking ability to mirror & close on opponents! @ShrineBowl #ShrineBowl @TCUFootball #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/ifYL4z4BIP— Noah Chang (@tr8s808) October 28, 2023
Namdi Obiazor 2023 Grade: B
Jamoi Hodge played 803 snaps during his final season for TCU. He finished the year with a PFF grade of 57.5. Hodge added 83 tackles and three sacks on the year, and he had a missed tackle rate of 13.5 percent. Arguably the biggest gripe with Hodge this season was consistency. He had 9 tackles against Colorado in the opener, then he followed that up with two against Nicholls State and Houston and six against SMU. He played well again against West Virginia and posted another nine-tackle game before going ghost again against Iowa State and BYU. The season definitely could’ve been worse, but it certainly wasn’t great for Jamoi Hodge.
Jamoi Hodge 2023 Grade: C
Shad Banks probably saw the biggest increase in playing time due to the Johnny Hodges injury. He finished the season with 604 snaps played, tallying 64 tackles and one sack. Banks had a missed tackle rate of 16.9 percent on the season, so there is a definite need for improvement in that department. Banks fell victim to the same scheme issues that plagued TCU against Colorado in the Kansas State game, giving up 64 yards and two touchdowns in coverage. This is a player who was not expected to start 8 games coming into the season, and I think that’s worth noting when giving a season grade.
Shad Banks 2023 Grade: C+
I have a hard time grading this group poorly because a lot of what they were asked to do did not make sense from a schematic standpoint. Jamoi Hodge is 6-3, 235. Banks is 6-1, 250. Asking those two to run with running backs in pass coverage is a really tough thing to do, especially given that the TCU defensive line did not generate much pressure this year. Obiazor led the team with 4 sacks this year. That is a problem. These guys aren’t built to keep up with athletes who run a 4.3-4.5 forty for more than a few steps, and it often made the linebacker group look awful. Did we think having Jamoi Hodge try to run with Dylan Edwards on the biggest play of the game was going to end well?
Colorado TD #6. The game-winner. On 4th and 2. Tough to ask Jamoi Hodge to cover the back across the field. Another horrible angle from a DB. pic.twitter.com/3sVRFU94uY— Miles Perry (@CoachMilesPerry) September 6, 2023
I’m interested to see what Andy Avalos does with this position group next season. Obiazor, Banks Hodges are all back next season. TCU is also adding Kaleb Elarms-Orr from California. He had 93 tackles, two sacks and an interception for the Golden Bears as a sophomore in 2023. He was also a four-star recruit coming out of high school. I think this unit has a legitimate chance to be one of the better position groups on this team in 2024.