Gary Patterson is a defensive guy, as he will tell you.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate a good offense.
Like his own.
“I’m excited about the offense,” the TCU coach said Saturday night after his team’s 44-31 victory at Oklahoma State, which featured 238 yards rushing and three touchdown runs by sophomore Darius “Jet” Anderson. “If you want to win championships, you’ve got to run. You’ve got to be able to throw, but you’ve got to be able to run the football. Especially when you go on the road. When it counted, we had to run the ball.”
TCU is the best rushing team in the Big 12. The Frogs have 12 rushing touchdowns from five backs. Seventeen players have caught a pass, and nine have caught a score. TCU is the best in the league in third downs and time of possession, yet retains big-play ability with the pass.
That totally fits Patterson’s style. He says the toughest offenses to stop are the ones that spread the ball around.
“Nobody’s fired up for themselves. Everybody’s fired up for each other,” Patterson said when asked why he likes this TCU offense. “Every week it’s somebody different. It’s no different than a baseball team. It can’t always be the middle of your order that makes all the runs. When the end of your order can make some hits, score some runs, get on, it makes your whole offense better.”
TCU used four backs and a receiver to carry the ball, plus quarterback Kenny Hill.
Oklahoma State gave all but one carry to Justice Hill.
In the heat of a Stillwater afternoon, the Frogs’ backfield depth made a difference. TCU totaled 49 carries before the final three kneel-downs to end the game. That 49th carry was Anderson’s 42-yard touchdown run.
“The fact that they trust us, it helps us keep pushing and keep working so we can stay on the running game,” Anderson said. “Because we already excel through the air.”
Some other observations from Saturday in Stillwater:
1. Darius Anderson leads the Big 12 in carries. The 68 rush attempts means the coaching staff trusts him and his ability. But they are on guard about durability for the 5-11, 205-pound sophomore. “Great job for only being a sophomore, giving us what we need,” Patterson said. “And not turn the ball over. That’s probably as big a thing, because he took some shots. But he made some cuts, made some plays. Like I told him, keep your nose down. We’ve got a long season.”
2. Sacks and takeaways win games. TCU got seven combined Saturday and is at the top of the Big 12 in both categories. The Frogs’ three sacks made it 11 for the season, tied with Baylor for most in the league, and the four takeaways made it nine, tied with Texas Tech. In interceptions, TCU’s three against Oklahoma State put its total at a league-leading six. Last year, the Frogs had 14 picks. The year before, 15.
3. Backup cornerback Tony James made a play late in the first half, breaking up a pass for Marcell Ateman. It helped force a punt and keep TCU ahead 20-10 following a turnover. More of the same may soon be required of the Arlington Bowie product. Julius Lewis is out for the season following surgery for an injury suffered in practice, Patterson announced after the game. Lewis had split time with Jeff Gladney opposite Ranthony Texada. Now it looks like James, a high school quarterback turned college receiver turned cornerback, is next in line.
4. The 31 points allowed dims a bit of the shine on TCU’s defensive effort. Oklahoma State got hot in the second half, no doubt. What shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is that the Frogs gave up only 10 points and 199 yards in the first half, when all of Boone Pickens Stadium was revved for an explosion of offense from the home team. It would have been hard for the Frogs to survive two hot halves from Oklahoma State. But they didn’t have to. “I’m not bragging. We gave up 31 points,” Patterson said. “They had more yards than we did.” Then he smiled and shrugged. “But I don’t care.”
5. Patterson is fond of the hot practices of fall camp. But he’s careful, and he knows when a team wants to head inside to finish a two-hour practice. Not so much with this team, however. He said they didn’t seem to mind the heat — one of the reasons he has taken to this group. “We went two and a half weeks in that,” he said. “They didn’t even notice it.”