TCU head coach Gary Patterson is direct when he tells people about the 2017 Horned Frogs.
“I tell everybody that the good news is we have everybody back,” he said, “and the bad news is we were 6-6, we got everybody back. So how do you make that work?”
That’s the question Patterson, who spoke to reporters on the first day of Big 12 Media Days July 17, has been attempting to answer throughout the offseason, despite losing lost Doug Meachem, who left Fort Worth to become offensive coordinator at Kansas in January.
Patterson said not much has changed with the offensive scheme. The team still has Sonny Cumbie, who is now the lone offensive coordinator and has coached quarterbacks.
Instead, Patterson said, he has been trying to help starting quarterback Kenny Hill, who is entering his final year of eligibility.
“I’ve got to do a better job of helping him with his swagger,” the coach said. “We’ve got to give him help. … I think what we have to be able to do is we have to do what we need to do to move the football. If that’s running it, then you run it. If it’s throwing it, being able to be more of a vertical game, then be more of a vertical game.”
It’s not just Hill, Patterson added. The other players must understand they are all responsible for making plays, on both sides of the ball. So the coaches have gone back to teaching the base offense and executing it well, he said.
Hill spent his spring break working with famed quarterback coach George Whitfield in San Diego. Currently the Horned Frogs work out most every day at 4 p.m., noting the sessions aren’t easy, Hill said.
“I’m throwing this summer and in the spring, we’re trying to get better, anything I can do to get better,” he said. “We had to come out focused, especially in spring ball, to come out and work.”
The solution, he said, is to be consistent throughout the game.
“He knows last year wasn’t TCU football,” Patterson said. “We need to move the ball better and throw the ball better.”
As for the defense, being better at stopping the run was a top priority. Patterson’s answer was signing four defensive tackles — Corey Bethley, Dennis Collins, Terrell Cooper and George Ellis — who weigh between 250-300 pounds.
“It’s hard to play in this league and play consistent when your best players on the inside are 260, 270 pounds,” Patterson said.
Not having a Texas-based football team ranked in the top 25 at the end of the season is embarrassing, Patterson said. For him, it starts with keeping the state’s best high school athletes in Texas.
“There’s a lot of good football players, even that come to our schools, that can play and play at a high level, and we need to play better,” he said. “It’s simple as that. … when you have older (players), you’re going to be better. So for us, we have to get back to keeping the players here and the players we have here playing at a high level, and we need to win ball games. There’s no secret to how you do that.”