Patterson, TCU ready to dip their toes into offensive football’s rapids

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Coach: Gary Patterson (14th season, 120-44)

2013 record: 4-8

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Samford

Key issues: Will TCU’s new offense and offensive coordinators solve their offensive woes? Over the off-season, Patterson brought in co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to transform TCU’s offense into the up-tempo, spread offenses that have found a home with many other Big 12 teams… It will be a much needed change as TCU hopes to improve on it’s second-to-worst finish in passing offense last year, averaging 349.1 yards per game with a total of 23 passing touchdowns… Leading that charge will most likely be a fresh face at quarterback as Casey Pachall graduated, leaving Trevone Boykin as the only quarterback left with any experience… That being said, Boykin also saw significant time at wide receiver, finishing the season with 26 catches for 204 yards… Former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel transferred in during the spring for his senior season after seeing action in five games last year, throwing for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns… Defense should again be a strong suit for the Horned Frogs, especially with the return of this year’s preseason defensive MVP, defensive end Devonte Fields, after missing most of last season due to injury… The Frogs defense finished first in the conference in total defense, allowing 355.3 yards per game last season.

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Everybody knows Gary Patterson loves his Dr Pepper.

But he’s also been thinking about Gatorade. Variety is the spice of life, after all, in beverages, travel, books — and college football offense.

“When you have to beat people 17-13 just drinking water, you’d like to be able to go back and find out what the different Gatorades are,” the TCU head coach said Monday at Big 12 Media Days at the Omni Hotel, where he explained why his team is going to an uptempo spread offense and shelving the conservative yard-by-yard approach that served him and the Horned Frogs so well for a decade and a half.

“It gives us an opportunity to level the playing field as far as being able to throw the football,” he said. “It’s about scoring points.”

That’s how you know this is a big change.

“It’s about scoring points,” is about the biggest turnaround in philosophy a Patterson-coached TCU team could embrace.

It is definitely not regular old Dr Pepper.

“People say it’s just a change in offense,” Patterson said. “I’ve been looking at it for two years. Truly a change in philosophy.”

Patterson has the players sold on the taste.

“We’re stoked,” center Joey Hunt said. “We’re so excited for this season — new offense, new OCs. We’re going to be out there no-huddle, going as fast as we can, just like the other teams in the Big 12 do. That’s definitely how we’re practicing. Both OCs definitely bring that little swagger, which is what we needed on offense.”

Those OCs — offensive coordinators — are two new additions to the staff, former Texas Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie and former Houston co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham. Cumbie is in charge of quarterbacks. Meacham is in charge of the inside receivers.

Both are in charge of remaking the TCU offense in the image of the fast-break attacks at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.

The Horned Frogs’ defenders, who gassed their lungs and lost their legs chasing those offenses their first two years in the Big 12, know what kind of weapon that can be to have on their side.

“It makes me happy that our offense is going fast, that our offense is trying to go fast-paced,” defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. “I feel like it’s a challenge. When they’re trying to go fast, they’re challenging you that you don’t know what you need to do, that you don’t know your plays as fast. I feel like it’s a competition. Whoever wins is going to win the competition.

“That’s how I feel about the fast offense. I love the fast offense.”

But fast can mean mistakes. That is a sure way to get Patterson fidgety.

“That’s like the No. 1 thing that we have to focus on, is ball security,” receiver Sam Carter said. “If we’re going to be moving fast, we have to keep control of the ball. If not, that gives the other team more chances to score.

“Our No. 1 goal has to be to control the ball. Keep the ball.”

Ah, that’s a taste Patterson knows.

“I still have to have a lot of patience with it,” Patterson said of the new style. “I talked to A&M when they changed from a running, play-action type team. They were very frustrated, I think, coming out of the spring, and it kind of went through the summer and they improved.

“So just like anybody else, I’m excited to see what that works out to be going into the fall.”

Just keep the water close by. Just in case.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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