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Liberty Bowl Preview: Gary Patterson Says He’s Playing to Win

For TCU’s Head Coach, this is a time to get a win, not experience for younger players.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

It was Coach Patterson’s turn at the microphone Thursday morning, and he was clear about one thing - he wants to win tomorrow, plain and simple.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson’s opening statement:

“Our group, they understand bowl games, but the facility where we’ve been practicing has been awesome. The university (Memphis University School) has done an unbelievable job of taking care of us. Really, everything that’s gone on with our kids, it’s been a great experience—all the different events that they’ve gone to. As usual, it’s just like last time, it’s been a great week.”

Patterson on trying to make TCU’s record 7-6 instead of 6-7:

“Well, it makes a lot of difference to me. For us, I think you want to start—there’s no such thing as having a great bowl experience if you don’t win. It really all culminates when you get to the end and you play the ballgame. We’ve played in 17 bowl games in 19 years and this will be the 17th for us that I’ve been apart of as a head coach, but I’ve been at TCU for 19 years. We won our first three and then what we’ve done now. Winning, there’s no substitute for winning.”

Patterson on the team’s level of enthusiasm for the game:

“It was good. We practiced well and even in the rain yesterday, in fact, we had one of our better practices. They focused more because of what we were trying to get accomplished if it had been sunny and 80.”

Patterson on what his team needs to do to win:

“Score points.”

Patterson on Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb:

“Well, you know, I haven’t played them. It’s one thing to watch people on film. I think they both have a little bit of power and I think they both have speed, so you have a combination of both and you have two of them. It’s one thing to play one running back, it’s another thing to play two. We did that against Oklahoma State and we did very, very well. Same with Kansas State and we did very, very well. They had two guys that they rotated in, so we’ve got to do a better job of tackling. A fresh back, especially going into the fourth quarter is a guy that if you have two of them, you’ll be able to do that. You’ve got to get yourself ready to play.”

Patterson on Kenny Hill’s performance this season:

“6-6. It’s all about wins and losses. I’m not a big yardage guy. We’ve got to throw less interceptions. Not just him, the quarterback position in particular. We’ve got to be more productive and we’ve got to keep having better leadership. I’m not unhappy with any of them. They’re both great kids. Really, all the quarterbacks are great kids. They work hard. They’re trying to get better and obviously, as a group, we have to play better to get where we need to get to.”

Patterson on Kenny Hill’s status:

“He’ll be able to play. I don’t think he’s 100 percent, but he’s close.”

Patterson on how valuable competition will be for Kenny Hill in the spring:

“I don’t know. Right now, I’m trying to beat Georgia.”

Patterson on how many practices TCU has had to prepare for Georgia:

“Twelve counting today.”

Patterson on TCU’s pass rush against Georgia:

“Well, anytime anybody is a play-action team, they’re a good running team that always makes it harder to get to the quarterback. We had a streak at Kansas State that was broken—41 games that we got a sack and the Kansas State game, last game of the season. If they have to throw a lot of tight end type situations, that makes it a little bit difficult because you have to play the play-action stuff, the run stuff before we play the pass stuff. For us, we have to do a good job of transition, going from where it’s at and understanding what they’re trying to get accomplished protection wise. Obviously, that helps a lot if you play good coverage.”

Patterson on bowl preparation:

“We prepare for it like it’s the first ballgame, it’s like two-a-days. Everybody does it differently. It is a reward for your players, but again, I’ve never really been to a bowl game that if you didn’t win it, that you had a great feeling leaving it. You had a great experience, but you didn’t have a great feeling. We won a Rose Bowl, but we lost a Fiesta Bowl. We won here (Liberty Bowl 2002) and it was an unbelievable experience. You go down through the years of all the different games we’ve played and there’s no substitute for winning I don't think because that’s what your kids leave with and that’s what they take into the spring. They take into the spring what you did and what you go accomplished in your bowl site.”

Patterson on getting the offense tougher in bowl preparation:

“I think not just them, the whole football team. We have to do it. If it’s not very obvious, again, we’ve done this forever, you’ve got to be able to run the ball in November and December. I think even in the Big 12, you go back to understanding that the teams that get here have been able to run the football like Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Even West Virginia, who used to throw it all over the place, has become a decent running football team. You’ve got to be able to do that and you’ve got to be able to play defense. Scoring points is an addition, but when you get against good football teams, you’ve got to be able to do both. You’ve got to shorten the amount of chances they have of getting the ball back. I thought 2-1 as a Big 12 conference—I always get a big kick out of it being a conference. It just came down to one team beating another. I was happy. In fact, right before I came in here, I called Coach (Bill) Snyder and congratulated him. Being a Kansas Stater, I’m sure it was nail biter for him.”

Patterson on if he plans to blend in tight formation schemes with the spread:

“It’s a lot different. No, because it’s a lot different. You really can’t do what they do. You can run the football, but you really can’t do what they do. They don’t throw the ball very much. They try to be efficient with it when they do it.”

Patterson on similarities between Georgia and Arkansas:

“I think they’re very similar. Obviously, Coach (Jim) Chaney and Sam (Pittman) were both at Arkansas before, so very similar to what they do. There are some nuances that are different—how the coordinator calls it and what they do with it.”

Patterson on treating this game as an opportunity to give less experienced players snaps:

“Oh, no. We’re playing to win here if that hasn’t become obvious in the five-minute conversation. Whether we can or not, I don’t know. The way we setup practices and always the way we set up practices early is to be very physical, get yourself back to the way you played at the beginning of the season and then, pull them off and be able to run and get your shoulders and your legs back and be ready to go. This one was a little bit different because we had to work around the Fort Worth Bowl, which I’ve never had to do. I probably would’ve come here a day early. I probably would’ve liked to get three practices in here like Georgia did at the bowl site. Really, it turned out OK. We ended up getting two here and usually the one that we would’ve had on Tuesday would’ve just been in shorts and helmets if we would’ve already had practices in pads. I think, really, to be honest with you, the rest helped them. It’s been a long season. I think we hit practice 101, 102, that’s not counting run-throughs and walkthroughs and everything else that you do in two-a-days. It’s a lot of practices when you get to the end of the season.”

Patterson on Georgia’s Nick Chubb:

“You can tell he’s been a little bit banged up. I’m sure he’s going to be healthier. He’s got power and he’s got speed and he’s got wiggle. He’s a good football player, a really good football player obviously, he’s the starting tailback at Georgia.”

Patterson on borrowing things from other coaches over the years:

“I watch everybody. You’re always looking for a better way to do something. I’m going to watch the Minnesota game against Washington State because of similarities of a couple of the offenses and what they did. I always go back and watch the bowl games because people get more time to prepare and more time to look at film and more time to do everything. For us, we’ll evaluate just like we always have and we’ll make changes to try to become better so we can play better next season.”

Patterson on similarities between he and Kirby Smart:

“I don’t know. I haven’t been around him that much. I think he’s serious about football, though, which him and I would be very similar in that. I think he’s very serious about his family, so we’d be similar in that.”

Patterson on Friday’s game:

“It’s something you’re going to remember the rest of your life. If you go back to the basic goal that we have for our team is our seniors, to give them the best season they could possibly have. If you just keep that one goal in mind, really, you don’t have to alter off the road very much because that keeps everybody in place.”

Patterson on Ty Summers and Travin Howard:

“We still have a ways to on things, but he’s made some plays and is learning attention to detail. A guy that’s really played even though he missed most of two-a-days is Travin Howard. He can play safety; he can play linebacker. He’s just really an interesting dude. He’s your typical Texas kid that is tough, loves the game of football and has a football IQ. He’s been one of many through the years. When we’ve been good, we’ve had a lot of these Texas kids apart of our team.”

Patterson on being successful:

“You’ve got to find a way to outlast your competition. You’ve got to reinvent yourself. I think that’s one of the things that you got to be able to do whether it’s in football or any business. You’ve got to be able to keep up with the times and changes and do things. For us, two years ago we changed offenses. We’ve tweaked our defenses through the years. You’ve got to keep recruiting. You have down years, but fortunately for us, even in the down years you’re still at a bowl game when you’re 6-6. I think when changing the offense, we score enough points to win two more games than we did 3-4 years ago when we didn’t go to a bowl game, which we’ve only not been to a bowl game twice.”

Patterson on bowl games:

“You’ve got to enjoy it. One of the things I can tell you about coming back to the Liberty Bowl is that it’s just a lot of fun to get back and see people that you haven’t seen in a while in this setting. You see them other places, but we all seem to be going so fast. I’ve listened to a couple of coaches talk about the playoffs. This is still one of the greatest rewards that college athletes, football players in particular, get to be apart of. We can’t let the bowl experience go away. I feel like there’s not as much emphasis on it even if you look at the ratings. I’ve looked at the ratings for a few ballgames and the ratings have been good. I think as coaches, we have to keep pushing and I think as college football and universities, we have to understand that it’s just an important part of our heritage. There’s not any doubt about it that we have to do a great job of trying to keep it together and do the things we need to do. It’s fun to watch. There’s agony of the teams that lose, but just to see the faces of all the kids that do win. I’ve been on both sides of it. The key is to keep giving back to those who give us a chance to do our job and all the things that go along with it. Those kids do a lot for our universities.”

Thanks once again to the awesome Liberty Bowl media team for sending along these quotes!