TCU shocked the college football world in 2022, improving from a 5-7 record the previous season to earning a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship. While the offense — led by Heisman finalist Max Duggan — captured headlines across the country, the Horned Frogs’ turnaround would not have been possible without the defense taking major strides.
Sonny Dykes took a unit that finished near the bottom of the barrel in total defense in 2021 and put it on the fringe of the top-70 nationally last season. Yet another example of how major improvement on one side of the ball can make all the difference.
So, it feels appropriate to look at the units that could improve the most during the 2023 season. All the teams listed below have at least an outside shot at making the College Football Playoff, and a leap on either offense or defense could be what they need to break through.
Only programs that finished outside of the top 20 in total defense or offense in 2022 were considered. Coaching changes, additions via traditional recruiting, the transfer portal and relative losses to returning talent were all weighed.
Key additions: Jalen Catalon, DB (Arkansas); Gavin Holmes, DB (Wake Forest); Anthony Hill, LB (Five-star freshman)
Texas was not as active in the transfer portal as other teams on this list, but the Longhorns were strategic with their additions. Bringing in an athlete like Catalon gives them an all-conference caliber player — if he can stay healthy. Holmes brings some much-needed experience to an otherwise-young group of cornerbacks. Otherwise, Texas did not need a ton of help. The Longhorns are experienced, even after losing the likes of DeMarvion Overshown and Moro Ojomo. Defensive lineman Byron Murphy will do big…