Gary Patterson spoke with reporters this afternoon on the Big XII coach’s conference call, previewing his matchup with Southern and talking all things ahead of TCU before this week’s season opener. He also addressed Urban Meyer and Ohio State, but continued to let folks know that he’s not thinking about game three - yet.
For Patterson and TCU, there’s a “you cheat, you’re fired” rule around campus. And it doesn’t come just from the head football coach - it’s from the very top of the university down. When asked how he speaks to his staff about the rules, he made it very clear that there is no room to skirt them in Fort Worth. “We’re at a university where the chancellor walks into the whole athletic department and says, ‘If you cheat, you’re fired.’ The way we’ve stayed here is we’ve stayed within the lines. We have a Title IX office on this campus, we have an AD, we have a chancellor [who expect us to follow the rules], but my coaches have been with me a long time and we all understand what the expectations are here. I think it usually starts completely at the top, and since I’ve been here as the head coach, the president of this university has walked into the athletic department and basically said, ‘not just the rule, but the spirit of the rule.’”
That was about all Coach P was willing to mention at all in regards to Ohio State, and never addressed Meyer specifically by name. And it’s for a good reason. TCU is opening with a tough, athletic FCS team for the second time in three years, and he doesn’t want him, or his players, to get caught napping against the athletic Jaguars. “Southern does a lot of good things, they have good coaching and can cause you problems. We take them very seriously - like South Dakota State a couple years ago, they’re a good team with good athletes.”
While the Jags are first on the docket, a quick turnaround to a Friday night date in Highland Park is on his radar, as well. Patterson expects to see a physical, veteran Mustangs team on the other sideline when the rival face off in week two. “Everyone talking about Ohio State, but we’re not. We are talking about Southern and the quick turnaround to a Friday night at SMU. That’s an older team with a lot of grad transfers. And, the last time we played them on Friday night, during the 2010 Rose Bowl season, I remember it was a very physical game. [focusing on the next opponent] That’s how we have been here for 21 years.”
Ultimately, it’s obvious that both Patterson and his team are ready to “hit someone else”. His team has been worn down and banged up, and he’s relieved to have them back on a somewhat normal practice schedule. “We have been banged up. I feel a lot better now - that’s why we do what we do early so. We are tired of hitting each other, excited to play a ball game and get into the season.”
For the Horned Frogs and Gary Patterson, what this team is capable of can only be judged on Saturdays (and, well, one Friday and a Thursday). How good will his team be? “I will find out Saturday. You find out how teams do things. We have good players. You only worry about how you play no matter who the opponent is.”
This week, that opponent is Southern. But Saturday, like the rest of the 2018 season, is all about how these players respond to the challenges in front of them.