TCU coach Gary Patterson summed up the past two months for the Horned Frogs.
“It’s been a hard eight weeks,” he said.
He knew it watching practice on Sunday following the close-shave victory at Kansas the day before.
“They seemed very, very relieved not to have to play a ballgame this Saturday,” Patterson said.
After two byes in the first three weeks of the season, the Horned Frogs played eight games in eight weeks, including five against then or current Top 25 opponents. They went 7-1 in that stretch, 4-1 against the ranked teams, and 6-1 in the Big 12 to vault themselves into consideration for the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.
Patterson praised his team for not getting distracted by the big picture. The bye this Saturday ahead of the Thanksgiving night game at Texas is a chance to unwind.
“We’re finishing up school; only a couple weeks left. We’re not practicing Monday or Tuesday, so get a chance to clear our minds,” Patterson said. “I thought we were mentally tired the last couple of ballgames. I think this will help them be able to refresh, get back to the basics, get back to the weight room, and then we’ll start practicing. We’re game-planning right now for Texas. We’ll get back to practicing for those guys on Wednesday and Thursday.”
Scoring more points against Kansas would likely have been better for TCU’s standing with the College Football Playoff committee.
But Patterson said the closeness of the score might not be a bad thing.
“Maybe one of the best things that happened to us is we didn’t win by a big margin,” he said. “I don’t know if it would have made any difference. But now we can get back to worrying about the University of Texas and it’ll let us take care of what we can take care of. I seem to think there are fewer distractions going into this Monday and Tuesday than there were a week ago.”
Patterson said the Horned Frogs didn’t go for the end zone with their last drive Saturday because they were simply trying to run out the clock on a game that had seen strange bounces against them.
“That was all about winning. That wasn’t about anything else,” he said.
Patterson said nothing has changed with the status of tailback B.J. Catalon, who has been out since taking a hit under the chin at West Virginia.
There is also no word on whether receiver Deante’ Gray will practice this week.
Patterson said six to eight players, including starting receiver Kolby Listenbee, have been fighting through ankle injuries since a hard-hitting game against West Virginia.
“We’ve really been kind of banged-up,” Patterson said. “Kids have been playing through things, even in the Kansas State game.”
No CFP break
Patterson acknowledges the injury situation and the grind of the past two months on his team, but he doesn’t expect the College Football Playoff committee to take that into account.
“Oh, no. Everybody’s got reasons,” he said. “I think you’ve got to do the best you can. They’ve got a job to do, they need to go do it. I’ve got a job to do — I’ve got to worry about winning. If I take care of that, then I’ve done as much as I can do. All of us, I know our fan base would love to be in the playoffs. But for us, right now, the best way to do that is to win a conference title.”
Special teams award
Punt returner Cameron Echols-Luper, whose 69-yard punt return for a touchdown put TCU ahead in the second half at Kansas, won the Big 12 special teams player of the week award.
He is the second Horned Frogs player to win the award this season. Kicker Jaden Oberkrom won it three weeks ago for his kick at West Virginia.