TCU started the year knowing four players would miss the season because of injury.
Two more went down in the first two weeks.
Then three last week.
Sound familiar? Unusual?
“No,” coach Gary Patterson downplayed. “Nothing’s unusual about injuries.”
It’s just the usual right now at TCU, where 10 defensive starters and seven offensive starters missed some or all of last season. Mostly due to injury, but not every case.
How people handle the tough times and the things when you have problems, that’s how you usually judge everybody. So we’ve got to handle it.
TCU coach Gary Patterson
“You want to be a great program, not everything’s going to go right,” Patterson said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “How people handle the tough times and the things when you have problems, that’s how you usually judge everybody. So we’ve got to handle it.”
TCU handled it to the tune of an 11-2 record and a bowl victory last season.
This season, the Frogs are 2-1 despite losing freshman receiver Isaiah Graham in Week 1, linebacker Montrel Wilson in Week 2 and receiver KaVontae Turpin, defensive end Josh Carraway and cornerback Jeff Gladney in Week 3. That’s on top of running back Shaun Nixon, corner Julius Lewis and backup offensive linemen Trey Elliott and Bryson Henderson missing the season.
Only Turpin is expected to be out short-term with a knee injury that isn’t believed to require surgery. But already, the Frogs can see what’s happening.
Adversity is part of the deal.
TCU is playing its first road game of the season this week after opening with three consecutive games at Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU lost its last two road games of 2015, at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
“Last year, we had a lot of injuries and we still did pretty good,” linebacker Sammy Douglas said. “So I don’t feel like this is going to hurt us at all.”
Not as long as they remember one of Patterson’s favorite sayings.
“They talk to us all the time about being the nail or being the hammer,” Douglas said. “So if you come ready and come prepared for the game, I think there will be less injuries.”
Patterson believes injuries happen when intensity is not present. Maybe that explains some of the problems the Frogs had in shaking lower-division opponent South Dakota State in the season opener, falling behind 13 points against Arkansas and leaving their head coach unhappy with a 21-point victory against Iowa State.
“He was a little bit disappointed, especially when they scored that last time,” Douglas said.” He said we need to come together more, give effort and keep pushing each other.”
The Frogs are being honest with themselves.
“We came out, but we weren’t ready,” Douglas said of the season opener, asked if there was a greater sense of urgency last week. “We weren’t prepared as much as we thought we were. And you can see the outcome of that.”
10 Sacks for TCU in three games, second-most in the Big 12. Texas has 11. Eight players have combined for the Horned Frogs’ 10 sacks.
That mental preparation will get another test this week with their first road game of the season Friday at SMU (2-1).
“We’ve got to come out and play hard because we know they’re going to give us their all, especially at their home field,” Douglas said. “Basically, our leaders need to come out and lead the team, keep us motivated and pushing forward so we can get our victory.”
A victory would build TCU’s momentum going into the Oct. 1 showdown with Oklahoma, a game that could shape the direction of the Big 12 race. The Sooners will go in with an extra week to get over a loss to Ohio State. TCU will have an additional day to get ready. But will it be off a win or a loss?
Patterson can’t answer that. But he is starting to get an idea of how his team will react, even as adversity seemingly continues to pile up.
“I suspect our team as a whole will play better,” he said. “We played better last week than we did the first two weeks on defense. I expect them to play better this week.”
Maybe that wouldn’t be so unusual.
TCU at SMU
7 p.m. Friday, ESPN