MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gary Patterson entered his press conference here Thursday having just gotten off the phone with Bill Snyder, congratulating him on beating Texas A&M the previous night. Yes, ahem, a Big 12 team beating an SEC team.
Patterson, preparing to have his TCU team take on Georgia on Friday, said he didn’t think every bowl was a statement about the conference, but did point out that his league is now 2-1 in bowls, the exception being West Virginia’s loss to Miami.
“I think it’s kind of interesting that everybody says the Big 12 can’t play defense,” Patterson said. “All three offenses that they’ve played were pretty decent, I thought. So you’ve just got to get ready to play. No different for us.”
Patterson, as coaches are wont to do, had a lot of kind words for Georgia. Here they are:
– On Georgia in general: “You’ve got a new head coach, who’s a good person plus a good ball coach. You’ve got new coordinators. You’re dealt the hand that you have personnel-wise. Then as you recruit and you move forward you’re going to make your team better. And then like us, they had a couple ballgames that they could easily have won and not been 7-5, but easily have been 9-3. So when you get to a bowl game it’s really about who’s the best team, and really to be honest with you, who wants it the most.”
– On Georgia’s defense: “You know Georgia’s really come a long way on defense. Just watching them, they’re athletic, they’re very long. You can look at their numbers just listed on paper, because I read all comments of what you guys write, going from two-hundred and something down to 140 (yards allowed per game) and playing the competition they did, and what they do. So obviously with a new coach and new coordinator they’ve gotten better, they understand the scheme.”
– More on Georgia’s defense: “I think one of Georgia’s strengths is their front four. Their ends particularly. They get up and they’re hard to get up and move things. They’re an SEC front.”
– On Nick Chubb: “You can tell he’s been a little banged up. I’m sure he’s going to be healthier. But he’s got power and he’s got speed. And he’s got a wiggle. He’s a good football player. A real good football player. Obviously: He’s a starting tailback at Georgia.”
– On Chubb and Sony Michel together: “They both have a little bit of power, they both have speed, so you have a combination of both, and you have two of them. It’s one thing to play one running back, it’s another thing to play two. We did that against Oklahoma State and we didn’t fare very well. Same with Kansas State. They had two guys that they rotated in. So we’ve got to do a better job of tackling. A fresh back, especially going into the fourth quarter, when you have two of them you’re able to do that.”
– On Kirby Smart: “I haven’t been around him that much. I think he’s serious about football, though. Which him and I would be very similar when it comes to that. I think he’s very similar about his family. So we’d be similar about that.”
– Isn’t every coach serious about football? “Everybody approaches it different. I’m not saying not everybody does. I think some people take bowl games as it’s a reward, and for me, it is, but it’s also a chance – something you’re going to remember the rest of your life.”
– On if he borrowed any defensive concepts from Smart: “Oh yeah. You’re always looking for a better way to do something. When he was at Alabama – anytime I see somebody do something (to become a better team.)”
– On Georgia’s pass protection: “Any time anybody’s a play-action team, they’re a good running football team, it always makes it harder to get to the quarterback. We had a string in Kansas State that was broken of 41 games (that we had at least one sack). So obviously if they have to throw out of the tight end-type situation, which they do quite a bit, that makes it a little more difficult. Because you have to play the play-action stuff, the run stuff, before you play the pass stuff.”
– Similarities on offense between Georgia and Arkansas (which beat TCU earlier this season): “I think they’re very similar. You know obviously coach Chaney and Sam are both at Arkansas before, so very similar in what they do. But there are some nuances that are different, how the coordinator calls it.”
Patterson made no bones about the fact he reads what is said – including something by a Georgia player the day before. At one point in the press conference, when he was asked about some potential strategy, Patterson declined, saying he didn’t want to divulge anything.
“Kirby Smart’s sitting over there so I’m telling him everything,” Patterson said. “It’s kind of like how I was reading in the paper that one of their offensive linemen in the media talked about our slanting. … Right now I’m not giving Georgia anything. They don’t need much help.”
That appeared to be a reference not to an offensive lineman but to Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich, who was offering a compliment to TCU’s defense. Blazevich said the Horned Frogs were “really good at slanting. I feel like they’re really good at winning their gap when they do slant. There is a field blitz where they slant hard to the boundary. They’re a little bit more unorthodox compared to what we’re used to.
“We’re used to huge guys right up in your face. They’re kind of smaller guys backed up off the ball, but they make up for that. That’s where their niche is—their speed and slanting in the gaps and flying around. I think they play well together. It looks like they have a lot of fun. I know they have a lot of speed off the edge. I think that’s the biggest thing we’re going to have to overcome, just adapting to their speed because they don’t have the size advantage that a lot of other teams have.”
A couple more notes on TCU
TCU has won eight of its last 10 bowl games. Patterson scoffed at the idea that the bowl is just a reward for players.
“There’s never such thing as having a bowl experience and you don’t win,” Patterson said. “We’ve won a Rose Bowl but we’ve lost a Fiesta Bowl. We’ve woon here, which was an unbelievable experience. You go down through the years through all the games that we’ve played there’s no substitute to winning. Because that’s what the kids leave with and what they take into the spring.”
Quarterback Kenny Hill, who dealt with an ankle injury late in the season, isn’t 100 percent but is “close” to that, according to Paterson.