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2021 Season

Big 12 Spring Outlook: Is TCU Ready To Return To The Top Of The Conference?

The Horned Frogs have some pieces, but they’ll need to make strides to be a Big 12 contender.

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Getty Images - Richard Rodriguez

With spring football starting up, teams in the Big 12 are hitting the practice field for the next few weeks. For the TCU Horned Frogs, practices started earlier this week, and will conclude in mid-April. Below, we give an overview of the program and provide an idea of what questions the Horned Frogs will seek to answer over the course of the next month.

After hovering around .500 for the past couple of seasons, 2020 gave some indication that the Horned Frogs might be on the cusp of making a leap back into the top tier of the Big 12. TCU struggled out of the gate last year, but finished the season on a 5-1 run. Now, with experience coming back on both sides of the ball, Gary Patterson can justify hopes for serious improvement on last season’s 6-4 mark.

One reason for that is a third year starter in quarterback Max Duggan, and a deep group of running backs. With Doug Meacham promoted to offensive coordinator, TCU could become more productive and dangerous in 2021. As always, defense seems like it will be a boon for TCU, who find themselves having substantial depth on the roster because so many players saw action on the field last year. Still, there are some talented teams at the top of conference, and development this spring could set the Horned Frogs up to compete seriously for a spot in the Big 12 championship.

PRACTICE BEGINS: March 16th
SPRING GAME: April 17th
LOCATION: Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)

Offensive Questions For The Horned Frogs

Quarterback appears settled for TCU, but things could get interesting this spring. Junior Max Duggan has managed to hold off all challengers as the starter behind center, but multiple signal callers transferred in this offseason, including Chandler Morris from Oklahoma. Duggan’s improved steadily, and provided unquestioned leadership for the Horned Frogs, but a 122.1 passer rating over two years might make his status as starter less than stable.

Even though three starters return up front, several linemen entered the transfer portal this offseason, raising questions about depth along the offensive line. Starting tackle T.J. Storment was among the players who exited, so a replacement will need to be found there. TCU did add Memphis tackle Obinna Eze, who brings two seasons worth of starts with him, so look for him to possibly grab an open spot.

The running back room is loaded for TCU, which was one of the best teams on the ground last season. TCU will need to develop some depth among the pass catchers. Their top four receivers return, including Quentin Johnson, who emerged as a clear No. 1 for the Horned Frogs in 2020. Tight ends Pro Wells and Artayvious Lynn are gone, as are John Stephens Jr. and Dylan Thomas, who both had starting experience last season.

Defensive Questions For The Horned Frogs

Overall, TCU probably knows more about what they’ve got coming back on the defensive side of the ball in 2021. With eight starters returning only a few spots will be need to be filled for a team that held opponents to 350.9 yards per game.

The Horned Frogs return their starting defensive line from last season, so they should be solid there. The most pressing issue to solve for the Horned Frogs is at linebacker, though, where they lose All-Big 12 player Garet Wallow to the NFL. Junior Wyatt Harris could fill in that role, as he has some starting experience. Thorpe Award winner Trevon Moehrig and fellow defensive back Ar’Darius Washington will need to be replaced, as both of them are now preparing for the NFL Draft. Despite those losses, there should be enough depth in the secondary to avoid major drop-off there.

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