Josh Harvey, Scout.com

TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson Discusses the Challenges of Playing West Virginia, Specifically the Complex 3-3-5 Defense

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Just hours prior to a potentially ground breaking decision on Big 12 expansion being made, TCU head coach Gary Patterson was only dialed in on one thing: trying to beat West Virginia.

Recently the Big 12 announced that it would be holding a press conference on Monday evening, presumably to announce a decision one way or another on whether the league will expand to 12 teams. Coincidentally the Big 12 football coaches teleconference is held on Monday, so naturally questions about expansion were flying around between members of the media and coaches. Gary Patterson, TCU's coach of 17 years, didn't seem too interested in the topic and made one thing clear, his focus is simply on beating West Virginia.

"Right now I'm working on West Virginia," Patterson said after fielding his first question about conference expansion. "It's above my pay grade. This group will make for answers I'm sure. The coaches weren't asked in any of the other leagues we came into. To be honest with you there were people in the Big 12 that initially voted against us coming in here. People always have differences of opinion, but for me I'm trying to find a way to go into Morgantown and win a ball game."

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Patterson has actually been pretty good at coming into Morgantown and winning as TCU is 2-0 in Morgantown when taking on the Mountaineers.Both of those games came down to the wire as TCU outlasted West Virginia and beat the Mountaineers in overtime in 2012 and the Horned Frogs beat the Mountaineers on a last second kick in 2014. Patterson reflected on the contests and discussed his team's ability to win games in Morgantown.

"The two times we have went to Morgantown - back when they had Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and all of them we had to go to overtime and get a two point conversion," Patterson said. "Last time we were there we had to hit a field goal with no time left. That's kind of the way that ball game has went over there. Three of the four have been really close ball games. (West Virginia) has a lot of energy. They have a lot of positives on their side right now. They're 5-0 and it's been fun watching them. Dana and their staff have done a great job of playing hard so you have to be able to match that and get ready to play."

Patterson 's team is well rested entering this weeks contest with the No.12 ranked Mountaineers and presumably the Horned Frogs used the extra week to prepare for one of the unique challenges of facing WVU: scheming against Tony Gibson's 3-3-5 defense, which has shut down Kansas State and Texas Tech in its first two Big 12 contests.

"You have to make plays and tackle in space and they're able to do that," Patterson said. "They got after Patrick (Mahomes), who I think is a really good player and (Texas Tech) has some great skill players. You have to be able to run the ball against them. Two years ago when we were up there we had to run the football to have a chance to win. If you can't you're going to get yourself in trouble."

Patterson, who employs a 4-2-5 defense at TCU, is known for being one of the better defensive minds in all of college football, discussed some of the schematics of Tony Gibson's 3-3-5 defense and shared his thoughts on why it works so well.

"I like it. It's the same reason I went to the five defensive backs a long time ago. You get versatility in what you do and you can apply pressure and blitz from a lot of angles. If you can get pressure with just three and get good coverage then you can cause a lot of problems. They have been able to do that through their first five ball games."


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