After 30-plus years of coaching, Gary Patterson knows how to handle it when his defense gets kicked in the pants.
Sometimes you kick it in the pants again.
Sometimes you don’t.
Two weeks ago, following an agonizing 61-58 loss to Baylor, was one of those times you don’t.
The TCU head coach kept it business-as-usual with his approach. He didn’t run the legs off the team. He reassured the defense he believed in them. And after the Horned Frogs responded with a three-field-goal shutdown of the Oklahoma State offense last week, Patterson told reporters: “I knew we weren’t a bad secondary.”
In one week, confidence had been restored in the lead-dog unit of the 10th-ranked team in the country. A group that had allowed 782 yards — think of it, almost 800 — played like it had never happened.
“That means a lot,” safety Sam Carter said of Patterson’s public support. “Because Coach P has had great secondary guys here before us. He’s had a Rose Bowl team. Those guys had three or four All-Americas on the team. For him to say that about me and my other teammates and the young cornerbacks, it means a lot to hear your head coach is still behind you.”
The defense will ride the good vibe into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against Texas Tech, another team with an offense that can swamp an opponent if it is not contained.
Patterson wasn’t surprised by the defensive turnaround. Oklahoma State was limited to 258 yards. Only Oklahoma and Baylor have cracked 300 yards against the Frogs.
“They care about what they do. They were embarrassed by the Baylor game, so they played their hearts out,” Patterson said. He shrugged thinking about that game. “Kind of depends on your perspective. I’ve talked to coaches who said we played well all the way until the last eight minutes in the Baylor game. It is what it is. It’s a three-point loss. That’s the way I look at it.”
Patterson, in fact, blamed himself. He said he put too much defense in for Baylor, that it overwhelmed the players, and promised he wouldn’t do it again.
Carter, who has been around long enough to know, smiled a knowing smile. He appreciated the thought from his coach, but he didn’t agree.
“It’s not his fault. We take blame for it. I take blame for it,” Carter said. “Because we had great calls in the first half. We ran the same calls. We just didn’t execute in the second half. So I’m not going to ever put the blame on him. It’s not his fault. He’s not out there playing. He’s just coaching.”
Patterson accepted that his defense failed at the end of the Baylor game. But he didn’t have to like it. He still believes a good defensive game plan starts with expecting a shutout.
“We’re going to try to put a game plan together where it’s zero,” he said. “That hardly ever happens. A lot of people, their game plan is to hold them to 17. Well, no. We say zero. And then, hopefully, we hold them to 17 or 21. Because usually, 17 or 21 equals 35 or 40.
“So, how can you be aggressive and still do the things you need to do defensively against a fast-paced offense? That’ll be our challenge again this week.”
It will be another chance for the defense to impress their coach and reward his public faith in them.
“I feel every day we come out, you try to impress him — be able to execute the game plan that he’s trying to put in throughout the week,” Carter said. “Every day, you try to show him you can execute what he’s calling.”
Saturday is another chance.
Back to form
The TCU defense looked like its old self against Oklahoma State last week. The rundown week-by-week this season:
x-points allowed does not include an interception return for touchdown.
Starting fast. TCU has been up 14-0 or more on every opponent this year. Starts like that help keep the Big 12’s potentially quick-striking offenses, like Texas Tech’s, at arm’s length.
Running on. The running game is an area of the offense that is starting to round into shape for the Frogs. Tech gives up the most rushing yards in the conference. Ball control is still a goal.
The H-word. Can Trevone Boykin keep building award buzz? In the last two conference games at home, he’s put up 846 yards rushing and passing, and the offense has scored 73 points.
Head to head
|Category||TCU (5-1, 2-1)||Texas Tech (3-4, 1-3)|
|3rd down %||41.3||43.3|
|Def. 3rd down %||26.7||43.6|