No reasonable, or unreasonable, person expected the TCU football program to repeat in 2023 what it did in 2022, but those same people could not have anticipated the Horned Frogs would compete with Texas A&M this season.
Compete for “The Most Disappointing Team” trophy in major college football.
The Aggies had to hire Arthur Andersen’s leftovers to figure out how to pay $77 million to make head coach Jimbo Fisher go away while TCU is close to failing to qualify for a bowl less than a year from reaching the national title game.
With the exception of the University of Texas, this entire fall has been a stinker for most of the teams in our great state. As of today, but four of the 12 teams in Texas that play in the FBS are bowl eligible.
On Saturday in Fort Worth, TCU (4-6) will host Baylor (3-7) in the first annual “Please Change The Name From Bluebonnet Battle To Anything Else” game.
If Cincinnati somehow wins at West Virginia, the loser of the game in Fort Worth will be tied for the worst conference record in the Big 12. TCU has played Baylor every year since 2010, when TCU was still a member of the Mountain West Conference. Saturday’s game will be the fourth meeting in 14 years when neither team is ranked.
Both teams have an assortment of problems to navigate, and for TCU it’s hard to see where head coach Sonny Dykes makes any major adjustments to either of his coordinators. This would mean a return of first-year offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and defensive coordinator Joe Gillispie.
A run to the national title game buys time, but these parties involved will not survive a repeat of ‘23 in ‘24.
TCU and Joe Gillispie
This week, Dykes said he remains committed to Gillispie’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme, news that surely was greeted by every TCU fan and follower with a handful of expletives in English and other languages.
From early in Week 1 during the loss to Colorado, to today, TCU’s defense has lacked necessary players among its front six or seven. With the exception of sophomore nose tackle Domonic Williams, the other players need to develop, or ...
Without defensive end Dylan Horton, who is currently with the Houston Texans, no one has developed into a reliable pass rusher. The linebackers struggled, and Gillispie didn’t have a Dee Winters type who can play in space.
Winters is currently with the San Francisco 49ers.
TCU celebrated the play of its secondary, but no defensive back can be expected to maintain coverage when the opposing quarterback has enough time to post on his Instagram account before he needs to throw the ball.
Now for the part that makes no sense:
In 2022, TCU’s scoring defense tied for 90th, and in total defense it ranked 95th.
In 2023, TCU’s defense ranks 56th in the nation in scoring defense, and 87th in total defense.
And TCU is a four-win team for a reason.
TCU and Kendal Briles
No TCU coach has heard it more than the first-year coordinator who arrived the previous offseason from Arkansas. The Frogs are his fifth spot as the OC since 2017.
He’s well thought of to continually land offensive coordinator jobs, and left Arkansas not because he was fired but rather the chance to live in his native Texas.
Also, TCU’s offense under Briles this season has been a steady diet of all over the place.
Chandler Morris never flourished as the starting quarterback, and every sign indicates that his time as a viable option is over. Josh Hoover looks to be TCU’s quarterback both now, and next season.
Dykes has consistently mentioned over the last two months that he doesn’t think “we look settled” on offense. Routinely TCU’s offense looks a second late, out of position, or there have communication mistakes.
In the category of more stats that make no sense, TCU’s offense under Briles ranks 16th nationally in total yards, yet is tied for 56th in points.
The reality of all of these numbers comes down to the following: Players, and plays that matter. The 2022 version, TCU had players who made plays.
TCU’s current defense has forced but 10 turnovers, ranked 112th in the nation. Overall, TCU is minus-seven in turnover differential, good for 119th.
Those stats, more than any other, explain why TCU is competing with Texas A&M for “The Most Disappointing Team” trophy in major college football.