It remains to be seen whether TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson will play Saturday against Kansas, but the nation’s leader in receiving yards practiced Wednesday, coach Gary Patterson said.
Doctson, who was limited to non-contact participation, left in the second quarter of TCU’s loss Saturday to Oklahoma State after a Cowboys defender fell on his left arm at the end of a play. Doctson did not return to the game.
Alongside Doctson in a red non-contact jersey was wide receiver Ty Slanina, who was able to do some running during practice Tuesday. The junior, who caught 11 passes for 134 yards this season, won’t be considered for a return until next week’s trip to Oklahoma at the earliest, Patterson said.
Slanina left TCU’s victory over Texas Tech in the first half with a broken collar bone and has not played in the past five games.
Patterson listed offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai as questionable for Saturday’s game. The senior saw limited action against Oklahoma State. Vaitai was injured in TCU’s game against West Virginia on Oct. 29.
“To be honest with you, we’ve got a lot of people out,” Patterson said.
Things have not been business as usual in practice over the past two days coming off the Horned Frogs’ first loss of the season to undefeated Oklahoma State.
A fiery Patterson began his Wednesday post-practice availability with a rant that put all of his young and inexperienced defensive players on notice after two subpar practices.
“They need to find out how to do it themselves,” Patterson said. “Simple as that. As you can tell I wasn’t happy with practice today.”
The message was clear. Another performance like Saturday’s, which saw Patterson’s defense give up 49 points and 375 passing yards, including four touchdown passes of 48 yards or longer, would bring on new consequences.
“They better get ready to play or it won’t be me taking blame for us playing bad,” Patterson said. “I’ll start using names, which I’ve done here before. My advice is, they better come ready to play tomorrow.”
Working to shore up TCU’s defensive secondary, which collectively saw four touchdown passes sail over its heads Saturday against Oklahoma State, isn’t new for Patterson and his staff.
It’s been as much of a focus as any aspect of Patterson’s system all season, he said. The key is in the maturation of young and experienced defensive backs that have been forced into duty due to injuries to starting cornerback Ranthony Texada and safety Kenny Iloka.
“We’ve been coaching every one of them up,” Patterson said. “They’ve come a long way, but the problem is you’re playing in a league where you’ve got NFL wide receivers and you’ve got to go play and you’ve got to get ready to go. If you aren’t ready as a freshman and you make a 6-inch mistake, it’s a touchdown.”
TCU ranks 65th in the country in total defense, allowing 396.1 yards per game. The Frogs have allowed 2,104 passing yards this season.
However, Patterson turned the focus away from the glaring flaw of defending the long pass toward several bright spots, most notably the Horned Frogs’ Big 12-leading defensive third-down conversion percentage (30.6 percent), which ranks 14th in the nation.
“If you want to study history, go look. We smother people, but when we don’t play deep balls, we get ourselves in trouble,” Patterson said. “They told me in 2004 this defense was washed up. Since then, it’s been to two BCS games and won a Peach Bowl and a Rose Bowl.”
Kansas at TCU
11 a.m. Saturday, FS1