The way TCU is winning this year reminds coach Gary Patterson of some of his best teams at TCU.
“Winning is the most important thing. Playing as a group, not individuals,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve been pleased with. They’ve kept their nose down and done what they needed to do to win ballgames. I think that’s what all head coaches would like to be a part of, a group that’s like that. We had a group that was like that from 2008 to 2010.”
The Horned Frogs in those three years went 36-3 and won two Mountain West Conference championships, finishing with a Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin.
Patterson is not the only one reminded of those days.
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“There is kind of a similar feeling to those Rose Bowl years,” said Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who led the Horned Frogs in those three seasons, thinking about how the team climbed the rankings in 2010. “Obviously, I was on a different side of it then — I was playing, rather than being a fan. I think to be ranked really high is great. They have two more games left, and they’ve got to play well in those next two.”
Dalton, speaking to Star-Telegram NFL writer Charean Williams, said he watches the Horned Frogs as much as he can.
“It’s crazy with the way the playoffs are now, and you’ve got to have style points and all that good stuff to try to get in. It is fun to see. There’s a lot of excitement around TCU football.”
Quarterback Trevone Boykin didn’t finish last year’s game against Texas, replaced in the first quarter by Casey Pachall.
This year, there is no doubt about Patterson’s plan with Boykin.
“Expecting him to try and go win a ballgame,” Patterson said. “That’s what his job is. We’re going to have to score some points. When you go on the road, you’ve got to take ballgames.”
Boykin has two games of experience against Texas. He was 7-for-9 for 82 yards and an interception two years ago and 3-for-4 for 24 yards last year.
This year, Boykin leads the Big 12 and is third in the nation in total offense with 356.9 yards per game.
TCU has re-established its reputation for playing well on the road.
After a 1-4 showing away from home in 2013, the Horned Frogs are 3-1 heading into this week’s game in Austin. They have only two losing records on the road in the past 10 years.
“The biggest thing, I think, is not so much the road games, it’s understanding the maturity and toughness of your football team and your program, being able to go on the road and take your own energy. You’ve got to be able to take your own energy if you’re going to win.”
The Horned Frogs played in a quiet stadium at Kansas two weeks ago. That won’t be the case Thursday.
“Every week’s different,” Patterson said. “It’s about who you’re playing, the atmosphere of the stadium. The biggest thing is to get them focused in on how you try to do things. We treat it as a business trip. We were having meetings and video tests on Friday night to make sure that your youngest player is as ready as a senior is who’s going to play by the time you get to game time.”
Coach vs. coach
Patterson said he is an admirer of Texas coach Charlie Strong, although they haven’t yet become close.
“I know Charlie. Respect him from a distance,” Patterson said. “He and I have never had a lot of conversations. I’ve watched him because, obviously, being a defensive coordinator, being a defensive mind, I watched him at Florida, watched him at Louisville and now I’ve watched him at Texas. Always been an admirer.”
Thursday’s game will be the first meeting between the coaches.
• Kicker Jaden Oberkrom and center Joey Hunt are among seven TCU players on the All-Big 12 Academic team. Joining them were tight end Bryson Burtnett, safety Geoff Hooker, tight end Buck Jones and offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom.
• The game time for the Iowa State game will be announced following Saturday’s games. The potential kickoff times are 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m and 7 p.m.
• Patterson said he has no update on the status of running back B.J. Catalon, who has not practiced since taking a hit to the chin in the West Virginia game.
• Boykin and Josh Doctson were named semifinalists for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, given to a Texas college player or a player who played high school or junior college football in Texas.