What the Horned Frogs must execute to get off to a winning start on Friday
The Horned Frogs are set to kick off their 2022 season at the University of Colorado Buffaloes on Friday night at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado. In preparation for the season opener, TCU must execute the following “keys to the game” to get off to a strong start.
Protect the pocket:
In order for Sonny Dykes to pick up his first-career win with the Horned Frogs, it is crucial for the offensive line to protect the pocket and quarterback. Whether it’s Max Duggan, Chandler Morris, or Sam Jackson that gets the start, the offensive line must provide time and space for their quarterback to ensure success. Protecting the pocket for either of the aforementioned quarterbacks will allow them more time in the pocket and to be collected in making the desired plays. This protection will allow for the quarterback to progress through each of his reads and not be hurried into making a forced pass, risking a turnover, or to take off running unnecessarily. By protecting the pocket and the quarterback, the Horned Frog receivers, including Quentin Johnston and Savion Williams, will have the necessary time to get open downfield as options for the quarterback to consider.
Giving up 187 yards on 28 sacks last season, the TCU offensive line has been bolstered and greatly improved for this season. They are taller, leaner, and most importantly, quicker. Sonny Dykes will be pleased to have veteran Steve Avila and Andrew Coker anchoring the offensive line as the season begins. If TCU is able to control the line of scrimmage and give their skill players time down the field and in the pocket, the Horned Frogs are destined for a successful season.
Establish the running game:
For TCU to be successful on offense, it’s crucial for Coach Dykes’ offense to establish the running game early on. With Zach Evans entering the transfer portal and moving to Ole Miss in January, running backs Kendre Miller and Emari Demarcado will be at the heart of the Horned Frogs running game this season. Miller had an impressive 2021 season, averaging 7.5 yards per carry, while rushing for 623 yards and seven touchdowns. Posing as a threat as a pass-catching running back, Miller’s 17 receptions lead him to 117 receiving yards and a touchdown. In what will be his fifth season with TCU, Emari Demercado is coming off the back of his most successful campaign. Scored four touchdowns, rushin for 421 yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry made him the clear number two following a multitude of injuries sustained by Zach Evans.
Should the Horned Frogs establish the run game against Colorado, it will open other avenues to attack whether through the air or continuing to take advantage of the run game, including the quarterback position. Being effective on the ground will force Colorado’s defense to line up closer and be more compact, leaving space in behind for TCU to exploit when finding receivers down the field.
Pressure the quarterback:
For a TCU defense that conceded an average of 34.9 points per game last season, it will be a monumental first step should the Horned Frogs dominate the Buffaloes on Friday. It is critical for TCU’s defense, which posted 15 sacks last season, to apply pressure to the opposing offensive line. Lining up against a team that gave up 32 sacks last season, pressuring the offensive line is certain to rush Colorado quarterback, Brendon Lewis. Despite throwing for 1,540 yards and 10 touchdowns, Lewis only averaged six yards per completion, ranking 118th out of 124 eligible quarterbacks. He is extremely careful and protective with the football, posting a 58% completion percentage and throwing only three interceptions in 2021.
The Horned Frogs defense will also have to force turnovers throughout the game and capitalize on the opportunities afforded to them. While snagging 10 interceptions last season, the Horned Frogs only forced three fumbles. By creating turnovers, the Horned Frogs defense will alleviate much of the pressure from the offense in having to score on each possession. Against a team like Colorado, the Horned Frogs will look to take advantage of a team that lost four of 11 fumbles last season.
The Horned Frogs are favorites going into their game against the Colorado Buffaloes and will look to kick off the Sonny Dykes era with a win. In what has been and will continue to be a highly anticipated season, there are high expectations for TCU Football to perform, succeed and get back to the postseason.