TCU Horned Frogs: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·11 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the TCU season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
TCU Schedule Analysis
– TCU Horned Frogs Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 6-4 overall, 5-4 in Big 12
Head Coach: Gary Patterson, 21st year, 178-74
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 44
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 34
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 82

TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Offense

The TCU offense was painfully inconsistent, but it got the job done enough to get to six wins and – for the most part – let the defense take over and win games. It averaged 411 yards and 31 points per game, but it failed to score more than 14 points three times – the team lost all three games.

Nine starters are expected to be back, there’s help coming in from the transfer portal, and there are enough good weapons in place to be more explosive, starting with …

Max Duggan. It’s never a positive to be totally reliant on a quarterback to carry your offense – you’re one play away from the attack changing its identity – but Duggan is growing into a special type of playmaker.

He was efficient enough as a passer to get by, and he led the team in rushing with 526 yards and ten scores. Bringing in Chandler Morris from Oklahoma was a good pull to battle for the No. 2 job.

The receiving corps lost TE Pro Wells – he led the team with three touchdown passes to the pros – but the receivers are there to do more.

Quentin Johnson averaged over 22 yards per catch and led the way with 487 yards, and Taye Barber is a decent midrange option who came up with a team-high 31 grabs.

The offensive line is a bit of a sticking point. It was great for the running game that led the Big 12 – Duggan had a lot to to with that – but it struggled in pass protection. It loses starting tackle TJ Storment to Texas Tech and guard Austin Myers to Memphis, but it’s bringing in a few blockers from the transfer portal to go along with a decent base.

It would be nice if Duggan wasn’t the top runner, and TCU has a deep and talented group of backs to do more. Darwin Barlow led the RBs with 428 yards and four scores, but he’s in the transfer portal. However, Kendre Miller and Zach Evans each added over seven yards per carry and Emari Demercado became a factor at times.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
TCU Schedule Analysis

NEXT: TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Defense

4. TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The good: Eight starters should be back for a D that allowed just 351 yards and 24 points per game, helped by a fantastic pass rush and a whole lot of tackles for loss. The bad: The guys who left were starts.

Garret Wallow was an all-star who led the team with 90 tackles, safety Trevon Moehrig won the Thorpe Award and is now a Las Vegas Raider, and fellow safety Ar’Darius Washington is a Baltimore Raven. Even so, there’s a whole lot to like coming back.

The defensive front has two killers on the ends. The combination Khari Coleman and Ochuan Mathis combing for and 12 sacks – nine coming from Mathis – and 29 tackles for loss, and there’s more talent behind them.

The tackle situation is fine with veterans Terrell Cooper and George Ellis, and in comes pass rusher Kenny Turnier from UCF to be a part of the rotation. Everyone on the line can get into the backfield – TCU was tenth in the nation in tackles for loss.

Wallow might be gone, but Dee Winters is a good veteran who finished second on the team with 65 tackles. He’s an undersized 223-pounder in the middle, but he’s quick and he makes a whole lot of plays behind the line. Replacing Wallow will need a bit – it’ll take fall camp to get the right rotation – but there are plenty of options with Wyatt Harris getting the first look.

Here’s where the 4-2-5 scheme helps – TCU only uses two linebackers and it sticks with them. After Wallow and Winters, the third-best tackling linebacker was 28th on the team in stops.

The secondary is the bigger issue, only because you don’t just replace safety talents like Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington. However, the Horned Frogs have a star at corner in Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson – he’s a good tackler who came up with 13 broken up passes.

At safety, Nook Bradford emerged late last year and ended up finishing fifth on the team with 44 stops, and La’Kendrick Van Zandt will find a spot somewhere.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
TCU Schedule Analysis

NEXT: TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best TCU Horned Frogs Offensive Player

QB Max Duggan, Jr.
He’s not all that big at 6-2 and 201 pounds, but he’s got a live, accurate arm, is a dangerous runner, and he has proven he can rise up to the moment and handle himself well in the bigger games.

Dangerous on the move, he led the team with 526 yards and ten scores on the ground, and he hit 61% of his throws for close to 1,800 yards and ten scores with four picks. Now he has to do more for the passing attack with six of his ten touchdown passes coming against Iowa State and Kansas.

2. WR Quentin Johnston, Soph.
3. C Steve Avila, Jr.
4. OG Wes Harris, Sr.
5. WR Taye Barber, Sr.


TCU Football Schedule 2021, Analysis, Best & Worst Case Scenario

Best TCU Horned Frogs Defensive Player

DE Ochuan Mathis, Jr.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is among the nation’s better corners, and the Horned Frogs have several potential all-star defenders, but it’s the 6-5, 247-pound Mathis who’s the top difference-making pass rusher who needs the full attention of every blocking scheme.

Quick off the ball and great at closing, he came up with 46 tackles with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss, and with Khari Coleman taking attention on the other side, expect even more production.

2. CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Jr.
3. LB Dee Winters, Jr.
4. DE Khari Coleman, Soph.
5. DT Terrell Cooper, Sr.

Top Incoming TCU Horned Frogs Transfer

OT Obinna Eze, Jr.
UCF defensive end Kenny Turnier should be an instant factor in the rotation on one side, but after losing a few starting offensive linemen to the transfer portal, Memphis needed a new big body.

The 6-8, 315-pound Eze isn’t going to be handed TJ Storment’s starting job at left tackle, but the former Memphis Tiger has 25 starts on the left side over the last two seasons and should find time right away.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
TCU Schedule Analysis

NEXT: TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

TCU Horned Frogs Biggest Key: Offense

Run for 200 yards. TCU led the Big 12 in rushing offense thanks to a deep group of running backs and the mobility of QB Max Duggan, but when the O didn’t crank up big yards on the ground, the team lost.

The Horned Frogs don’t care all that much about ball control, but when they run well they’re able to dictate the tempo. The 200 yard mark showed it.

The Horned Frogs for more than 200 yards six times – and they went 6-0. They didn’t run for 200 yards four times – and they went 0-4. To take this further, TCU is 10-2 over the last two seasons when it hits the mark, and it’s 1-9 when it doesn’t.

For the puzzle to be put together, get the running game working and …

TCU Horned Frogs Biggest Key: Defense

Take the ball away more. The TCU defense is always going to be decent-to-great under Gary Patterson, but most of the time there isn’t much of a margin for error.

Everyone wants to win the turnover battle, but TCU hasn’t been too bad at overcoming mistakes by the offensive side. However, the D needs to generate takeaways.

The TCU D forced multiple takeaways seven times last season and in each of the last four games. Last season it came up with two ore more just three times and won all three games.

When it failed to get more than one takeaway the team was 3-4. And when it comes to turnover margin, TCU was 3-0 last year and 15-2 over the last four seasons when it was on the plus side.

TCU Horned Frogs Key Player To A Successful Season

LB Wyatt Harris, Jr.
Garret Wallow came up with close to 300 tackles with 8.5 tackles and 32.5 tackles for loss in his terrific Horned Frog career. Now he’s gone after being a fixture in the TCU linebacking corps for the last three seasons and the D needs to replace an important part in the 4-2-5 alignment.

The 6-3, 220-pound Harris only made three tackles last season, but TCU has a way of grooming defenders to be the Next Man Up. If it’s not Harris out there next to Dee Winters on the inside, it’s going to be an interesting fight in fall camp.

TCU Horned Frogs Key Game To The 2021 Season

Texas, Oct. 2
The Horned Frogs start the season with four straight home games, and this comes at the end of the run. They beat Texas in a 33-31 thriller last year and – shockingly – won six of the last seven.

It had better be seven of eight with three of the next four games and five of the last eight on the road. Lose, and those dates at Texas Tech and Oklahoma will be a problem.

TCU Schedule Analysis

2020 TCU Horned Frogs Fun Stats

– Rushing TDs: TCU 23 – Opponents 9
– Penalties: TCU 77 for 625 yards – Opponents 66 for 598 yards
– Fumbles: TCU 13 (lost 9) – Opponents 11 (lost 4)

NEXT: TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

TCU Horned Frogs College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

TCU has had the talent and upside to be in the mix for the Big 12 title over the last few seasons, but it’s been a tad bit underwhelming since getting to Arlington in 2017 in a strong 11-win season – the Horned Frogs lost to Oklahoma 41-17 for the Big 12 title.

18-17 over the last three years is way too mediocre for a Gary Patterson program. This year’s team has the ability and experience to change that.

Everyone is full of veterans in the super-senior season, and TCU loses some very, very important players – mainly on defense – but there’s good depth, the defense should be strong, and the running game has the potential to lead the Big 12 again.

As long as the Horned Frogs win the 50/50 games in Fort Worth and can pull off a few upsets, they might be lurking.

Set The TCU Horned Frogs Regular Season Win Total At … 7.5

Everyone will be in love with Iowa State, and Oklahoma will be in everyone’s preseason top five, and for good reason – and that’s the problem.

TCU has to go on the road to face the Sooners and Cyclones, and they have five Big 12 away games in all, but it should sweep West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas at home, Duquesne won’t be a problem, and beating SMU is a must for a nice base of wins.

There are at least two more victories out there to have the best regular season since 2017. Split those games against Oklahoma and Iowa State – and go ahead and throw Oklahoma State in there – and pull off the win over Texas at home, and Patterson might just have his strongest team in a while.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
TCU Schedule Analysis