Patterson: Sooners alone motivate Frogs

Matchup of No. 25 TCU and No. 4 Oklahoma is first ranked-vs.-ranked game at Amon G. Carter Stadium since 2009.

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by Caroline Collier '98
Updated: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coach Gary Patterson said Oklahoma will force the Frogs to "make all your 11 make plays" at his weekly press conference.

Coach Gary Patterson mentioned all the excitement – from his team, the TCU fans and the city of Fort Worth – leading up to this Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. contest with No. 4 Oklahoma during his weekly press conference. His calm demeanor, however, did not suggest any anxiety at the first game involving two ranked teams at Amon G. Carter since TCU demolished Utah, 55-28, in 2009.

TCU has journeyed a long way since that historic season and its Rose Bowl finale. It built a new stadium and joined a new conference, and somewhere in the middle, veered away from the five-year stretch of 10-win seasons.

In the first two years in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs have won six conference games and lost 12. They were last ranked before the Texas Tech game in September 2013 – more than a year ago.

This week, the Frogs squeezed into both polls at No. 25, an honor Patterson attributed to a “lot of hard work” from his team.

One nice thing about routinely playing tough competition, Patterson believes, is that he does not need to yell and scream to inspire his players. Oklahoma received seven first-place votes in the most recent AP poll. They bring the nation’s second-longest active win streak into Fort Worth, and that alone motivates the players.

That, and the fact the Sooners only beat TCU by a combined 10 points in 2012 and 2013. The player representatives at the press conference sounded focused and perhaps quietly confident.

“All of the guys came here because TCU won, and that’s what we want to get back to,” junior center Joey Hunt said.

As far as being a consistent winner, TCU has fallen slightly off the radar, at least as far as the outside world knows. The program’s now-famous pyramid, which begins with a base of accountability and attitude, still stands at the front of the Four Sevens team meeting room.

The 2014 squad has colored in the bottom third of the pyramid in purple, and the next level is labeled “Draw the Line – Must win at home” before listing the upcoming conference games in Fort Worth: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State.

Entering the tough stretch, the Frogs are relatively well rested and injury-free. Offensive linemen Tayo Fabuluje, who sat out the 56-0 drubbing of SMU with back issues, and Bobby Thompson will return to active duty on Saturday.

Patterson mentioned how the two September bye weeks allowed his staff to better evaluate players and put the best team on the field. He pointed out the secondary as an area that needs to continue to improve if the Frogs are to have a chance to take down Oklahoma and seventh-ranked Baylor in consecutive weeks.

Senior safety Sam Carter agreed, even accepting his own coverage still needs to become airtight. “Our secondary is major in this defense,” he said. “As long as our D-line and linebackers do their job, we have to live up to our end also.”

Patterson pointed out the sheer size of OU’s team, including a “senior-laden” offensive line, which has opened up plenty of holes through four games this year. Freshman back Samaje Perine leads the team with 419 rushing yards at an average of 6.3 yards per carry.

Patterson likened stopping the 243-pound speedster to “tackling a defensive tackle,” he said. “He’s even hard to leg tackle.”

The coach pointed out how OU’s offense is set up to extend plays far downfield, which will necessitate relentless tackling in the secondary. “Everybody’s got to tackle,” he said. “They’re going to make all of your 11 make plays.”

The Frogs should remember how lethal OU can be when a Sooner running back breaks free to the end zone. In both the 2012 and 2013 contests, OU managed long rushing touchdowns of 60+ yards. Had those plays been stopped, considering how close the final scores were, the outcome might have been different.

TCU also needs to level up in terms of gaining yards and scoring points.

Patterson called OU’s defense “very physical,” but they have allowed 250.5 passing yards per game this year and permitted West Virginia to score 33 in their last game on September 20th. The possibility of racking up a bunch of points exists.

TCU will have to amp up its offensive performance if an outburst is to happen on Saturday. Oklahoma has never allowed TCU to score more than 20 points in the schools’ 13 previous meetings.

This year, TCU will be bringing its revamped offense under the leadership of a grown-up Trevone Boykin to the contest.

TCU has scored 134 points through three games in 2014, and although pass timing has been off on occasion, several receivers have made highlight-worthy catches, and running back B.J. Catalon collected his first 100-yard rushing game as a Frog last Saturday at SMU. The Frogs are averaging 532 yards per game, almost 200 yards more per contest than the 345 they put on the field last year, including a measly 210 in the 20-17 loss to OU.

“That was one of the reasons why we did what we did,” Patterson said about bringing in Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie as co-offensive coordinators. “To make sure that we can give us some opportunities to score enough points to win ballgames.”

This year, on the offensive side of the ball, the team is more experienced, less penalized, and more careful with the football. Boykin threw seven total picks in 2013. He hasn’t thrown any yet this year, and he will need to continue minimizing mistakes if he wants to lead his team to back-to-back wins against top ten teams in two consecutive weeks.

About whether he believes the Frogs will be ranked this time next week, Patterson didn’t seem too concerned. “You get what you earn,” he said.

Although he would like to score at least one more point than Oklahoma, “TCU has already won,” Patterson said, referring to joining the Big 12 and building a state-of-the art stadium. “Now we need to move forward.”

And to see where he wants to go, one only need to look at that pyramid, with winning the new playoff and earning a national title at the apex. Lofty dreams, but the next step is winning at home on Saturday. Considering he is 4-2 at TCU against top five teams, a win Saturday is well within the realm of possibilities.

 

 

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