Patterson Pleased With Tuesday's Practice

The Horned Frogs returned to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon in what head coach Gary Patterson described as a good practice.

The Frogs started Tuesday's afternoon practice outdoors before rain forced the team inside the Sam Baugh Indoor facility. Regardless of the short delay, head coach Gary Patterson described the practice as a good one; his team just needs to finish.

Consistency and growing up are two things Patterson has preached on improving through four weeks of fall camp. With a roster that includes ten true freshmen on the two-deep, it's a must to see improvement.


Graves returned to the team on Friday
"We've got to learn how to focus and do everything we need to do to get ready," he said. "This week, everyone else is cutting back; we've got to get better Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That's why there's still some live stuff, you can't just turn on and play the next team; you've got to keep getting your younger players and building your team and making them better."

Among the notable changes in the recent depth chart release was the return of linebacker Antonio Graves. The sophomore returned to the team on Friday according to Patterson and with his addition the linebackers definitely add another athletic defender; which is a big positive according to the coach.

"We are going to play a lot of 10 personnel, 11 personnel; one back stuff. That's something with the way Antonio runs that he can give us a lot of depth especially with Heiss still being out. So we get another guy that can run and cover backs, that's a big positive," Patterson said. "He was either going to go to tailback or linebacker, that's where our needs as far as finding depth."

Patterson says Graves' strengths will help out the linebackers, especially facing Big 12 offenses, who use a lot of one-back sets. While the coach described Graves play as "fare" in the spring, he's quick to admit that with Randy Shannon as linebackers coach, he sees the chance for his linebacker to be special.

"Where he struggled was two backs, but that's not what where he'll be," he said. "We're going to use him in 10 personnel. (one back sets). You know Mallet wasn't a very good linebacker last year, and Coach Shannon has got him playing a lot better, so we'll see if he can use the same magic on Antonio."

"Right now if I had to, I'd flip Verrett and Deante will play the field," he said. "We are hoping [Brian] Alexis can get back. He has been having trouble with his hamstring. He needs to give us that 4th or 5th guy."

Michael Thompson RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Sophomore offensive lineman Michael Thompson returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the previous three weeks due to an injury. The 6-foot-5, 352-pounder tweaked his knee early in fall camp after seeing extensive time at right tackle. Patterson doesn't know how well the line is coming together just yet, but he knows adding a player like Thompson depth wise is a positive regardless of his limits.

"I don't know we'll find out in a week. Michael Thompson was back at tackle today," Patterson said. "He is going to have to be worked back into it until that leg is stronger again, but if he can give us 10-20 plays per game that's a big deal, especially with those young guys on the right. He can give Tayo a breather."

COLLINS AND VAITAI GAINING CONFIDENCE

In Thompson's absence, Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati (Big V) Vaitai have emerged as right tackles. Both true freshmen have drawn praise from Patterson on several occasions throughout camp. Patterson says both are gaining confidence but says the biggest key is how they perform the first few weeks of the season.

"They're freshmen, now that we're getting into one-a-days it's not going as fast," he said. "Each day there's ups and downs. The key is in two weeks they learn their mistakes and they're better against Kansas, Virginia and SMU."


Patterson says Tucker has been the best back in fall camp
TUCKER THE MAN

When asked about Aundre Dean setting himself apart as the third back on the team, Patterson quickly pointed out that they still need a two. Waymon James has been dinged up the last week but even before getting hurt Patterson said the one back who has proven to be the best is senior Matthew Tucker.

"Waymon really hasn't the two-a-days I'd like, Tucker is the only guy playing the way we need him to," he said. "Waymon has kind of been nicked up with an ankle so right now we're trying to find a number two guy. Waymon is good enough but we just got to get him where his ankle isn't bothering him."

NOT LOOKING PAST GRAMBLING

Patterson said on Tuesday that there are a lot of unknowns with Grambling at the moment. He noted several players are gone from last year's team but what is common for several 1-AA schools; they receive a lot of transfers and it can be hard to scout those teams when you don't know the personnel. Regardless, in true Patterson fashion, he's not allowing himself or his team to look past the Tigers.

"There's a lot of unknowns, really we're going to have to see the film from Alcorn State and go from there," Patterson said. "Right now we're going to try to beat them. Every year somebody gets beat by a 1-AA school. They'll already have played a game to get better; we've got to get ourselves ready to play.

Jeremy Coleman moved from defensive tackle to offensive line in the last week according to Patterson. The move is expected to add depth at guard.

"He's been [on offense] for about a week. He wasn't playing on defense, so the key is we need depth. You can't move them during the season so we're trying to grow him up," Patterson said.

Brandon Carter did not suit up on Tuesday.

The Frogs will have a mock game day weekend starting with Friday's walk-thru. The team will have a mock game on Saturday morning and have the "Meet the Frogs" on Saturday night.

Jeremy Clark has covered TCU football and recruiting since 2005. He spent seven years with another recruiting service before joining the FoxSports/Scout.com family in February 2012. He has made appearances on FoxSports Southwest and the NFL Network and radio stations nationwide in his nearly eight years of covering the Frogs.
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