Dec. 24, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - TCU football head coach Gary Patterson met with the media upon arriving in Tempe, Ariz. The Horned Frogs are beginning preparations for Saturday's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
"We want to thank the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for bringing us back to the Valley. When our kids and our staff heard that we were going to get an opportunity to come back (to Phoenix), we were truly excited."
"On behalf of Chris Del Conte our Athletic Director and Victor Boschini our Chancellor, we just want to tell you thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Everyone that we've dealt with, we feel like we have a lot of friends here from the last time we were here."
"For us to be back here and to be a part of a bowl game with a guy named Mark Dantonio, the head coach at Michigan State, him and I are very good friends. You know the kind of football team that they have and we get the opportunity to play against."
"For us, this is not just a game that marks the end of a season and a chance to play in a great bowl game. If you don't know very much about us, we played 17 true freshmen this season. Going into the Big 12 Conference, playing two or three overtime ball games, probably 80% of our football team is below a sophomore level. I think we have one senior on our whole football team on defense. I think you will be excited about the guys we have running around and doing some things and I think you'll like the kind of people that they are. Thank you so much for having us."
How has your defense progressed this season?
"We ended up the best in total defense in the Big 12. It's a different style but we have a lot of great skill players. This one of those games where you never know. I will give you a great example: We are playing Texas Tech and they had less than 200 yards going into the fourth quarter, and it ends up a triple overtime game that ends up 56-53. So welcome to my world. You have this kind of game on Saturday night and I will promise you that they'll all leave talking about it. Probably I would say you have a chance for it to be more like 16-13."
"We've got a bunch of kids who have really developed. (Defensive End) Devonte Fields will be a young man that you will hear a lot about. He was a Freshman All-American that ended up leading us and was First Team All-Big 12. We have two or three players like that. We really kind of came together and played together (on defense). We scored a touchdown that got called back on a penalty against Oklahoma and beat Texas on Thanksgiving. They have grown up and been a part of some big ball games already."
"This is a great challenge for us. We know the kind of game and the kind of defense that Michigan State has and to win this ball game you have to be the best defense on the field."
How rewarding is it to be here at this game after some early season turmoil?
"This senior class came into this season through their first three years 36-3. They were a part of the Fiesta Bowl year when they were 12-1, 13-0 and in the Rose Bowl and then 11-2 and played in the Poinsettia Bowl before coming back to play here at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Obviously losing was not something that was part of their makeup. They have fought through things that really helped us get to where we are right now. When we had to deal with the situation with (former QB) Casey Pachall and you're 4-0 and scoring 45 points a game and doing the things you need to do and then have to make a decision for a young man's life and now will we win eight more ball games and how do we do it? We've fought our way through everything. We basically were in every football game that we played this year. We had an opportunity to win and went into overtime at West Virginia. You go to Texas on Thanksgiving, you lose a triple overtime game to Texas Tech and then you play a great ball game against Kansas State then end the season against Oklahoma. So it's been a lot of fun. This is a great group of kids. Obviously if they weren't such a great group they wouldn't have fought through everything that they have gone through to get back to where we're at."
What do you attribute your bowl success to and what about your opponent Michigan State
"Winning bowl games I would attribute to good players. We have a good plan in place. Obviously you have (Arizona Cardinals LB) Daryl Washington here in Arizona who was a pretty good player that played in the Fiesta Bowl. When you have those kind of players you're going to win a lot more games. Our staff has been together for a long time. We haven't had a lot of turnover. And we make bowl games important. A lot of people say that bowl games are fun and they are fun, but I spell fun W-I-N. I don't believe that you go to a bowl game and it's a good experience when you leave if you don't win. The great experiences happen for about five or six days, but you always have something that's missing when you leave without winning the ball game. There's only been one thing that we've been talking about it. Reading everything I have about Michigan State, they feel like they can make their season going forward just like we feel that we can winning this ball game. For us, that's what it's been all about."
What makes Devonte Fields so good?
"Obviously he is very athletic. The other thing is that he is very football smart and he has a tough mom. She is always following up and making him do the right things. He stayed close to home. He could've gone anywhere in the country and he's really stepped in. We had seniors Ross Forrest and Matt Anderson slated as our one and two defensive ends and neither one of those guys have played all year. With the 18 starters who graduated last year, we lost almost 35 players to injury or some other reason before we started the season. That's one of the reasons we played so many freshmen, we didn't have a choice. We're just very fortunate. We ended up with eight freshmen in this true freshmen group that ended up second or third team All-American. I'm excited about the future."
How does Michigan State compare to a team like Kansas State?
"(Michigan State) is a little bit like Kansas State. Kansas State doesn't zone blitz very much and Michigan State does. (MSU) plays base defense, but they have the same type of athletes. Offensively they run with the quarterback, they like to pound you and do things that they need to do. Kansas State is more of a quarterback running offense and then they throw it a little bit. But probably the similarity is that Michigan State likes to make it a low scoring game and win with their defense. They force you to make mistakes, play action and get big plays off with their big group when they have two tight ends and two backs. You are playing the run and everybody is up and then they play action and try to throw it over your head. We've had to work very hard to make sure that didn't happen, at least not in practice. We'll see here in a couple of days if we got done what we needed to get done."