Patterson Meets The Media Friday

Gary Patterson

Gary Patterson

Dec. 28, 2012


TCU head coach Gary Patterson held his final press conference as preparations for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl continue in Tempe, Ariz.

COACH Gary Patterson:
Opening Statement:
"Just start off. It's been a great week for us. We finished our 14th practice, just what you want to get done with bowl practice, get ready for the team you're playing, and build up your team a little bit to do the things you need to do. We did most of our hard work before we left on Sunday, so we've been mostly in shorts and helmets since we've been down here, which is a normal bowl pattern for us getting everything ready to go. We have a great opponent in Michigan State, a very good friend in Mark Dantonio, his wife Becky. Anytime you can be part of the Valley where you have an opportunity to play a great bowl game. Every time you put one on, it's been unbelievable. The yellow coats are spectacular, obviously with the mayor, City of Tempe to be part of such a situation. We've been out at the stadium, looks unbelievable. They've done a great job, Buffalo Wild Wings has, and the bowl, to decorate it up to where it looks fantastic. We're excited about everything."

How many contact practices did you have since the final regular season game? Was it was contact in every one? Has that been a typical model?
"Oh, yeah, we've had 12. Exactly like the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, all of them. Treated them just like we were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers."

A lot of people seem to be focusing on the defenses in this game, two fairly highly ranked defenses. Does the time off give you a chance to refine things offensively?
"Everybody has to have something to say so we can give you something to write. I think it's going to be a great ballgame. When you get a good month, coach has an unbelievable staff at Michigan State, they're going to have a great game plan. Any time I've been part of a bowl, it's been like that. So for us, I think the team that can stop somebody making big plays obviously makes a difference in the turnover ratio. When we played well, we haven't turned the ball over, we've gotten takeaways, we've won on the road when we turned the ball over. Michigan State has a very good defense, they sit on top of you, they want to suffocate you, they want you to say, no mas. That's kind of like how we like to play.

"Every day my SID brings me a stack of articles and newspapers, he's been doing this for the last three weeks from everything up north. So I read in between, Mr. Bell's lost 10 pounds, so he's been trying faster, stronger, he thinks this game's important. The quarterback has been a first year quarterback, just like ours, so when you give him more time, that means he's probably going to play better. So for us, we have to get ready to play our best game.

"If you read what I said, I don't think we had good practices the last three days. I don't know if it was that we were on defense. I don't know if we were bored because we've been going so long and how we've done things. But we'll get ready to play. That's usually me getting ready to motivate. It's one thing talking to you and another thing talking to the team. You say, this coach is actually honest. But that's the way we do things.

"For me, I think it's going to be a great ballgame. One of the things I like, I like teams that play hard. Both Michigan State and TCU play hard, if they both show up and do the things they need to do. Reading about Coach Narduzzi, I've watched his career, along with Coach Dantonio's, and his defense and boys played. Last time we played we got beat in Cincinnati, 2004, the only team we didn't go to a bowl game with. Got to get ready to play, hope the guys you need to show up show up.

"For us, it was a great experience to it get back, get back to the Buffalo Wild Wings, it allowed us not only to get a chance to play in front of a national audience again, but be the last game on the docket at the end of the night so everybody gets a chance to watch. But also opportunities to grow our football team up, 'cause after we get done with this one, we have a physical team, LSU, that we start the season off with in Cowboy Stadium at the beginning of the season. For us, no better example of somebody coming right after you, and then play-action, doing the things than Michigan State.

"I put Michigan State right up there with an LSU. So what we're getting here from Michigan State, we're going to get a little bit more of here in about six months, so we better get ready to play."

Talking to several of your guys yesterday, they talked about it being a business trip, a lot of things they felt like high expectations, things they have to prove. You have a great track record in bowl games. How do you keep them focused?
"Like I told you, it's W-I-N. One of the things we try to do is practice in the morning, get it out, so they can enjoy themselves in the afternoons. Young people, they're not very good at looking at the future. They look at today. How do you set up your goals and your pyramid to make sure this young team knows they need to move forward and be what they need to be. That's what we've been trying to do.

"One of the reasons we've won, we've had some good players. This will be the youngest group we've ever brought into a bowl game. You're talking about 17 true freshmen, seven or eight of them have been starters at some point in time. We have five or six seniors that play. There's about seven juniors that play. Everybody else is a sophomore, redshirt, redshirt freshmen and freshmen. They're not sure what they're doing all the time, sometimes they don't know what to say. I'll promise you, they don't know the difference between Oklahoma State and Michigan State. They just know what we tell them. They just get ready to go."

How helpful have your seniors been in helping these young guys?
"You know, every good program, if you win, you're always going to have it passed down that they're going to teach, how to act, how to do what you're supposed to do. For us, I don't think it's any different. Blaize Foltz on offense, Kenny Cain on defense. Probably one of the guys that was most inspiration was a guy that didn't play all year. We had two defensive ends that were supposed to start in front of Devonte Fields. They didn't get a chance to play one down this year. So you have Ross Forrest, which basically he stood beside Devonte Fields most of the year until he had surgery. He coached him up in two-a-days. He could have been, Woe is me. He stood out there and coached them. Probably along with Coach Bumpas is the single most reason why Devonte Fields has came as far as he has because he had his own individual coach. Then we had Matt Anderson that was possibly supposed to beat out Ross Forrest, and he didn't play a snap this year either.

"Between the 18 starters we lost last year, we had 30 season-ending injuries. Stephen Bryant, our starting tightend, first scrimmage, falls on his shoulder, nobody hits him. Out for the season. We already lost two tight ends. It's been one of those years. Your kids are going to follow what you do. I think one of the things the seniors have done, going into the season they were 36-3. So for them to lose five ballgames and be where they're at was a hard thing because they'd never dealt with that before. But I think they dealt with it fine. They had patience. They helped the team grow up.

"We always try to make the season the best we can make for that senior class. If you always keep that goal, you have a chance. For us, that's what we try to get done. Just like reading everything about Michigan State, them to be able to get 7-6, send their senior class out the same way they want to send them out, that's what TCU would like to do with ours. We would like to get eight wins. We'd like to send them out with a bowl win, and know that they've been part of our legacy, because they've been in some big ball games."

There has always been a lot of talk about the non-BCS teams, what they would do if they were in BCS conferences, how it would wear them down. What was your experience this season as far as how your team adjusted to the Big 12? Were there areas you needed to improve to compete in that league or areas where you were better?
"I didn't think we would have a Devonte Fields. He was a good player, but I didn't think we would have a guy that would lead the Big 12 in sacks and tackles for loss. And losing Stanley Maponga for four weeks with a broken foot, he came back, played the end of the season. You don't know.

"I tell people all the time, It's a two-year road map. If anybody knows about changing leagues it's TCU. We're in our fifth one. Big East, we weren't there very long. One of the things I always felt like, you had to play everybody there once, back at your place once, come back and have a road map of what you had to do to be successful. Because some teams play better at home, some play at home, maybe they come to the south and don't play well. You have to put down notes and put up a plan of how that happens.

"As far as recruiting, I think you have to have a little bit more size on the inside. I talked to Cal when he went into the PAC-10. That's one of the things he felt like. I would probably tell you that's the same thing for us. It's hard to gauge. Both of our offensive tackles are true freshmen. Tayo Fabuluje, first year he played. He was a transfer from BYU. And then Aviante Collins was a true freshman. So it's really hard to tell. Was it the difference of going into a different league, or the difference of playing, because we never played with this many freshmen before. So really, I've been proud of how they've grown up.

"When we go to Texas, we hadn't beaten Texas at home since 1967. You go to West Virginia, which is a very tough place to play. We learned how to play at home. I was talking to Coach Dantonio, we win four games on the road in conference and you go to Baylor, which is a rivalry game, you guys watched them last night. They're no easy offense to go contain. So you got to get ready to play.

"But I would probably tell you that size, growing up, for us, obviously most of our team comes back, so there's going to be a lot of guys that will be able to equivocate across the board what they have to do, find out what we have to do next year. The biggest thing with young teams is to keep them hungry. When you play early, you play scared, without lack of a better word. So you play your tail off all night because you don't know any better. Then all of a sudden you think because you played, I'm somebody. You go through that stage of, No, you're only somebody because you played hard. That's one of the things we liked about Devonte Fields, not only is he a very talented freshman, he plays hard and is football smart. Against Kansas State he drops 15 yards back and intercepts a pass. He covers people out of the backfield and does things. When you have that versatility, it makes you a lot better."

Every year when there's coaching searches, your name comes up. That's a compliment. Why have you stayed with TCU? 
"A man once told me that he sold his company for $1.4 billion. If you're not happy with the amount of money you have now, what makes you think you're going to be happy with more. For me it's about growing friendships, build something that nobody has done at TCU since the '30s. So I've never said never about it. But those things are good for your ego. To be honest, they cause you a lot of problems recruiting-wise. There's a bunch of pluses and minuses to all of that.

"For me, I've just tried to be Gary. I've tried to make sure I help the media, the Metroplex, do their jobs, tried to help get back with our foundation in the communities. Coaches, you change every three or four years, what happens is you never really end up with any friends. At the end of your career, you kind of go, Was it just about wins and losses? My early parts, my first 15 years of the 30 years I've been in coaching, I moved 10 times in 15 years. From Naval Academy, you're on the East Coast, all the way to UC Davis, Sonoma State, we recruited Larry Allen to play with the Cowboys, I've been to all the places that nobody ever heard of. Probably get to a place where people are going to support you, give you what you need, your chancellor, your board of trustees, you have a great recruiting base, recruit good kids, good families, a place where you got 20 in the classroom. Of our 12 seniors, 10 of them already have their degrees before we play in this bowl game. It's hard to find.

"I was talking with Coach Dantonio the other night, everywhere there's a reason why somebody is leaving or somebody is coming. At least when you stay at your place, you know what your problems are. So for me, we know how to do it and we're working on the things that aren't positives at TCU as we go forward. Anybody that tells you they don't have positives is lying to you. For me, I just try to work straightforward. That's why I'm involved in calling plays, being part of it, because I think coaches along with educators are the last frontline, make a difference, make sure we have great role models out there, make a difference, do the things we need to do."

Can you talk about how far the program has come since you arrived on campus.
"Let me tell you, LT, who is going to go in the Hall of Fame, Aaron Schobel, who is a pro-bowl defensive end, they walked a mile and a half, we walked through the gate, down the street, through the physical plant, over to the soccer fields. So for us, they did it four times a day when we were in two-a-days. Now you walk out your back door, you have a new weight room, training room, equipment room. Everything is in place. Two academic centers, 30 seconds from my office, so I make sure academics are important. TCU has always had a great base of people for everybody to buy in.

"A perfect storm happened to where we could raise the money to build a stadium, put ourselves in a position to be successful. For us, it can't be a one-year thing. Everybody else has been doing it for a while. For us, I have told them it was going to be a three- or four-year place going into the Big 12, how we needed to recruit, the kind of kids we needed to get here, and how we needed to do things. I think that's a good plan. You have to be careful about doing it right now because usually you make bad decisions that don't help you in the future. We built a good foundation. There's no reason for me to go out and crack it by getting too fast about doing things.

"I ask the same questions: How did it happen? I remember being in an old building outback. How did we recruit Aaron Schobel, and LTs, and Shawn Worthens, all the players we've had, because we had 55 in 10 years. How did we recruit them to come to this place? Probably one of the good answers was they came because they wanted to play football and get a degree. They didn't need all that other stuff. You got to be careful now what you wish for."

Dantonio said he studied the Wisconsin game, the Rose Bowl game, y'all playing Boise State. Were there games you studied more than others?
"We studied them all. Offensively, I think probably they break down teams that are more like them and probably use teams they played against the read option. For us, we did a lot of work on all of it because of a lot of play-action. When you have it, doesn't matter what the team is lining up in, they're going to try to fool you.

"Coach Dantonio is great because he has a very quiet demeanor in public, then he's faking punts, faking field goals, could go double reverse passes. You got to give the guy credit. You have to get ready for a ballgame. He's not fooling me. I've been watching him and admired him for a long time. I've been watching their program, how they do things, what goes on, how they fit things around. Ever since he's been there, he's been going to bowl games at Michigan State. I always learn from people that go somewhere, maybe what the perception out there is is they don't have as much as what everybody else has. I look at how did they get it done when they started at the beginning, how did they do it. He's one of those programs.

"Pat Fitzgerald, I was at Northwestern, I watched how he does things. What you try to do is take a couple things across the nation that people do and make you better. That's kind of how we've studied them. We got to go back in these situations, how did he do things. Last year, they were a zone team. This year, they're a power team because of the differences. I don't think he's going to tell me why. So you got to get ready for both."

You mentioned watching some of these other coaches. I've seen in other conferences where a couple members of one coaching staff will visit another school and vice versa. Is there a chance down the road you and Dantonio might send a couple assistants to watch one another's practices or do you do that already with certain NFL teams?
"We have almost 400, 600, 800 high school coaches come through our office. The key would be that Coach Dantonio is also very good friends with Bob Stoops. They're called Oklahoma. We are very similar in a lot of our zone blitz stuff. There's been conversations of maybe doing that. There would have to be a pact. It's hard enough to beat Oklahoma the way it is without giving away any or secrets than what I have. He doesn't need any more help (smiling)."


 

 


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