How did TCU coach Gary Patterson spend the bye week?
Doing one of this favorite things.
“I’m one of those guys, I’m going to press people to be the best they can be,” he said. “If I don’t think they’re being that, I’m going to press buttons. To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve pushed enough buttons.
“Tuesday and Wednesday, I pushed a lot of buttons.”
The first results of that effort will show Saturday when the Horned Frogs visit unbeaten and No. 12-ranked West Virginia. The 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Morgantown starts the second half of the season for TCU (4-2, 2-1), which is trying to hang on to a chance to win a Big 12 title but will have to do it in one of the most difficult environments in the Big 12.
Two years ago, the Frogs needed a last-second field goal to win at a frenzied Milan Puskar Stadium. Four years ago, they won on the last play in overtime.
But whoever the opponent or wherever the site, Patterson says it’s time for TCU to be what TCU is going to be.
“Young guys got to grow up,” he said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “You can’t wait for their time to grow up. I hear people say, ‘Well, they’ll grow up in time.’ I’m one of those guys that, you have to push people to do as much as you can do and handle as much as they can handle. We make practice hard so when you get to a ballgame, it’s easy. I don’t know that we’ve done as good a job of that as we needed to.”
But there are signs that encourage the Frogs.
Defensive end Josh Carraway senses a sharpness in practice lately.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys ask questions and be more attentive and just really being aware what’s going on,” he said, and used sophomore safety Niko Small as an example. “I’ve really seen Niko just really kind of grow over these last couple of weeks. And by that, I mean Coach P isn’t always on him. That’s a great thing, that Coach P kind of lays off you, and that’s just exciting for me. I don’t know if people notice that, but I kind of notice that stuff.”
Receiver John Diarse noticed similar improvement from an offense that he said made “small mistakes” in the first six games.
“I think a lot of the games — I know the last three — it’s just mental mistakes, mental busts that we made,” he said. “We’ve got to get better at that. Coach Patterson’s, Coach [Doug] Meacham’s approach to making us better is the way to go, and guys are definitely growing. Fewer mistakes and bigger plays are being made.”
Health is helping, too.
Patterson said receiver KaVontae Turpin, center Austin Schlottman and offensive tackle Trey Elliott are possible for the West Virginia game, which could rejuvenate an offense that Patterson said “lost a little swagger” when Turpin went out. Cornerback Julius Lewis is being prepared to play in hopes he can shore up the pass defense.
Overall, Patterson said the Frogs are doing less thinking and more moving on defense.
“The last two weeks, we’ve picked more balls against the scouts than we’ve picked since we started in two-a-days,” he said. “Guys are moving, guys are not thinking as much, and you’ve seen that in the last couple of games in takeaways and doing things.”
The big picture? The first six games provided a foundation. The next six games will determine the season.
“I would say it’s about progression and not so much about being perfect,” Diarse said, asked about the coaches’ message at the break. “We knew that we had a young team coming in. We just had to grow. That was part of these first six games. We grew, and we’re still growing, and we’re getting better each and every week.”
TCU at No. 12 West Virginia
2:30 p.m. Saturday,
WFAA/Ch. 8 or ESPN2