For two decades, Gary Patterson led a TCU football program that was consistently one of the better teams in the country.
Hired after the 2000 season, Patterson coached the Horned Frogs for 21 years, taking them from Conference USA to the Mountain West and then to the Big 12 (in 2012).
Along the way, he went 181-79 with 11 bowl wins and 11 Top-25 finishes.
Last fall, however, TCU decided it was time for a change. Eight games into the 2021 season, the school and Patterson parted ways amid a fourth consecutive mediocre season.
Enter Sonny Dykes, who didn’t have to move too far. He spent the previous four seasons coaching at Southern Methodist, going 30-18 with the Mustangs.
This summer, BuffZone.com will preview each of Colorado’s opponents for the 2022 season and in this first installment, we look at TCU.
CU has never faced TCU, but the Buffs have gone against Dykes, who coached at California from 2013-16. CU went 1-1 against him, including an epic, 59-56 double-overtime loss in 2014.
Dykes takes over a program that is trying to learn how to win big again, but isn’t too far away. TCU is 23-24 over the past four seasons.
Although Dykes will bring a new style on offense and defense, he inherits a team that returns 99 percent of its passing yards from last year, 67 percent of its rushing yards and 65 percent of its offensive line starts.
Coming offense and defense, 11 starters are back, and that doesn’t include the experience added through the transfer portal.
One of those transfer additions is very familiar to CU fans. A year ago, safety Mark Perry was arguably CU’s most improved defensive player, but he transferred to TCU last winter.
TCU Horned Frogs
Head coach: Sonny Dykes, 1st season (71-63 career)
2021 season: 5-7, 3-6 Big 12
Series with CU: First meeting
Who: TCU Horned Frogs at Colorado Buffaloes
When: Friday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m. MT (TV: ESPN)
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder
5 Guys to Watch
- QB Max Duggan: Although he has 29 career starts (10 last year), he’s not the guaranteed starter this year. He’ll go into fall battling with Chandler Morris, a former Oklahoma transfer who got spot time last year with TCU. Duggan ranks fifth in career passing yards at TCU (5,920).
- DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson: One of the best cover corners in the country. He’s earned first-team All-Big 12 honors twice and is an All-American candidate this season.
- WR Quentin Johnson: Earned first-team All-Big 12 last year. In the last two seasons combined, the 6-foot-4, 212-pounder has 55 catches for 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns.
- RB Kendre Miller: TCU’s top running back (Zach Evans) transferred to Ole Miss, and Miller might be the leading candidate to replace him. A 6-foot, 218-pound junior, he was second on the team with 623 rushing yards last year, while adding seven touchdowns.
- LB Dee Winters: Entering his third year as a full-time starter, he led TCU with 74 tackles last year, while adding 5.0 tackles for loss. He had 65 tackles and 9.5 TFLs in 2020.
Good to know
- TCU hired former Tulsa coordinator Joe Gillespie to run the defense and he is bringing in a 3-3-5 scheme. It’ll be a transition from the 4-2-5 used by former head coach Gary Patterson for years. Garrett Riley – the younger brother of USC head coach Lincoln Riley – is the offensive coordinator. He was Dykes’ OC at SMU the past two seasons.
- Although a consistent winner in former head coach Gary Patterson’s tenure – 17 bowls in 21 seasons – TCU is 16-18 in the past three years, with two losing campaigns. It is the program’s worst three-year stretch since the late 1990s.
- This is Dykes’ fourth stop as a head coach (also Louisiana Tech, California and SMU). Although he has a winning record overall, he’s never had a winning season in his first year on the job. In those first seasons, he’s a combined 0-8 in non-conference games against FBS opponents.
- Prior to his four seasons as SMU head coach, Dykes spent the 2017 season at TCU as an offensive analyst. The Horned Frogs averaged 33.2 points per game that season.
- Since leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in 2011, CU has hosted just one game against a Texas team at Folsom Field – a week two visit from Texas State in 2017 (CU won, 37-3). Last year, the Buffs were the home team for a game against Texas A&M in Denver.
- This is the first game of a home-and-home set. CU is slated to visit TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, for the 2023 opener.
- Last season, TCU ranked 122nd nationally in rushing defense, allowing 222.0 yards per game on the ground. The Horned Frogs allowed 11 opposing running backs to top the 100-yard mark.
Since the end of last season, TCU has lost 13 players to the transfer portal, but gained 14. The Horned Frogs lost their leading rusher, Zach Evans, and a top edge player, Khari Coleman (2020 freshman All-American) to Ole Miss; while also losing edge Ochaun Mathis (two-time second-team All-Big12) to Nebraska and defensive lineman to USC. Safety Mark Perry – one of the most improved players at CU last year – was one of the key additions for TCU. They also added running back Emani Bailey (Louisiana), offensive linemen Alan Ali (SMU) and Ezra Dotson-Oyetade (Arizona State), tight end Jared Wiley (Texas) and linebacker Johnny Hodges (Navy). Ali, who played at SMU for Dykes, started 39 of 44 games for the Mustangs and was second-team All-AAC last year.