With their final bye week of the season now behind them, Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs are set to return to the field this weekend as TCU hosts No. 13 Oklahoma State for a Saturday morning showdown in Fort Worth. Patterson addressed media members Tuesday as the team looks to ride an extra week of practice and the momentum of a 62-22 win over Baylor to its second straight win over a ranked opponent.
Coming off the bye
The Frogs entered their second and final bye week of the season on the note they hoped for, sitting on the team’s best win of the season after blowing out Baylor at McLane Stadium. It may also have come at just the right time too, as the Frogs enter their final block of the season with three games against opponents all currently .500 or better.
“We have an Oklahoma State looking for a Big 12 title, a Texas team that’s trying to win as many games as possible, and a Kansas State team right with us – trying to become bowl eligible,” Patterson said. “I just keep telling them that if the offense moves fast without turning it over and the defense stops the run game and doesn’t let them throw it over their heads, we’re going to play well.”
Patterson said the extra time between games, while a chance for extra rest and preparation, also was an opportunity for reflection.
“On Sunday we picked out five or six plays in the Arkansas and Texas Tech games that could have made a difference in the outcome, like dropped passes and missed coverages,” Patterson said. “Players being out too...the teams with the most healthy players play the best, so I don’t think it’s any surprise how we played in Waco.”
Patterson also emphasized that the younger players are continuing to gain confidence from their experience on the field, pointing to a bright future.
“A lot of young guys like Sewo (Olonilua) and Darius Anderson are growing up and show promise for great futures, and we’ll also have Shaun Nixon back at running back for next year,” Patterson said.
But for now, the focus for the Frogs is all back on the home stretch of the 2016 regular-season, which concludes on Dec. 3 in Fort Worth.
Looking ahead to Oklahoma State
As the Frogs take the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium for the first time in three weeks, they will have the chance to avenge an opponent that brought an end to their undefeated season one year ago: The Oklahoma State Cowboys. This year’s billing though won’t be a matchup of two undefeated squads with playoff aspirations, but rather a Big 12 title contender versus a bowl hopeful. And the Frogs will be up to the challenge that the Cowboys bring.
“Offensively, they have a lot of weapons,” Patterson said. “Rudolph is playing well, they have two or three quality receivers, and their running back is really emerging.”
The big storyline of the previous meeting was Oklahoma State wide-receiver James Washington, as the junior-receiver torched the TCU secondary for three touchdown receptions en route to a 49-29 Cowboys victory. He’ll be back even more experienced this time around, and Patterson made clear what the Frogs secondary must do to avoid a repeat of last November.
“Don’t let him get behind you. He’s a very physical receiver,” Patterson said. “OSU goes fast so you can’t flip your corners. Your kids have to identify where they’re at.”
Also notable is that a handful of TCU coaching staff has spent time at Oklahoma State football at some capacity, including co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and graduate assistant JW Walsh. Meacham played at Oklahoma State from 1983-1987 and served as an assistant coach from 1989-1991 and then again form 2005-2012. Walsh was a quarterback on the team from 2011 until just last season, playing alongside many players such as Washington that the Frogs will need to solve Saturday.
TCU has only hosted Oklahoma State once since joining the Big 12 conference, with the No. 12 Horned Frogs crushing the No. 15 Cowboys 42-9 in October 2014.
Game No. 200 for Patterson
Saturday’s contest will be a milestone for Patterson regardless of the outcome, as it will mark the 200th time that the Horned Frogs have taken the field under his leadership as head coach.
“I’d rather get to 150 wins than worry about the 200 games, but it shows that I’ve been here for a long time,” Patterson said. “It’s hard to do this at one place.”
Patterson briefly reflected on his first days in the position after former TCU head coach Dennis Franchione left for the University of Alabama beginning in the 2000, stating that his experiences as defensive coordinator with the team made it easier to transition into the role.
“Basically I ran the day to day operations already….discipline, academics, the offseason,” Patterson said. “The hardest part was deciding who was going to be your staff, how you want to do your management style, and how to raise the money. Every place is different.”
Now 16 years later, as the winningest head-coach in the history of TCU Football, Patterson has become one of the most recognizable individuals in both Fort Worth and the national landscape of college football. If getting that sixth win for bowl eligibility and a second win over a ranked opponent isn’t enough motivation for the players on Saturday, then making Coach P’s milestone a memorable day should do the trick.