TCU spring soccer storylines: The begin of one thing particular?

What does an offseason appear like for a program that was on the improper finish of essentially the most lopsided nationwide championship recreation in fashionable historical past? That’s what TCU is keen to search out out after it was bullied by Georgia, 65-7, within the College Football Playoff title.

The Horned Frogs had been the primary actual Cinderella crew to play for a CFP championship. But even after upsetting Michigan within the semifinal on the Fiesta Bowl, they by no means had an opportunity towards the Bulldogs, who scored essentially the most factors ever in a championship recreation because the starting of the BCS period in 1998 and impressively gained back-to-back nationwide titles.

Despite experiencing such public embarrassment on the game’s largest stage, TCU nonetheless had a terrific season. In Sonny Dykes’ first 12 months as head coach, the Frogs went undefeated through the common season earlier than narrowly dropping the Big 12 title in an time beyond regulation thriller to Kansas State. The crew nonetheless made the CFP, the place it outsmarted Michigan and made its method to a matchup towards a Georgia crew destined to defend its title.

“A loss like this stings,” Dykes stated after the championship loss. “But we talked about this in the locker room, just about how far we’ve come in a year and what these guys have been able to accomplish really when nobody outside of our locker room expected it or really believed in them. They always believed in themselves and they always rolled their sleeves up and worked incredibly hard and competed every single second of every day.

“I’m disenchanted we didn’t make a greater present as a result of that’s not indicative of who we’re. But we’ll look again — it’s going to take a while for the sting to go away, I guarantee you — however we’ll look again on the season and construct on it from there.”

What does the longer term maintain for TCU?

What does the future hold for TCU?

RJ Young breaks down what might occur sooner or later for TCU, which got here from a 5-7 total file in 2021 to be competing for a title.

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With that because the backdrop, listed here are just a few storylines to bear in mind because the Frogs get into spring ball:

Who replaces Heisman Trophy finalist Max Duggan?

How will Dykes exchange the irreplaceable Duggan? It appears unlikely TCU could have one other Heisman candidate at quarterback in 2023. But then once more, no one might have predicted that Duggan, who began final 12 months because the backup, would have been in that dialog in any respect.

TCU has just a few younger QBs on the roster proper now, together with Chandler Morris, who was the unique 2022 starter earlier than being changed by Duggan. Morris was an Oklahoma switch who will definitely need to compete to win a job he’s gained earlier than. There’s additionally Sam Jackson, who was a redshirt freshman final season, who each Dykes and now former offensive coordinator Garrett Riley had been excessive on. Jackson selected TCU over Notre Dame and Oregon, and is a gifted runner and passer.

TCU didn’t signal a quarterback in its 2023 class, and there’s nonetheless the likelihood that Dykes grabs a man from the switch portal, as he’s been recognized to do fairly efficiently and aggressively up to now (assume Shane Buechele and Tanner Mordecai at SMU).

Whoever emerges will get a contemporary begin with new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who Dykes employed to exchange Riley after he left for a similar place at Clemson.

How does TCU show final season wasn’t a flash within the pan?

The Frogs had a magical 2022 season, ending 13-2 in Dykes’ first 12 months. The Frogs beat Texas and Texas A&M to the CFP and Oklahoma to the nationwide championship recreation. The program itself has come a good distance since clawing for that elusive invitation to hitch the Big 12 in 2012.

So how do they do it once more? How does the most well liked crew within the state of Texas hold that momentum and present the nation that this small personal college is able to making common appearances within the CFP, a la Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma?

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Every crew regresses after gamers graduate and go away for the NFL. What makes Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State so perennially highly effective is that youthful gamers ready within the wings are desperate to step up and benefit from their alternative the subsequent 12 months. 

Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart defined throughout championship week how his program has been capable of keep on prime. His starters, he famous, had been scout and second-team gamers who didn’t play within the earlier 12 months’s championship recreation towards Alabama. They nonetheless acquired reps and turned that have and preparation into beginning jobs one 12 months later. That was how Georgia “reloaded” — it wasn’t all about signing 5 stars to its recruiting class. It was extra so about profiting from the expertise already on the crew and getting ready it for the next season.

That’s precisely what Dykes hopes to do as he builds his program at TCU. But do the Frogs have that caliber of star gamers to maintain this factor transferring? We should wait and see if this tiny program can change into an annual contender.

Why Georgia’s win over TCU got here right down to recruiting

Why Georgia's win over TCU came down to recruiting

Colin Cowherd explains why Georgia’s star energy made an enormous distinction.

Is Sonny Dykes an elite coach?

This can’t be said sufficient: Dykes took a 5-7 crew from 2021 that hadn’t performed in a bowl since 2018 to the nationwide championship in his first 12 months as head coach.

Gary Patterson didn’t even try this, and TCU constructed a statue for him in 2016. 

Dykes had the robust job of filling Patterson’s footwear when he took the Horned Frogs job in 2022. Patterson constructed that program and took it to 11 double-digit win seasons throughout his tenure. But Dykes did one thing his predecessor by no means achieved: enjoying for a nationwide championship.

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Every coach’s path is completely different, nevertheless it was exhausting to check Dykes can be the place he’s right now after being fired from Cal in 2016. Patterson was truly the one who picked him up and provided him an analyst place at TCU in 2017. After that, Dykes was employed to exchange Chad Morris at SMU, the place he led the Mustangs to a few consecutive profitable seasons, together with a 10-win outing in 2019. Ultimately, he changed Patterson in Fort Worth and has all of the momentum to maintain his crew on the prime.

There’s much more of a chance to take possession of the newly revamped Big 12 now that Texas and Oklahoma are leaving for the SEC in 2024.

Usually, it takes time to construct a tradition, set up relationships between gamers and coaches and hold all people invested. It’s a testomony to Dykes that every little thing clicked the suitable approach all of final season. And he is aware of the journey is ongoing and there’s a variety of work to do.

“Now, the challenging thing as we move forward past Monday is, where do we go from here?” Dykes stated earlier than the nationwide title recreation. “There’s a standard now that — and a set of expectations that accompany this kind of success. And to me, that’s the exciting part. It really is. I mean, you really get to find out how good you are.

“It’s one factor to get to the highest. It’s one other factor to have the ability to keep there.”

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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