Gary Patterson was like a kid at Christmas Thursday afternoon as his TCU Football team officially reported for the 2018 season. He was open and honest as usual as he took the podium, going off on several interesting tangents and sprinkling in some ‘dad talk’ over his 30 minute spiel. Broaching several topics in his opening Q&A, Coach Patterson addressed everything from who will start at quarterback to the on-going stadium expansion, from the new transfer rules to how TCU’s symbiotic relationship with Fort Worth began (at Yogi’s!).
Patterson opened by talking about the new players, and how he opens by keeping them together as much as possible before allowing them to find the teammates they most relate to as camp moves on. He stressed the importance of building community within the freshman class and laying a strong foundation with a group of guys that will spend the next 4-5 years together. “We do a deal where they do a class in June and a class in July and keep them together. They learn the training room, how to lift, get to know the other guys. Nowadays, with the way social media is, they know most of the older guys anyway. It’s always interesting to see the maturation.”
TCU has a new slogan for 2018, “Own the Process” - something that you have likely seen hashtagged if you’re on social media. Patterson explained the meaning behind his program’s mantra for the upcoming season. “Own the process is what we do. Everyone says ‘Trust the Process’, but to me, you can’t trust the process you have to understand, you have to beat it. Last year, we didn’t have to say own the process, because we had an older group and they already did. Two years ago, younger team, when guys get tired and hot, tehy don’t think very well. So at the end of practice, we came in. Coincidentally, we went 6-6. Last year, we went about a week and a half before we came in and we went 11-3. If I have to convince you to trust the process, we are way behind the eight ball anyway.”
When it comes to quarterbacks, Coach P talked about the “redshirt curse”, and how players often think that’s the hardest time as a player. Though Shawn Robinson didn’t redshirt, he’s in much the same boat, having started just one game and taken a few snaps in five others. “The spring of your redshirt year, people are actually paying attention to you, accountability wise. And you get to the fall, and you think you know what you know, only to find out that you don’t know what you don’t know. So, in his case, two things came out of him starting the Texas Tech game - I think he learned how to prepare [as a starter] and that he has to get down, that he won’t run everybody over.” Patterson also lauded praise on Kenny Hill, who returns to TCU after two years as the starting quarterback, planning to finish his degree and serve as a student assistant coach. Hill will be an invaluable asset in the QB room, for his experience both on and off the field. Patterson also mentioned Michael Downing, the former walk-on safety who played a large role in parts of multiple season, as another guy he can bounce things off of to get a player’s perspective as well as a younger guy that can relate to the folks in the locker room.
As far as the quarterback competition, Patterson wasn’t ready to bite and name a starter. He reiterated just how close the QB competition was in the spring, and mentioned how many good things Michael Collins did. The plan is to split first team reps, at least initially. We didn’t get much of a Justin Rogers health update - just that he’s not 100%, but he’s better than he’s been.
One of the things he is most looking forward to is the size of his team - he mentioned how much bigger the Frogs are in the secondary and at the wide receiver position than they have been in the past. That also applies to the defensive line, where the difference in size is more than noticeable. “The year before that  we played with two guys who were 260 pounds. So for us to become what we needed to become we had Corey Bethley and Ross Blacklock come on to the scene, 300+ dudes, and all of a sudden we only allowed eight rushing touchdowns last year. We probably have more numbers to [replace the talented players from last year’s defense] we just don’t have the experience in the two-deep.”
But, size isn’t the only thing that matters, and GP made a point to let his defense know they are a long way off from being where they need to be. “If you watch the spring film, our offensive line got after our defense because of the guys we didn’t have in. So, if the defense thinks that they don’t have to get better, then they will find out that they won’t be very happy when they get to the end of November.” Sounds like Coach P was more than happy to see his guys get left off the preseason All-Conference list, does it not?
As Gary Patterson looks to replace the guys that brought his program so much success in 2017, he, and TCU, have an eye to the future. GP was transparent when it comes to the reason for the east side stadium expansion “what do we need, not what we want. We have the need, the betterment, of just keeping us in place when the conferences change. And so, if the TV goes away to some extent, that TCU can take care of TCU. We don’t want to always relying on someone else doing that. We want people to understand that TCU is going to keep climbing. We aren’t going to go build the east side just because we want to build the east side. Now we have 21/22 of the 24 boxes spoken for. For us, obviously there was a need.”
Near the end of his time on the mic, Patterson shared a great story about how the relationship between TCU and the City of Fort Worth grew from somewhat a reluctant acceptance to the beautifully intertwined love we see today. “We’ve worked at it. It was really funny, it was an off-week, a Sunday, [Mayor Moncrief and I] sat down [together] because all of the tables were filled at Yogi’s. So we asked, ‘why is it that TCU and Fort Worth don’t?’ So by the time we finished and got up, we made sure that we were going to do something to make sure that that wasn’t how it was going to be. The reason why TCU has become successful is become Fort Worth has helped us become that. And vice versa - TCU has helped Fort Worth become a better place. It’s always had great people, but people used to talk about it not being First Class - but now, you guys are crazy.”
TCU officially opens practice Friday afternoon, with the first game of the season slated for September 1st. You can watch the entirety of Coach’s remarks below.