December 1, 2017
Following “four emotional weeks in a row,” Gary Patterson’s team won’t take a second chance at defeating Oklahoma for granted.
by Trisha Spence
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Topics: Athletics, football
by Trisha Spence
A nail jutted out of the wall, nothing hanging on it. On the Tuesday before the Big 12 Championship football game, Coach Gary Patterson’s signature triangular schedule, colored purple after each of the season’s wins, was gone.
“Hey, Coach, where’s your pyramid?” a reporter asked.
Coach Gary Patterson creates a pyramid of goals every season. As the team wins games, Patterson colors corresponding sections purple. Photo by Trisha Spence
“[We’re] adding the championship game to it,” answered the TCU head football coach. “I can either color it in or not color it in. We’re going to work on coloring.”
Only two chunks of the 2017 pyramid were never colored: the Iowa State and Oklahoma games.
Three weeks ago TCU faced Oklahoma. Both teams were 8-1. TCU was No. 6 in the nation. Oklahoma was No. 5. The Horned Frogs left Norman with a loss. Now, as the top two teams in the conference, TCU is again facing Oklahoma – this time in the Big 12 Championship.
Patterson isn’t taking his second chance for granted.
“Somebody asked me, ‘You’re going to play Oklahoma twice?’ I mean, why wouldn’t you?” Patterson said. “Is it quite a task? It’s quite a task. We’ve got a lot in front of us.”
The outcome of the match determines which bowl game each team goes to and, essentially, the possibility of playing in the national championship.
“Probably the best thing for the Big 12 is Oklahoma to win,” Patterson said.
The coach said Oklahoma would have a better chance of making it to the College Football Playoff and perhaps giving the league a representative in the January 8 national championship. But that doesn’t mean Patterson is going to stand by and watch the Sooners take the Big 12 Championship trophy.
“I’m a business guy, too, but I have an obligation to TCU to try to win the ballgame. Period,” Patterson said. “That’s what my job is. I owe that to my kids, the players, the recruits, the families, everybody that buys a ticket.”
Patterson said the 2017 team has more depth than last year’s squad, which finished 6-7 after losing to Georgia in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
After Saturday’s championship game, TCU fans won’t have to wonder about the what-could-have-beens with the 2017 team.
Sammy Douglas (#35) chases a Baylor Bear during the final home game of the season. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
Linebacker Sammy Douglas said he knew if TCU finished the season strong, the team could settle the score with the Sooners. “That’s exactly what we wanted.”
Douglas said this time the Horned Frogs will come together as a unit to better defend Baker Mayfield and the rest of the explosive Sooner offense.
A penalty from the November 24 Baylor game will leave safety Nick Orr on the sidelines for the first half of the Big 12 Championship. But this is where Patterson’s preparation comes in.
“This year we have the depth,” Patterson said. “That’s why we work so hard to make sure we work two deep in our practice sessions.”
In addition to being ready physically (injured defense starters Niko Small and Travin Howard will return), the team is mentally ready for a rematch.
“We feel extremely focused and confident,” said offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom. “We just wanted to have another chance at them. In college football, you don’t get an opportunity to play somebody again once you lose a game. This is it. We got it.”
Though he said he has faith in TCU’s defense, Noteboom predicted that with such a strong opponent, the game is going to be a high-scoring affair.
“They’re going to score points. It’s inevitable. It’s just what they are,” the All-Big 12 honorable mention tackle said. “It’s up to us to match that.”
Patterson, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, reiterated his core philosophy when discussing the approach to the rematch. “I don’t think it’s hard to figure out what the game plan is,” he said. “You’ve got to find a way to win by one more point.”
On the offensive line, Joseph Noteboom said it’s their job to protect quarterback Kenny Hill (#7) to ensure TCU can outscore Oklahoma. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
Noteboom said the team plans to change at least one part of the game this time. “One of the [emphases] this week is starting fast. Our two losses we started extremely slow. The only explanation is just lack of focus,” he said. “We know we can play better. We still haven’t played our best game.”
Noteboom said the odds favor the team that lost the first time around. Those odds are even better with the ol’ Sports Illustrated cover curse ready to strike Oklahoma.
Noteboom, a senior from Plano, Texas, said he expects the second meeting to feel like a bowl game, but with more on the line.
“I feel like there’s pressure on both teams. … For them: to be in the playoffs. And for us: to prove that wasn’t our best game at all.”
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TCU football head coach Gary Patterson said his team has come a long way since starting camp.
The “Eyes Up Keep Climbing” motto didn’t guarantee an adversity-free season, but if the Frogs stay focused, a rematch against Oklahoma might await.
On this Friday of Veterans Day weekend, we honor and give thanks to all of our veterans who have served, fought and protected us (U.S.) and our way of life. Many volunteered, others had their lives interrupted to go take on the challenge of aggressors. Thanks to all of those who made and make it