Amidst the sounds of creaking pads, grunting men and the heavy thuds of bodies colliding, one noise at Tuesday’s practice made Saturday’s victory over Oklahoma seem relatively unimportant.The voice of a very unhappy coach.
Despite the Horned Frogs’ upset over the No. 7-ranked Sooners, despite TCU’s jump to No. 22 in the Associated Press Media rankings and despite the defense holding OU running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Adrian Peterson to 63 yards, players said head coach Gary Patterson made it clear that the past weekend is exactly that – the past.
“We just have to keep our heads on straight,” said sophomore linebacker David Hawthorne.
Several players, however, said TCU’s move into in the AP Top 25 is too early to be important.
“I didn’t even know,” Hawthorne said. “Coach Patterson tells us it’s not as much about how you start as how you finish.”
Senior free safety Jeremy Modkins said the team has to be careful of a letdown against SMU on Saturday.
“It can be pretty hard to stay motivated,” Modkins said. “If we lost, it would be a pretty big disappointment.”
Despite SMU’s recent football woes – the Mustangs are 6-30 over their last three seasons – senior quarterback Tye Gunn insists that the old rivalry can still be a dangerous one.
“(SMU head coach) Phil Bennett has a lot of experience,” Gunn said. “We’re going to have to stay very disciplined all game. It’s still a big rivalry … I mean, this is pretty much their bowl game.”
Gunn said he is very aware that upsets, much like the Sooners’ recent failure, are not uncommon in college football.
“The talent level is not that far apart; it’s not like high school, where one team can be so much better,” Gunn said. “That’s why college football is so crazy.”
While the Frogs’ aerial attack clicked against the Sooners’ defensive backs, the running game never got on track – senior running back Lonta Hobbs and junior running back Robert Merrill combined for 63 yards rushing. Despite the effective passing schemes, Gunn said the ground attack needs to be more prolific.
“We didn’t run the ball very well,” Gunn said. “We know they’re going to load the box against us, but we have to prove we have a running game.”
Though the Mustangs clearly aren’t OU, Modkins said, the fundamentals never change.
“It’s about tackling, communication and preparation,” Modkins said. “Patterson had a great game plan (for OU), but the most important thing is the next game.”
At Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon, Patterson echoed similar sentiments.
“The only way to win 10 games in three seasons the past five years is to take things one game at a time,” Patterson said.