TCU

TCU getting more interceptions, but at a cost, Patterson says

TCU safety Nick Orr breaks up a pass intended for SMU receiver Courtland Sutton during second-half action in a Sept. 23 game at Gerald J. Ford Field in Dallas. Orr had his first interception of the season in the game.
TCU safety Nick Orr breaks up a pass intended for SMU receiver Courtland Sutton during second-half action in a Sept. 23 game at Gerald J. Ford Field in Dallas. Orr had his first interception of the season in the game. AP

TCU’s five interceptions this season have come in the last three games, thanks to a greater reliance on zone defense.

It allows a defender a better look at the quarterback, but it comes at a price on third down, coach Gary Patterson said last week.

“Sometimes in a zone you don’t get people off the field like you did the year before,” Patterson said. “But we’re getting more turnovers than we did the year before.”

TCU is eighth in the Big 12 in third-down defense, allowing a 43.3 percent conversion rate going into Saturday’s game at No. 12 West Virginia. Last season, the Horned Frogs allowed a 27.8 percent conversion rate. Two years ago, it was 27.9. Both times, that led the Big 12.

“It’s hurt us yardage-wise, but it’s the same thing I had to do back in 2005 after the 2004 season,” Patterson said. “I had to just start playing zone. And we’ve got to get better at it.”

Four of the interceptions have come from safeties Nick Orr and Niko Small. The fifth was by linebacker Travin Howard off a tip at the line of scrimmage by defensive end James McFarland.

“You don’t get a lot of interceptions in man concepts,” Patterson said. “You get a lot more when you have zone eyes.”

TCU finished with seven interceptions last season, its lowest total since seven in 2001.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

TCU at West Virginia

2:30 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 8 or ESPN2

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