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Patterson says TCU not overlooking South Dakota State

TCU is looking to start its 2016 campaign with a solid victory over South Dakota State.

The two meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 on Fox Sports Net.  TCU is looking to extend its home winning streak, which ranks third nationally, to 14.

The Horned Frogs return 13 starters (seven defensive, six offensive) from 2015, and that number doesn’t include six starters (four defensive, two offensive) who were sidelined because of injury a year ago.

Last week coach Gary Patterson named quarterback Kenny Hill the starter. He is a transfer from Texas A&M who sat out last year. But in 2014 Hill started the opening eight games for the Aggies, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,649 yards and 23 touchdowns and set the single-game passing record with 511 yards on 44 of 60 attempts.

“Kenny Hill will be our guy,” Patterson said. “Still believe you got to have two to be in the mix. Excited about where we’re at. I think both (Hill and quarterback Sawyer Foster) threw the ball well. It’s just (Hill’s) ability to get himself out of problems and some of the things he can do in the run game.”

Though he believes Hill has a lot to prove, Patterson said he told the quarterback that “his job is just to win. Not to put up big numbers, not to do anything but put the ball where it’s supposed to be, run the ball where you’re supposed to. And get ready to play.”

Patterson added that in the TCU offense, the quarterback has to be the trigger man to put the ball where it should be.

He complimented Hill’s commitment to the classroom, weight room and all the other parts of being a student-athlete.

The coach’s biggest offensive concern were the number of dropped balls during the end of fall training camp.

“We got to catch balls,” he said. “These guys, I think the only way they learn this is get in a ball game and go do it.”

Though Kyle Hicks is expected to start at running back, Patterson told reporters that Sewo Olonilu and Derrick Green give the offense more options. Olonilu is a pass-catching runner, and Derrick Green gives TCU a short-yardage back.

Tight end Cole Hunt has been “a great addition,” Patterson said. “We haven’t had a tight end in a while that could block and also run vertical and catch a ball.”

Patterson reminded reporters that in 2013, the Horned Frogs played Southeast Louisiana, a team that eventually played in the semifinals for the national championship of the Football Championship Subdivision or NCAA Division 1-AA. TCU prevailed in week two, 38-17.

“This (South Dakota State) team here is like that,” he said. “They’re ranked eighth, they have preseason All-Americans, they’ve been in big ball games, they beat (Kansas) a year ago. We have not taken these guys lightly. We’ve cranked up what we got to do to get ready to go play.”

The Jackrabbits will be led by quarterback Zach Lujan (125-214-1,861-14 touchdowns-6 interceptions) and running back Brady Mengarelli (742 yards, six touchdowns), and receiver Jake Wieneke (72-1,472-11).

SDS’s top defender are Jesse Bobbit (97 tackles, 6 1/2 for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception) and Nick Farina (58 tackles, two for loss, two interceptions).

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