The last time TCU left Amon G. Carter Stadium following a lopsided loss, football coach Gary Patterson laid down a three-step program for improvement. It was directed at all Horned Frogs, particularly those who work in the trenches.
Following that Nov. 17 setback to No. 11 Oklahoma State, Patterson shared this message with players: “You’ve got to get bigger, you’ve got to get faster, you’ve got to get meaner. Or you’ve got to do all three.”
The Horned Frogs came up lacking again in all of those areas during Saturday’s 30-6 loss to Kansas State. The setback, which included 336 rushing yards by the Wildcats (8-4, 6-3 in Big 12), marked TCU’s fifth loss of the season in Fort Worth. That total is the most in any season by a Patterson-coached team.
Unlike in the loss to Oklahoma State, when TCU (6-6, 4-5) scored an early touchdown in a 31-6 loss, the offense was held out of the end zone Saturday and limited to a season-low 280 total yards by the Wildcats. K-State rolled for a season-high 495 yards of total offense, more than 100 above its season average (376.9).
Bottom line: The Frogs were dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball by K-State, a fact that did not sit well with Patterson.
“We have got to grow up on offense,” said Patterson, who focused most of his frustration on a unit that has scored just one touchdown in its last eight quarters in Fort Worth. “People turn the heat up, hit you in the mouth and we don’t respond.
“You can’t be putting your head down and shaking your head when you get beat. That’s what 4-year-olds do. That’s not what men do.”
Although Patterson praised the effort of the defense, linebacker Sammy Douglas acknowledged that allowing a season-high 336 rushing yards to K-State was not up to TCU standards. Especially since it came on the heels of a 334-yard rushing performance by Oklahoma State the last time the Frogs took the field in Fort Worth.
“That’s very frustrating. When you give up rushing yards, they’re just dogging you and running through you,” Douglas said. “They just dogged us and ran through us. You can’t have that. Especially at TCU, because TCU is known for their defense.”
During 2016, TCU also has been known for home losses. The Frogs finished 2-5 in Fort Worth. The defense allowed 34.6 points per game at home but only 18.2 on the road, where TCU finished 4-1.
“That’s kind of unusual,” Patterson said. “That should help us in the bowl game.”
But it didn’t do much good against the Wildcats, who broke open a 10-6 game with second-half touchdown drives that covered 83, 72 and 55 yards. The TCU offense, meanwhile, went three-and-out on five of its last seven drives and failed to produce points on any of them. The Frogs struggled under both of its top two quarterbacks, Foster Sawyer and Kenny Hill.
“We beat ourselves up. We had a lot of drops,” said TCU receiver Taj Williams, who made one catch covering four yards.
But the Frogs, once again, lost the battle in the trenches in front of the home crowd. Douglas called it a sobering reality check.
“Yeah, it is. We’re supposed to protect the Carter and we didn’t do such a good job,” Douglas said. “It is kind of difficult losing all these home games.”
Patterson indicated players should expect some physical practices when they begin preparations for their bowl game. The destination will be finalized Sunday.
“We’ve got to get better up front,” Patterson said. “Really, across the board. We got thrown around by everybody.”