Superstition prompts football helmet change

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When TCU lost 40-33 in overtime to SMU on Oct. 1, the Frogs may have been at their lowest point of the season, having lost their second game of the season and seemingly watching any chance of a BCS bowl repeat go out the door.

But TCU responded, going on the road the next week and beating San Diego State 27-14 then winning four more in a row, culminating in Saturday’s 36-35 victory over No. 5 Boise State.

Senior safety Johnny Fobbs said the Frogs loss to their Metroplex rivals may have been the best thing to happen to TCU, as it served as a wake-up call for a defense that had struggled in losses to the Mustangs and Baylor.

“It taught us a lot,” Fobbs said of the Frogs’ loss to SMU. “We had to go back to the drawing board and start with accountability...I took it upon myself because of the disappointments I had and being one of the older ones on the defense.”

Fobbs said the Frogs went to San Diego with a new, sharpened mindset, knowing they had to get back to playing the kind of football that has reaped success over the years at TCU. The seniors, Fobbs said, made sure this would be the case against the Aztecs.

“All the older players were like, ‘Hey, we need to step this up.’ Because that’s not how TCU plays. That’s not how the teams before us play,” said Fobbs, who had an interception in TCU’s win against San Diego State.

Fobbs said Saturday’s win against Boise State didn’t surprise him — it simply served as a reminder of what TCU has done as a program and what it’s still capable of doing.

“It was just letting you know that’s our program. That’s our program history. That is TCU,” Fobbs said. “So, it’s not a shocker. It’s not a shocker at all. I really believe it’s going to fuel us going into the future years because everybody kind of knows TCU, and that’s what we do. That’s what we make our living on.”

‘The Frog stays on’

Perhaps something a bit less-noticed has contributed to TCU’s mid-season turnaround: The Horned Frog logo on their helmets.

The Frogs played their first six games without their traditional Horned Frog logo underneath the arched “TCU” on their helmets. The team went 4-2 in that stretch before head coach Gary Patterson made the call to bring back the Horned Frog prior to TCU’s 69-0 win over New Mexico on Oct. 22.

So, what prompted the change?

Superstition.

And linearity, of course.

“I thought the ‘TCU’ made the helmet look longer,” said Patterson, whose team is 4-0 since bringing back the Horned Frog logo. “I thought it looked like a trojan helmet instead of looking like a TCU one, so I put the frog on there and made it look more linear coming straight down the uniform. Second, we haven’t lost two games in the regular season with the regular frog and, since they put it back on, we haven’t lost since. So, the frog stays on.”

Patterson said superstitions, like the Horned Frog on the helmet, can be a good thing.

“It’s a check mark, kind of like what I do during the week to get ready for a ballgame,” Patterson said. “I think people have check marks at how they prepare for something so they’re at ease. That’s what superstitions are, whether you wear the same tie, the same shirt, the same underwear. If it makes you feel better, if it makes you play better, and it takes your mind off them, then that’s a superstition.”

Patterson’s most recent superstition?

Wearing a pullover sweatshirt — something he’s donned the past two weeks. Patterson said wearing a pullover made him feel better on the sideline.

“I wish I could wear a pullover all the time, being stocky,” Patterson joked Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Pullovers make you look better. You can wear them long. It’s more linear. I’ve looked a lot better on the sidelines the past two weeks.”

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