College Sports

July 21, 2014

Patterson, TCU ready to dip their toes into offensive football’s rapids

The coach says the new approach will level the playing field for the TCU passing game.

Everybody knows Gary Patterson loves his Dr Pepper.

But he’s also been thinking about Gatorade. Variety is the spice of life, after all, in beverages, travel, books — and college football offense.

“When you have to beat people 17-13 just drinking water, you’d like to be able to go back and find out what the different Gatorades are,” the TCU head coach said Monday at Big 12 Media Days at the Omni Hotel, where he explained why his team is going to an uptempo spread offense and shelving the conservative yard-by-yard approach that served him and the Horned Frogs so well for a decade and a half.

“It gives us an opportunity to level the playing field as far as being able to throw the football,” he said. “It’s about scoring points.”

That’s how you know this is a big change.

“It’s about scoring points,” is about the biggest turnaround in philosophy a Patterson-coached TCU team could embrace.

It is definitely not regular old Dr Pepper.

“People say it’s just a change in offense,” Patterson said. “I’ve been looking at it for two years. Truly a change in philosophy.”

Patterson has the players sold on the taste.

“We’re stoked,” center Joey Hunt said. “We’re so excited for this season — new offense, new OCs. We’re going to be out there no-huddle, going as fast as we can, just like the other teams in the Big 12 do. That’s definitely how we’re practicing. Both OCs definitely bring that little swagger, which is what we needed on offense.”

Those OCs — offensive coordinators — are two new additions to the staff, former Texas Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie and former Houston co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham. Cumbie is in charge of quarterbacks. Meacham is in charge of the inside receivers.

Both are in charge of remaking the TCU offense in the image of the fast-break attacks at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.

The Horned Frogs’ defenders, who gassed their lungs and lost their legs chasing those offenses their first two years in the Big 12, know what kind of weapon that can be to have on their side.

“It makes me happy that our offense is going fast, that our offense is trying to go fast-paced,” defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. “I feel like it’s a challenge. When they’re trying to go fast, they’re challenging you that you don’t know what you need to do, that you don’t know your plays as fast. I feel like it’s a competition. Whoever wins is going to win the competition.

“That’s how I feel about the fast offense. I love the fast offense.”

But fast can mean mistakes. That is a sure way to get Patterson fidgety.

“That’s like the No. 1 thing that we have to focus on, is ball security,” receiver Sam Carter said. “If we’re going to be moving fast, we have to keep control of the ball. If not, that gives the other team more chances to score.

“Our No. 1 goal has to be to control the ball. Keep the ball.”

Ah, that’s a taste Patterson knows.

“I still have to have a lot of patience with it,” Patterson said of the new style. “I talked to A&M when they changed from a running, play-action type team. They were very frustrated, I think, coming out of the spring, and it kind of went through the summer and they improved.

“So just like anybody else, I’m excited to see what that works out to be going into the fall.”

Just keep the water close by. Just in case.

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