“You know me, it’s always about what we say in December, not what we say in September.”
Coach Patterson wasn’t willing to provide any bulletin board material for the rest of the Big 12 Conference when he met with the media Thursday, despite being asked about Ben Banogu being the only player from the TCU defense - a top unit the past several seasons - to be named to the league’s preseason All-Conference team. The rest of the defense wasn’t willing to bite either, preferring to focus on wins and losses over individual accolades. But, they did have some things to say when asked how they felt seeing two programs that haven’t been known for defense - Texas Tech and Kansas - place a combined five players on the All-Conference team, while the Frogs, a program credited nationally as one of the best in college football, had one.
For Niko Small, one of the presumed leaders of the defense, “any kind of motivation is good motivation. Bad stuff, good stuff, all this... because we all have the same goal no matter what.”
Ross Blacklock may have as big a case as any TCU defender as far as being snubbed, as the 6’5”, 329 pound defensive tackle was conspicuously absent from the preseason teams, despite starting 14 games as a redshirt freshman and posting a pair of sacks to go alongside 6.5 stops behind the line. Blacklock drew double teams from day one, and his ability to draw a ton of attention at the line was a big part of the success of the two rush ends. But, Ross seems to have successfully tuned out the noise, and is more than content to let his, and his teammates’ play speak for itself. Well, in July, at least. “We aren’t really worried about what everybody else is saying, we’re just worried about Southern and handling our business on the field. We will let everybody else say what we are, it only matters what we are in December.”
Julius Lewis, a likely candidate to take the cornerback role vacated by Ranthony Texada, was a little more willing to express his surprise, having seen what his teammates can do. “You see it, and you’re like ‘Wow, what’s up with that’. But, at the end of the day, the season hasn’t started yet, so you just have to put in the work. We will see at the end of year who is on it and who isn’t on it, but we aren’t really focused on that right now. We are focused on coming together as a team, doing what we need to do for the end of the summer and going into the season.”
Small let out a little laugh when asked specifically about Kansas and Texas Tech, and as a player with 33 career starts, including 11 a season ago on the conference’s best defense, it was to be expected. “We just have to take care of business. If we were worried about individual awards, we would run track. But this is a team sport. The only award I want to win is a National Championship, a Big 12 Championship. That’s the only award I am worried about.”
I have a feeling, Ben won’t be lonely on that all-conference team come December.