TCU loses grip on poll position after untimely mistakes against Kansas

TCU's fall in the polls Sunday -- one spot in both The Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today coaches' poll to No. 16 and 17 -- did not come as a surprise to coach Gary Patterson.

Not that he was concerned with them in the first place, at least not in September. Patterson said he expected a drop based on the Horned Frogs' performance in Saturday's 20-6 win at Kansas.

And that's fine with him.

"All that doesn't mean anything," he said. "If we're still ranked up there in the Top 25 come November, then it means something. Right now, all it does is set you up for people to have a reason to beat you."

Patterson would rather TCU (2-0, 1-0 in Big 12), which hosts Virginia (2-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium, remain under the radar for a while. The Frogs' 14-point win over the Jayhawks (2-1, 0-1) that started before noon probably helped that cause.

Never mind that TCU dominated the game with nearly 500 yards of offense and it remained close on the scoreboard because of four TCU fumbles, including three near the end zone. The miscues, including two by quarterback Casey Pachall and another caused by a low snap, not only kept the Frogs out of the end zone but also prevented at least several field-goal attempts to give TCU a little early breathing room. Patterson wasn't overly concerned with the fumbles because neither Pachall nor Matthew Tucker have been prone to cough it up often.

"They know better," Patterson said. "If it was freshman then that's one thing. If it's older guys they know what they need to do."

TCU only lost 14 fumbles in 2011. So five in two games in 2012 -- including four by upperclassmen -- is more of a fluke than a troubling trend. The first fumble Saturday was only partially Pachall's fault as center James Fry's shotgun snap came in at his quarterback's feet.

"He should have fallen on the football," Patterson said of Pachall. "We're in the red zone and he's trying to pick it up. You don't do that. You fall on the football. Worst thing that should have come out of that is a field goal."

Instead, Kansas recovered the fumble and returned it to near midfield to set up a field goal for an early lead. Of TCU's 50 negative rushing yards, 47 of them came courtesy of the turnovers. Without the big losses TCU's total offense is close to 550 yards. And, of course, likely more points, without the fumbles.

"The good thing is we didn't have a spectacular day and we found a way to win," said Patterson, who had already watched all three Virginia games and had moved on by Sunday afternoon. "We played hard. We just didn't play with a lot of focus and inspiration."

James update

Running back Waymon James, who rushed for a team-high 99 yards at Kansas, did not practice Sunday because of a knee injury sustained in the game. Gary Patterson said he did not know the severity of the injury as of Sunday afternoon. James did rush three times on the Frogs' second-to-last series Saturday.

"I won't tell Virginia one way or the other," Patterson said.

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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