Dec. 27, 2012
TCU head coach Gary Patterson and selected members of the football team took part in Media Day at the Buffalo Wild Wings media hotel Thursday morning.
COACH Gary Patterson:
"On behalf of TCU, our athletic director, our chancellor, our entire football team, we're very excited about being back in the desert, to be part of a great bowl. Coming back to our friends, being here a couple years ago, understanding we've never been to Phoenix where we didn't get treated unbelievably. The yellow coats are fantastic, anything that's ever happened when we have great friends that have now come to our ballgames through the years, and that have followed us, we call friends and have been a part of it for many years. For us, thank you so much for allowing TCU to come back to your city and be a part of as great bowl as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Thank you, and go Frogs"
On facing off against Coach Dantonio
"It's hard to play friends. All of us, every year you guys see 20 coaches lose their job in our profession, you're part of a bowl game. We're both great competitors. As I said, for three hours you have to be guys that hate each other, then you go back and do your job. Both of us winning this bowl game would catapult us going into the next season. For instance, on defense, we only have one senior that really plays now, Kenny Cain, our starting linebacker. For us to move forward would be an experience."
Offensively what sticks out for them
"You have to have a plan. Over the years they've had a plan of playing great defense. They can throw the ball down your throat. Have a big tailback come at you. Coach Dantonio also has a deal where they're faking punts on fourth and 13 against Notre Dame. You can't get lulled into sleep thinking he's a conservative defensive guy. He has his own trickery. Offensively, the last team we played like this was probably Wisconsin. BYU has been a team that they're a 340 pound, 6'7" offensive line type group. Defensively, because of their zone schemes, I would say this is probably the best defense that we have faced this year as far as how they do things, the way they go about things. I think that shows, by their stats, the way they played. They've been in every ballgame they've played. The only game you probably have had that you're close to is the carry over game between Notre Dame and Oklahoma, which you can kind of see in comparison how they did against each other. That's about all I have to go off of."
Talk about Jason Verrett, about how he's grown up and matured
"Jason Verrett, you probably have read his story. It's really interesting. What they didn't say, about two weeks before, two years ago we had all true freshmen except Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson. So about halfway through our two-a-days, they lost their legs, we couldn't get on good. And I told Jason, I said, you know, We're getting ready to play two or three first-round-pick wide receivers. Do you understand what you're getting into in front of 15 million people on TV. He started laughing. I said, I'm being serious. Girlfriend goes to school, she's going to watch TV. The night was not good for him. He's sitting in a situation where, No, I don't want to come out of my room, do this anymore. Now he's a first team all Big 12 defender, on some All-American teams. Just goes to show, if you recruit good people, kids that will fight through things. He's a success story you can tell everybody about. It's been a lot of fun. He wasn't kidding. Usually when I tell him something, he usually listens."
On recruiting players and changing positions
"You get a recruiting pool. Kenny Cain was a runningback out of John Curtis High School in Louisiana. Sam Carter was a quarterback or starting safety. We still do it. You try not to do it as much as what we've done in the past. But we still do it a little bit. It really depends on the recruiting pool. We have more recruits that actually walk in our doors now than back in the day. We had a little imagination to get to where we needed to get to and how we needed to do things. I think in 2005, eight out of our 11 defensive linemen were runningbacks out of high school. We've been able to recruit a little bit better since then."
Is that something you recommend for programs?
"I recommend to programs to do whatever you have to do to win so you can keep your job. That was my philosophy (laughter). One of the things you get, runningbacks, quarterbacks, are groups that they were leaders on their teams. That's one of the reasons why Sam, he was a 215-pound quarterback. We thought he was going to be a wide receiver/runningback, he's really made himself into being somebody like that.
On Treyvone Boykin moving into the role of starting quarterback
"Well, yeah, I mean, for a quarterback to only practice quarterback on Thursday, and already be past Tuesday and Wednesday, we were down numbers. We didn't know we were going to have to use him as a tailback, but we knew there was a chance that might happen. So what we had to do, when that whole situation came down, this is a tribute to Trevone, he's had his highs and lows. To get back to a bowl game, especially moving to a conference, which perception-wise is a lot tougher than what we played in, says a lot about him and the rest of the team."
On developing his defensive scheme
"30 years of coaching. But the front really started maybe around Pittsburgh State. They call it an eight-man front. You played outside linebackers. Then at UC Davis was where they did a lot of things with the Cowboys, they called a nickel, where we came up with the five-man secondary and how we played our coverages. It's evolved since then, how we do things. That's really how it's come. Since then through the years we've had to tweak it. Even this year, because of the way the teams in the Big 12 throw the ball, we had to tweak it even during the season, how we had to change to get done what we needed to get done."
On mentoring high school coaches
"In Texas, we'll have somewhere between 400 and 800 high school coaches come through our offices. We have teaching tapes, then we didn't have as many last year, but we'll average somewhere between 10 to 15 Division I, Division II staffs through our place every season.
How encouraged are you for the future?
"Well, I didn't start thinking it would have to be, but obviously it's how it all transpired. I am. Kids, you got to keep something out there where they don't get bored and they get better. With so many young players, how do we grow, how do we keep them sharp, how do they develop to keep us going forward. You have a chance of being successful, but how do we keep them where they keep getting better mentally. They think, I've done it all. They really haven't done anything. They're going to be a lot better players when they're 22 than when they're 18 physically-wise and everything. That will be the challenge with our staff the next three years. We had five or six seniors that played. We have 11 juniors. 100 of our players are sophomores, redshirt freshmen and freshmen. That will be our challenge of how we carry forward."
How is the future looking?
"It's good. When we get a lot more kids recruiting-wise that walk in with their parents than before. I told everybody it's going to be a three or four-year plan. As far as playing teams, you know, we've been in a few leagues over our years. So for us, I always felt like it takes you two years to be able to know what your roadmap and plan needs to be to play in a conference. You got to play everybody there, play everybody at your house, see how all that works, all the nuances of their stadiums to everything that goes on, how do they play at your place and at home, get your team mentally ready to get them by the time you get to Saturday how they need to play. For us, we've kind of taken that mindset and that roadmap to where we want to get to. We've probably had a little bit more patience. It's really kind of paid off with us. We've been in every ballgame we've played except maybe the Iowa State game where it was a new quarterback, only had Thursday, at the end of the ballgame, maybe. Fourth quarter of the Oklahoma State game. Our kids grew up. Leading the conference in defense in a league where they say you can't play any defense was good for us."
What do you think is the perception of your team?
"Well, the interesting thing is perception-wise, as far as the media and the fan base, I think we gained more respect being 7-5, than we did 11-2 last year. Perception was, some of them need to play Boise more or BYU, Utah, San Diego State, the level of caliber of athlete that plays at those places. That was probably the thing that wasn't surprising, but just interesting. Probably even in our own fan base, you had a great season, but we're 7-5. In people's minds, they didn't know whether we could compete, a bit of doubt, where we did it on a week-to-week basis. I think our kids showed us we can do that."
Do you feel like you're on schedule with the four-year plan?
"When I get done, we see how this bowl game goes. We'll reevaluate and set up what we have to do in the spring, what we get recruiting, see what we have to do to take this team to the next level. Waymon James will come back, new players that come in, how these kids grow up. I wait till we get into January, February, before we start spring ball, running, lifting, you can survey. I'd probably tell you I was a bit surprised our young players played as well as they did. We knew Devonte Fields was a good player, but I didn't know he could be a first team Big 12 player. He hasn't even tapped how good he can be as far as when he gets stronger, faster and grows into his body."
Talk about Michigan State
"The biggest thing is they come at you. We're very similar in some ways about how we approach defense. Michigan State wants to suffocate you, and not only Coach Dantonio when they were at Cincinnati, he was a coordinator at Iowa, he's always been a guy that's been that kind of coach. It's not real surprising to see the kind of athletes and the kind of scheme that they have, how they go about things."
Talk about TCU and the Big 12, how it was a good fit
"Well, obviously the restaurants, hotels. Before the season even started, I told them that Fort Worth already won, and TCU already won. As far as the amount of money that comes with TV contracts, the amount of people coming to town to stay in the hotels, eat at the restaurants, all the things you do. Going forward, it was a slam-dunk. It changed Fort Worth, changed TCU. For me, I'm just glad I could be a part of it. That's probably the thing that's made me happiest is seeing Fort Worth being happy and being better. It's always been so good to me, both of those have been as far as me growing up and becoming a head coach. Now to see we can give something back to them that makes them feel better about themselves, obviously the Texas game, winning the Texas game was big, because TCU had not beaten Texas at home since like 1967. To be able to do those kind of things was big for us. How do we carry forward, how do we live on that, time will tell."
Talk about the Michigan State running game
"It's not just him, but all three of them. I think they have three good runningbacks. If you are not a good tackling team, you're going to be in trouble. You have to tackle. The young man has patience. For being a big guy, he has patience. He picks his hole. When he gets going, he's hard to stop. We have a lot of work to do."
Talk about the transition to the Big 12
"We applied a lot of teams in the Big 12. I think our kids, obviously would have liked to have gone into it with an older football team. This was probably our youngest team I've had since I've been here. To be able to do this and be competitive and get yourself back to a bowl game. Really could have won nine ballgames or could have lost a couple more. But for us it was an experience. What I told them is, Don't give the other team too much credit. You come in, we played all of them before, get ready to go play. I think that's the one thing they're learning out of all this, is to make sure they keep growing up and understand that we've got some good players, too."
Every guy I've talked to said it's good for the program, for them, to play against that level of competition, generates more respect.
"Well, one of the things I think the Michigan State game does for us, we start out with LSU, they're going to be a big, powerful running game, start of next season. This ballgame is a game where you're here to win it, but it also gives you kind of what you have to do through the spring and summer to get your team to what you have to do to start the next season. We always felt like winning is the most important thing about going to a bowl game, carrying forward the enthusiasm you have coming out of what you have to do, how you have to do it, it goes into next season. That's kind of been our thing."
What differences do you see from the Mountain West?
"We played nine bowl teams out of the 12 teams we played. That's probably the biggest difference. You have nine games on our schedule that are bowl teams that know how to win, know how to do things. That's probably the biggest difference. You have four at the top, usually it was Utah, BYU, Boise came in, maybe whoever the other team was, Air Force, San Diego State. Now every week you got to get ready to go."
That's a tougher challenge for you?
"In some way it is. The way it's not is when you're going somewhere where they're only going to have 18,000 people in the stands, the head coach's job is going to have to carry more emotion for his team into the ballgame to get them ready to play emotionally. But maybe the level of competition is not as good week-to-week. Now, because they know they're going to play in a stadium with 60,000 to 100,000, the emotion part I get out of it, because when they walk on the field, now I have to get them more ready for the guy standing on the field waiting for them. That's my job recruiting-wise and all the other things that happens. That's probably the two differences I've seen."
You've had 40-some-odd wins the last four years. That's going to be a trade-off, right?
"You know, it's fair. The biggest thing to understand is we came back and we were 3-5 in the Big 12 playing with 17 true freshmen. You have to grow up, recruit. Also you get used to playing at this level on a week-to-week basis. That's one of the things you learn as a team. Your kids get accustomed to the competition level, so that makes you better. You get ready for games at the end of the ballgame. We had a couple overtimes. We were laughing last night, how many close overtime ballgames we had. Interesting to see how it gets handled.
On how his team feels about themselves
"I do. I think down deep they understand that you're also going to be judged so you can play at the next level by the kind of competition level that you play on a week-to-week basis"
It's fair to say maybe you deserve the higher ranking that you've gotten the last few years because of the Mountain West.
"The Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl, I think we ended up No. 2 late. A lot of people argued we should have been the team playing for the national championship. I've always felt like things happen for a reason. All those other games were great experiences. But as we grow up, if we keep doing things the right way... The biggest thing is keep things intact. You're going to have to have more depth. If you want to win the conference title, you need to have more depth. You have to have a mindset that you can go do that. I think that's one of the things with our kids, what they've done, they understand TCU can win. We have everything in place with all the facilities, small classroom sizes to graduate, do it all. We're not going to try to go out and say, Now we've got to change what we've done. We're going to evaluate when we get done with the season. For example, I think on a day-to-day bases we need bigger center guards to handle the D tackles in this league. Maybe this corner has to be bigger to handle the wide receivers. As a general rule, those will be the kind of tweaks we'll work on. It won't be we've got to completely throw out or defense or offense. You have to look and say, This is what we've got to do to get better."
You won the conference in defense...
"I think the difference probably has been that we ended up 16th or 17th in the nation. We might have been No. 1 again if we were still in the Mountain West. I think people have given us more respect being 16th or 17th with the young kids. We were depleted at linebacker. As we move forward to have basically only Kenny Cain, we have one senior starter in probably our top 35 players. That means we brought a lot of diapers to practice."
Talk about Kansas State Bill Snyder.
"I was part of the first bowl game in Kansas State history. We were part of the Independence Bowl. We played Wisconsin. Matt was older. If you remember Jim, he redshirted 15 senior starters the year before. That was why I got a chance to play as a junior. My senior year, I said, I'm going to become a student assistant coach. Him and I are friends. The passion for the game. It's been his life. For example, he'll go on the Nike trip, he'll be at dinners, but he's in his room working. He's very organized. Really, to be honest with you, I don't mean that in a negative way. To me he was able to change Kansas State because you had to be able to do it differently. You weren't going to be able to do it like, I want to take a vacation, do this or that. Really, it's very similar. He was the same model of I may not get as much vacation time, I may need to be around the players."
Are you similiar in that way?
"It's the Kansas work ethic. I've always been where you worked a lot. I have plenty of capable guys with Dick Bumpas and Randy Shannon, my defensive staff to call defenses, but I stay a part of it because I think it's important for me to be plugged into and not just be the CEO. January and February, if I'm not on the road recruiting, I'm out helping running the recruiting groups. It's not just the physical aspect, a strength coach is going to be a guy that wants numbers. For me, it's worked. But as I get older, I look at Coach Snyder, every year I get a little bit more tired. In the way he's treated people, he's always done things with class, he's always treated people very well. He's been an innovator of how he set up his non-conference schedule to give his kids confidence."
How has your week been?
"It's been awesome for us. The kids have had a good time. They had a chance to eat some wings last night. We're young enough that most of our team can't get anywhere. They've been hanging around the hospitality room, practicing. It's been a great experience, as we thought it would be."
The wing-eating contest went over big with your team. I heard one of your guys downed 50-some-odd.
"Good thing he was a redshirt (laughter). I told him, it's a good thing he got pumped up. In January, I'll work it off of him.
Your team, your youth, some people may not understand this, I think you can speak to it, a bowl game means a great experience for not just your starters, your named guys, but the guys that don't get into the games, it's really a reward. You've been here with the Fiesta, now the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Just talk about that, coming to Arizona.
"Not just your players, you have administration, ticket office guy, his family. We bring all the families with us. It's really a reward for them to come out for five, six, seven days, get a chance to have a mini vacation that they wouldn't get a chance to take otherwise with all the young guys, doing all the things that people do. For our kids, of having the experience of meeting new people, a kid from West Texas, East Texas, come to the desert, see from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, see how well the yellow coats treat us, the kind of friendships that we've developed over the years with people here in this area, those things are valuable because you keep them the rest of your life. I tell them, like Coach Burns, you never know when things turn, you're going to need some help. There's a lot of life lessons going along with that. I've never been to a bad bowl game. Probably the greatest experience I've ever been a part of have been the bowl games, the people you meet, what you remember for a long time."
Anything this week that you're doing differently versus feedback week?
"I've talked to Nike about getting Velcro so I don't tie my shoes (laughter). It's interesting. Everybody should have somebody follow them around with a camera in critical times, see what they do. They would all go, I'm not making fun of him anymore. No one wants to embarrass themselves on national TV. But for me winning is the most important thing. If my subconscious thinks I play a better game because I hitch my pants, like my wife says, Watch the game, quit watching my husband."
What do you think about Michigan State?
"Being runningback, play-action team, can come at you, you better get ready for them. They play hard. I think they're similar to us. You're going to get a team that's going to come for four quarters. You have to get ready for a physical contest. We're not playing basketball. We're going to play football. The Big Ten mantra of coming at you, being physical. You're going to have to beat 'em. They're not going to give it to them. I don't think this Michigan State team is any different than that. They played some very good opponents. So we have our work cut out for us"
Talk about Treyvone Boykin
"Up and down. He's 3-5 as a starter. For a guy to step in, most people don't like to play as a redshirt freshman. It's a little bit different mindset. Like Andy Dalton, who knew coming into the season, he was going to be the starter, so you prepare differently. To be halfway through the season, then to find out you're going to be the starter, there's a lot of things the redshirt freshman has to learn, you have to prepare. A lot of it is off the field more so than on the field. How to go to sleep, go to class. You can't just study within the 20-hour limits of what we're required to have you do. On Monday, Andy would be over our place four hours on a Monday watching film. But really did a great job. A couple big wins going to West Virginia, play at the end of the ballgame, we win the overtime. Obviously going down to Texas, his two big ones that we were able to pull off. By doing that, you give yourself a chance to be successful. Obviously he's just a young player. The possibility of Casey Pachall coming back, being a part of that, I think competition makes everybody better. Now knowing he can push for the starting role since he's been a starter I think makes both of those guys better now. It's not just, I'm the older player so I play. It's more of a now there's two of them back here. You've got to compete and get ready to go."
In regards to Devonte Fields, how many true freshmen have you come in and see what he's done?
"We've had four to six defensive ends that have been high draft picks or got Super Bowl rings, Pro Bowlers, like Aaron Schobel at Buffalo, Jerry Hughes with the Indianapolis Colts, you had Mo and Bobby, one got a Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts, the other one with the Seattle Seahawks. So we've had a lot of guys, and a lot of them, we didn't have to, but we redshirted them, but probably had as good a freshman season as anybody that we've had that's been a part of our program in the 15 years that I've been there. He's mature for his age. Has a great mom, tough on him. Football is really important to him. Has great natural instincts going along with the athletic ability. Coach Bumpas is one of the best, can coach at the NFL ranks. He's coached with Lou Holtz, Johnny Majors. Been to a lot of different places. Having a mature position coach, for them to be able to work together and teach them helped him come a long ways."
You have a young defense. Are you surprised how these guys have played this year?
"I'd be lying if I didn't think that. You come into the Big 12 your first season and statistically end up leading the conference in that category. I think everybody would have thought you're going to have some growing pains."