Don’t get him wrong.
TCU coach Gary Patterson was perfectly happy with Saturday’s 56-36 victory against SMU, mainly because it was a victory.
It had big plays from two of his heralded freshmen, some strong red-zone defense — which he likes — and it got the Horned Frogs to 3-0.
If only there hadn’t been three turnovers.
If only they had recognized the SMU trick plays they had worked on.
If only the game was played somewhere besides Amon G. Carter Stadium, where everybody’s parents and friends are watching.
“I wasn’t very happy with Shaun Nixon spinning the ball,” he said of the junior running back’s touchdown celebration. “Want to know why we win more ballgames on the road? Cause we don’t act like that. We need to focus in. Not worry about who’s in the stands.”
The Frogs’ problems on a hot, sunny day in which they wore white at home for the first time in the Patterson era, in the head coach’s mind, landed at the feet of merely playing at home. It disorganizes thoughts.
And playing SMU. It was supposed to be an easy game.
And trying to do too much. It caused two of Kenny Hill’s three sacks, he and the coach both said.
“He always says, ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited — but we’ve got stuff we need to work on,’ ” Hill said with a smile. “But we all understand. We know exactly where he’s coming from. Cause we feel the same way.”
And yet the Frogs scored 56 points.
They rolled up more than 600 yards. Hill threw four touchdown passes, including a Hail Mary pass to Jalen Reagor at the halftime gun that it looked like only those two knew was happening. Darius Anderson ran for two touchdowns, and Kenedy Snell was Kenedy Snell on a blazing 71-yard touchdown catch-and-run that thrilled the stadium.
The defense got a pick-six, courtesy of linebacker Travin Howard. The Frogs forced three red-zone field goals. And after a 5-for-5 start, SMU quarterback Ben Hicks went 12-for-32 with a series of scrambles and misfires. Mustangs superstar wideout Courtland Sutton caught one pass, for no yards.
For all that went wrong, there was so much right.
“It was alright,” Patterson said. “We scored 56 points but really didn’t play that well. Penalties, turnovers. We did what we needed to do. We should have done what we needed to do. We were bigger, we were more physical, we were more experienced. Should have been 80.”
Chalk it up to SMU.
“I get more nervous for the SMU game every year than I do about every other ballgame that we play,” Patterson said. “You have a situation where everybody expects you to win. They’re going to be more ready to play against us than most people that play against us.”
Or the whiteout.
“I’ll tell you what, if we had lost, it would have been the last whiteout you would see,” the coach said.
But for all the trouble, TCU is 3-0 headed to Stillwater for the Big 12 opener next week against Top-10 Oklahoma State.
Don’t get him wrong. Patterson is happy to be 3-0.
But Saturday gave him plenty to chew on.
“We’re not going to be able to play at a high level every week,” Patterson said. “You guys all sit around and say, ‘Well, Jackson State’s not any good.’ ‘They don’t have a chance against Arkansas.’ Then we play at a level and we beat Arkansas. Now it’s, ‘Well, they didn’t play very well today.’ ‘They gave up this.’ ‘Wonder if they even have a chance when they go to Stillwater.’ Well, we’ll find out.
“You and I will both know a lot more when we get done next week.”
You got that right.
SMU—Quinn 58 pass from B.Hicks (kick failed), 12:48
TCU—Snell 10 run (Song kick), 11:00
SMU—K.Freeman 1 run (Jos.Williams kick), 8:21
SMU—FG Jos.Williams 29, 5:01
SMU—FG Jos.Williams 34, 12:10
TCU—Nixon 11 pass from Hill (Song kick), 7:30
TCU—Snell 71 pass from Hill (Song kick), 2:40
SMU—FG Jos.Williams 21, :17
TCU—Reagor 38 pass from Hill (Song kick), :00
TCU—Anderson 4 run (Song kick), 10:32
SMU—K.Freeman 34 run (Jos.Williams kick), 1:39
TCU—Anderson 38 run (Song kick), 13:27
TCU—Turpin 27 pass from Hill (Song kick), 8:35
TCU—Howard 19 interception return (Song kick), 7:43
SMU—Proche 61 pass from B.Hicks (Jos.Williams kick), 6:50
Time of Possession
RUSHING—SMU, K.Freeman 12-57, X.Jones 8-37, West 8-32, Medlock 1-4, B.Hicks 1-(minus 6). TCU, Anderson 14-89, K.Hicks 11-84, Olonilua 9-63, Snell 7-34, Hill 5-3, Turpin 1-(minus 2), (Team) 2-(minus 17).
PASSING—SMU, Quinn 1-1-0-34, B.Hicks 17-37-2-305. TCU, Hill 24-30-0-365.
RECEIVING—SMU, Quinn 7-116, Proche 3-93, West 3-70, X.Jones 2-10, M.Kaufman 1-28, Gailliard 1-22, C.Sutton 1-0. TCU, Turpin 7-88, Reagor 3-79, Nixon 3-20, D.White 2-43, D.Thomas 2-11, Snell 1-71, Hunt 1-11, Porter 1-10, K.Hicks 1-10, Austin 1-10, Olonilua 1-7, Diarse 1-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—SMU, Jos.Williams 42.