FORT WORTH, Texas – Near the bottom of the TCU “By Any Means” team pyramid for success in 2013 is the “Leave No Doubt” line which has Saturday’s LSU game lumped in with games against Southeastern Louisiana and SMU.
While a win against LSU would count the same as the other two non-conference games, it’s the only one of the three that would make a statement nationally and set the Frogs up for a shot at reaching the top line of the pyramid in the Four Sevens Team Meeting Room – “#1 National Champions.”
That puts a huge spotlight on the 20th-ranked Frogs as they play the No. 12-ranked Tigers in the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium.
TCU is well aware of what kind of impact a victory over an SEC power in the season opener can do for a program that’s expected to vie for a Big 12 title.
“It’s a huge game,” said TCU senior defensive end Jon Koontz. “To start off the season against someone like LSU is extremely exciting. We try to focus on every game we have each week as being the biggest game of the moment but there’s no doubt playing a team like LSU the first week of the season is something really, really to look forward to.”
TCU has played in big season openers before. In 2010 the Frogs opened the season with a win at Cowboys Stadium over Oregon State and went on to the Rose Bowl and a 13-0 season. But the Frogs also had a huge win to start the 2005 season at Oklahoma but followed that up with their lone loss of the season against SMU.
It’s that kind of history that has TCU putting its focus on LSU, but also realizing that the season will continue regardless of the outcome in the nationally-televised primetime game.
“Whatever happens in this game we’ve still got 11 games to play,” Koontz said.
And the Frogs could look much different Saturday than they will later this season.
All-America defensive end Devonte Fields likely won’t play as he’s been suspended for two games and head coach Gary Patterson was coy Tuesday about whether or not one of those would be the LSU game.
Patterson also wouldn’t divulge who would be the starting quarterback for the game. Senior Casey Pachall and sophomore Trevone Boykin, who took over when Pachall left the team last year, both figure to see action. But Patterson said he hasn’t told his players or even his wife who starts against the Tigers.
“I honestly don’t think there is a difference,” TCU junior tight end Stephen Bryant said of the quarterbacks. “They both run the offense very well. They’re both great leaders. Either way it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Patterson is looking forward to seeing how his team responds to playing LSU too. While the Tigers lost eight players defensively to the NFL Draft, they are still a talented group.
Now TCU gets to see where it stands up against an SEC power.
“They make you live up to the big five,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to block. You’ve got to tackle. You’ve got to be physical. You’ve got to take care of the football. You’ve got to handle the grind.”
And execute. Last year the Frogs opened the season by thumping Grambling State.
The only similarities between Grambling State and LSU are that both schools are in Louisiana and both have Tigers for mascots.
Patterson knows the Frogs have to be at their best out of the gate this year.
“Walking off the field, that’s the biggest thing, did we play the best first game?” he said. “It’s one thing to play it and make mistakes like last year against Grambling where it didn’t make a difference. This year a small thing could become a big thing and so we’re working on all those things. How do we put ourselves in a position to win?”
The Frogs will find that out Saturday. And if they can come out with a victory, it’s another big step on the 2013 pyramid.