FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU coach Gary Patterson wants his No. 2 Horned Frogs focused on winning their season opener instead of trying to live up to their highest ranking in the preseason.
“The worst thing that can happen to us is worry that we have to play like a No. 2 team in the country,” Patterson said Tuesday. “We only have to worry about that at the end of the season.”
The Frogs, who finished 12-1 with a share of the Big 12 title last season but were left out of the first College Football Playoff, open Thursday night at Big Ten team Minnesota. Patterson goes into his 15th season as head coach with the same approach as always.
“For us, how you leave Minneapolis with a one-point victory, is what we’re trying to accomplish. If it can be 25, great,” he said. “But for us, we’re not trying to say that we have to live up to a No. 2 ranking.”
Asked about the demeanor of his team, Patterson said things were probably a lot calmer on the offensive side.
Trevone Boykin finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season and is considered an early 2015 front-runner for the award. The senior quarterback is among 10 returning offensive starters after the Frogs averaged 47 points and 533 total yards per game in the debut of their new scheme.
“Defensively, we’ll probably have walkthroughs all the way up to when we get on the bus to go to the stadium,” Patterson said. “Maybe that’s just me, not them.”
Patterson oversees the TCU defense like he has been since arriving as coordinator in 1998. Six of the top seven tacklers from last season are gone, including both linebackers in the 4-2-5 scheme. That will leave the Frogs depending on freshmen at several positions.
Since Patterson hadn’t released a depth chart, it was unclear which freshmen had cracked the starting lineup and how many others would be part of the rotation. But he sounded optimistic about what could happen this season.
“I think this defense, every week, if we can stay healthy, is going to keep getting better and better and better. We’re faster than what we were, have youth in places we wish we were a little bit older,” he said. “I’ve probably pushed this group to grow up, as far as knowing the defense, from how physically you play and everything, and now we’ll see Thursday night.”
At the same time, Patterson said it will be much easier if the offense goes out and scores points and, “you’re not trying to win a game 17-14 with a young defense.”
Patterson said there is one mistake he won’t repeat on the defensive side like he did in the first half of last season when the Frogs starting scoring a lot of points.
“I tried to play defense off the offense,” said the coach, who then reverted to his old ways. “I went back to calling defense the way I called defense. I’m going to act like we’re not going to score any.”