FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU has come a long way since Gary Patterson’s first home game as head coach 14 years ago, a loss to a lower-division team.
Going into Saturday’s home opener against FCS team Stephen F. Austin, the third-ranked Horned Frogs are now a major conference champion and playoff contender.
But one thing hasn’t changed in all those years. Patterson is only concerned with winning games and not style points.
“The bottom line is this week we’re going to try to beat Stephen F. Austin by one point,” Patterson said. “I would hope we’d do a better job than that.”
The defending Big 12 co-champion Frogs (1-0) are led on offense by Heisman Trophy-hopeful quarterback Trevone Boykin and plenty of other returning starters in their up-tempo scheme they debuted last year with record-breaking results. But the defensive-focused Patterson is dealing on that side with a young group already facing changes.
“Offensively, we’ve got to go back and do what we do and get back in sync and I expect them to do that,” Patterson said. “I think we’ll be a work in progress defensively all year just because of the youth and everything.”
Boykin had 338 total yards (246 passing and 92 rushing) in TCU’s 23-17 season-opening victory at Big Ten team Minnesota.
But the Frogs will already have two new starting linebackers in their 4-2-5 scheme after junior Sammy Douglas sustained an undisclosed season-ending injury against the Golden Gophers. Then true freshman Mike Freeze, who had seven tackles while starting his first career game, left the team this week for an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.
Two other freshmen could fill in as starting linebackers.
TCU is also missing two veteran linemen, end James McFarland (broken toe) and tackle Davion Pierson (undisclosed injury). The timing of their returns is uncertain.
The Frogs lost in overtime to Northwestern State in Patterson’s home debut in 2001. TCU has played Stephen F. Austin (0-1) only once before, a 67-7 win in Fort Worth in 2008.
Patterson doesn’t buy into the perceived notion by many that the Frogs have to win like that again against SFA before playoff decisions that won’t be made until early December.
“Right now, with this football team, because everything that’s going on here, you’ve got to worry about every Saturday and winning it. You can’t worry about all that,” he said. “You can worry about style points when you think you have a better football team.”
A few other things to know when the Horned Frogs try to win their 14th consecutive home opener:
DOUBLE CONQUE: SFA junior quarterback Zach Conque is the son of Lumberjacks head coach Clint Conque. The younger Conque completed 28 of 38 passes for 297 yards and ran for 68 more yards in the opener. He threw for 2,733 yards and 15 touchdowns last season when he was the Southland Conference’s top newcomer.
WINNING AT HOME: Even with Patterson’s dubious start, the Frogs are 68-14 at home during his 15 seasons as head coach.
SHUT DOWN BY BIG 12: Stephen F. Austin is 0-8 against Big 12 teams, and none of those games have been close. The Lumberjacks have been outscored 441-39 in those games, the closest being a 30-0 loss to Baylor in 1928. Since its 2008 trip to TCU, then still in Mountain West, The Jacks have lost 48-0 to Baylor, 61-13 to Texas Tech and 55-16 to Kansas State.
FRESHMAN RETURNS: KaVontae Turpin is adding kickoff returns to his duties in the second game. Patterson liked the way Turpin handled punt returns in the opener, so wants to see him on kickoffs. “A freshman with people right in his face all night long, and to fair catch and make decisions,” Patterson said when asked what he thought of Turpin’s performance on punts.