The last two weeks have seen the TCU Horned Frogs win a 49-21 game at Baylor and lose a tough 56-53 three-overtime contest to Texas Tech.
Despite the final result of each game, TCU head coach Gary Patterson isn’t convinced his team played better in the win than the loss.
“Even in a loss last week I think we played better than we did against Baylor as a football team,” Patterson said. “You just can’t turn the ball over. For us, the last four ballgames we’ve won the takeaway battle we’ve won. And when we’ve lost the takeaway battle we’ve lost.”
Those kinds of ebbs and flows can be expected from a team that leads the nation in true freshmen played at 16. TCU played its 16th Saturday when defensive end Josh Carraway was forced into action because of the injury to Stansly Maponga.
Maponga, who may not play this weekend at Oklahoma State, is just another in a long list of players the Frogs have lost this year to injury or who are no longer with the team.
That’s tested the resiliency of a young TCU team and Patterson has been pleased with the way his team has responded.
“Freshmen don’t know any better,” Patterson said. “They came in here being recruited to win championships and really I thought (defensive end) Devonte Fields played very well and (quarterback) Trevone (Boykin) did. The thing about our younger group of kids they really like playing football. I was worried about how they would practice yesterday and I thought they practiced better than after the Baylor win before the Texas Tech game. I was pleased with their effort. They’ve got to keep showing up and finding a way to win.”
That may not be easy for the Horned Frogs (5-2, 2-2 in Big 12). TCU is still one victory shy from being bowl eligible and there’s a possibility the Frogs won’t be favored in another game the rest of the year.
TCU plays at Oklahoma State Saturday and then plays at West Virginia before hosting national championship contender Kansas State. The Frogs close the season with games at Texas and then Oklahoma comes to Fort Worth.
That’s not an easy stretch for sure, especially with a team being led by young players. For TCU’s game against Texas Tech, the Frogs had 32 players who were either true freshmen, redshirt freshman or sophomores on their offensive and defensive two-deep rosters.
Patterson hopes his team is learning from the adversity it’s had to deal with in 2012.
“Great programs the next guy steps up and that’s what’s happened here,” Patterson said. “The next guy’s stepped up. What the kids understand that what we haven’t done as a coaching staff is we haven’t quit. We’ve just been coaching them up and trying to find a way to win. I think kids respond to that. We’re trying to coach them like they’re juniors and seniors and trying to get them to grow up and I think they have.”