Gary Patterson issues challenge to TCU offense

TCU's offense is averaging nearly 500 yards and 34.3 points through three games this season, but anyone who has watched the Horned Frogs closely knows they've left a lot of points on the field.

Frogs coach Gary Patterson usually stays out of the offensive mix, leaving the play-calling and specifics to co-offensive coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Rusty Burns.

But after two weeks of at times spotty offensive output, highlighted by six turnovers that have directly taken TCU points off the board and helped keep games against Kansas and Virginia close, Patterson would like to see a change in mentality.

"I think we've underachieved two weeks in a row on offense," Patterson said Sunday, a day after the Frogs beat Virginia 27-7 in what Patterson called an uninspired effort by the offense. "This is a compliment to them. I don't think the last two games we've played very good football. I don't think we've reached our potential. There's too many mistakes happening out there that should not happen."

The Frogs (3-0), who moved up two spots in the Associated Press Top 25 to No. 15, play at SMU (1-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Mustangs beat TCU 40-33 in overtime a year ago in Fort Worth as SMU racked up 461 yards, the second-most TCU allowed last season. SMU is coming off a bye after losing 48-3 to Texas A&M on Sept. 15.

"We understand they always play their best ball game against TCU," Patterson said. "We just have to understand this is a chance for us to be 4-0."

Running rotation

TCU has relied heavily on multiple running backs sharing the carries over the past several seasons, but the loss of Waymon James will test that recipe for success.

In the first game without James on Saturday, Matthew Tucker and Casey Pachall were the only Frogs with at least six rushes. Take away Trevone Boykin's 42-yard run in the fourth quarter, and the Frogs had just 91 yards rushing.

TCU has always had more success running when at least three players get multiple rushes.

In 2011, at least three players (including Pachall) had at least six rushes in all but one game. The one game they didn't was a closer-than-expected game with San Diego State and Ed Wesley had 24 carries.

In 2010, there were only three such games -- in blowouts over Tennessee Tech and Baylor and in the 21-19 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin when Andy Dalton led the Frogs with 28 yards on a team-high nine carries. In 2009, it happened once -- the loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

It didn't happen at all in 2008.

Senior Aundre Dean did not have a carry against Virginia and rushed just once at Kansas -- which came on a third-and-2 in the second quarter -- an odd moment to give a player fresh off the bench a chance to contribute.

Patterson said Dean didn't have a good week of practice leading up to the Virginia game, so freshman B.J. Catalon was given most of the extra carries. But Catalon only rushed five times for 11 yards. TCU will need more options in the backfield when Big 12 play resumes for good Oct. 6 against Iowa State.

"This is not the YMCA," Patterson said. "Not everybody plays. [Virginia] won't be the best football team we play, but they are hard-nosed and they're pretty physical and they push on you. We took what they gave us. They gave us the outside. They clogged the middle. We struggled to move the ball."

Patterson said he didn't think Tucker (15 for 52 yards) had a particularly good game.

"Not really. It's going to be by committee," he said.

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram