September 29, 2013

TCU still looking to play a complete game

Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson was “pleased with a lot of things” about the 48-17 win over SMU

The second-half scoring explosion against SMU was impressive to watch, but you’re probably thinking about the same thing TCU coach Gary Patterson expressed Sunday.

“We could have played a lot better on both sides of the ball, all three phases,” he said. “As a full team, we haven’t played our best football game. When are we going to do that? I don’t know. We’ve got to go start playing our best football. If we do that then we’ll have an opportunity to win some ballgames.”

It’s probably going to take something approximating that for the Horned Frogs (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) to beat No. 11 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday on national television (KDFW/Ch. 4).

The Sooners are rolling, fresh off an emotional win at Notre Dame and two weeks from the Red River Rivalry against Texas.

There’s probably never a good time to play the Sooners at home, but getting them sandwiched between two emotional high points of the season could be a slight benefit for the Frogs.

Patterson, understandably, wanted no part of that question and declined to comment.

But he wasn’t holding back on his team’s 48-17 win against SMU, which, despite the score, was still a sloppy, haphazard offensive showing. It’s the kind of performance that won’t do much to scare Oklahoma in its house.

“It’s still about getting guys to understand that every play is important,” said Patterson, who believes the Frogs are five or six plays from being undefeated. “There’s not anybody you can’t beat down the road and there’s not anybody we can’t get beat by, as long as you can keep yourself in ball games. We haven’t had a breakout game offensively. So when are we going to start clicking... and go score points?”

To suddenly do that would be an achievement, especially against an improved Sooners defense that’s second in the Big 12 in scoring and yards allowed.

What’s the Story?

Receiver Ja’Juan Story was expected to give TCU’s offense another big-time playmaker. But until his 56-yard touchdown against SMU, he’s had little chance to show why he was a highly touted recruit at Florida before transferring a year ago. Gary Patterson said the 16-day break between games allowed some players more opportunities to step up in practice.

“You get a chance for everybody to catch their breath with a week off,” he said. “When you get two weeks you see more people. When you go at it every seven days it’s hard to see that stuff sometimes.”

Story didn’t play against LSU or Texas Tech. In the two games he has played, he has two receptions for 69 yards and a score. Only three Frogs receivers have scored touchdowns, and two of them came against SMU.

Dunbar, Verrett update

Offensive lineman James Dunbar (low ankle sprain) is questionable to play against Oklahoma. Dunbar was on crutches after the game Saturday. He’ll probably be sore but available. Cornerback Jason Verrett injured an already banged-up shoulder, but he’ll likely be available against Oklahoma.

Stock report

Rising: Five or six defensive players have continued to step up their game, so we’ll go ahead and buy in on the entire defensive unit. The unit was expected to perform well after leading the league a year ago, even without some important pieces back. But to hold each opponent so far to its lowest output of the season, despite missing defensive end Devonte Fields through much of the first four games, is impressive.

Falling: The special teams have been one area Gar Patterson had been quick to praise this season. At least before Saturday’s blunders against SMU. A blocked punt almost gift-wrapped a touchdown and a fumbled punt by Brandon Carter put SMU on the TCU 37, trailing by seven in the third quarter. If the defense doesn’t hold SMU to one field goal combined in both situations, SMU takes the lead.

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