Gary Patterson and his Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frog football team are solid, solid as a rock. A solid defense, solid recruiting, and mostly solid program (more on that later) leads to the comparison. Rocks have other connotations that seem to go with TCU. Rocks are quiet. TCU largely flies under the radar and stays quiet for the most part. Rocks can sometimes cause you to stumble when they are overlooked, which is also a trait that TCU relishes in. But in a way, Patterson and his team are rock stars in their own right. Who wouldn’t love a Horned Frog?
The mainstay of Patterson’s coaching career has been defense — rock solid defense. As a defensive coach most of his career and defensive coordinator at TCU before taking the head coaching position in 2000, Patterson knows the importance on that side of the ball. That focus is what TCU rode in a fantastic stretch in the Mountain West Conference. Moving to the Big 12 in 2012, TCU led the league in rushing defense and total defense their inaugural year.
Ranked No. 30 in YahooSports, TCU recruiting has been solid. While not pushing the top 10 list, Patterson is mainly recruiting the state of Texas and filling spots as needed. Recently, the 53-year-old coach even started using Twitter to pre-announce recruiting commits.
The program at TCU has had its problems in the last year, but it is still relatively solid. Most notable are multiple drug arrests and issues with Casey Pachall, the Horned Frog starting QB as the season began in 2012. These arrests definitely weigh on TCU, but Patterson seems to have handled the situations well with suspensions and dismissals. Now emerging from what he hopes is the end of the trouble, TCU may be stronger after coming through it. For example, both starting quarterbacks last year, Pachall and Trevone Boykin, are now competing for the starting spot. Pachall shows promise but has had off the field problems. Boykin is consistent but is not a feared passing threat. Both quarterbacks pushing each other this August should make the program stronger — something that would not have happened if Boykin had not had the chance to play as much in 2012.
A recent “feud” between Patterson and LSU coach Les Miles illustrates how TCU stays out of the limelight, or at least in a dimmer glow. The Horned Frogs and Tigers are playing their season opener on August 31, and much was made about comments that Patterson made during the Big 12 media day. So much was made out of it that Patterson sent a transcript to Miles explaining that he was not trying to be critical of the LSU head coach. Patterson tries to stay quiet and let the team speak for itself — flying under the radar of larger programs and being sneaky good.
TCU is a team that is dangerous to play against. This is every major program’s trap game. Solid defense and consistent offense means that all opponents must play a mistake free game. Major programs will trip over this solid team. Last season the Texas Longhorns tripped over the Horned Frogs when the TCU defense stiffened and blunted a Longhorn resurgence at the end of the season. Patterson is hoping that the LSU Tigers have more than a stubbed toe on September 1.