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August 29, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas - Coach Gary Patterson doesn't want to talk about practice. He wants to talk about a game - when talking about further evaluation of his young team, especially the quarterbacks.
At this point, with nearly three weeks of practice under the Frogs' belt, Patterson said the only thing left to watch is how players perform on game day, using a former TCU quarterback as a perfect example.
"Jeff Ballard got fired every Tuesday," Patterson said. "He was the worst Tuesday quarterback and he was 19-2 as a starter at TCU. He never made it through the Tuesday practice with the number one offense his whole career. We wouldn't have even have found out about him because all we saw was in practice until the BYU game and he had to come in for Tye Gunn and he led us to five straight scoring drives and we won 51-50. If it wasn't for that we wouldn't have known about Jeff Ballard."
Patterson went on to say that Gunn's BYU injury might have helped his future more than he would have known.
"He might not have even gotten a date with his wife," Patterson said with a chuckle.
To get a taste of that game preparation experience, the Frogs will run through a mock game weekend during this bye Saturday to simulate the feel of the day.
The players will walk through everything a game day entails, just short of staying at the team hotel. The team will load onto busses, get dropped off at the stadium and will preview every step they will take the following week.
Once on the field Saturday, the team will have a shorts and helmets only practice running through substitution issues and kicking.
"It's all substitution," Patterson said. "People running in, different situations, all the kicking game. We don't ever want to talk about getting hurt but we say to go replace that guy and everybody knows. We'll go up to the new locker room like we're going to sit at halftime - where the offense goes, where the defense goes. How we'll sit down, how we'll talk, how we'll do things."
Patterson hopes the dress rehearsal will help his young team grow up in the extra week off the Frogs gained.
The delay in TCU's first game has not set into the emotion of the team yet Patterson said, but it could be a long weekend watching other teams hit the field for the first time.
"I don't think they'll know until Saturday," Patterson said. "I think you'll get that feeling on Saturday and Sunday. That's what I got three years ago in 2009 when we didn't play the first weekend. We all hated it because you're all stressed because you've watched everyone else work. We'll get our time."
Patterson said he hopes to redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Matthews, but he will travel with the team. He would not go into whom the team's emergency quarterback will be.
"Usually we wait all the way through the sixth or seventh game [to start looking at redshirting]," Patterson said. "Sometimes we'll travel guys, like Tyler Mathews; we'd like to redshirt. He'll travel with us probably the whole season."
* While TCU, on the surface, runs one defensive package which seems like it would be easy for a young team to pick up, it's far from simple. Patterson said he considers his 4-2-5 defense to be a multiple defense with all the formations and variations he runs, which is much more complex, but said the defense has had good practices as of late.
"If you just run base it is," Patterson said. "If you run all the stuff we do it's not. Defense the last two practices have gotten better. We have our legs back under us and we're better."
* Questioning about redshirt freshman Chris Hackett was met with a quick simple answer, saying he's been "fair" so far.
"He needs to keep getting better," Patterson said.
* Michael Thompson returned to practices Wednesday, but Patterson had nothing to report on his condition.
* Senior defensive end Ross Forrest is practicing, very lightly, and Patterson said if he isn't able to pick up the practice load, it's doubtful he'll see the field in the first game of the season.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:
Patterson offered up this gem when talking about how young and inexperienced his defense was last season:
"I felt like I needed diapers out there."
He also praised the improvement of his defense this season.
"We've come a long way in the secondary from last year where we had two seniors and everyone was a freshman."