Gary Patterson on winning, defense and replacing QB Andy Dalton
Gary Patterson understands perfection, at least during the regular season. The TCU coach has led his team to consecutive Mountain West titles with back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. In 2010, TCU had a season for the ages. The Horned Frogs finished 13-0, including a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin and a final No. 2 ranking. This year offers some major challenges as the Horned Frogs only return five starters on offense and must replace Andy Dalton, who won 43 career games. On defense, the Horned Frogs will be stout as always. TCU has led the nation in total defense for three consecutive years and ranked first five of the last 11 years. Shortly before the preseason USA Today/Coaches poll were announced -- TCU is ranked No. 15 -- SI.com caught up with Patterson to get his take on the upcoming season.
Every year is different. Every year provides a different leadership person and a different leadership model. Even over the last two years, I have had to be different. I was a fire and brimstone, pregame speech guy but this team did not react very well to that with Andy. I had to be more of a to-the-point-and lay-out-our-objectives in a quiet manner. It seemed to work. So for me: How do I get the team to play at a high level without me being in the middle of it? I have to find what my role has to be. People always talk about players but also as a staff, what is our role now in getting this team to play at a high level? The team the last two years had leaders and ownership. When you don't have a team that has ownership, how do you plug the staff back in to a football team and see how it fits and see how the chemistry works?
The biggest stat for me, as long as you are not giving up big plays, is the amount of plays that you are on the field. We have averaged less than 60 plays. In 2009 we only had to play 55 plays a game. That means your offensive is controlling the football and scoring points. It is more of a team concept. We get known for defense here but our offense has broke the scoring record four years in a row. So I think you have to be able to control the football and get people off the field. I have always felt like if you play a 60-play game and 30 of those plays you had a better call than what the offense did, then you are limiting them to 30 plays to be able to score and do things. The less time they spend on the field, the better. In some years we were just playing base defense -- like in 2000. Then in 2002 our personality changed and we blitzed more.