Patterson trying to mend struggling secondary

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    Gary Patterson has not been happy with his secondary.

    He repeatedly said after practices Tuesday and last Saturday that it is not up to Big 12 standards.
            
    As a result, he’s trying to fix it. And he’s keeping his options open.

    Patterson turned to his renaissance man Antonio Graves to try and kick start his lagging secondary, moving the wide receiver-turned-linebacker back to strong safety, where he played his true freshman season in 2010.

    “(Graves) had three or four really good plays,” Patterson said after the Horned Frogs’ spring practice Tuesday. “Right now we are trying to find 11 good players. He did play well especially when he was blitzing.”

    When asked about the move, Patterson said the secondary simply hasn’t been making plays.

    Patterson said earlier in the spring that Graves is good in coverage and in blitz situations, areas the Horned Frogs’ lagging secondary could use a boost in.

    Patterson said Tuesday he has not been impressed with anyone in the secondary, with exception of cornerback Jason Verrett, a former junior college transfer corner, who made several starts last year.

    “I’m not really happy with any of them right now,” Patterson said. “There is a level of how we play and what we do. We aren’t at that level yet. Only time will clear that along with ability.”

    But it’s not as if the TCU defensive backfield is short on experience — or talent.

    Last season, safety Jonathan Anderson’s 49 tackles were the most by a TCU freshman since 2005. Anderson ranked atop the spring depth chart at weak-side safety. Elisha Olabode and Sam Carter, both of whom saw significant action last year, ranked first at free safety and strong safety respectively.

    Patterson said that two freshman safeties and another transfer cornerback could compete for playing time in the fall.

    Junior college transfer Keivon Gamble joins fellow signees Zach Jackson (safety), Jordan Moore (safety) as potential impact players in the secondary.

    Gamble, who Patterson said is “deep in alligators,” is one of four early enrollees from the Horned Frogs’ most recent recruiting class.

    Patterson said the current secondary has to get better, especially since newcomers in the fall, like Jackson and Moore, could compete for playing time.

    “They all better improve or the next group will challenge them,” Patterson said. “Gamble is learning. We need him to come along.”