Football is back at Folsom.
The season opener between the Colorado Buffaloes and TCU Horned Frogs has no history on the books, but will provide a lot of intel into the future of both programs.
Karl Dorrell enters his third year in Boulder looking to put his stamp on a new-look Buffs team who’s searching for an identity in the Pac-12. Trying to replace a large number of players who entered the transfer portal in the offseason has been the most difficult obstacle for CU to overcome. CU has 90 underclassmen on the roster for Dorrell to mentor. This is the 7th-most in the nation and leads the Pac-12 as the youngest in the conference.
It’s just one-half of the major storyline for Colorado in 2022. Youth meets strength of schedule in what could be a tipping point early in Dorrell’s tenure. The Buffs won’t face any FCS opponents this year with a highly-competitive non-conference schedule. Outside of the match-up with TCU, CU heads to Colorado Springs to face Air Force before a true road test against Minnesota. In fact, the Buffaloes are one of fourteen FBS teams not to face a lower division opponent this year.
As for TCU, Sonny Dykes comes back to Fort Worth to take over following Gary Patterson’s departure. The one-time Cal coach enters his second stint with the Frogs after serving as an offensive assistant in 2017 and marks his fourth head coaching stop since 2010. Dykes has big shoes to fill with Patterson holding down the position for the past 21 years as the school’s all-time winningest coach.
A lot of changes for TCU have been rolled out in a short amount of time. A new defensive scheme moves the Frogs from orchestrating a traditional 4-2-5 under Patterson to a 3-3-5 look. Since Joe Gillespie arrived at TCU after 7 years at Tulsa, the new defense coordinator has made it his mission to master the new scheme with the current personnel. This isn’t his first time flipping a defense either.
Gillespie gutted Tulsa from being a 4-man front to the 3-3-5 when he was named DC of the Golden Hurricane in 2018. The results were impressive with a top ten pass defense compared to the previous year, along with allowing just 174.6 passing yards per game.
With the defense set for the Frogs, the question remains who will Dykes roll with at QB? The answer is possibly his entire depth chart. It was reported earlier this week TCU could have as many as three quarterbacks cycled through against CU on Friday night. Max Duggan stands to be the favorite to take over as the starter, ahead of Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Jackson.
Duggan earned second-team All-Big-12 honors in 2021, but has yet to sell Dykes and Co. with his impressive skillset. While Morris is flashy and shows promise for the future, Duggan should be first one out out of the gate to start on Friday night. It’s important to note, the former four-star recruit has passed for 5,920 yards with 41 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 32 games at TCU.
Colorado’s defense shares one-half of the teams captains with seniors Terrance Lang and Quinn Perry returning for the Buffs this season. They’ll led a stout defensive core for the Buffs who’ll be instrumental in helping out a young group in the secondary. If TCU rides with Duggan for a majority of the game, don’t be suprised if he looks to open up an air assault on CU’s corners. He’s also dangerous with the ability to scramble and improvise by gaining chunks of yards on the ground.
From the Desk of Dave Plati:
“STAT OF THE WEEK- The Buffaloes are 23-10-1 in their last 34 season openers (dating back to 1988). In those 23 wins, Colorado scored 851 points, or an average of 37.0 per game; in the 10 losses, CU scored 172 points, or 17.2 per (it had 31 in the tie with Tennessee in 1990). In the six-game season opener winning streak, CU has scored 241 points, or 40.2 per.
“In the 23 victories, the opponent scored 392 points, or 17.0 per. The bulk of the games have been against Colorado State (20; CU won 14), but the Buffaloes are 5-0-1 against Power-5 teams (2-0 vs. Texas, 1-0 vs. UCLA, Washington State and Wisconsin and 0-0-1 vs. Tennessee).”
Colorado welcomes TCU into Boulder on Friday, Sept. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT from Folsom Field. The 99th season for the venue and 133rd overall for the Buffs. A near-capacity crowd of 43,000+ is expected for the season opener.