Sonny Dykes (Kelley L. Cox / USA TODAY Sports)

Straka: Dykes, Thomsen can ignite a spark in Frogs’ offense

Horned Frog Insider's Dean Straka looks a little deeper at TCU's two newest hires.

When former TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham left for the University of Kansas in January, head coach Gary Patterson wasn’t going to leave the hole unfilled for long.

On Tuesday, the hole was officially filled, as Patterson formally announced the additions of former Cal head coach Sonny Dykes and Arizona State offensive line coach Chris Thomsen to the TCU coaching staff. Patterson said Dykes will serve as an offensive analyst/consultant while Thomsen will serve in the same role that he did with the Sun Devils.

Reports of the two hirings first surfaced in January, but with Dykes and Thomsen now confirmed to be sporting purple starting this season, now might be a good time to take look at what each one brings to the table for the Horned Frogs going forward.

Sonny Dykes – Offensive Analyst/Consultant

Notable coaching stops:

Head Coach, Cal (2013-2016)

Head Coach, LA Tech (2010-2012)

OC/QBs, Arizona (2007-2009)

OC/WRs, Texas Tech (2005-2006)

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the man who spent the past seven seasons as a head coach between Cal and Louisiana Tech. 

Dykes comes to Fort Worth as no stranger to the Big 12 conference, having plenty of ties to TCU’s in-state rival out in the West Texas plains. The son of longtime Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes and a graduate of the university himself, Sonny spent two years in Lubbock under Mike Leach as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Red Raiders.

And with his track record, Dykes may be just the man that TCU needs to get the offense back to producing eye-opening numbers and talent.

TCU’s offense last season was nothing short of roller coaster as Patterson’s squad tried to fill the shoes of former star-quarterback Trevone Boykin with Kenny Hill, who would wind up throwing the most dropped passes of any FBS quarterback in 2016. The result – a 6-7 season with the two worst home losses by margin since 2000. Fortunately for the Frogs, Dykes has some experience when it comes developing newcomers into stars and showing some flash on offense.

Dykes made a name for himself in Lubbock in 2006 when his offense, led by quarterback and future Heisman finalist Graham Harrell, finished the season ranked No. 6 nationally in total offense and No. 3 in passing. Harrell threw for 38 touchdowns and more than 4,500 yards that season, and he would go onto lead Texas Tech to one the best seasons in program history during his senior season in 2008. Dykes also had one year of working with star-receiver Michael Crabtree during his red-shirt season in 2006.

Though Leach is long gone from coaching in the Big 12, Dykes may also provide a little extra insight for the Frogs when it comes to deciphering the schemes of opponents. That’s because the inside wide-receiver coach that Dykes worked with in Lubbock just happened to be current West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Dykes’ track record didn’t end there. When he made the jump to Tucson in 2007 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Arizona, Dykes’ would see the Wildcats finish the season ranked No. 10 in the nation in passing yards per game.

The bottom line – Dykes knows how to coach an offense inside and out. He’s overseen two air raid attack offenses that at the time were some of the best in the game. With plenty of weapons coming on-board for the Frogs in 2017, namely dual threat quarterback Shawn Robinson and receivers Omar Manning and Jalen Reagor, Dykes has yet another opportunity ahead to assist an offense in rising to the occasion.

Chris Thomsen – Offensive Line Coach

Notable coaching stops:

Offensive Line – Arizona State (2013-2016)

Offensive Line – Texas Tech (2012)

Head Coach - Abilene Christian (2005-2011)

Frog fans saw how overburdened the offensive line was at times in 2016, with TCU being hardly able to muster any effective effort with the run game against Oklahoma State and Kansas State at the tail-end of the season. With the addition of Thomsen as offensive line coach, the Frogs have cashed in.

As the case with Dykes, the TCU Class of 1993 graduate brings the experience of both a head coach and an assistant coach to the table, and plenty of success. Thomsen led Abilene Christian to six straight division II playoff appearances as head coach and helped propel the Sun Devils to their first back-to-back 10-win seasons in 40 years upon his arrival to Arizona State in 2013 as offensive line coach. If Thomsen can replicate what he did in Tempe, it will make life a lot easier for running back Kyle Hicks and whoever may be taking the snaps for the Frogs at quarterback.

And yes, Thomsen too has experience coaching in Lubbock, as he served as the offensive line coach for the Red Raiders during the 2012 campaign. With offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie coaching at Texas Tech from 2009-2013 across several positions, the Frogs now have three offensive coaches whom saw their journeys take them to Lubbock. If you want chemistry in a coaching staff, TCU’s lineup on offense will likely have it.

The pieces are there. Both Dykes and Thomsen know how to build up high-caliber teams in a heartbeat. The Frogs already have a mastermind in Patterson and an offensive coordinator that helped TCU go from 4-8 to 11-1 in 2014. They’ll have plenty of talent and room for growth among the players as well. All that remains now is hitting the field and prepping for week 1 in September.

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