Patterson Meets With The Media

FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU head football coach Gary Patterson met with the media Monday in the Four Sevens Team Room inside the Dutch Meyer Athletic Complex and Abe Martin Academic Enhancement Center.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU head football coach Gary Patterson met with the media Monday in the Four Sevens Team Room inside the Dutch Meyer Athletic Complex and Abe Martin Academic Enhancement Center.

The Horned Frogs open the 2008 campaign Saturday at New Mexico. Kickoff is 5 p.m. Central for the nationally-televised (VERSUS) contest.

Included below are excerpts from Patterson's comments to the media.

Opening Statement ...
"Starting off the season with a conference game against a team like New Mexico will be quite a challenge. It's been a very fierce rivalry to this point. (New Mexico) Coach (Rocky) Long coached here at TCU and I coached at New Mexico, so both of us know a lot about each University.

"Playing against a conference opponent on the road is always tough. We understand that it is going to be a very good crowd and a loud crowd. We have to get ourselves ready to play.

"New Mexico is probably a lot healthier than we are at this point. We are pretty banged up in some areas, but hopefully will be ready to go by Saturday. Outside of that, like all first games, you don't know what you have until you play.

"I love Albuquerque. When I was out there, I loved the fans. It will be a very good game environment. Early last season, we didn't play well on the road and lost some close games. We know that if you want to win a conference championship, you have to win on the road."

Is the same urgency there in the first game, whether it's against a Big 12 team or a conference opponent?
"I think both of them have the same urgency. It's not just about the winning and losing. It's also about the emotions, the sense of pride and the recruiting ties. We have opened our last couple of seasons against Oklahoma and Baylor, and now New Mexico. With all the recruiting eyes that are on those games, you want to make sure you play well."

How hard is it to start the season well?
"Last season, we started with a 27-0 win against a Big 12 team (Baylor). We have always played well in our first game. We know how to work our guys hard in camp before we have to get our legs back to start the season sharp. As a coach, heading into the first game, you find out that you can either play pretty well or what you need to fix. At least you know where you are going, one way or the other.

"Both squads have young kickers and punters, which can make a game pretty amusing at times. It all depends on how they get out there and handle it. Both teams also have new return men. All of these things can make for interesting games."

How has TCU quarterback Andy Dalton looked different from last year?
"I don't think there is any comparison. Both Andy and Marcus Jackson grew up in the last part of the season a year ago. We won four out of five games, and we didn't turn the ball over. If we can have that carryover, we have an opportunity to be better offensively. We are facing a tough New Mexico defense, so I don't know how that will all translate. We are definitely better at the offensive line and receiver position."

How do you plan on managing the running backs? "Ryan Christian will start the game Saturday. Joseph Turner isn't exactly where we want him to be, but he will play. It's one of those work-in-progress situations. Aaron (Brown) always plays a part in things. It will be an interesting deal to see who gets off to a good start and who will step up. It all depends on what we can do upfront. New Mexico is a lot like us in that they are very good at stopping the run. They are bigger upfront than they have been in the last couple of years, so we have to be ready to go at them."

Is there more pressure on the coaching staff and the team starting with an MWC game?
"Coaches put the most pressure on ourselves than from any outside source, so this game is still the same. Last year, we had more pressure offensively because we had a freshman quarterback. We have some younger defensive backs this year, so the pressure has flipped to the other side of the ball.

"Older players usually handle things very well. We have a high standard here at TCU. We want to be in the Top 25 in the nation in defense. Our goal is to get to a place where we can compete for a national championship. We want to keep climbing to a higher level of play.

"We didn't want to climb the mountain fast. We are going to do things the right way with a good foundation. There is one goal in mind. One year doesn't make it. No matter what happens this year, we are always trying to reach out and get things done."

What do you have to do to get the team ready on the road?
"When we go on the road, we have to bring our own emotion. We have to go in and take ball games. It's different for us. You have to have a chip on your shoulder. Because we are so far away, proximity wise, you have to take your own energy.

"We talk about it all the time. We put our kids in tough situations. We will start playing the Lobo fight song and the crowd noise at practice. You have to prepare yourself and help your kids so they know what they are going to see. You have to put them in a situation where they can be successful.

"We are still a young football team with a lot of players that are underclassmen. Six of our 10 wide receivers on scholarships are sophomores. We are still growing, still teaching them to fight and they are learning that it's about the team, not the individual. You have to coach and you have to teach.

"It will be a fight. Why would you want it any different?"

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