One reason TCU’s defense usually seems to improve as the season goes on is because there is less learning and more reacting.
In fact, for the most part, the defense is taught few extra concepts after the first five days of August camp, a teaching technique coach Gary Patterson called “one of our secrets.”
That’s why he’d like to see the offense go back to a simplified game plan instead of turning over the playbook to find something that will shake the Horned Frogs out of their doldrums.
“One of the mistakes made by coaches is trying to make changes,” Patterson said. “Sometimes it’s better to take a step back and make sure whatever you do, you do it well.”
But what is TCU’s offense doing well at the moment? When they’re moving the football, as the Frogs (2-3, 0-2 in the Big 12) did in the second half against Oklahoma, they’re moving with a sense of urgency, Patterson said.
That sense of urgency needs to be there in the first half when TCU hosts Kansas (2-2, 0-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Receiver Cam White said the offense is too antsy at the start of games and waiting too long to get settled emotionally. Playing with a fast tempo comes naturally to him and most of his teammates, including quarterback Trevone Boykin. Both played up-tempo offenses in high school.
“Once you settle down and start playing fast, you start tiring people out,” he said. “Sometimes we know we can do stuff we just kind of get antsy. We have to keep our composure. We have to keep our quarterback calm at all times because you get too antsy and then it’s kind of crazy. We let him know things we see and the next time we do it it’s easier.”
Receiver Brandon Carter, who attended Euless Trinity High School, was supposed to be the Frogs’ big play-making threat after Josh Boyce’s depature to the NFL. Carter does lead the Frogs with 156 yards receiving and is tied with White with a team-high 13 receptions, but too often Carter has struggled to make the necessary catch when the offense needed it most.
Through five games a year ago Carter had 23 catches for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
“Brandon is always anxious. He’s a playmaker. We have to get him back composed and we’ll be good,” White said. “We know we have a good team. It’s just executing and playing fast.”
TCU is hoping to win its first Big 12 game at home after going 0-4 at home a year ago.
A year ago, the Frogs dominated the Jayhawks on the road with Casey Pachall at quarterback. But four fumbles, including three in the red zone, prevented TCU from pulling way ahead early. The Frogs won 20-6 as Pachall completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards. He had two touchdown passes to Carter that day and had five after two games.
Boykin has four touchdown passes in five games this season, although he didn’t play halves of two games.
“There’s a lot better defense being played in the league this year,” Patterson said, trying to find one reason why his offense has struggled to start faster. “You’ve got to keep it all in perspective. Does that make me happy? No. We need to score more points.”
Patterson said the offense has success against the defense during practice, including earlier this week. And at times they’ve shown their potential this season, including in flashes against LSU and in the second half against Oklahoma.
“When we have a sense of urgency we seem to play better,” he said. “The key is to do it on game day. Get it to where you’re just reacting; simplifying so you can play faster. Whether you call it tempo or sense of urgency, I don’t know what you want to call it.”
And truth be told, he doesn’t care how they do it, just that it’s done.
“Guys got to go make plays. Get the ball in the hands of people who are making plays,” he said. “If it’s not going right for you, go back to the things that have been. You’ve got to play good defense, you’ve got to run the football. That’s how you play-action, you run the football to set everything else up.”
TCU vs. Kansas
11 a.m. Saturday, Amon G. Carter Stadium
Records: TCU, 2-3, 0-2; Kansas, 2-2, 0-1
Radio: WBAP/820 AM, 96.7 FM; KTCU/88.7 FM. KFLC/1270 (Sp.)
1. First home win: It’s hard to believe, but TCU has yet to win a Big 12 game at home. This is the Frogs’ first shot in 2013 after going 0-4 during their inaugural season. TCU won in its first-ever Big 12 game at Kansas a year ago. The Frogs are 60-11 at home under Gary Patterson, but five of those losses have come in the last three seasons.
2. Beginning of the End: With Devonte Fields and Matt Anderson out with injuries, the right defensive end spot will be left to sophomores Terrell Lathan, James McFarland and Mike Tuaua. They’ve combined for five sacks in limited time this season but will get a chance to shine the final seven games.
3. Turnover time: TCU is tied for the Big 12 lead with nine interceptions and tied for 13th nationally with 13 takeaways. Against OU last week, the Frogs forced no turnovers, about the only area in which the defense could be faulted. Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps has thrown four interceptions in his last three games and has been sacked eight times. TCU leads the Big 12 and is tied for fourth nationally with 18 sacks.
Head to head
|Points per game||28||18.5|
|3rd down conv.||30.9%||32.8%|
|3rd down conv.||42.7%||39.1%|