Following a difficult loss to Oklahoma Saturday night, TCU head coach Gary Patterson said his team cannot make excuses but acknowledged the Sooners are bigger and more athletic than the Horned Frogs.
“All you need to do is walk out on the field with me and look at both sides,” he said. “Not taking anything away from our kids because of the way we played.”
But the coach said the athleticism of Oklahoma, particularly on defense, made things difficult for a smaller TCU squad that has struggled with depth this season.
Personnel losses for the Frogs have been numerous this year, especially on offense. Starting offensive linemen Michael Thompson and Tayo Fabuluje left the team during camp. Last year’s leading receiver for the Frogs, Josh Boyce, left for the NFL Draft, and Casey Pachall broke his arm in the second game of the season.
Oklahoma already had a physical advantage because of the level of recruiting classes it brings in, but Patterson said the team cannot use those things to justify the loss.
“But we’ve been [beating bigger and more athletic teams] forever,” Patterson said. “BYU’s always been bigger than us. Utah’s always been bigger than us, and we still beat them. And our kids, it hurt them last night that they didn’t win the ball game, because they put themselves in a position to about do that.”
Patterson reiterated what he has said since TCU joined the Big 12: that getting to the level of depth and talent it takes to consistently challenge for the conference title is a process that will take a few years. When Patterson joined the TCU coaching staff 16 years ago in 1998, it took the team until 2009 to get to a BCS bowl. The coach hopes the team’s next goal does not take as long to achieve.
“Again, you have to go back to look at how long it took us to get to the point of being where we’re at,” he said. “[But] I don’t want to wait another 16 years to win a Big 12 title.”
Lack of confidence, Sooner defense prevent fast start:
The struggles for the TCU offense early in games have been well documented, and Patterson said part of the problem is simply confidence.
“Once we get a little bit of momentum going then we play a lot better,” he said. “But we’ve got to be able to fight, and we’ve got to start faster.”
The Frogs failed to gain a first down until its second drive of the second half on Saturday, going three-and-out on seven straight possessions to start the game. After watching the film of the game last night, Patterson praised the Sooners even more for their showing on defense. The coach said the Oklahoma defense did things differently on Saturday than it had done on film, which confused the offense.
For instance, Trevone Boykin was sacked on TCU’s first drive by Charles Tapper, who got to the quarterback untouched because the Sooners made it look like the pressure was going to come from elsewhere. Patterson said it took the Frogs until the second half to adjust to those new looks from the Oklahoma defense.
Fields to play, Pachall to possibly return:
Defensive end Devonte Fields was on the field Saturday for the first time since injuring his foot against Texas Tech. Patterson said his playing time going forward will be dictated by how he is able to handle the pain from his injury.
Pachall is going to get x-rays tomorrow to see how his broken left arm is mending, the coach said. Pachall broke his left arm in three places, Patterson said, and he is four weeks into a projected recovery time of eight weeks.
If Pachall was ready to return at the end of that estimated time frame, it could be in time for TCU’s game against West Virginia on Nov. 2.