As a senior, Josh Carraway has been around long enough to know. If he believes better football is ahead for TCU, it’s not without reason.
“Yeah, it definitely is,” he said. “We’ve seen it at times. I see it in practice, and I’ve seen it throughout the season. When we’re clicking, we’re clicking.”
The Horned Frogs hope that’s the case the rest of the season, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at No. 12 West Virginia. Their season could use some clicking.
TCU stumbled to a 3-2 start and needed a late field goal to win at Kansas and get to 4-2 before last week’s bye.
The offense is putting up yards and points, but also giving away the ball. The defense is in a rhythm with sacks and turnovers, but allowing 30 points on average.
“Attention to detail,” coach Gary Patterson said. “I keep telling you the world thinks 80 percent’s perfect. That’s not good enough. Eighty percent’s not perfect to me.”
Carraway has heard that speech before.
It’s been standard for Patterson in 4-8 seasons and 13-0 seasons.
But others are hearing it for the first time.
“There were a couple of positions, but now they’ve grown up and from the first day of fall camp to the end of fall camp, they’re just a lot older, and they’ve played a lot more snaps,” Carraway said. “They’ve seen a lot of different things. I think that’s something we have to take into account.”
Patterson surely is, but he’s also not waiting. He has talked or hinted about some upcoming personnel moves.
Last week, he said freshman defensive end Isaiah Chambers got a look at defensive tackle.
This week, he sounded closer to a decision to use cornerback Julius Lewis — expected to miss the season for a non-contact injury in the off-season — for the last six games, rather than keeping his redshirt.
And Patterson has called “really good” the return to practice of backup offensive tackle Trey Elliott. It’s no stretch to imagine that has meant competition for starters Aviante Collins and Joseph Noteboom, who have been tagged for six holding calls and two false starts in the past three games.
“To be able to win a game on the road against a team that’s 5-0, you’re going to have to be able to push every button to give yourself an opportunity to play well,” Patterson said. “We need takeaways. We need stops. And offensively, if we’re not scoring, we’ve got to be able to move the ball and keep the ball out of their hands.”
It’s all part of another couple of favorite Patterson sayings: “You’ve got to get ready to play,” and, “You’ve got to grow guys up.”
Last year’s sack leader still has to get ready to play. He once had to grow up.
Patterson’s approach remains.
“Just stick them out there in the fire and either they burn or they put it out,” Carraway said.
And what’s happened?
“I think a lot of guys just kind of stomped on the fire and put it out.”
TCU at West Virginia
2:30 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/8 or ESPN2