Guys are having to step up. And it seems they are doing so.
Frankly, it doesn’t require one to be a defensive savant among the likes of Patterson to recognize the complexity of the linebacker situation. Wallow, who did not participate Saturday, is the only returner with considerable starting experience at the position, with six of his seven starts in 2018 coming at linebacker.
Given the hand the Frogs have been dealt, it’s left Patterson with few options other than reassigning or rotating the roles for certain players.
Saturday saw sophomore safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt -- a player Patterson has recently raved about as “better than ever” -- spend yet another day at linebacker. True freshman and ex-Aledo High School star Wyatt Harris, whom TCU recruited as a defensive end, was also moved back to linebacker and didn’t take long to impress his head coach.
The players, and their seasonal-themed names, may change, but Patterson keeps developing stars.
Winters, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, played everything from running back, quarterback, receiver, cornerback and safety in his time at Burton, a Class 2A school.
Patterson likes moving players with offensive experience to the defensive side of the ball, and Winters is the latest example of it working out. He’s shown football smarts beyond his years, and seems to have found a home at linebacker.
Patterson joked that Winters being from a small town hasn’t hurt, either. If you drew a line from Austin to Houston, Burton would be near the middle of it.
“That he has country common sense because he’s a country boy? Of course I think they’re a lot smarter,” said Patterson, who grew up in Rozel, Kansas.
Jalen believes in his squad.
There is a trend that is becoming apparent with TCU head coach Gary Patterson. He is know for having bounce back seasons. In 2016, Patterson went 6-7 and with the same team the next year the Horned Frogs went 11-3 with a ranking of fourth in the nation through mid season.
Reagor said that he believes the bounce back season will happen again because of the “earn the chip” mentality that Patterson is instilling in his team.
“We have to earn our way back,” the junior wide receiver said. “We can’t have a bad year and then just expect things; we can’t feel entitled. We got to earn stuff. That’s the main goal.”
Patterson reiterated that he judges quarterbacks on Saturdays anyways, which means that position is subject to change during the season. He pointed to former quarterback Jeff Ballard, who went 19-2 but “got fired every Tuesday.”
“It doesn’t matter what you do now,” Patterson said. “Saturday is the name of the game.”
Delton has drawn positive reviews since walking on campus in January. He’s a natural leader in the locker room, and would give TCU an experienced quarterback on Saturdays.
But Delton didn’t light up the stat sheet at K-State. He played in seven games last season, including starts against Texas and Kansas, and finished 44 of 80 passing for 554 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.