The Horned Frogs coach is also curious about how things will be for senior quarterback Trevone Boykin, who among 10 returning starters on offense with a season of experience in the system installed by co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie.
''I was kind of a fan last year watching, because I don't have years to be able to compare it to,'' said Patterson, the defensive mastermind going into his 15th season as TCU's head coach. ''I'm kind of interested to see what year two looks like.''
TCU averaged 47 points and 533 total yards a game while going 12-1 last season after Patterson brought in Meacham and Cumbie. The Frogs shared the Big 12 title in only their third year in one of the five power conferences, then overwhelmed Mississippi 42-3 in the Peach Bowl after being snubbed by the first College Football Playoff.
With Boykin and Co., TCU could now be closer than ever to reaching the pinnacle of its pyramid of goals - a national championship. That pyramid, reset each season, has long been a constant reminder hanging in their meeting room. There are plenty of building blocks that have to be colored in purple to get to the top, just like when the Frogs went to two BCS games as Mountain West Conference champions.
''Our team goals have not changed. It's been the same since I stepped on campus,'' said Boykin, who averaged 300 yards passing and 54 yards rushing per game last season, when he accounted for 42 touchdowns.
Boykin was the Big 12's top offensive player last season and finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, for which he is now considered an early 2015 front-runner.
''He knows that if we don't win a lot of ballgames, all the rest of the hype doesn't matter,'' Patterson said. ''He can throw for a gazillion yards and not be the Heisman Trophy winner if we go 6-6.''
Here a few other things to know about the Horned Frogs:
FRESH IN THE MIDDLE: Six of the top seven tacklers are gone from the Big 12's top defense last season, when the Frogs allowed 19 points and 342 total yards a game. That includes both linebackers in the 4-2-5 scheme. After enrolling early at TCU and going through spring drills, 6-foot-3, 220-pound true freshman Mike Freeze exited the spring and entered preseason workouts with a starting role at linebacker. A couple of other freshmen are also in the mix.
VIEW TO THE TOP: While winning a national championship is the ultimate goal, Patterson doesn't want his players talking about it. He certainly doesn't want to that to become their singular focus. ''If you watch teams all the time, and I watch people over the years, when their only goal is playoffs or national championship, and they lose one game, their season is over,'' he said. ''That can't be the deal. ... Sometimes you're only looking in one direction, and you really miss the best view.''
BOYKIN'S BIG-PLAY HELP: Along with Boykin, TCU's offense returns receivers Josh Doctson (school-record 1,018 yards receiving last season) and speedy Kolby Listenbee (18.4 yards per catch). Running back Aaron Green averaged 7.1 yards per carry. The only lost starter is tackle Tayo Fabuluje.
ROAD TRIPS: The Frogs had to leave the state of Texas only twice during the regular season last year. Five of their six away games this season are out of state. TCU's opener is on a Thursday night at Big Ten team Minnesota, which lost 30-7 in Fort Worth last year in the front end of this home-and-home series. There is a four-game stretch midway through the season when the Frogs have games at Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, and are home on a Thursday night against West Virginia.