The bond between teammates runs deep. Although there is no shortage of motivating factors to perform well in bowl games, to that end, coaches will always remind their teams that sending their seniors off on a winning note trumps them all.
With a team as young as TCU, with a large group of freshmen and sophomores playing in their first bowl Saturday, that will be the rallying cry.
"Our goal is to give them the best season we can, so that's why we're trying to win the ballgame," TCU coach Gary Patterson said after the Horned Frogs' final campus practice Sunday inside the Sammy Baugh Indoor Practice Facility. "It's the same thing Michigan State is saying. You want to send the seniors out the right way. That's what you try to do."
That's the focal point for the Frogs' many first-time bowl participants, which could be nearly 20 players who will either start or see ample playing time against Michigan State (6-6) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at 9:15 p.m. Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
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Keeping young players such as quarterback Trevone Boykin and defensive linemen Davion Pierson and Devonte Fields focused during such a long layoff is one of Patterson's top concerns this week.
"They've just got to get focused," Patterson said after TCU's 11th bowl practice and 95th of the season. "You've been off for a couple weeks, it's a long way to the bowl game. We're not young anymore. We've been through 12 ballgames." TCU (7-5) flies to Phoenix this morning and will practice Christmas morning at a nearby high school.
Tausch will play
Offensive guard Eric Tausch will play in the bowl, Gary Patterson said. The junior suffered a non-football-related injury last week and missed some practice.
Patterson also said no players will miss the game for academic reasons.
Linebacker Kenny Cain and offensive lineman Blaize Foltz will each play in senior showcase games in January. Cain plays in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 11.
Foltz plays in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 19.
Kenny Cain could become the first Frog to lead the team in tackles in consecutive seasons since Jason Phillips in 2007-08. Cain led the team with 72 tackles in 2011 and has 74, three more than fellow linebacker Joel Hasley, entering Saturday's bowl game. Cain has 30 tackles, including 17 solo, in the last three games. Phillips had 87 and 84 to lead the Frogs in '07 and '08.
Former TCU assistant women's basketball coach Larry Tidwell watched the Horned Frogs' practice Sunday. Tidwell, the head women's coach at Lamar, played freshman football and basketball at TCU in 1971-72 before transferring to Austin College. He was an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator under Jeff Mittie from 1999 to 2007.
33:13TCU's average time of possession, which is fourth-best in the nation and leads the Big 12.