The often-festive, once-rose-adorned TCU football bandwagon is wobbling.The losses are mounting. The natives are restless. The offense can’t get out of its own way.On the TCU campus Tuesday, I ran into my longtime friend Ricky Moore, whose late dad was a valuable contributor to these Star-Telegram pages for many years. The Horned Frogs, trust me, have no alum more loyal than Ricky.But when I said something to him about the Frogs’ bowl chances, even Ricky seemed to choke back a laugh.“A bowl game?” he said, shaking his head.This is what it has come to, I suppose. At 3-4, TCU is off to its worst start in 14 years. Two punchless road losses in the state of Oklahoma has even the Frogs’ staunchest supporters dreading the challenge ahead.And now along come the Texas Longhorns, given up for dead after early spankings at the hands of BYU and Ole Miss, but resuscitated last week by a 36-20 rout of No. 12 Oklahoma. The Longhorns haven’t played at Amon G. Carter Stadium in 19 years. Lousy timing for TCU, or an auspicious opportunity?“It’s going to be an unbelievable, emotional crowd,” Frogs coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday. “With a night game, if the emotion is what I think it’ll be, anything can happen.”If TCU fans have abandoned the bandwagon, let it be noted that Patterson is still leading the trumpet section. This isn’t about, he said, the Frogs’ inability to adapt to their Big 12 surroundings.“No, we already knew what it takes to win,” Patterson said, when asked if the Big 12’s hard lessons have come as a surprise. “We won before we got into the league.“Your teams are different. This might be, coverage-wise and everything, maybe the best defense we’ve had since 2008.“But you go through cycles.”Injuries. Maturity. Leadership. Depth. The Frogs have struggled with all of those issues through the first two months of the season.Patterson, however, is far from discouraged.“Our cycle is going to come back,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind where TCU is going to go, where we’re headed and how we’re going to do things.“So if anybody is worried about my confidence or how I need to do it, you don’t have to worry about that. “Tough people last.”Patterson, naturally, has been getting plenty of unsolicited advice — e.g., replace the quarterback, fire the offensive coordinators, run the football. “You don’t blame the assistant coaches,” Patterson said Tuesday. “You blame the head coach. He’s in charge of making sure it gets run, anyway.”TCU will go into the Texas game ranked third in the Big 12 in total defense and No. 1 in defending against the run. It hasn’t been hard to conclude that one of Patterson’s best defenses in his 16 years at TCU is being wasted.The Frogs are ranked ninth (of 10) in the Big 12 in both passing and total offense. Sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin has continued to struggle.“There’s a lot of factors, though,” Patterson said. “I’ll be honest. I’ve defended quarterbacks for 31 years, and I wouldn’t trade Trevone Boykin for any of them, from what I know and what I see at practice. “The key for us is that the results have to happen in the ballgames. And until that happens, perception is reality.”To beat Texas, to get the bandwagon rolling again, Patterson said the Frogs have to give their quarterback some help. A season-long revolving door along the offensive line hasn’t helped.Patterson reminded the group at his weekly media luncheon that back in 2004, when TCU was laboring through a bowl-less, 5-6 season, he was the one predicting that the Frogs would one day go to BCS bowls.Tough people last, he said. Come Saturday, anything can happen.“That’s what I think,” Gary Patterson assured.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton