Head coach Gary Patterson announced at Tuesday’s press conference that the team will be without junior linebacker Sammy Douglas for the rest of the 2015 season. Douglas suffered an apparent knee injury early in Thursday’s game against Minnesota, exiting the game with a knee brace after only several series.
Patterson said that the Frogs may also be without senior defensive end James McFarland for the rest of 2015. McFarland did not play against the Gophers and was already off the depth chart prior to Thursday’s game.
“Sammy is done,” Patterson said. “McFarland may be close too.”
The absence of Douglas and McFarland could be a huge blow to the the Frogs’ defense, which already lost six starters during the offseason.
Many considered Douglas the most experienced linebacker on the Frogs’ defensive unit. McFarland was the team’s best pass rusher in 2014, leading the Frogs with seven sacks.
Patterson also said that defensive tackle Davion Pierson, who did not play against Minnesota, is doubtful once again for Saturday’s contest against Stephen F. Austin University. Senior defensive end Mike Tuaua’s status is also unknown.
Patterson added, though, that the defense exceeded his expectations Thursday night.
“I’ll tell you, the defense played better than I expected,” Patterson said. “They played hard. We need to adjust a little faster, but that will come. We just need more time.”
Patterson was not thrilled with the team’s performance on Thursday as a whole, however. Patterson said the team’s mindset is not where it needs to be.
“I’m not happy with the overall buy in,” Patterson said. “If I told you that everything was hunky-dory, that everything was all good, I’d be leading you astray.”
Patterson said that if the team wants to win a lot of ballgames, the players need to be acting right on and off the field.
After squeezing past unranked Minnesota by only six points for a 23-17 victory on Thursday, the Frogs dropped only one spot in the rankings, moving from No. 2 to 3 in both the AP Poll and Amway Coaches Poll behind Ohio State and Alabama.
Patterson, however, was not shy about where he felt his team belonged in the rankings.
“I saw a lot of good teams out there this weekend,” Patterson said. “To be honest with you, I voted a couple of teams ahead of us [in the coaches poll]. It’s my duty to be honest in that.”
Patterson showed some concern about the offense after its lackluster performance on Thursday. The 23 points the Frogs put up on Thursday were fewer than they had scored in any game last season.
Patterson saw room for improvement after the offensive line’s performance, and he also said that some of the squad’s biggest stars could up their game.
“Josh Doctson needs to come back and get into his playing shape, Aaron Green needs to, Kolby too,” Patterson said. “Those were three guys who felt they needed to play better in a ballgame like this.”
Doctson, a senior wide receiver, was not pleased with his own performance, despite an 11-yard touchdown that he caught early in the game for the Frogs.
“I need to play with more effort and be more physical,” Doctson said. “We watched the film and there were a lot of bad habits we saw that we didn’t have last year.”
Senior running back Aaron Green’s game against Minnesota was marred by a fumble that turned the ball over to the Gophers as the Frogs were driving at the Minnesota 12 yard line.
Patterson admired the effort by TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin.
“We may not have scored 40 points, but Trevone really took some shots last week,” Patterson said. “Without him, we don’t win that game.”
Patterson said he still feels optimistic despite the offense’s early struggles.
“I expect the offense to just keep getting better and better every week,” Patterson said. “We have potential to play a lot better than we played in last week’s football game, which is a great thing.”