FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU coach Gary Patterson looks forward to seeing how the Horned Frogs’ new sped-up offense does in a game.
The defensive-minded coach is also a bit guarded, even with his Frogs playing their home season opener Saturday night against FCS playoff team Samford.
“For the simple reason we’re going to play a defense that has eight starters back, that has a secondary that’s been really pretty good,” Patterson said. “They’ve got guys coming back, and they’re big. … I don’t think this is an easy one.”
The Frogs, 4-8 last season with several close losses, have a lot of returning starters on defense as well. But there are drastic changes on offense with new co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, and a choice of two quarterbacks to be the starter (Trevone Boykin or Texas A&M graduate transfer Matt Joeckel). Patterson said both quarterbacks will play in the opener.
Samford, coached by former TCU coach Pat Sullivan, last season made the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1992.
“He has a lot of close friends here in Fort Worth,” Patterson said. “He’s a great man.”
Sullivan, TCU’s coach from 1992-97, won’t get to have a reunion. Doctors advised the coach to not travel to Fort Worth because of complications from neck surgery in April. He expects to be on the sideline for the Sept. 11 home opener.
“We have an incredible coaching staff that has done a great job preparing our team for the season opener,” Sullivan said in a statement this week. “I have full confidence that our coaches and student-athletes will make the Samford family proud on Saturday.”
Here are a few things to watch when TCU plays a season opener at home for only the fourth time in Patterson’s 14 seasons as head coach:
ZERO FOR FIVE: Samford has five quarterbacks on its roster — and none has thrown a pass for the Bulldogs. The only one who has thrown a pass in college is expected starter Michael Eubank, a junior who played in 20 games the past two seasons for Arizona State (38 of 59 passing for 400 yards and four TDs, and seven rushing TDs). Samford’s top returning passer is RB Jeremiaha Gates, who had a 15-yard TD on his only pass last season.
FORGETABLE FIRST: TCU has won its last 12 home openers. The last opening loss was in 2001, in Patterson’s first home game as head coach, when the Frogs lost in overtime to lower-division team Northwestern State. Patterson has never forgotten that, and certainly won’t let his team overlook Samford.
YOUNG PUPS: Samford’s combined offensive and defensive depth chart lists 50 players, only 11 of them being seniors. Seven of those Bulldogs seniors are listed as starters, four on defense and three on offense.
20-YEAR REUNION: The 1994 TCU team coached by Sullivan will be honored at halftime. Those Horned Frogs shared the Southwest Conference championship with four other teams with unbeaten Texas A&M ineligible for the title. They went to TCU’s first bowl in 10 seasons, losing to Virginia in the Independence Bowl.
LONE STAR LEADERS: Despite going 4-8 last season, TCU still has the best winning percentage since 2005 among Texas’ 10 FBS teams. The Horned Frogs are 88-27 (.765 winning percentage) over the past nine seasons. That is the same number of wins in that span as the Texas Longhorns, but percentage points better than the 88-29 mark (.752).