Coach Gary Patterson didn’t sugarcoat what could be in store for the Frogs, who now sit at 3-5 on the season.
“We might be 3-9 before it’s done,” Patterson said after Saturday’s game.
Yes, things aren’t looking too promising for TCU as it readies for a home game against another struggling program, Kansas State.
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This isn’t overly familiar territory for Patterson and TCU. Patterson has never endured a four-game losing streak, and the last time TCU did was in 1998.
This is a coach who preaches “losing is a disease” and has just two losing regular-season records in his career. But, as Patterson mentioned on his radio show last week, these are the types of seasons that you learn the most from.
He followed his first losing season, a 5-6 campaign in 2004, by going 11-1 the following season. In 2013, TCU went 4-8 and bounced back by going 12-1 in 2014.
Patterson described the 2013 defense as one of his all-time favorites because the Frogs managed to end the season as the top-ranked defense in Big 12 play.
“They fought their tails off even though it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to,” Patterson said. “It wasn’t what they wanted, but they didn’t care. They played because they played. That’s why you ended up having the team you had in 2014.”
Patterson is hoping to see similar things from this year’s team. He liked the effort his players had during Saturday’s game even though the result wasn’t what they hoped.
Injuries, once again, continued to pile up on the Frogs. They saw free safety Niko Small last less than a half in his return after a three-game absence, and then defender Ty Summers exit with an injury too.
TCU has seen several starters miss multiple games, if not the season, with injuries, including quarterback Shawn Robinson, left guard Cordel Iwuagwu, strong safety Innis Gaines and defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.
Patterson refuses to use injuries, or off-field issues such as dismissing star returner KaVontae Turpin last week, as excuses for how the season has unfolded to date. But those are impossible to ignore too.
“You’ve got to be careful about throwing coaches or kids under the bus when you’ve lost pieces to your chessboard,” Patterson said. “For us, what I like is our kids still played hard. Obviously we didn’t do a couple smart things in the ballgame [at Kansas] last week, but you keep moving forward, you keep developing your kids and get ready to play.
“For us, you’ve got to keep your eyes up, keep climbing. We talk about it all the time. Going into this week, that’s no different.”
As stated, the silver lining may be facing a K-State team that is struggling itself. The Wildcats have lost four of their last five games and remain winless on the road being outscored 123-54.
Both programs desperately need a win if they’re going to salvage any hope of reaching a bowl game.
“Both Kansas State and TCU are built a lot the same,” Patterson said. “They’re built with a lot of pride about the program. Coach [Bill] Snyder has been there a long time; I’ve been here a long time. There’s a lot of tradition of how we want to play and how we want to do things.”
Winning is a priority, of course.