[Note: this is a very rough transcription of Gary Patterson's press conference today in the runup to TCU's match with Oklahoma State.]
It’s a long road. In our loss last week—we had chances to win; holding them to under 200 yards through 3 quarters and 4 minutes, then lose 53-50, I’d have said you’re crazy. It’s very hard to play in Stillwater; they’re better on defense—they were good anyway. We gotta find a way to win; to get bowl eligible you gotta find a way to win on the road.
[more rushing?] Last week we faced good runningbacks, too. Those offenses are all similar, they all have good players. OSU has a good offensive line. You can’t let the ball get thrown over your head; you gotta win the jump balls. In the last four games, we’re 2-2, and in the two we won, we’ve won the turnover battle, and we lost it in the two we’ve lost.
We’ve practiced better this week; we didn’t practice well coming off the Baylor game. This group seems to be motivated by embarrassment. We made mistakes that cost us—we had the right calls on a 3rd and 8, and the lineman, linebacker, and safety all did the wrong thing. Then they ran the fake punt (offsides kick?) and kept going. We’ve got 2 or 3 corners that are redshirting or committed to coming here; the competition will make them better. That’s one position we gotta improve at.
We’ve lost maybe 24 or 25 players who would have played; you don’t hear me complaining. My job is to win games. I shouldn’t have talked about the crowd; they were a great crowd. They were big, loud; they did everything they should have.
We’re still 5-2; it’s just an every week game in the Big 12. We just have to find a way to be one point better, and be done with it.
The offense is progressing—even in the Iowa State game, we had 450-something yards; we just can’t turn the ball over. I think we’ve moved the ball, done what we needed to do. We just can’t give up the ball over our head. We just have to get better, do better in recruiting. I tell them they’re going to keep throwing at you until you make plays. We can start in three deep coverage, but within 15 yards you’re in man coverage.
We knew they were going to run to the back of the endzone with their tall receivers; we talked about it, but obviously we didn’t do enough. It’s my fault; there’s nobody to blame but me. It’s my job to stop them down there. The crowd at OSU is definitely a home field advantage; they played in a BCS game a year ago; they know how to win, they have a lot of pride. Coach Gundy has done a great job; they’ve had turnover, they’ve done their things and kept going.
We changed up how we ate; I thought we started faster Saturday. We’re closer to knowing what to do. It’s a little difficult because you don’t stay in Stillwater; you stay in Oklahoma City or in Tulsa. The logistics of everything are still working out.
I think our kids are excited; the league is going to make us better as a university and a football team. Our kids are excited because of the size of the crowds. We’d rather not be 2-2, but we’re 7 or 8 plays from being 4-0. We’ve still gotta keep fighting and growing up; it’ll pay off down the road. Hopefully this year, but down the road.
You never know about how things are; OSU played the read zone and got out in front (against Iowa State). It was a revenge game for OSU, losing to ISU last year. All those things play a part; we don’t know why teams play like they do—it’s not in the stats; it’s behind the scenes. Emotion, how they play. I thought this week would have been sky high, but ‘till about Thursday they were flat. This Sunday we had an unbelievable Sunday. This group is a lot easier to read than an older group. Honestly, I was worried, because for me that was a very emotional loss—I thought I was going to have to get the guys up. There are no bad teams left on the schedule; every one of them wins conference titles. We gotta get ready to play.
We knew a lot about J.W. Walsh; but about Lunt—not as much. We were evaluating him very heavily when he committed to OSU.
We gotta help Boykin push through and make plays when he’s tired; defensively it’s the same thing—when you’re in the red zone is when you’re tired. He’s got a big arm, but we have to teach him he can’t throw prayer balls. The one he threw later in the game, we can’t do that, where 3 or 4 guys have a chance to tip it or catch it. It’s not bad to punt; that’s how a lot of teams win a lot of ball games. Look at teams at the top of the conference, they win that way.
We’ve had a lot of kickers come through; he’s missed two so far—until he’s perfect, I’ll talk about him.
The Big 12 plays good defense—the perception they don’t doesn’t come from me. Tech had 95 of their yards in overtime. Look what Oklahoma and K-State are doing. Texas Tech held West Virginia to 14. I don’t know how anybody says defenses are bad—it’s just a different style of football than what other conferences play.
You don’t sleep as much, seeing all this offense. But as long as your offense is doing it too, then here we go. Nobody cares as long as you win. The key is, if you look last year—some of the skill players and quarterbacks in this league were unbelievable. There are still some good ones this year. The tight end at Tech who didn’t play last week (Jace Amaro) is 6-5, 256 pounds, runs a 4.6. We’ve got some good, big corners who aren’t available now (Garrett, Jenkins). We’re staying within our plan, but it’s going to be a race, not a sprint. We keep developing, and gotta do the things we do.
In 2004, I thought I’d broken things down too much, and wouldn’t get them back. We’ve got a lot of young players, and we’ve gotta be careful. That doesn’t mean on Tuesday and Wednesday I’m not really frustrated, but every week we get better. We were able to man-blitz last Saturday—they screwed up a little, but it helped us. Tech was the best 3rd down team in the nation, but not against us. Our thing is, we gotta win jump balls; we didn’t do a good job of that. There’ll be other times. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to play Tech next year; they’re on the schedule. That’s what we came into the league; OSU will be the same—they’ve got good receivers, good backs... everybody does. They have a good defensive front, a couple good corners. How do we attack them, do what we need to do, and we’ve got to win special teams. We’re preparing for both Walsh and for Lunt; one’s more of an athletic guy, and one’s more of a drop back guy. We’ve played both.
We can play in this league; we can do it week to week. Our kids are going to play; as soon as we can find a way to win six, we’ll try to win seven. When we can win seven, we’ll try to win eight. That starts with me. We’ve stolen games before—we had seasons we shoulda been .500, and won nine. We like programs that respond after a loss.
When you have character, you’re holding people accountable, doing what you need to do. I was upset at a couple older players, specifically Stansly Maponga, the way he handled being hurt. Ross Forrest hasn’t played a down, him and Matt Anderson. Ross has coached Devonte every day except the week he had his surgery. That’s the epitome of what a TCU player is about. The older guys taught them, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.
I’m excited about it—is it frustrating? Yes. But you can walk out on the branch, or hold on the base of the tree. You can hold on your whole life, and know where you’ll be when you’re done. But you can take a chance on the branch breaking, you never know—but there’s a lot of fruit out there. Up to this point, we’ve handled things with class as much as we can; we have to get more intelligent on the field. Down in overtime, on a second and nine, we got a roughing the passer, automatic first down. Even in the opening, we had a guy miss a coverage; a junior had to come in and do his job—run all the way down the field and cover. You know me—I was mad in the Rose Bowl at Alex Ibiloye because he missed the coverage in the two-point conversion. It takes everything I have not to be mad all the time at the young guys; instead we have to sit down, ask what they don’t understand, and try to see how to get them there. It’s fun though—a lot more fun than building a house, I can promise you that.