Just last week, Oregon State defeated then No. 1 USC, Ole Miss pulled off the huge upset at then No. 4 Florida, and what was supposed to be the game of the week turned into an then No. 9 Alabama rout of then No. 3 Georgia. TCU fell short in its attempt to overthrow then No. 2 Oklahoma. Horned Frogs Head Coach Gary Patterson talked about the upsets at Tuesday's media lunch.
"In this day and age, if you don't play one game at a time, you going to get yourself in trouble," Patterson said. "You better get ready to play. It doesn't who it is that you are going to play. You better get ready."
A week later, San Diego State rolls into town bringing high expectations to the TCU fan base. A win might not come as easy as expected for the Frogs. The Aztec offense, led by red-shirt freshman Ryan Lindley, is putting up good numbers. San Diego State is scoring 23.8 points a game with an average of 65.5 rushing yards and 302.8 passing yards.
Chuck Long, the head coach of the Aztecs, was previously the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, the team that just passed all over the TCU defense (411 yards). Patterson said his team is preparing to see the same style of offense as the Sooners. Patterson said coming of the game at Norman will help both the Frogs and the Aztecs. San Diego State can use what Oklahoma accomplished to game plan, and TCU has already prepared to face that offense.
Patterson was very clear. The Oklahoma game is over. The Frogs are no longer undefeated…except in conference. The Frogs have a giant wall hanging with a pyramid of goals hanging to the side of the podium during news conferences. The pyramid starts white, and is filled in with purple for every accomplishment. Patterson walked over to the pyramid on Tuesday and pointed to the section of white representing the Oklahoma loss.
"Right now, except for a national championship, we have everything in front of us," Patterson said. "If we win out, we still have a chance for a BCS game. We have a chance to win a conference championship…For this week it's all about San Diego State."
Patterson said he is proud of the way his team fought against the now No. 1 team in the nation. He pointed out that after mistakes in the first quarter, his defense held the Sooners to 14 points the rest of the game. He also talked about Oklahoma keeping its first-team offense on the field in the fourth quarter, even going for it on a fourth down, which TCU stopped.
"We did not handle things well early, (Oklahoma got) a couple big plays," Patterson said. "They get 200 yards in the first quarter, and then they had basically 200 yards against us the rest of the ballgame."
The real area that needs improvement, according to Patterson, is the TCU offense. San Diego State is the perfect opponent for a TCU offensive rebound. The Aztecs are scoring and moving the ball on offense, but the reason they are 1-3 is their defense. The Aztecs are giving up 25.5 points a game on 413 yards a game. Teams are averaging more than 200 yards on the ground against San Diego State's rush defense. That plays perfectly into what TCU wants to establish each game. Patterson said the Frogs must protect the ball. In a side-line interview minutes before the Oklahoma game, Patterson said the key to the game was getting takeaways. His team did the opposite, turning the ball over four times and not getting any takeaways. If TCU can establish a strong rushing game, play-action pass, and not turn over the ball, the offense should be able to get back on track Saturday.
Surprisingly the TCU special teams played very well in the Oklahoma game, a good sign for the Frogs. Going into the game, the special teams was the only question mark for TCU. The offense and defense was solid, but special teams, specifically the kicking game, had sputtered. Aaron Brown had a big kick-off return down inside the 10-yard line, setting up a promising first possession for TCU. The offense showed its first signs of red-zone trouble when it couldn't score a touchdown. The rest of the game, the TCU kickoffs, punts, and coverage was much improved.
"I thought we played a lot better on special teams," Patterson said. "That bodes well for the rest of the season. (We have) the accountability factor of understanding what we can do."
TCU fans should expect the Frogs to win this weekend, but don't get too cocky. TCU is entering what Patterson calls the "second segment" of the season with games against San Diego State, at Colorado State, and at home against BYU. On the road at Colorado State and the BYU game might seem more important to the Frogs season, but they can't look ahead. Just ask USC and Florida. TCU's chances at a BCS game and conference title start Saturday.