A big challenge for TCU in 2016 will be to replace a star quarterback and rebuild an offense to match a stellar defense.
TCU finished second in the Big 12 last year with a 11-2 record and 47-41 triple overtime win over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. The Horned Frogs trailed 31-0 at the half and their miraculous comeback victory was the largest in bowl history by any school.
They were ranked No. 7 in the final AP poll. TCU is 13-0 at home the last two seasons.
TCU returns 18 starters, 11 on defense, from last season. But they must replace quarterback Trevon Boykin (now with Seattle in the NFL) and wide receiver Josh Doctson (a first-round NFL pick) who caught 79 passes for 1,327 yards last year. Also gone their leading rusher, Aaron Green, who had 1,272 yards with 11 touchdowns.
“We have to have some guys, you know, obviously it’s hard to replace,” Patterson said. “Josh Doctson on things he was able to do – but two years ago we didn’t know who Josh Doctson was. He walked on to our place and kept growing and building and for us to have seasons going forward. You’re going to have to have that next guy to go ahead and do things.”
Sophomore Foster Sawyer will battle Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill, who sat out last season. Hill threw for 2,649 yards as a freshman for A&M with 23 touchdowns in eight games.
“As all teams do, how you replace those guys and how you moved forward is the kind of season that you have. We’ve always been one of those places that we didn’t hold anybody back. A lot of times a lot of people say, well, we’re going to play with — I go to the national convention and a guy says we got 18 starters back and we’re going to be good and we say we’re not going to be good.
“You find you don’t keep your job very long if you approach it that way. We’ve been here 19 years, and our first set of seniors are now 40, 41 years old. So it won’t be our first rodeo and on offense, we’ve got to push the pin and make sure that our kids understand we’re just like everybody that came to this Media Day today. They feel like if a couple things go right they could win the conference title and we understand possibly early that we won’t be as explosive maybe than we were before.
“But I’m not going to tell them they can’t be.”
Patterson has an overall record of 143-47 (second in the Big 12 only to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops at 179-46) and ranks fifth in the nation in winning percentage (Stoops is third). OU is 4-2 against TCU under Stoops.
TCU had a chance to upset OU last year in Norman when the Horned Frogs decided to go for two with OU leading at 30-29. The attempt failed and OU won.
TCU has a difficult schedule.
“We’ve got some tough games,” Patterson said. “I think we have a tough September. You have South Dakota State, which is one AA, but they beat Kansas last year. You have Arkansas coming to town. Iowa State who has a new head coach and I thought they had some good players and then you’ve got Oklahoma and you have SMU on a Friday night. The last time we played SMU on a Friday night there it was one of more physical ball games that I’ve been in since I’ve been at TCU. So our September is going to be a tough one with going into the rest of the Big 12 schedule.
“Last year, I felt like we could ease into it, or two years ago and last year we had our first Big 12 game, Texas Tech in the third ball game. So for us every year is different.
“We always felt like you play what I would call a stretch game. Somebody would believe that we weren’t supposed to win, like we had Arkansas home-and-home. We had Minnesota home-and-home last couple of years. We had Ohio State home-and-home, and a 50/50 game and one you should win. The thing that we’ve always felt like, you’ve got to test yourself before you get into your conference.”
TCU has developed quite a rivalry with Baylor. Baylor fired head coach Art Briles after a scandal broke out over sexual harassment.
Patterson is not enjoying Baylor’s misfortune.
“Number one, Baylor is a good university,” Patterson said. “I have a lot of Baylor friends, and (interim Baylor coach) Jim Grobe and I have known each other for a long time and when we were on the Ethics Committee together, he and his wife, went on trips together, and he’s a good football coach. He’s done a great job every place he’s every been. One thing is Baylor is a good university. They’re a good football program and they’ve got a lot of good players coming back. I don’t see that changing much.
As a full-fledged member of the Big 12, TCU is getting more revenue.
“This is our first year that that happens,” Patterson said. “The thing about TCU has always been when we build facilities, we don’t get a chance to borrow or bond it on the athletic side. Everything we do, we have to raise up front. I think the best thing about us going forward is we’re going to be able to take care of our coaches better, take care of our athletes better because everything we’ve done up to this point – our new stadium, weight room, locker room, training room, equipment room, indoor – all of it is paid for.”