TCU feels like a team that is criminally underrated all the time. They’ve won 11 or more games three of the past five years, and even though last season’s 7-6 mark doesn’t jump off the page, they were better than that number indicated because of an absurd number of injuries (the Horned Frogs finished 19th in CSD Prime). They should be a top-25 team again and will likely improve on that record.
The TCU offense was hit or miss last year. They were fairly efficient (5.3 yards per play) but struggled to make big plays. Granted they dealt with injuries or other issues that caused missed time from their halfback, top two QBs, all but one lineman, and their #2 receiver over the course of the year before the embarrassing 10-7 overtime bowl game against Cal that was laughed at for the horrendous offensive play on both sides.
On the bright side, good continuity is back. TCU returns six linemen with significant starting experience thanks to the injuries, star wideout Jalen Reagor (1,061 yards, 14.7 yards per catch), and their top two halfbacks (4.7 and 4.8 per carry respectively).
The one spot where I’d be worried is at QB, where there is a five-way way race there between blue-chip freshmen Max Duggan and Justin Rogers, Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin, Kansas State transfer Alex Delton, and Mike Collins, who started four games for the Horned Frogs last year (7.6 yards per throw, six touchdowns, two interceptions, 56% completion rate). The offense will improve as long as the injury bug doesn’t bite again, how much will come down to the QB race.
TCU actually improved defensively, allowing less than five yards per play for the first time since 2014. The defense does lose some key pieces on the edges in Ben Banogu and LJ Collier (combined 14.5 sacks, 15 TFL). In fact, just one of the top eight tacklers from last year’s team returns.
The new faces to watch on the line are South Carolina transfer Shameik Blackshear and freshman Ochaun Mathis. Ross Blacklock is back in the middle after an injury last year and Corey Bethley returns after a great five sack, 4.5 TFL year.
On the second level, Garrett Wallow is back but his dancing partner remains an unknown, likely one of a handful of freshmen. As for the secondary, it should be great. Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis (combined 21 PD) are back on the corners, as is senior Innis Gaines at the strong safety spot, who really showed flashes in limited action last year. This will be an excellent Gary Patterson defense again.
The schedule isn’t too bad, and TCU will hopefully not be dealing with nearly as many injuries this year. Gary Patterson is one of the best coaches in college football, and I think my model’s prediction of a 7-5 regular season might be too low.
|Date||Opponent||OPp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|5-Oct||at iowa state||31||-1.5|
|19-Oct||at kansas state||54||1.7|
|2-Nov||at oklahoma state||26||-2.9|
|16-Nov||at texas tech||60||2.4|
Average Projected Record: 7.3 wins, 4.7 losses (5.0 wins, 4.0 losses)