On Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium, it became clear why.
For the second consecutive season, the Frogs struggled against a last-place Kansas team in a game the Frogs were favored to win by at least four touchdowns. Last November it happened in freezing conditions in Lawrence, Kansas. This year it happened in the friendly confines of Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“Today’s lesson is that you’ve got to get ready to play everybody,” Patterson said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. Life is not that easy.”
While nobody could foresee the Frogs would be without starting quarterback and Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin, who suffered an ankle injury early in the game, the Jayhawks once again sent a message to the No. 15 Horned Frogs: No matter how much better a team is than its opponent on paper, nobody is ever safe in a D-1 college football game.
“You’ve got to give Kansas credit,” Patterson said. “They had far less to play for and they played hard.”
While the Frogs defeated Kansas 23-17 and escaped what would have statistically been the largest upset in college football history (45 point spread), it took the entire ballgame for them to send the Jayhawks packing.
Kansas averaged a 21-point deficit at halftime this season entering the game. On Saturday it was tied with the Frogs with 10 apiece at the halfway point, ending the Jayhawks’ streak of halftime deficits that went all the way back to last year’s contest against TCU, when they led the Frogs 13-10 at halftime.
“We were really flat in the first half,” TCU tailback Aaron Green said. “We didn’t play very well today. At halftime everyone was just encouraging one another that we needed to get up and play harder if we wanted to win.”
Patterson said he felt Kansas did a good job scouting the Frogs beforehand, and it showed in both teams’ first half performance.
“They knew a lot about us,” Patterson said. “We had to change some things up. We called some things they knew about, and then we did a better job in the second half.”
The Frogs weren’t only shown to be vulnerable in barely escaping against a winless team at home, however. The game also gave a glimpse into the team’s identity without Boykin’s leadership.
While the Frogs’ defense was its normal self and only surrendered 17 points, the offense sputtered as Bram Kohlhausen and Foster Sawyer shared duties as quarterback after Boykin’s exit.
The unit only put up 23 points, the lowest total at home this season, possibly against one of the weakest defenses they have had to face. The Frogs only recorded 208 passing yards among the three quarterbacks. And standout wide receiver Josh Doctson, who is still adjusting after suffering a wrist injury against Oklahoma State, had one catch the entire game for a mere 12 yards.
While it is unknown if Boykin will be in playing shape for Saturday’s contest against Oklahoma, Patterson emphasized Boykin’s resilience.
“You aren’t going to bother Trevone Boykin,” Patterson said. “He has already been battle tested. There isn’t anything you can say to him that he hasn’t already heard.”
Patterson did say, however, that a quarterback’s exit from a ballgame can wreak havoc on offensive coordinating, as teams are forced to change play calling based on who is taking the snap.
“You’ve got to change your entire play call…game plan for a guy that’s not in the ballgame,” Patterson said. “You have one guy who’s a Heisman Trophy contender and two other guys who haven’t played a lot.”
It’s not as if critical injuries have been uncommon for the Frogs, who have played more than 25 freshmen and redshirt freshmen this season.
Patterson said at this point in the season, the team has played enough football to know what it needs to do going forward. Patterson added that senior leadership will be critical.
“The seniors have been through it all,” Patterson said. “Nothing surprises them. The freshmen, on the other hand, they’re surprised.”
Senior safety Derrick Kindred said it is important for him to stay focused on playing his role despite all the injuries and adversity the team has faced.
“You just go out there and do your job,” Kindred said. “We practice moving around all week. We just have to go out and play our best game and practice hard and read our assignments.”
The Frogs will need to do just that as they enter Norman facing a top-10 Sooners squad. TCU entering the game at 9-1 despite the injuries should be enough motivation to fight as hard as it can.
“Sometimes you just don’t have any answers other than this is what it is,” Patterson said. “All we’ve been through and here we are at 9-1. Most people would have won three ballgames.”
As Patterson says so often, it’s a matter of holding the opponent to “one less point.” That will be truer than ever for the next two games, no matter how they achieve it.