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Why these Horned Frogs are excited about Andy Avalos’ new defense

With the offseason transition of Andy Avalos replacing Joe Gillespie as TCU’s defensive coordinator, the Horned Frogs’ are wading through the tough adjustment of change.

Gillespie meant a lot to the players; he helped recruit some of them and helped lead them to the national championship game in in January 2023. But after allowing 69 points to Oklahoma in the 2023 regular-season finale, head coach Sonny Dykes decided it was time to make a change.

Avalos, hired in December, has been in Fort Worth for two months and is continuing to build a rapport with a roster ahead of spring football practice. Defensive lineman Damonic Williams said Avalos approaches coaching in a different way than Gillespie.

“It’s a very different feel,” Williams said. “Where Coach Gillespie was more of an old head in a sense, Coach Andy ended up coming here and getting straight to the point. He doesn’t want to waste any time. I want to say the first day he got into team meetings he got straight to the point. That’s was his motto, that’s what he set out to do.”

You can understand why Avalos isn’t wasting time as there’s plenty of work to do after TCU ranked No. 79 in scoring defense and allowed opponents more than 400 yards per game.

There were some questions Avalos needed to answer with some key returning players as TCU transitions from a 3-3-5 defense to a more complex defense that is closer to a fou mar- defensive front. One of those players that was unsure of his role was leading tackler Namdi Obiazor.

That uncertainty would soon turn into eagerness as he got to know Avalos.

“When he first came here, I saw what he was running and I wasn’t so sure,” Obiazor said. “So I just met with him and had him break down the defense and where he sees me playing. They have me playing (weakside) linebacker now instead of a (strongside) backer because they got rid of that position.

“I think that’s going to be the best thing for me. The 3-3-5 that’s not a NFL style defense and this is a more of an advanced defense that will translate to the next level.”

Obiazor led TCU with 84 tackles and four sacks and is the exact type of player who can excel under Avalos. He’s had previous success with linebackers like Leighton Vander Esch and Noah Sewell at Oregon.

Like Obiazor, as Williams learned more about the defense, he was excited about the potential changes.

“I do believe we’re going to get the quarterback a lot more this season,” Williams said. “I can see that with him (Oregon and Boise State) were a lot more aggressive and there was more explosiveness. With this four man front there are going to be a lot more things that we can do and not be held back in a sense.”

Getting after the quarterback was a specialty during Avalos’ time out west as he maximized the talent of his defenses with various fronts and schemes that are seldom used on the college level. There’s a reason Obiazor has so much confidence that this defense can help him and his teammates prepare for the NFL.

As for Williams his role shouldn’t change much as he still expects to mostly play an interior position, but Avalos has already identified some areas where the talented junior can grow.

“He sees me as a nose tackle in this defense, he knows I’m a power guy,” Williams said. “I’m a good run stopper and what he wants to work on me with is for sure my finesse and my pass rushing. I feel like I can get better at that, that’s one of my goals this spring. I’m excited for what he has for me.”

The next step in mastering Avalos’ defense will begin on March 23 with the start of spring football and it’s clear the players are starting to believe in his vision and can’t wait to implement it themselves.