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TCU’s Gary Patterson: Doing what it takes to win

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU coach Gary Patterson has always emphasized scoring one more point than the other team and doing whatever it takes to win.

That was a big reason for the defensive-minded coach hired new co-offensive coordinators to take the Horned Frogs into their third Big 12 season with a more spread, up-tempo scheme to keep up with the league’s other teams.

Patterson, though, likely never anticipated this kind of one-point margin for No. 12 TCU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12). The Frogs have scored 95 points in their first two Big 12 games — and given up 94 points — for a split in a pair of games against top-five teams.

A week after beating then-No. 4 Oklahoma 37-33 at home, TCU is now coming off that wild 61-58 loss at Baylor, the new No. 4, after the Bears overcame a 21-point deficit in the final 11 minutes and kicked a field goal on the last play of the game.

“Obviously, I want to play great defense, but what I changed to, again you have to be able to even the playing field,” Patterson said. “Maybe we’ve got to get used to winning 45-31. … In this conference (31 points) still can be against a really good defense. It’s not real good defense to me, but it can be a really good defense on any given day.”

That theory will be tested again Saturday when the Horned Frogs host No. 15 Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0).

Patterson is in his 14th season as TCU’s head coach, after three years as defensive coordinator for former coach Dennis Franchione. Only once in that span, 10 years ago against Texas Tech and South Florida, did the Frogs allow more points in consecutive games than their first Big 12 games this season.

The loss to Baylor was only the sixth time under Patterson that the Horned Frogs lost a game when scoring at least 35 points. Three of those have come in the past four seasons against the Bears, whose 782 total yards Saturday were the most ever against Patterson’s TCU teams.

“It’s pretty crazy. I don’t think he would have thought that, but I’m sure he’s excited about the offense,” running back B.J. Catalon said.

Defensive end Josh Carraway said the approach is the same in every game — to win “by 1, win by 56, win by 3, whatever it is. As long as we win, I don’t care what the score is.”

TCU has long been one of the nation’s top defensive teams under Patterson, finishing as the national leader in total defense five times since 2000. The only team to lead in the category more since the NCAA started tracking statistics in 1937 is Alabama (6 times).

Despite significant changes on offense and its increased numbers, Patterson has no plans to adjust his standard on what he considers a great defense.

“You do that, then it will get worse,” he said. “You’ve got to keep doing what you do, and you’ve got to always try to find a game plan where you can get after them, and try to shut them out. If you do anything different than that, then you’re giving in.”

In TCU’s inaugural Big 12 season in 2012, the Frogs led the league allowing only 324 total yards a game, when they had only one senior on the depth chart while facing five of the nation’s top 13 offenses. They were second last season, allowing 32 yards more per game.

TCU went from second to fifth in total defense this season after that big game by Baylor inflated the Frogs from 279 to 380 total yards a game. But they are also among the league’s top offenses, with 510 yards and 45.8 points per game.

“To me, how can I score more points than the team I’m going to line up against,” Patterson said. “That’s what I needed to accomplish, and defensively, we’ve got to hold them to less.”  

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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