After another rough first half Saturday, TCU head football coach Gary Patterson said Sunday his team’s slow starts are due in part to younger players’ need to get acclimated to the pace of the game.
“We’re catching up with the speed of the game to be honest with you,” he said.
The difficulties in coming out strong are due to the youth and inexperience of the team, Patterson said. Over half of the players that have seen playing time this season for the Horned Frogs are underclassmen, and that lack of experience means that players take some time to adjust and get up to game speed.
Starting slowly and having to catch up to opponents in the second half has been a consistent problem for the Frogs this season. TCU has been outscored 73-44 in first halves this season, but has outscored its opponents 123-55 after halftime. The slow starts are resulting in some wear on the defense
“Defensively, first and third quarter, when we’re fresh, we’ve played well,” Patterson said, noting that it is when the team gets into the second and fourth quarters that the defense has difficulty. That is because the defense has had to stay on the field for longer periods because the offense commits turnovers or fails to sustain drives.
The result has been big plays given up late in games. The Frogs gave up a 75-yard touchdown run to Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay with under five minutes remaining against the Sooners, as well as a 49-yard catch by Texas Tech wide receiver DeAndre Washington late in the game against the Red Raiders to set up a game-winning touchdown.
The inexperienced TCU offense will try to sustain drives and do so earlier in the game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. this Saturday.
Stillwater, part two:
TCU will go on the road to play Oklahoma State for the second year in a row. The Frogs lost to the Cowboys 36-14 last season.
The arrangement is unusual because conference opponents normally play at one team’s stadium one year and then play at the other team’s venue the next. However, TCU took Texas A&M’s old schedule when the Frogs joined the Big 12, and the Aggies had made an agreement to play in Stillwater in both 2012 and 2013.
The advantage for the Frogs is that they have already been to Oklahoma State’s stadium and know what the atmosphere is like, Patterson said.
The team will take a bus to Oklahoma City on Friday and practice at the University of Oklahoma. The team will stay in Oklahoma City on Friday night and take a bus to Stillwater Saturday morning before flying back to Fort Worth following the game.
Wide receiver Ty Slanina will play against the Cowboys, Patterson said. Slanina was sidelined in the first half against Kansas on Saturday when a defender hit him in the head.
Cornerback Jason Verrett hurt his shoulder against the Jayhawks and was held out as a precaution, but he will also play Saturday.