The TCU Horned Frogs got through their season opener against Grambling State at the remodeled Amon G. Carter Stadium just like they wanted to.
The rust from an offseason should be gone. The freshmen who had never played in a game now have one under their belt.
Now the Frogs take a step up in competition as they make their long-awaited Big 12 debut Saturday at Kansas.
The importance of the game isn’t lost on TCU coach Gary Patterson.
“Anytime you get in conference play the stakes always go up and the physicalness of the game goes up,” Patterson said in the weekly Big 12 teleconference. “There’s a big difference between playing a conference game and playing Grambling. We understand that and know that we’re not overexcited about the win we had. Anytime you go on the road, the little bit I watched of Kansas, they play better at home than on the road. With a new head coach (Charlie Weis) I probably believe Coach Weis saved a lot for us. We’ve got to get both guns blazing.”
The conference may be new, but playing in big games isn’t for the Frogs. The seniors have won 37 games, including playing in a Rose Bowl. They’ve played in hostile environments against tough competition.
Still, if the 16th-ranked Frogs are going to make a Big 12 splash, it starts with a trip to Lawrence to face a Kansas team that’s 1-1 and coming off a 25-24 loss to Rice. The Frogs routed Grambling 56-0 in a game in which the starters played only one half.
That one half was special, especially for quarterback Casey Pachall. He completed all nine of his passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. TCU quarterbacks were perfect in the air during the game. Patterson knows that won’t matter to the Jayhawks.
“We just played one ballgame,” he said. “I thought he (Pachall) ran the offense the way he needed to. Our offensive line gave him time. The competition level, we understand, is going to change this week. He’s played one game out of 12 so far.”
Pachall won’t even be the most heralded quarterback in Saturday’s game. That honor goes to Kansas senior Dayne Crist, who transferred to Kansas from Notre Dame and is now being coached by his former Notre Dame head coach, Weis. He’s off to a slow start this season, throwing three interceptions and only two touchdowns in the first two games.
Patterson is expecting the best out of the Kansas quarterback and Weis.
“We’ve looked back at Charlie Weis, Florida, Notre Dame,” Patterson said. “Charlie has a plethora of plays he’s run over the years. We’ve been studying all the way back to March.
“You have to get ready, and we’re just glad this is our first game. It helps KU for Dayne Crist and Charlie Weis to have already been on the same team. It looks like KU has played with a lot more confidence because he (Crist) understands the offense a lot better.”