The Frogs at 3-6 are in a must win situation this Saturday as the travel to Ames and battle Iowa State. The Cyclones have seen their own case of bad luck this season with a 1-7 overall record which includes an 0-5 record in Big 12 play.
TCU coach Gary Patterson says his team has shown in practice this week that they understand what's at stake this Saturday. He mentioned that his team's last two practices were filled with high emotion, even remarking that they practiced like a 6-3 team instead of a 3-6 squad.
Patterson said the next three ball games and how his team responds goes beyond just this season.
"You can't quit learning how to fight; it takes three times the amount of effort," Patterson said. "It's not about just these three ball games; it's about next season and the season after that. When you lose how to practice to be a champion, it takes a long time to be able to get that back. It's not something that just goes away."
Although the Cyclones are 0-4 at home this season, playing in Ames has been a tough task to teams in the past. Earlier this season the Cyclones lost 31-30 to Texas on a controversial call. Two seasons ago they defeated then No. 2 Oklahoma State, ruining the Cowboys shot at a national championship appearance.
Patterson and Co. know the type of environment they're going into.
"Our kids know that they play good at home, we've got to get ready to play," Patterson said. "It's their homecoming; they waited until the ninth ball game to make us their homecoming."
Patterson at his weekly press luncheon earlier this week said senior All-American cornerback Jason Verrett would not practice this week. His backup, Keivon Gamble, was also injured last week against West Virginia and will not play against Iowa State. Patterson said on Wednesday that Verrett will still travel with the team and the plan is for him to play, but just in case he can't get on the field another player has begun getting reps this week at corner.
"Right now Deante' Gray is taking reps at corner," Patterson said. "Jason will travel and I think we plan on him playing but right now he won't rep anything. Deante' Gray was probably even with Travoskey (Garrett) today and he may be the guy that steps on the field Saturday."
Garrett was one of the highly regarded players as part of the Frogs' 2011 recruiting class. However, the sophomore has had his share of bad luck with injuries since his arrival to campus. But the good news now is Patterson says Garrett's the healthiest he's been in three years.
"Injuries have been a problem but this is the best he's ever been since he's been here," Patterson said of Garrett.
BOYKIN A PUNT RETURNER?
Last week sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin showed his versatility in the loss against West Virginia. With Casey Pachall back under center, Boykin received most of his snaps at receiver. He responded with 11 catches for 100 yards. His receptions were the most for a receiver in one game under Gary Patterson.
On Wednesday Patterson said Boykin continued to get reps at both quarterback and receiver while even mixing in a little punt return; which the coach said he looked good fielding punts.
When asked if he's coached another player that had more versatility than Boykin, Patterson couldn't find an answer. The coach said there's a simple explanation of why Boykin is so versatile.
"He just likes to play," Patterson said of Boykin. "He likes to play and he likes to win."
Patterson said Boykin's versatility wouldn't end on offense, noting that he'd be a great safety if he wanted to.
"Yeah, he'd be a great one," he said. "But, I'm starting to learn, I'd like scoring 45 points."
CHANGE AT SAFETY
While Verrett is still questionable for Saturday, Patterson did note that there would be a shift at free safety this week naming sophomore Derrick Kindred the starter for Iowa State. Patterson said slightly injured senior Elisha Olabode could play and that Geoff Hooker will serve as backup at weak and free safety if need be.
Patterson was impressed with Hooker's play against West Virginia. The former walk-on who received a scholarship earlier this season had an interception last week.
"He probably would've been a guy that would be up for player of the game but we don't have players of the game when we don't win," Patterson said of Hooker.
Hooker is the latest former walk-on from a long list of walk-on players who have succeeded at TCU. The list is almost too long to remember of players that made significant contributions before they were awarded a scholarship for their hard work. What's the recipe of why these players succeed the way they do?
It's about player development according to Patterson. It also doesn't hurt when kids have a chip on their shoulder.
"I think it's because our program develops our kids," he said. "It's all about developing in the off-season, it's all about the ones and twos getting the same amount of reps. It's continually developing. Sometimes those guys are better players because of the fire they have in them. They want to prove people wrong."
SCOUTING IOWA STATE
"They both can run and are equal; we've got to get ready to play," Patterson said of the two quarterbacks.
While the question remains on which quarterback will get the starting nod, make no doubt about it, they will be throwing a majority of their passes toward junior receiver Quenton Bundrage. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder leads the Cyclones with 30 receptions for 450 yards and 6 scores. He had 137 receiving yards earlier this season against Texas.
"He's a very good player, he's big and he's fast," Patterson said. "He compares to #1 from Texas Tech but he's a little bit taller. He's a guy that can run by you and he can go up and get it."