For us, we're excited. For coaches this time of year, being in the Big 12, knowing a little more about it, buying less diapers, we're not quite as young of a football team as we were a year ago. Still feel like we're young. A lot of players we thought we had last year but didn't have last year are back. A younger football team.
Growing up, understanding we have a big ball game right out of the gate as far as you guys are concerned playing a program like LSU. We're excited about that. A lot of people taking the philosophy of not playing games, but as far as TCU is concerned, to be able to play a game and play a program like LSU that's had national implications over the last few years with a coach like Les Miles is somebody that you want to be a part of and playing in Cowboys Stadium and be a part of that. A lot of big ball games that have been a part of that situation.
So for us, our kids have been excited through the spring and then this summer, and for us it's been a lot of fun. Now looking forward to how we get into it here in a week and a half.
We start on the 31st is when we come into camp because the game's early. So we're not very far away. Questions?
Q. Gary, what was your reaction when you learned that Casey Pachall was the choice of the media to be the All-Big 12 First-Team quarterback?
COACH PATTERSON: Kind of like being picked third. I tell people all the time, it's his job and my job, if you pick me high, prove me right; if you pick me low, prove me wrong. A lot of people ask me why I didn't bring him to media days. Number one, we don't know who our starting quarterback is. Two, it doesn't have anything to do with what my intentions were. If you really want to know the truth about it, him and I talked, and I kind of mentioned, look, you need to get some of this stuff out of the way because these guys are going to ask these questions down the road.
But kind of like he did in the spring. He asked me when he came in, coach, can I just be a student, or can I be a football player? So what I've done is I've left him alone. I asked him before media days. I ask him about, now, do you want to go? And his whole thing is: I just want to be a student. I want to be a football player.
So I'm letting him do his thing, keep the pressure off of him. I think having a two-quarterback situation that we feel like we have two quarterbacks now that can go win ball games in the Big 12 is a positive as far as the pressure type and go forward.
Casey is a very talented young man. How he handles everything and does will be an indication of how well we do in the Big 12 Conference. If you want to play well in the Big 12, you've got to play well at quarterback. Even last year, when Trevone played well, we won. When he didn't play well, we lost, and you've got to play good defense.
So having a Casey Pachall back, I think he was the number one ranked quarterback after four games when we set him aside, I think tells you when he comes back and plays at that level, it gives us a better chance to win.
Q. Wanted to ask you, you talked last year before the first game of the season that one of the challenges you were facing in your first year in the conference was acclimating yourself to the logistics of new travel and new venues. Is that still something that you're going to have to be mindful of this year, or do you think that that aspect of the transition is still there?
COACH PATTERSON: You still have to play. Now you've got to go to Manhattan, and you've got to go to Ames, and you've got to go to Lubbock. We've been to Lubbock before. Lubbock and Stillwater and Norman, we've been to those places before, at least our coaching staff has as far as the little nuances as far as dealing with playing at those places besides they just have good teams and they have great crowds.
Yeah, I think it takes two years to be able to get through all that and understanding that you try to not make any mistakes yourself as far as the administration of travel, when you're going, where you're staying, how you're doing things. But the football team knows a little bit more about what they're going to deal with on a day-to-day basis because of the size of the crowd of going to Stillwater comparably to going to Colorado Springs or Air Force, which were good teams that played or did things, but you didn't have big crowds.
So how do you handle all that? In some ways, it makes it easier because I've told people, well-documented, that my role the first X amount of years, except maybe when you played at Utah or BYU, was I had to add the emotion to our team. When you walked out, you didn't have a very big crowd playing on the road, you had to add the emotion, if they didn't have any, to be able to play a ball game.
Now you know every week when you play in the Big 12, you're going to play in front of a large crowd and there's going to be a lot of emotion. Now, my role has changed a little bit as far as how I handle pregame speeches, sideline, all those different things.
If you go back to 2005 even, you watch Gary Patterson on the sideline of the Oklahoma game when we played them back then, it's totally a different guy than sometimes he would be in a game where we're not having a lot of emotion. So it's my job to get them going.
So I think there's a lot of things that change -- your staff, how you do things, how you recruit, how you handle game day, how do you handle practice. For instance, last year, we felt like about two-thirds of the way after the Oklahoma State game -- I felt like my team was tired. And we didn't practice on Sunday. We watched film of the next opponent, we analyzed the game we just got done with, and we went on to win at West Virginia. We got some energy back.
So I think I'm learning in the process how you handle things. I think coaches do that. If you're good at it, you've got to go back and analyze yourself before you analyze anybody else, how you need to change your recruiting, how you need to change how you coach, how you need to -- how I should say -- the word's not changed, how you tweak, how you do all that stuff. I think it all comes into play.
Q. Two questions here. You hint that you may play two quarterbacks, Trevone and Casey both. Is that the case, or are you undecided at this point?
COACH PATTERSON: I think it just depends. We'll see how two-a-day scrimmages and going into the first ball game -- when I say that, it won't be a 50/50 thing, I don't think, but I do believe there's a place for both of them.
If it is Casey as the starter, you have a Trevone that really can beat you with his legs. How do you do that? He really developed. He had an unbelievable spring, to be honest with you, which bodes well for us because he's only going to be a sophomore for us in the future after this season.
But I think you give a quality of understanding that they can't just -- going into a ball game, if he's going to play some, you can't just say that your game plan is all about a guy that's a thrower and he hands it off and he does a great job checking and has a strong arm. I think you have to get ready for both of them, just like we've done for other schools in this conference. If they have a guy that can throw it, a guy that does a better job running.
For a defensive guy, that's a lot different animal because you've got to put a lot more work into it.
Q. The second question, Gary, as a defensive guy, there is an eighth official, and he's going to be spotting the ball. Are teams going to play even faster now?
COACH PATTERSON: They can't play any faster. You're going to get better eyes on making sure we're all getting lined up and doing. I was one of the guys that voted for having the eighth official because that guy's going to be the spot -- that allows your umpire and referee not to worry about that. They can stand back and make sure everything gets handled the way they were supposed to handle it in the first place.
If you're up and moving and the chains haven't even got set and they're still backing out of underneath the snap and the ball's being snapped, it's really hard for them to do their job.
So for me, I think it's a welcome addition. I think, just like basketball went from two to three, I just think it helps all of us if the game is going to stay at its capacity. If anything, I think it gets back to helping the defense a little bit more because now you have a little -- you have one more set of eyes that are watching everything.
Q. Gary, what kind of understanding did you have with Casey for bringing him back? Are you as confident as you can be that he's learned some lessons?
COACH PATTERSON: Number one, just 18-year-old to 22-year-olds in particular, never have confidence with any of them on a day-to-day basis. All you have to have is your own, in 31 years of dealing with 130 of them.
The best part about it, what people forget is that they're somebody's kid. They have a mom and dad that do things. When he came back in the spring, to see the color back in his face, the conversations we had that we weren't having when he left, to me, told me right away that we'd done the right thing.
The easiest two answers for me to have answered and done was, number one, is just to suspend him for a couple of games and then let him come back and play, but that wouldn't have fixed the problem. Two, to have just gotten rid of him, then what we did for everything we told him in recruiting about how we cared about him, how we did something for them in their life, and how we wanted to graduate them and do it is out the window. Why should you ever believe that?
There's some times young men have so many strikes, you'd have to know the whole story, and there's a lot of other underlying things family-wise and everything else that went into that decision, but for me it was an easy decision once you got here.
It was a hard decision, in fact, of understanding I knew it was going to affect our wins and losses. You had to take a guy we moved to running back and move him back to quarterback.
But as far as what we're doing for a young man's life, I think it was an easy decision of understanding that we needed to get him in a place where not only for this year but for the rest of his life we knew we gave him a chance to be different.
That was the understanding. Understanding that he did everything he needed to do off the field, that he'd be given an opportunity. I think one of the problems you have in the world is it's easy to push it underneath the rug. It the easy to get rid of it, and we needed to give him hope because one of the things he lives his life around, he wants to be an NFL quarterback. That's one of the things that drives him, if that's the case then. But you have to understand, like all the rest of them, how you handle yourself off the field, how you do things in a day to day life affect that.
If you want to get to the NFL, it's a business. You're going to clock in at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, and you're going to do your job, and you're going to go home at 6:00 or 7:00 at night. Can you handle that? The story, as we go forward, we'll find out how he does that. If he does, it's going to be a great story. If not, we took our opportunity to try to change a kid's life, and maybe it didn't work out.
But I'm betting on the first one.
Q. With so many established quarterbacks gone, do you think defensive backs are salivating a little bit that it's their time and maybe offensive numbers will decline a little bit?
COACH PATTERSON: I don't know. I've been watching skill players from the Big 12 all summer. Everybody does a good job. In these offenses, it seems like the next guy plugged in has done a great job.
Just look at Oklahoma State, they play three of them, and they all did a great job. I think you should just prepare for the worst. Being a defensive guy a little bit, you'd better prepare for the worst and hope for the best in that deal.
They do a great job in this league of moving the football, but I do believe that you can play defense in this league too. You just got to prepare yourself and get yourself ready for it.
Q. Commissioner Bowlsby stated earlier this morning that he feels it is important that Big 12 teams play the best of the best out of conference or if it's in bowl games. Do you feel the same way with playing LSU this year, and can you see yourself, your program scheduling more high-quality opponents out of conference in the future?
COACH PATTERSON: For us in the next ten years, we have Minnesota out of the Big Ten, you have Arkansas, and you have Ohio State along with LSU. So I think we're already doing that.
I do believe that you have to every two or three years have a statement game outside of your conference. I think there's teams within our conference. Oklahoma, I know, a couple of years ago, played Florida State. Was it last year? You have to be able to go play some ball games like that to be able to show so you can add it up.
I think playing Oregon State our year we went to the Rose Bowl earlier in the season with the Rodgers brothers, I think everybody felt like they were a team that could contend for the Pac-10 title. And so, again, perception becomes reality, and you find out that, for us, LSU really helps us get ready in the spring and the summer, no matter how the ball game goes.
We need to play well because, for us to recruit the kind of kids to win a Big 12 title, to win a National Championship, you have to have some of the best players in the nation come to your place. So the only way you can prove that you can do that sometimes is to go play -- you can play a program like an LSU.
You're already playing great programs within your conference, but I truly believe you've got to cross over every once in a while. Obviously, is it more of a risk for a head coach win/loss-wise? Yes, because they've got really good players, really great staff, and really great tradition. On the other side of it, if you play well or you win, it also puts you in a situation where it jumps you in the national spotlight.
The only thing I would back up from Commissioner Bowlsby because I think you have to play the best, but winning is still the best answer for success, and for us in a conference, I think you have to have -- and one of the -- you have to have a great plan, and a great plan is great scheduling. So for a coach, I think you can't put yourself in a situation to play a great nonconference schedule, but then you're beat up and lose so many players that you can't play in conference, because the first goal is to win a conference title.
I think for us to elevate ourselves, we have to be able to prove we can play against people outside the conference. And, as a general rule, that's one of the reasons we got in the conference, to be able to do that. And as a general rule, I think this conference has done that.
Q. Gary, obviously, you've had some very great defenses, multiple great defenses over the years. When you look at the returnees you have and the progress made last year, what's the potential for this group?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, you have to -- losing Stan Maponga, he went out early in the draft, Kenny Cain, I -- with everybody coming back -- you have to be able to rush the passer in this league. Even though everybody throws the ball, you have to be able to stop the run. There's not any doubt about how you do that.
Whether it's by when you catch it, you don't let them run with it, or when they're handing it off. You've got to get it to where you have an advantage as far as you know it's a passing down. It can't be an even down all the time. And you've got to minimize the big plays. You can't allow the score within 1:30. It's really hard to win ball games if you allow people to do that.
I said a year ago you've got to learn how to make people kick field goals, and we did that to an extent. One thing about playing in the middle of the field, and it's another thing to play in the red zone. We've got to keep emphasizing that, along with everybody else, I'm sure, in the league is doing that.
We're always going to have good skill players. Everybody can run. Everybody gets their group of guys every year. Somebody's going to have a guy that can go beat you deep. So you always have to have one or a couple of those guys that can defend those guys.
But it's a great challenge. Like any, whether it's your job or mine, you guys in writers, you find a guy that's really doing a great job of doing the story, then everybody is trying to how does he do it or how do I become like him or close to being like him. I don't think we're any different in doing our job.
The offenses kind of like in baseball are the hitters are way ahead of the pitchers one year, and the next year they catch up. How do we as a defensive group keep catching up and be able to hold our own? Because when it gets all down to it, we can score a lot of points, but for us to be a national contender on a national scene, you've got to be able to play great defense in November and December and then January ball games to win national titles. Whether it's at TC or anywhere else. You can score points, but you've got to be able -- in big ball games, you've got to be able to play defense.
So all of us as a league, we've got to learn how we keep making ourselves better to do that. There's a couple of ways, scheme-wise, and keep recruiting better players. The better players we have, the better we'll be able to do that.
I don't think there's any magic formula, but you can't allow offenses to dictate. You've got to be able to practice so you can be as multiple as what they are on offense and be able to call it just as fast, and that's one of the things that we try to work on.
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