TCU coach Gary Patterson was barely finished answering the first question of his postgame news conference last week before mentioning the Horned Frogs’ next game.
That’s not all that unusual for Patterson, who has been known to move on quickly to the next opponent, especially after a victory.
But TCU’s next opponent, Kansas State, and more important, the site of Saturday’s game, Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan., has a little more meaning for Patterson.
It’s the first time he has returned to his alma mater as a coach since 1984, when he was a linebackers coach at Tennessee Tech.
Patterson has deflected questions about his homecoming, preferring to keep the topic related to the on-field task at hand: slowing down a smoking hot Wildcats team on a three-game winning streak that took previously ranked Texas Tech to the woodshed last week. The game begins at 2:30 p.m.
“They’re playing with a lot more confidence,” Patterson said. “They’re going to run the football. They’re going to grind at you. You’ve got to be able handle a three-hour middle drill, on offense and defense.”
Patterson, who was a walk-on at K-State in 1980-81 and graduated in 1983, still has friends and family in the area, including his parents. His hometown of Rozel, Kan., is about a three-hour drive southwest of Manhattan.
“It will be an interesting feeling,” he said. “To be a part of it is pretty neat for me. I’ve always felt like when I crossed the Kansas line I was home. [Fort Worth] is my home, but that’s close to it.”
Patterson has a good reason to defer on the homecoming storyline. TCU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) hopes to finish the season on a three-game winning streak to earn a bowl berth for the ninth consecutive season. Another loss and the Frogs will miss the bowl season for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats (5-4, 3-3) are also fighting for bowl eligibility, but have three games remaining.
“It’s no different than what we had to do in this last one,” Patterson said. “We have to go close. It’s hard to win on the road and in Manhattan, Kan. You can talk to any head coach in this league, it’s a tough place to play no matter how they’re playing. They create a lot of problems with the two quarterbacks. It was quite a win against Texas Tech so we know we have our hands full.
“We understand we’ll probably have to play our best ballgame of the season.”
Patterson’s program at TCU has often been compared to Bill Snyder’s at K-State, where Snyder has coached 22 seasons since 1989 (he took three years off between 2006-08). Patterson never played for or coached with Snyder, but holds him in high regard.
“I believe he believes in values and teaching lessons along with [football] and he’s been doing that for a long time,” Patterson said on weekly radio show. “I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s stayed there for a long time. Because he has a great foundation of the program. They have certain things they live by on and off the field and he’s always made that happen.”
He also respects Snyder’s teams for their smash-mouth, no-frills style of offense and smart, physical defense.
“You’ve got to get ready to go hit people in the mouth because that’s the way Kansas State plays,” he said. “They’re going to be very physical.”
TCU could cause a major shift in the perception of its season with a win today.
“We can control each week, week by week,” defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. “This team is just amazing because we could have easily put our heads down and been like, ‘It’s over, we’re not going to a bowl game.’ We’re fighting. I respect this team for fighting.”
TCU at Kansas State
2:30 p.m. Saturday
Records: TCU 4-6, 2-5 Big 12; Kansas State 5-4, 3-3
Radio: WBAP/820 AM, KTCU/88.7 FM, KFLC/1270 (Spanish)
1. Turnovers: K-State is plus-6 in turnover margin during its three-game winning streak, including three at Texas Tech last week. The Wildcats have forced nine turnovers in the span. TCU has has seven turnovers in its past three games, including many that led directly to points in losses to West Virginia and Texas. But the Frogs are still plus-1 overall in turnovers while the Wildcats are minus-3.
2. Secondary questions: Cornerback Jason Verrett and safety Elisha Olabode did not play last week at Iowa State because of injuries. The two seniors will make the trip to Manhattan, Kan., but Gary Patterson did not know whether they’ll be available. Deanté Gray, who filled in for Verrett a week ago, may get the start again, and Derrick Kindred will likely start for Olabode.
3. Offensive progress: Quarterback Casey Pachall continues to progress since returning from a broken arm three weeks ago and his passing ability has helped TCU’s offense give defenses more things to think about, especially with Trevone Boykin’s ability to take over in the red zone as he did on three rushing touchdowns last week at Iowa State.
Head to head
|Points per game||23.2||34|
|3rd down conv.||30.8||50.4|
|Def. 3rd down conv.||36.1%||40.8%|