TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the TCU season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
TCU Horned Frogs Preview
Head Coach: Sonny Dykes, 1st year at TCU
12th year overall, 71-63. 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 5-7, Conference: 3-6
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
TCU Top 10 Players | TCU Schedule & Analysis
TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2022
It’s an interesting hire.
Gary Patterson was an institution at TCU. He was the one who helped take the program from life in the WAC, to Conference USA, to the Mountain West, to the Big 12.
Along the way, the program won a Rose Bowl, came within an eyelash of going to the first College Football Playoff, and was almost always able to punch above its weight considering it’s a relatively small, private research school dealing with the Texas and Oklahoma behemoths of the world.
Now Patterson is gone, and in comes Sonny Dykes, a good coach who won a WAC title at Louisiana Tech back in 2011, and …
That’s about it.
He had one winning season in four years at Cal, was solid at SMU – although his teams never finished higher than third in the divisional format and couldn’t push past fifth overall in the last two years – and now it’s up to him to take TCU back to a high level in the upcoming new world of the Big 12.
The guy knows offense, he sure knows Texas football and the landscape of the state, but can he do what he couldn’t at SMU and make his team stronger than Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston?
The offense was good last year and should be again with this coaching staff, but the success of the season depends on how quickly the defense can come around. This isn’t going to be a quick fix – there’s going to be work to do overall.
After going 16-18 over the last three seasons, TCU needs Dykes to stop the skid.
1996-1997 was the last time TCU had back-to-back losing seasons. There are too many good things in place for that to happen now, but under Patterson, TCU went from 5-6 in 2004 to 11-1 in 2005. It went from 4-8 in 2013 to 12-1 in 2014, and 6-7 in 2016 to 11-3 in 2017.
TCU will have a winning season, but more importantly, it needs to show under Dykes that it’s going to be a player in 2023 and beyond.
TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2022: Offense, Defense NEXT
TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2022: Offense
The offense worked. It was No. 1 in the Big 12 in third down conversions, was ultra-efficient throwing it around, and the ground attack came up with close to 200 yards per game.
The offensive line wasn’t always great, and there weren’t enough points to go along with the production – averaging 29 per game – but overall the O was okay and it should be even better. Sonny Dykes knows how to get an attack going, especially …
The passing game. The Horned Frogs have the parts in place with the top four receivers from last year back along with speedy Quincy Brown to work on the outside.
Quentin Johnson is a true No. 1 target, Derius Davis is a smallish all-star speedster who dominated as a kick returner, and Taye Barber and Blair Conwirght combined to average almost 18 yards per catch.
Max Duggan should be ready to blow up as a passer. He threw for 2,048 yards and 16 touchdowns with six picks last year, and he ran well, but he can do so much more. He’ll get the chance to be a statistical star in this attack, and so will former Oklahoma backup Chandler Morris, who threw for 717 yards and three scores in his limited work.
The ground game lost star RB Zach Evans to Ole Miss, but the 1-2 combination Kendre Miller and Emari Demarcado should do a little of everything. They combine for well over 1,000 yards last year with 11 scores – Demercado is a bit more of a thumper, and Miller can tear off yards in chunks.
The offensive line has to be better, but it’s at least experienced and it’s getting some help. Steve Avila is one of the Big 12’s best centers, and there’s enough size and starting options around him to play with the combination. Helping the cause is Alan Ali, one of the best blockers on SMU last year who should now take over a guard spot.
TCU Horned Frogs Preview 2022: Defense
The defense was a stunning disaster. The offense did enough to win – even if it wasn’t a dominant force – but the D allowed 462 yards and 35 points per game, didn’t generate a pass rush, was totally miserable against the run, was awful on third downs, and couldn’t take the ball away. Other than that, everything was great. More on this coming in the Keys To The Season section, but …
The pass rush. It has to be better, and it has to do it with seven of the main linemen from last year living their best lives at other schools. Dylan Horton was the team’s top sacker with four. He’s back on one end, Terrell Cooper returns to the interior, and 312-pound Soni Misi needs to be an anchor on the nose.
There’s almost no homegrown depth, so the production in a rotation has to come from the transfer portal, landing Tymon Mitchell from Georgia, interior pass rusher Caleb Fox from Stephen F. Austin, and Lwai Uguak from UConn to help.
The linebackers are experienced and fine, but they need to make more big things happen. Dee Winters led the team with 74 tackles in the middle, and Jamoi Hodge is a good, fast outside defender who was third with 60 stops. These two should be in for bigger seasons.
The secondary wasn’t totally awful considering it didn’t get any help from the pass rush. That’s partly because there were a slew of good parts that now have to be replaced.
However, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is one of the better corners in the Big 12, Nook Bradford made 42 tackles from one safety spot, and about to contribute in a big way are CB Josh Newton from ULM and S Mark Perry from Colorado.
TCU Horned Frogs: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
TCU Horned Frogs: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
TCU Horned Frogs: Key To The 2022 Offense
Keep the running game going.
It’s easy to focus on the fun passing games under Sonny Dykes, and certainly he’s going to want to wing it all over the yard – SMU averaged over 300 yards through the air last season – but the talent is there to grind it a bit and keep the O balanced.
SMU could run, too, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and having some strong moments when it took over games …
Like against TCU. The Mustangs rumbled at will for 350 yards in the 42-34 win last year.
Zach Evans might be off to Ole Miss, but the offense is still build to run well after averaging close to 200 yards per game. TCU averaged five yards per carry, and it can do that again if there’s a commitment.
TCU Horned Frogs: Key To The 2022 Defense
Get the pass rush going again.
It was one of the biggest stunners for the TCU defense. It had a great talent up front in Ochaun Mathis, and now he’s gone to Nebraska. Khari Coleman is another great player and he’s at Ole Miss.
Even with those two – along with leading pass rusher Dylan Horton – TCU still only came up with 15 sacks, but at least it was consistent with the minimal production.
There have been times over the years when the Horned Frogs couldn’t get the pass rush going – like in 2019 – but they only averaged 1.25 sacks per game. Most of the other issues on a disappointing defense came from that lack of pressure.
TCU Horned Frogs: Key Player To The 2022 Season
DT Soni Misi, Sr.
TCU needs to be better against the run.
It got ripped apart for 5.8 yards per carry and 38 touchdowns – Oklahoma State ran for eight scores and then decided it was done – and it starts by being stronger up front.
The Horned Frogs have size, but it’s the 6-2, 312-pound Misi who’ll likely be the anchor in the middle to work around. His stats aren’t going to matter.
Can he, and/or the other tackles change this around and get back to 2020, when TCU allowed just 3.6 yards per carry and gave up five touchdown runs over nine games – after getting pounded on by Iowa State to start the season?
TCU Horned Frogs: Key Transfer
S Mark Perry, Jr.
The Horned Frogs are also getting a terrific corner transfer from ULM in Josh Newton, who made 84 tackles with three picks and 15 broken up passes over his three years.
Perry had a light first two years at Colorado, and then last year he turned into a factor with 66 tackles, three interceptions, and with three broken up passes with a fumble recovery. He should be able to step in right away and be a factor at one of the three safety gigs.
TCU Key Game To The 2022 Season
Oklahoma, Oct. 1
Just how fast can Sonny Dykes get this all going?
Oklahoma is Oklahoma. It’s talented, it’s dangerous, and it’s also in a bit of a rebuilding mode this year. The Horned Frogs get the Big 12 opener at home, and it’s coming off a relatively easy start to the season – they should be at least 2-1, and possible 3-0 against at Colorado, Tarleton State, and at South Alabama – and get a trip to Kansas right after.
Basically, TCU will know right away where it stands.
TCU Horned Frogs: 2021 Fun Stats
– Fumbles: TCU 18 (lost 9) – Opponents 9 (lost 3)
– Passing Yards Per Game: Opponents 239.8 – Opponents 239.6
– Sacks: Opponents 28 for 187 yards – TCU 15 for 113 yards
TCU Horned Frogs Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
TCU Horned Frogs Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Under Gary Patterson, TCU had a way of always following up a clunker by fixing the glitches to improve right away.
How fast can Sonny Dykes fix all the problems the 2021 TCU team had to fight through?
On the plus side, as awful as the defense was, and as inconsistent as the offense became, the Horned Frogs were still a win away from going bowling. A more settled situation should be good enough for at least a few more wins, even if this isn’t a blow up/breakthrough season that gets the program to a Big 12 Championship level.
Set The TCU Horned Frogs Regular Season Win Total At … 6.5
Tarleton State is the only true layup win. Going to Colorado isn’t going to be easy to start the season, and even going to South Alabama – don’t laugh; that’s a team loaded with experience that’s going to bring a nasty defense – might be a fight.
Even the Kansas game is on the road.
Even so, the Horned Frogs will find a way to at least match the five wins of last year – they’ll come up with a few good home wins over solid teams, and they should be South Alabama, Kansas, and Tarleton State.
They’ll get a sixth win somewhere to get bowl eligible, but it might come down to the Iowa State home game – the Cyclones have been a massive problem with four wins over the last five years in the series – to push through to seven victories.