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‘If it was easy, anybody could do it.’ Patterson talks about preparation, execution, and in-game coaching

TCU’s head coach spoke Tuesday about the lengths he goes to to get the Frogs’ defense ready to play.

Southern v TCU Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

TCU had a few breakdowns in the secondary on Saturday against Southern, including one that resulted in a 55-yard touchdown, Southern’s lone score of the day. After the game Niko Small called it a “coverage bust,” and said that the secondary knows the expectations, and what they have to do to correct their mistakes.

Patterson expounded on this notion Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, talking about the amount of times they practiced defending that wheel route leading up to the first game of the season.

“We only ran that one play, that bubble and go, 17 times in practice in two weeks. I can’t do any more but practice it, and we covered it every time, except that time.”

For Patterson, it reminded him of preparing for the Peach Bowl in 2014, in reverse.

“It was kind of like Derrick Kindred, when we played in the Peach Bowl in 2014. We ran that play, it’s the same play, six times. The first three times, he didn’t come close to covering it. The fourth time he was close. The fifth time he knocked it away, and the sixth time he intercepted it in the bowl game.”

“As a general rule, there’s not very often that if you’ve run a play on film that we haven’t practiced it. We work hard at making sure our kids are ready to go.”

This is true leading up to TCU’s matchup with SMU as well. Patterson mentioned that he’s watching film on Sonny Dykes from his time at Louisiana Tech and Cal, as well as Mustang offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee from his time at Auburn and Connecticut.

“The biggest problem with this game is that you have to prepare for everything coach Dykes did at Cal and La. Tech, and you also have to prepare for the coordinator, which he was at Auburn and Connecticut. We have a whole reel of gadget plays that they do. Every day we have a walk through of all those.”

The level of due diligence that Patterson goes to in order to prepare his defense is astounding, and probably unmatched. We’ve known this for a while, as Patterson’s consumption of game film stays at a moderately high rate throughout the year, reaching peak levels from August through December.

Of course, coaches have caught on to Patterson’s level of detail, and try to prepare accordingly.

“When we get in ball games it takes us a little bit, because people don’t run [their standard plays],” said Patterson.

TCU’s game against West Virginia in 2017 provides a prime example of what Patterson is talking about: “Dana Holgorson at West Virginia, they run a route we call a ‘blaze’ route, and they run a concept of it about 80% of the time. In our ballgame last year he didn’t run it once.”

“What you’ve got to do is you have to get prepared.”

Patterson went on to mention TCU’s 2017 matchup against Stanford in the Alamo Bowl, furthering his example of how much of a chess match coaching can be.

“The Stanford game this last year in the Alamo Bowl with David Shaw was one of the funnest games I’ve ever been in, because every time they came off the sidelines they adjusted, then we had to adjust,” Patterson said.

“Out of every personnel group. It was probably one of the more delightful games that I’ve ever been a part of as a coach. If you weren’t paying attention, you were going to get your teeth kicked in, because they had already changed what they were doing.”

As always, Patterson was prepared, and his players executed the calls well enough to earn TCU a 39-37 victory, and a top ten ranking to end the season. But of course, for Patterson, it all comes back to this week’s game in the end.

“In [the SMU] game we know what we’re going to get. They run the play we got beat on [against Southern], so we’re going to have to get ready for it. At least, they didn’t run it this week, but they ran it at Connecticut.”

We don’t know if SMU will run that wheel route yet, but if they do, Patterson will have seen it coming.