It sounds like some of the younger players are starting to grow into their leadership roles as the Frogs prepare for Georgia.
"I thought Saturday's practice was probably the best one we've had since two-a-days," Patterson said. "With only seven seniors, we didn't feel like we had the leadership that we needed to show how TCU practices. You learn a lot in these experiences, I think."
For Frogs fans, seeing former offensive coordinator Justin Fuente succeed at such a high level in his first season at Virginia Tech has been eminently satisfying. Hearing him credit Gary Patterson with so much of that success is even more so.
“Almost everything we do in our program, the seeds were planted in what Coach Patterson obviously did through the years,” Fuente said. “I liked the way we prepared. And we prepared to go win the ballgame. I think you can do both. I think you can enjoy the bowl experience while still preparing to play well.”
Generally considered the heart of football, the state of Texas really struggled in 2016. Part of the problem is top talent leaving for blue chip programs elsewhere.
“I think a lot of the best players have left the state,” Patterson said. “I think there’s a lot of good players, and we’re getting good players, but a lot of guys have left the state here in the last three or four years. You see them playing on Saturday. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping guys at home.”
Though several SEC teams play a style of football related to the spread-heavy Big 12 offenses, the speed at which TCU and others line up and execute at is hard to replicate in practice.
“We’ve played some fast teams this year. We practice (against) ourselves to try and simulate it,” Smart said. “You really can’t simulate some of the things they do at the pace they do it without going out there against it. I certainly think some of the teams we played have been close to it but I wouldn’t say the same tempo at which they’ll go.”
Kyle Hicks and Travin Howard had exceptional seasons, but Adam Nunez might be the biggest star to come out of teh 2016 campaign. #PuntersArePeopleToo
Adam Nunez: It's a hard job replacing Ethan Perry, one half of the most successful kicking and punting duo in TCU history, but Nunez rose to the challenge as a true freshman. Near the end of the year as TCU's offense bogged down, Nunez kept the Frogs in the game by helping them win field position battles.