This is a massive game for the Frogs, who have a chance to get a big win on the road and make a statement in the process.
“You’ve got to be able to play people, like Arkansas, that can come right at you,” Patterson said. “They want to break your will.”
Arkansas was 11th in the SEC in rushing last year at 164.4 yards per game. Eight of the top 40 rushing teams in the country were in the SEC.
“They play in a conference where that’s the way people like to play,” Patterson said. “For us, that’s a great challenge to be able to show, because if you can do that, on a national landscape, you’re trying to gain some confidence.
“For us to get to where we want to get to, then you have to have an opportunity to beat a team like Arkansas.”
The depth and speed of TCU on both sides of the ball could be the difference maker Saturday afternoon. The Frogs had the advantage in that regard last year as well, but missed opportunities and crucial penalties cost them late.
“I think the number one criteria Gary uses in recruiting is speed,” Rhoads said. “Everyone does that to some degree. I did as a head coach. So that's not unusual. But he favors speed over size. He goes for leaner and longer guys.
“That's the trademark of Gary's defensive teams. He wants playmakers to force lost yardage plays and turnovers.”
The speed is easily seen on offense. Whether it's at running back, wide receiver or at quarterback where Kenny Hill is quick to turn a scramble into a big play, Rhoads knows the best way to combat the TCU offense is to be sitting on the sideline.
“The huge part of the game is for us to be on the sideline,” Rhoads said. “We want our offense to stay on the field and grind it out.
“Last year we held TCU to zero points in the first half, but I already knew what had happened. I talked to (former defensive coordinator) Robb Smith as we went to the locker room. Our guys were tired. We were already gassed.”
The Hogs have been known for dominating the trenches, a long tradition that goes back to their Big 12 days. But, it appears that their might be a chink in the armor, and that could mean good things for Frog fans.
The right side of Arkansas’ line is populated by men who arrived as walk-ons. Gibson earned his scholarship just over a year ago, about the time he became a full-time starter. Clary isn’t on scholarship. He’s in his first year from Fayetteville High.
Gibson and Clary have impressed enough to start, obviously, but it also says something about the disappointment of those behind them. Wallace was a 4-star recruit. So was Jalen Merrick, the player listed on the depth chart earlier this week as the backup right tackle. Clary and Gibson didn’t have scholarships. A third starter, junior Hjalte Froholdt, was a defensive lineman as recently as 18 months ago.
Whether that speaks to more of a poor recruiting philosophy from now-exited offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who was the contact for Wallace and Merrick when they arrived, or an inability from the current staff to develop, it’s unclear.
What is clear, however, is every opponent on Arkansas’ remaining schedule is better than Florida A&M, save maybe one. If those games yield a repeat of the frequency at which Allen was knocked around — whether it’s offensive line, blitz pick-up or tight ends blocking down the line — it’s going to be a long, unfulfilled year for the Razorbacks offense.
It appears the pick, which had TCU fans face-palming, wasn’t all that bad. Kenny just missed the throw, but it was the read the coach’s wanted.
Patterson liked the play call from co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie but said Hill’s execution was a touch off.
“It was a read that he and Sonny both had what they wanted to throw and he probably left the ball in the air a little too long,” Patterson said. “I think you’ll get more of a feeling (for Hill) this week playing a better defense and going on the road. I have a lot of confidence in the things he can do.”
After the game, Hill said he was happy with the game “except for the pick,” which he called a pass that he left in the air too long.
Sure, it was just Jackson State. But, there’s plenty of positive takeaways regardless of the opponent.
Last season, the close shave against South Dakota State was followed by a double-overtime home loss to Arkansas. It set up a 6-7 season. The Frogs have 17 starters who went through last year.
But as always, there are new faces. Five defenders made their first start for TCU on Saturday night.
“This is a lot closer football team,” Patterson said. “It’s a lot older football team.”
Jackson State is not as good as South Dakota State was a year ago, but TCU never looked out of sorts against Jackson State.
Outside of giving up 68 yards on the first 10 plays of the 2017 season at Amon G. Carter Stadium, the Frogs did exactly what a good team is supposed to do against a lesser opponent in a payday game — get ahead quick, get ahead by a lot and play a lot of guys.
Oh no, the crappiness of football in Texas has caught the NYT’s attention. But, in all seriousness, it’s a great read.
The nationalization of recruiting in turn reflects the nationalization of the sport, in which coaching talent and resources have been spread ever more thinly, and in some ways more evenly. That has meant that Texas’ blue blood teams — and, above all, the Longhorns — can no longer count on contending every season.
“It used to be you could go around the country and think of 10 or 15 teams,” Slocum said, “and year in and year out, they were going to be those teams, and they didn’t vary too much.”
State programs like Baylor and T.C.U. have actually benefited from this dynamic, becoming national (and state) powers in the process. And there is cause to think both will be successful again: Baylor has hired a respected coach, Matt Rhule, as a permanent replacement for Art Briles, who was forced out before last season. Houston and Southern Methodist have promising young coaches in Major Applewhite and Chad Morris.