The first weekend of college football produced some outstanding performances — Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC and others.
They were right there on Gary Patterson’s TV and tablet.
“I saw some really good football teams Saturday,” the TCU coach said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “And I’ll be honest with you, I voted a couple of them ahead of us.”
Clearly, he wasn’t alone.
The Horned Frogs dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the both the USA Today coaches and AP polls after an imperfect 23-17 victory over Minnesota on Thursday night.
They remain in good standing as contenders for the College Football Playoff. As long as they stay unbeaten, those chances aren’t going anywhere, even if many other teams looked more impressive.
Still, the Horned Frogs lost some luster. They didn’t look much like the team that they were at the end of last season. But that has a chance to change starting Saturday with their home opener against Stephen F. Austin.
“Any good win is a good win,” Patterson said. “It’s worse to play great and lose. But did you learn from it? Did we learn from what we did last week, and how can we grow up? Young guys, it takes them longer to learn.”
The Frogs will have to count on young guys more and more. Patterson said Tuesday that linebacker Sammy Douglas is lost for the season to injury, forcing the move of another safety to linebacker, and that defensive tackle Davion Pierson is “probably doubtful again.”
Patterson added that defensive end James McFarland is “probably close” to also missing the season because of injury, and that receiver Deante’ Gray is still trying to gain confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
TCU has won 13 consecutive home openers. It is the nation’s fifth-longest streak.
So all things considered, the Frogs are happy to be 1-0. Living up to a top-five ranking? They’ll worry about that later.
“I think we’re just going to attack the game like we did last year,” receiver Josh Doctson said. “We weren’t looking at the playoff the first three games, we were just looking to play football.
“So I think we’re going to go in with that same mindset for this game and the rest here on out, just playing football.”
That’s despite the injuries. Patterson said every team has them.
He deflected attention from the missing players by talking about what he wants from the players he does have — “buy-in” and “want-to.”
“In general, when we’ve had teams, whether we’re as talented or we’re not, when we’ve bought in, we’ve had good seasons,” he said. “And no matter how talented we are, if we don’t all buy in at TCU, we don’t. And right now, I’m not real happy with the buy-in. So for us, we need to change that if we want to be what we want to be.”
Doctson, who led the Frogs in catches last week, said the film told the story about what was missing.
“Seeing all of us doing things that we didn’t do a year ago — execution,” he said. “Understanding that it was a really good defense and we had a lot of rust coming off this first game, but we watched the film, we saw things that we looked at ourselves and realized, ‘Hey, we need to step it up.’ We’ll be ready from here on out.”
26Consecutive games with a takeaway for TCU, the nation’s longest active streak. The Frogs lost their interception and interception-plus-sack streaks last week at 15.
The matchup against Stephen F. Austin of the FCS Southland Conference might be looked at as a tuneup — TCU won the last meeting, in 2008, by 60 points (67-7). It could be a chance for the Frogs to look at more players as they sort out changes to the defense, in addition to gaining a rhythm on offense.
Maybe there will even be some style points.
Patterson shooed away the idea.
“Right now, with this football team, you’ve got to worry about every Saturday and winning it,” he said. “If you've watched me over the last 18 years, I’ve never worried about style points.”
A win would show up just as well on a TV or tablet.