CU at No. 17 TCU: “T.I.P.S.” for Coach Prime’s Debut

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally, “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at No. 17 TCU, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can find the podcast here.

It’s been an incredible nine-month ride for the Buff Nation.

There were the “Will he or won’t he?” stressful days in early December, when the Buff Nation was on pins and needles, waiting for Coach Prime to make his move to Boulder official.

Then … There was the “Louis” luggage comment when Coach Prime met the team for the first time … Then there were the “Will Travis Hunter follow Coach Prime?” days … Then the “Will Cormani McClain actually sign with CU?” days  … The exodus of players from the Champions center in December … The Top 25 Recruiting Class … The sold out Spring Game … The mass exodus the week after the Spring game.

It then became the summer of “It can’t be done” from all of the national pundits, with the naysayers saying that the overhaul of the lineup wouldn’t make any difference. Vegas put the over/under win total at 3.5. The Pac-12 media placed Colorado 11th in their preseason poll.

No. 17 TCU, which was a two-touchdown favorite over the Buffs last season, is a 20.5-point favorite over Colorado for the 2023 season opener.

Coach Prime’s confidence, though, has never wavered. “I’m comin’ ” has been his mantra for the past nine months.

Who’s right? Coach Prime … or his critics? Has it all been smoke and mirrors? Or has Colorado found a winning combination of players and coaches?

Let’s find out …

This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for CU at No. 17 TCU – Saturday, 10:00 a.m., MT, Fox – Big Noon Saturday No. 1

T – Talent

The return of Chandler Morris.

Morris beat out three-year starter Max Duggan for the start in the opener against Colorado last season. Morris was largely ineffective against the Buffs early, with Duggan taking over for an injured Morris in the second half, leading the Horned Frogs to three fourth quarter touchdowns in a 38-13 rout.

Duggan went on to be a Heisman trophy runner-up, leading TCU to the national championship game. Chandler, meanwhile, went on to have only seven pass attempts in mop up duty the remainder of the 2022 season.

Now Morris – the quarterback who did beat out Duggan for the starting job a year ago – is back for a second start against the Buffs.

TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley left to be the offensive coordinator at Clemson, replaced by Kendal Briles, who came over from Arkansas., with Briles favoring an offense with an emphasis on the quick passing game.

So … What weapons will Briles and Morris have to work with?

Five Horned Frog starters on offense were drafted into the NFL, with three others signing on as free agents. In all, only three starters overall return on offense. In addition to Duggan, TCU lost a first-round draft pick wide receiver (Quentin Richardson), an All-American offensive lineman (Steve Avila – a second round NFL draft pick), and 1,400-yard rusher Kendre Miller (third round).

With only one wide receiver and two offensive tackles returning … What weapons will Morris have at his disposal?

The returning receiver with the most experience is 6’5″ Savion Williams, (392 yards and four touchdowns), who, along with Oklahoma State transfer J.P. Richardson (504 yards and four touchdowns), will try and make TCU fans forget about losing first-round NFL draft pick Quentin Richardson.

The rushing attack may also be led by a transfer, with Alabama transfer Trey Sanders battling last season’s backup, Emani Bailey, for carries.

The good news for the TCU defense is that seven starters return.

The bad news is that seven starters are back from a defense which was not all that good.

Not good? The defense for a team which went 12-0 in the regular season?

Well, TCU won games last season by out-scoring its opponents (remember the 51-45 CFP semi-final win over Michigan?). TCU was 89th in scoring defense last year, giving up 29.0 points/game, and was 94th in total defense, surrendering over 400 yards per game.

The best three players from the defense were drafted, including Thorpe Award winner, cornerback Tre-Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, and defensive end Dylan Horton, who had a CFP-record four sacks against Michigan.

The strength of the defense will be the secondary. First-team All-Big 12 corner Josh Newton returns, along with three safeties … including former Buff Mark Perry, back for his senior season. Only one starter along the line of TCU’s 3-3-5 defense returns – the very large Damonic Williams, who checks in at 6’2″, 320-pounds. If CU can neutralize Williams, the running game has a chance to be successful.

At the end of the day, TCU will likely not replicate the No. 9 scoring offense in 2022 … but will also likely be better than No. 89 in scoring defense.

The Horned Frogs will score, but they can be scored upon.

Can the CU offense, led by the dynamic Shedeur Sanders, keep up?

I – Intangibles

If you are a TCU player or fan, what do you remember most about the 2022 season?

The undefeated regular season, including a dominating win (55-24) over Oklahoma, and the road win over Texas?

Or do you remember the 31-28 loss to Kansas State, denying TCU its first Big 12 championship (the Horned Frogs won a share of the 2014 title – there were no Big 12 championship games between 2011 and 2016).

Will the 2022 season be remembered for the wild 51-45 CFP semi-final win over Michigan?

Or … the humbling 65-7 loss to No. 1 Georgia in the national championship game?

“The first day I came to workouts, I could see in everybody’s eyes that it wasn’t the team that played in January”, said Alabama running back transfer Trey Sanders. “They wanted to come back and do better this year”.

TCU losing two of its final three games of the 2022 season can be seen as incentive for the 2023 team, or a bit of a tarnish on a Cinderella season.

No doubt, though, with the Fox Big Noon Saturday show in town, and a national television audience tuned in for the game … that the Horned Frogs are going to be pumped to dominate the Buffs … and put Coach Prime in his place.

For the Buffs … It’s going to be interesting to see how this team reacts to adversity. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” is the famous Mike Tyson quote. Coach Prime has been confident, perhaps even cocky, in his approach to building his coaching staff and his roster.

“We’re comin’ ” has been plastered all over campus and the Champions Center.

The whole of the college football world will be watching to see exactly what that means.

P – Preparation/Schedule

Time and temperature.

Unless you are of a certain age, you probably have no idea that once upon a time, there was a phone number you had to dial (on your rotary phone), to get the time and temperature.

You could dial a local number, and a recorded voice would let you know: “The local temperature is 71-degrees. At the tone, the time from Mountain Bell will be … 1:14 p.m. ….. ding”.

Time and temperature will play a role in the CU season opener in Ft. Worth.

The temperature in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area has been in the 100s for most of August, and the latest forecast for the CU/TCU game is for a high of 103-degrees. Add in the heat of the stadium and the uniforms – and you are going to witness a miserable day for the athletes (at least the turf at Amon G. Carter Stadium is natural grass).

With an 11:00 a.m. local kickoff time, the players will avoid some of the worst of the heat of the day, but it will certainly be a topic of discussion for those broadcasting the game.

The consensus will be that the heat will work against the Buffs and in favor of the Horned Frogs, who have been practicing in the heat for all of Fall Camp. There is also the ever-present question of quality depth on the CU roster, and how the heat-mandated necessity to rotate in players will work to CU’s detriment.

But … CU’s roster is littered with players from Texas, Florida, and throughout the South. These Buffs may not have been practicing in the same heat and humidity that the TCU players have had to endure this August … but they are no strangers to the heat, either.

Plus … We should factor in the fact that TCU, which has been practicing in a heat dome all of Fall Camp, may actually have not gone in as much work in the preseason as they normally would. Programs are much more aware of issues like heat exhaustion than they used to be, and that would have been a factor this past month in Ft. Worth.

Perhaps the over-heated TCU coaching staff and players haven’t had the opportunity to get in as much practice as they would have liked this August … ?

As far as scheduling goes, CU’s insistence on playing a difficult non-conference schedule again works against the Buffs.

Last year, these two teams also played in the season opener. The Buffs, though, had a tough game on the calendar for Game Two … a trip to Air Force.

Meanwhile, TCU was returning home to face the fighting Tarleton State Texans.

This year, the Buffs will be returning to Boulder to play hated rival Nebraska in another national game.

TCU? The Horned Frogs will be staying home to face … the dreaded Colonels of Nicholls State.

While the CU coaches and players have to have at least an eye on next weekend’s games, TCU’s coaches and players have been able to focus all of their attention this past month on the Buffs.

Advantage: TCU.

S – Statistics 

This section last year was labeled the “car accident section” – You know you should look away, but you just can’t …

This fall, this section shouldn’t be as bad as it was last fall … it could hardly be worse.

Stats to make you smile … TCU went 12-2 last season, but it wasn’t without a bit of luck and good fortune. Numbers to remember:

  • On offense … 8 … As in eight starters which the TCU offense has to replace this fall. The Horned Frogs have two offensive tackles and the fourth-leading receiver returning, but that’s it. The offense will be good … but not 27th in total offense and 9th in scoring offense good.
  • On defense … 7 … The Horned Frogs gave up four or more touchdowns in a game nine times last season – yet won seven of those games. The defense returns over half of its lineup, but they do give up points.

Stats to make you cringe … You can feel free to skip this one, if you are squeamish. These are numbers which CU fans lived with for all of the 2022 season, and have had thrown at them over and over again by the preseason magazines. If you wanted to justify picking Colorado as the No. 11 team in the Pac-12, and one of the worst teams in the Power Five conferences, you just pulled up these stats:

  • On offense … 114th in rushing offense … 117th in passing offense … 127th in total offense … 126th in scoring offense
  • On defense … 130th in rushing defense … 127th in passing defense … 129th in total defense … 130th in scoring offense

Promise that this is the last time I will post these numbers … unless they are to show how much better the 2023 Buffs are when compared to the 2022 Buffs.

Stats to watch (i.e, stats which will play a role in deciding the game) … Turnovers … Colorado was 124th in the nation in turnover margin last year, which should come as no surprise. Colorado was out-scored by an average margin of 29 points/game last fall, so arguably turnovers were not a significant factor. They will be this fall. CU will be in most of its games in 2023, but if the Buffs are to beat a quality team – like TCU – bounces will have to go their way … Time of possession/Three-and-outs … Time of possession is arguably one of the most unimportant stats in the game, especially for teams who want to run an up-tempo offense. However, in the heat of the DFW metroplex this weekend, keeping your defensive teammates off the field will be paramount for both offenses. Time of possession, or, if you prefer, three-and-outs avoided, will be a factor in which team is in the best position to take control in the second half.

Prediction … 

In 2021, the Horned Frogs gave up at least 28 points to every FBS team they faced … and they fired head coach Gary Patterson, who was an institution at TCU.

In 2022, the Horned Frogs gave up an average of 29 points per game … and played for the national championship.

In 2023, the Horned Frogs will be without their Thorpe Award winning cornerback and two other drafted starters.

Teams will score on TCU this fall. Perhaps the unit, with seven returning starters and some quality Transfer Portal pickups, will be better than what the Horned Frogs put on the field in 2021 and 2022.

Perhaps it will be more of the same.

The question is whether the Colorado offense will be able to take advantage. The Buff Nation is confident that Shedeur Sanders is the real deal, and will easily make the transition from FCS to FBS competition. The Buff Nation is confident that CU has a strong stable of skill position players on offense, and has at least a decent offense line to make the offense hum.

On the other side of the ball, concerns remain as to whether Colorado can stop opposing offenses from running the ball. The defensive line is small, with perilously thin depth. The secondary may be stout, but if the front seven can’t force teams into passing situations, the defensive backfield may never be tested.

I am excited about the arc the CU program is taking. Considering where we were nine months ago … it’s like night and day. Where there was pessimism, there is now optimism. Where there was malaise, there is now excitement.

If CU was taking on North Texas instead of a ranked TCU team, there would be reason to be looking forward to the first Saturday of the Coach Prime era. As it is, the 20.5-point line is a sobering reminder of how far we still have to go.

Buff fans still have plenty to look forward to, but the scars of watching teams wearing CU uniforms over the past two decades are still fresh.

The pundits don’t see a quick turnaround for the program.

Vegas doesn’t see a quick turnaround for the program.

The turnaround is comin’ … but not quite yet.

Prediction … No. 17 TCU 33, Colorado 21

  • 2021 Predictions … (Straight up: 9-3; Against the Spread: 7-5) … 
  • 2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 10-2; Against the Spread: 9-3) …



12 Replies to “CU at No. 17 TCU: “T.I.P.S.” for Coach Prime’s Debut”

  1. Wowww!!! I’ve never been so happy to be wrong!!! To all those that picked the Buffs-great freaking pick and YESSSS!!!!! Won’t ever go against again. My bad, and really my bad!

  2. I have no clue what is going to happen. I was so sure we were going to have a decent season last year. I got to even see the final scrimmage last year and watch Shrout play really well against our crappy defense. I thought our defense was going to be solid like it was the year before instead of the porous entity it ended up actually being. All an illusion. Everything we have seen and heard about the off-season could be an illusion as well. Are we more talented. I think so and so do most people. Can those players actually play. Some of them can, we know that. But most of them were back ups or coming from lower divisions. But all of that hinges on coaching. The funds,entail defense design was atrocious last year. I was reviewing some of my posts on 247 from last year and I found a post I started after the UCLA game showing how bad just the alignment was. I would never have expected an old hat like Wilson to design a defense like that and make calls like that. Just like I expect Kelly’s offense to make sense. I also expected Sanford’s offense to be more creative and utilize some of the concepts we saw at Minnesota. None of that developed and he never could get Lewis to throw the ball on time or calm Shrout down. So when some power 5 team solves the new offense will Sean Lewis have an answer?

    I really don’t know….. we have heard all the right things. We have seen clips of practice that show efficiency and effectiveness. The coaches all appear to know what they are doing. Pundits that visit and pros that visit seem to think the team has a shot at being much better. We will not know much until the end of this game.

    Here is what I will watch:
    1. How fast does Sanders get the ball out of his hands. In college football you have to get the ball out reliably within 3 seconds. If you are not doing this the game is moving too fast and you are confused (see Lewis from the previous 2 years). If Shedeur is getting the ball out most of the time in under 3 seconds then he his playing within the scheme, understands what the defense is giving him.
    Completion Percentage: This again reflects on Shedeur’s adaption to Power 5. If he is getting the ball out quickly and he is accurate and the recievers are making the catch we are going to be good. This rate doesn’t have to be great, just solid 65+.
    Play selection vs box count: Lewis offense is predicated on taking what the defense gives you. Run when the box is light, pass when the box is heavy. Last year, becuase we could not pass for crap, they loaded the box and blitzed. Sanford, and Lewis/Shrout could never adapt. So when we ran into these stacked boxes we got nowhere. If Lewis offense is working correctly, we will force the defense to mix it up or at least play us evenly. But they are going to test us. Expect heavy box and blitzes. Can Shedeur and the receiver corp break this with the pass?
    Alignment on defense – we have not seen a Kelly called defense in a long time. How will we align his players? Will he put them in places to set them up to win. Last years defense had no shot. It was literally the worst called defense I can ever remember. The problem wasn’t every play, it was just often enough some call would come in and would leave massive gaps in the defense, just from alignment. So I will watch for alignment. Look for big plays and key plays and then rewatch the alignment. Are we in a good alignment and the other team just beat us in that play or are we consistently in a bad alignment in those cases?
    Time the opposing qb holds the ball: so if our secondary is as strong as we hope, it will force the qb to hold the ball a bit longer.
    Speed to the edges: last year during the second half TCU realized they had a significant speed advantage and just stressed us on the edges. We have upgraded our speed significantly, but is it enough? Can the linebackers go sideline to sideline with good angles? And the safeties come down with proper technique and in control? Can the corners beat the wide receiver block?

    If all of these signs are good, I think we have a legit shot in the game. If some of these are good, we probably lose but make it close. If none of these are good going to be as rough season…..

    I am hoping the vision of the oasis is real, and not a mirage.

    1. Nice that someone has faith in their school.
      Maybe its a good thing most of these guys see the Buffs on the short end of the score. Too many the other way would just jinx it.

  3. I have the grill ready and the beverages cooling ( Zevia for this old guy )
    At 9::00am i will be glued to FOX for a great game to start the season but with no real knowledge of how our team will stack up I am going with a close game. I hope I’m wrong.
    TCU 35. CU 31

  4. Maybe Buffs surprise early in first half with new offense and some speedy playmakers. Then TCU O and D lines take over in second half and pull out the win. Buffs beat the spread but lose the game. TCU 38 CU 27.

  5. Last years statistics for either team mean absolutely nothing. Very few players from those teams are even playing, and all but one or two meaningful players are gone.
    I get that there is analysis space to fill, but in reality there is no possible way to predict or project what will happen for this game much less the season until you actually physically see the team products play some football. After a couple of games we will begin to get some idea, until then we can only be hopeful fans 🤞.

  6. This has to be the most anticipated first game for CU of all time? I can’t really think of any others. Going to be fun to watch.

    Buffs win.

    Go Buffs!

    1. Tennessee in 1990, maybe? 31-31 tie. Pritchard went nuts. As far as this game, CU 62 TCU 36. All kidding aside I think the Buffs have a chance to win, as does Matt McChesney, which is good enough for me. Finally, ha ha Cornholers. Bad QB play and a Fhule of a coach.

  7. I don’t think TCU limits us to 21 pts. Defending the pass and a quick offense will be really difficult for the horned toads. Turnovers will be the difference.
    CU 38 – TCU 34

  8. Based on the fact that 7 players and the DC are back from a defense that last year gave up 29 points I think the unknown should buy Shedeur some completions and a few early scores so I’m going for 34 Buffs. My problem is I’m not sure if the toads will score 55 to cover the spread? Losing as many starters on offense to the NFL says they might not score as much as last year, but the Buffs are an unknown, totally new players and coaches.

    Shedeur has some great weapons, but we don’t know if the line (depth) can play 60 minutes and in the heat too. Can they push, pull and block long enough for the play? If they can hold off the horny toads for Shedeur to get rolling then the Buffs could wear down the defense.

    The Buffs defensive line is smaller, but the LB’s are fast and look to be a strength, can they pass rush and close running gaps to help the line? The DBs & Safeties I expect are going to be able to handle their business, so I’m hoping the LBs can help stop the run and pressure and harass the QB.

    Best case, the Buffs hold TCU to 33 (Stuart’s guess) & the Buffs score 34.

    Worst case, the Buffs fail to score enough early to establish a rhythm and struggle to keep up while the defensive line wears down and the Buffs score 23 while TCU scores 54 to cover the spread.

    Since it’s Prime Time and because I can, until proven otherwise (games played), dream about Prime’s Buffs hitting on all cylinders out of the box while the toads play catch up. The Buffs offense helps the defense and the Buffs win.

    Buffs 34 TCU 33

  9. While I love the direction of the program and the bright future, I do believe we aren’t quite there and need to grow.
    TCU-38 CU 27

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