TCU coach Gary Patterson and his staff knew during camp in August they weren’t going to pick up where they left off, which was winning the Rose Bowl at the end of an undefeated season.
They said goodbye to a senior class that won an astonishing 44 games.
“We understood how much we needed to grow this team up,” Patterson said.
College football fans saw that reality Friday. In recent years, as the Horned Frogs were dominating the Mountain West and going to BCS bowl games in consecutive years, they never had a day quite like their 50-48 loss to Baylor.
“After the game when I looked up at the scoreboard I never thought I'd see 50 points on the opposing side,” TCU safety Johnny Fobbs told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Just to see that up there, it hurt bad.”
Now TCU has to regroup for another tough road game at Air Force. It isn’t used to losing. TCU’s last conference loss was Nov. 6, 2008 at Utah. That was the Horned Frogs’ last regular-season loss before going to Baylor last week.
Patterson said his team’s psyche is where it needs to be as it prepares to face the Falcons. He mentioned that the team had a better practice than usual Sunday.
“I think our team is fine,” he said.
Still, it doesn’t seem like a fun week to be a TCU football player, especially for those who play defense. Patterson railed on the team’s missed tackles, saying he counted about 20 of them against Baylor.
“This game is about men more than it is boys,” Patterson said. “You have to be able to tackle.”
He also said the defense had to defend the deep pass better if it wants to be successful this season. He shuffled cornerbacks and linebackers in and out of the Baylor game, using four or five at each position group by his estimation, looking for a spark. He didn’t rotate safeties during the game and seemed regretful of that.
“Those positions are up for grabs, and we’ll find out if there’s somebody else,” Patterson said.
Patterson went on to say that after giving up 50 points, no defensive starter’s job is safe.
This probably isn’t the best time for TCU’s defense to be playing at Air Force, a veteran team that presents some unique matchup issues. But the Horned Frogs have defended the Falcons’ offense very well the past few years. Whether TCU’s current defensive players can get up to speed quickly enough to shut down the Falcons is a question that even Patterson can’t answer yet.
“We understand they’ll be ready for us,” Patterson said. “They’re out to win a conference title just like we are. So, here we go.”