Sonny Dykes Has ‘All Steak and No Sizzle’ Approach To TCU’s 2023 Football Season

ARLINGTON, Texas — In less than a year TCU went from being picked seventh in the Big 12 to reaching the College Football Playoffs.

Is “league standard bearer” next?


The Horned Frogs enter the 2023 season with a national profile after reaching the College Football Playoff championship game, along with quarterback Max Duggan finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting.

There is no “flying under the radar” in 2023, and coach Sonny Dykes admitted the Horned Frogs benefited from that as they rose from unranked to nationally ranked.

He hates to lose the leadership of players like Duggan, offensive lineman Steve Avila, and cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who were all drafted by NFL teams.

But the mentality that benefited the Horned Frogs last year would benefit them this season, Dykes said.

“What made last year’s team really good was our ability to not focus on stuff that we can’t control,” Dykes said. “I think that’s what made that group special. As the season rolled along, and as you start to stack wins and you get ranked, no one ever said, ‘You know, we’re 4-0 and we’re ranked or we’re 5-0 and we’re leading the Big 12 or we’re in the College Football Playoff game.’


“Our players did a remarkable job of just focusing on trying to get better every day. It’s really a cliché, but I’ve coached teams that probably haven’t done a good job of focusing on those things. And I even focused on the external stuff too much.”

Dykes called it an “All steak and no sizzle” approach to preparation.

TCU is coming off a historic 2022 season in which the Horned Frogs ended the year with a 13-2 record and the national runner-up. In coach Sonny Dykes’ second year, however, there are plenty of pieces to replace.

Offensively, TCU will be an almost completely new unit, with just three players who started games in 2022 returning. Chandler Morris, who won the starting job last summer before conceding to Max Duggan due to injury, is the projected starting QB heading into 2023.

Defensively, the Horned Frogs return seven starters from an opportunistic unit a year ago, led by its top three leading tacklers LB Johnny Hodges, S Mark Perry, and LB Jamoi Hodge. TCU also returns Bud Clark, who led the team with five interceptions a year ago.

Perhaps one of the things that should excite TCU fans is the haul they had in the transfer portal this offseason. The Horned Frogs added six former SEC players, with all of them having a chance to play a role. Offensively, the Horned Frogs added the former No. 1 RB in Trey Sanders (Alabama), No. 2 OT Tommy Brockermeyer (Alabama), and No. 6 overall WR JoJo Earle (Alabama). Defensively, TCU adds CB Avery Helm (Florida) and EDGE Rick D’Abreu (East Carolina) to help offset losses to the NFL Draft.

TCU will get its 2023 season started against Colorado on September 2 before opening Big 12 play on the road against Houston on September 16. TCU’s Big 12 home opener comes in Week 5 against Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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