The Horned Frogs last missed bowl eligibility in 2004, but the most recent disappointment that comes close to that of the Frogs’ 2013 season, which will end without a postseason berth, was fresh on head coach Gary Patterson’s mind Wednesday.
In 2008, TCU was ranked No. 11 as it headed into Salt Lake City with one loss on the season and a potential BCS at-large bid to gain if it could defeat No. 10 Utah.
The Frogs returned to Fort Worth empty-handed, suffering a 13-10 loss that, for all intents and purposes, ended TCU’s season short of the finish line.
Following that game, TCU had a bye week, giving the Frogs two weeks to sulk in the loss before playing Air Force in the second-to-last game of the season.
While TCU still managed to make the postseason and beat Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl, Patterson could draw parallels to the disappointment his team felt then during a bye week and TCU’s practices in these two weeks leading up to the Frogs’ season finale against Baylor.
From those similarities, Patterson draws positives.
“These practices have been a lot better than what those first two practices were,” he said.
As Patterson had said before Wednesday, the Nov. 30 meeting with Baylor will be like a bowl game for his team, meaning it will have to give everything it has to send this year’s senior class out on the best possible note.
So TCU has taken advantage of this extra time for players to get rest and get healthy for that final bout. Part of that effort is reducing the amount of reps the first-team offense and defense take against each other, he said.
Once TCU has completed the season, Patterson said not having a bowl game to prepare for also provides three extra weeks on the recruiting trail he will have to add depth TCU is greatly lacking, especially at offensive line.
One place Patterson said he could look to fill those positions of need this year is in the junior college ranks.
“You just don’t go take [junior college players]. We aren’t one of those places that do that,” he said. “If we feel there are places where we need starters that would be what we do. There’s a couple places we feel like we could get better. Offensive line is one of those places.”
Lathan seeing less time
Sophomore defensive end Terrell Lathan has seen less playing time after breaking out early in the season as a key TCU pass rusher, collecting four sacks to date.
Patterson said he chose to go away from Lathan, who is still learning the position after moving there from defensive tackle, against read option-heavy teams like Iowa State and Kansas State.
“As he moved out to the end, we’ve played a lot of thinking teams that run a lot of read option,” Patterson said. “While he’s learning the position, he’s more of a true pass rusher.”