How much personal pride does Gary Patterson take in run defense?
His run defense.
The run defense that has built TCU’s reputation — Patterson’s reputation.
He thought for a half-second, then smiled a little.
“It probably would be up there with a lot of things in your life,” he said.
For Patterson, run defense is life. In his mind, if you don’t have run defense, you die.
“Throwing it, you can usually find other answers. But when they’re running the football and you don’t have the answer to stop it, it’s a long day,” he said. “And in 33 years, we’ve had some long days. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried not to allow the things that lead to long days.”
Long days are hard to find in Patterson’s time at TCU. Since 2000, the Horned Frogs have put up the nation’s top run defense, allowing 93.7 yards per game (Alabama is next at 101.6). That covers all of Patterson’s years as head coach at TCU and one as defensive coordinator.
“Every single day. Every single day, we work on run defense,” defensive end James McFarland said. “His emphasis is that we should never get tired of playing the run.”
It will no doubt be the emphasis on Saturday, when the 25th-ranked Frogs take on No. 4 Oklahoma and a running attack led by the Big 12’s leading rusher, freshman bruiser Samaje Perine, not to mention sophomore Alex Ross. Behind them, and injured Keith Ford, the Sooners rank second in the conference in rushing at 222.8 yards per game.
Run defense will matter Saturday.
But for Patterson, it will also matter next week. And the week after that. And the week after that.
Even in the most wide-open era of football, and in one of the most pass-happy conferences in the country, run defense will matter to the former Kansas State linebacker brought up in defense under Jim Dickey and Dennis Franchione.
“I think run defense matters all the time,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to be able to stop the run, whether they’re catching the ball or they’re handing it off. When it comes down to November, it’s usually the guy who plays the best defense, to go along with offense, that’s going to win ballgames.”
It is one of the first thing a recruit hears from Patterson.
“The first thing he talked about is how this defense has been known in the past,” defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. “We don’t play this defense just for us. We don’t play the game just for us. We play for everybody who played before us — the guy that played in the 1990s, the 2000s, the Jerry Hugheses, the Stansly Mapongas. It’s a trend. We’ve got to keep the trend going.”
If the trend goes well Saturday, the Horned Frogs have a chance at winning. But the effort against Oklahoma will require the entirety of the TCU defense, not just the fierce defensive tackle duo of Hunter and Davion Pierson. The Sooners do more than simply send Perine up the middle.
“They’re going to make corners tackle him; your whole football team has to,” Patterson said. “They’re going to do a good job blocking the perimeter with their wide receivers. They’re good at their job. Their hitch screens, their bubble screens. They’re blocking for each other. When you’re matched up with corners, you’ve got to make sure your corners are physical, that they play with leverage, that they tackle.
“Oklahoma is going to make all of your 11 make plays.”
Oklahoma ran for 203 yards against TCU in last year’s 20-17 victory and 177 in the 24-17 win two years ago.
Those yards on the ground are the first thing the Frogs want to take away.
“That’s Job 1,” safety Sam Carter said. “You just try to make a team one-dimensional. A lot of teams like to stop the pass and make teams run. You can’t have teams clicking on both cylinders.”
Patterson tells his players it takes preparation, leverage and vision.
“You’ve got to be able to get your eyes right and get your feet right,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve always tried to do here at TCU.”
You could hear the personal pride as he said it.
Win at quarterback. Trevone Boykin and Trevor Knight both have talent, but both are early in their careers. They cannot afford the mistakes of youth.
The big play. OU has burned TCU with it the past two years. There have been 76- and 66-yard touchdown runs by the Sooners that swung the games.
Field position and kicks. TCU special teams dictated field position in the nonconference games. If it comes down to a field goal, both teams can have confidence.
|3rd down %||35.9||41.8|
|3rd down %||24.1||36.4|
TCU vs. Top 10s at home
TCU is is 6-25 vs. Top 10 teams at home.
|Oct. 21, 1939||No. 1 Texas A&M||L, 20-6|
|Oct. 18, 1941||No. 9 Texas A&M||L, 14-0|
|Nov. 14, 1942||No. 8 Texas||W, 13-7|
|Nov. 11, 1946||No. 6 Texas||W, 14-0|
|Nov. 29, 1947||No. 3 SMU||T, 19-19|
|Nov. 18, 1950||No. 6 Texas||L, 21-7|
|Nov. 15, 1952||No. 9 Texas||L, 14-7|
|Nov. 19, 1957||No. 1 Texas A&M||L, 7-0|
|Oct. 29, 1960||No. 7 Baylor||W, 14-6|
|Sept. 23, 1961||No. 8 Kansas||W, 17-16|
|Nov. 17, 1962||No. 5 Texas||L, 14-0|
|Nov. 14, 1964||No. 5 Texas||L, 28-13|
|Oct. 16, 1965||No. 9 Texas A&M||W, 17-9|
|Oct. 1, 1966||No. 7 Arkansas||L, 21-0|
|Nov. 16, 1988||No. 8 Texas||L, 47-21|
|Nov. 14, 1970||No. 2 Texas||L, 58-0|
|Nov. 18, 1972||No. 7 Texas||L, 27-0|
|Oct. 19, 1974||No. 8 Texas A&M||L, 17-0|
|Nov. 16, 1974||No. 7 Texas||L, 81-16|
|Sept. 25, 1975||No. 6 Texas A&M||L, 14-6|
|Nov. 6, 1976||No. 10 Texas Tech||L, 14-10|
|Nov. 18, 1978||No. 9 Texas||L, 41-0|
|Nov. 17, 1984||No. 10 Texas||L, 44-23|
|Oct. 5, 1985||No. 10 Arkansas||L, 41-0|
|Nov. 21, 1987||No. 8 Texas A&M||L, 42-24|
|Oct. 7, 1989||No. 7 Arkansas||L, 41-19|
|Nov. 17, 1990||No. 7 Texas||L, 38-10|
|Nov. 20, 1993Oct. 18, 2008||No. 3 Texas A&MNo. 8 BYU||L, 59-3W, 32-7|
|Nov. 10, 2012||No. 2 Kansas State||L, 23-10|
|Nov. 30, 2013||No. 9 Baylor||L, 41-38|