July 20, 2024

Sonny Dykes turning the page on TCU’s abysmal 2023 campaign

TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Coach Sonny Dykes glances up at the scoreboard during a timeout in the third quarter against Kansas State Saturday October 21, 2023 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

LAS VEGAS — The Horned Frogs shocked the world in 2022, after they played for all of the marbles in Sonny Dykes’ first season in Fort Worth.

However, TCU took a big step back last year, and didn’t deliver on the hype. Despite the loss of several players from a team that won 13 games, everyone thought the success continue. After all, the Big 12 Coach of the Year was back on the sidelines.

Dykes was a big reason why the Horned Frogs started out the 2023 season ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll. That was before Colorado stormed into Amon G. Carter Stadium, and pulled off a huge upset in the opener. The Horned Frogs dropped out of the rankings, and never resurfaced for the remainder of the season. To make matters worse, Dykes lost six of his final eight games, and TCU failed to become bowl eligible.

Which is why fans from around the country believe the Horned Frogs amazing season was a fluke, and that Dykes was a one-hit wonder that caught lightning in a bottle. When the third-year coach took the podium at Big 12 Media Days, he quickly gave an explanation for TCU’s shortcomings, particularly leadership.

“We lost a lot of that last year and really didn’t do the little things right that it takes to win football games, and that really boils down to coaching,” Dykes said. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching this year, certainly didn’t get the carry-over from the national championship run in ’22 to ’23 that we wanted to.”

Dykes played musical chairs with quarterbacks Chandler Morris and Josh Hoover. The defense was still a liability too, and couldn’t stop the opposition’s explosive plays. Once the smoke cleared, the Horned Frogs finished 100th nationally in total defense.

Dykes had to pick up all of the pieces during the offseason. He put a lot of time and effort into molding Hoover, and expects the offense to make a big splash this fall, despite the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Emani Bailey. He believes the defense is coming along also, especially when it comes down to accountability.

“I think we’ve come a long way, I just think our attitude, the standard that these players set for each other and hold themselves to is different than last year’s team,” he said. “The guys want to win, and the guys want to lay it on the line for each other, and lay it on the line for TCU.”

The Horned Frogs were picked to finish 10th in the Preseason Big 12 Media Poll that was released earlier this month. Dykes believes his team is in a great position though, flying under the radar. There isn’t much pressure on the players like last year, and that should allow them to emerge from the shadows as they approach Big 12 play.

Now that the league has expanded to 16 teams, Dykes feels parity is going to be at an all-time high. Everything appears to be wide open in Dykes’ eyes, and the conference will have several contenders.

“It’s going to be a great league to watch week in, week out, and obviously we’re adding some very successful teams,” the 54-year old said. “I think what makes the Big 12 unique is parity, and I truly believe from top to bottom this is going to be the most competitive league in College Football.”

Dykes is the only individual in the conference who has coached against every team in the Big 12. His experience should help a lot when the Horned Frogs navigate through the Big 12 meat grinder. Regardless of the matter, Dykes understands that it’s going to take a complete effort from his players and staff to get the team back to the promised land.

“I think we’re in a good place, it has the hunger that successful teams have, and the determination that successful teams typically have.”

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