March 27, 2012

Tuesday practice report

While many of his players headed out of town or back home for spring break, TCU coach Gary Patterson stayed in Fort Worth and did what he usually finds himself doing in his spare time - preparing for game day.

"I didn't leave," Patterson said after the Frogs' first practice back on Tuesday after a week hiatus for spring break.

"I actually spent last week and broke down Kansas State, Virginia and West Virginia. Just because I had watched everybody else a lot closer. And then we looked at the design of how we are running out of the tunnel and everything else that is going on here from the locker room to the new training room to stadium-wise.

Patterson is known for being hands-on in all phases of the Frogs' football program, from the obvious - the team, to the design of the new additions and goings-on within the athletic department.

"There's no downtime right now. Everybody is on a time line," he said.

"There's us as a football team. And right now you are starting on your marketing for the spring and the summer and next fall and how you'll be doing things in the season."

Despite constantly staying bust, Patterson is at ease with the process.

"I sleep well at night," he said.

Practice notes

Patterson said he was pleased with the defense during Tuesday's practice but had some qualms with the offense.

"I was not happy with red zone (offense)," he said. "We gave up a big play and we threw a silly interception."

Patterson did say, however, he is pleased with how his squad is coming along.

"We went to every other day practices this spring and I think it has really helped us with our knowledge with our younger team," he said.

"But we've got to keep getting better. We're a lot better than we were from when we started three weeks ago and we're not where we need to be yet going forward. But at least we farther along.

He pointed out a few examples of how the team could improve.

One of the things we've got to do as a young team is especially get stronger in our upper body," he said.

"We'll have three hard practices with lifting this week and be able to follow it up next week with two, one of those being shorts practices.


No change in return game

Patterson said there really hasn't been any change in the return game and the same players who lined up at returner last year should hold down their spots this season.

"It's the same guys - Brandon Carter and Ed Wesley and those guys and Skye Dawson back in punt returns," Patterson said. "We are trying to do some things to get them tougher mentally and tougher handling the ball.

"Because we've had two or three all-Americans and we put the ball on the ground far too much last year and we've got to do a better job at that."

Touting Tausch

One of the players Patterson pointed out to have been making strides after injuries sidelined several players was junior Eric Tausch.

"He has been starting at tackle since Tayo (Fabuluje) has been gone," Patterson said.

"Right of left (tackle). So him moving and they know he is also a great backup center pushing for a starting role.

"If you can find five starters right now you've got six and to make it through the season you've got to have eight at least. That's our biggest push is to get back there."

Patterson said when Michael Thompson returns from injury, he could play a number of positions.


Practice changes

The Frogs will practice again on Thursday and will have their last scrimmage of the season on Saturday. Patterson said at the team's practice next Tuesday, he and the staff will give the younger players a chance to "get after each other halfway through practice."

He said the team will then turn its attention to the teams that run a different style of offense.

"Teams like Kansas State, West Virginia," Patterson said. "We've been watching everybody. The plays that we think are hard to defend in our scheme...Maybe some critical things that we are not seeing in practice, doing some things we're not doing in practice so that we kind of get an idea of what we need to do with our secondary."


Graves settling in

After moving positions on several occasions, Patterson said Antonio Graves is settling in at the strong safety spot.

"Doing really good," Patterson said of Graves. "I think we've made ourselves a lot better by moving him there."

Patterson said he thought spring break was good for some of the younger players, Graves included, to "clear their mind" after banging in practice constantly.


Other notes

- Patterson didn't specify who, but he said the staff may remove some players to make sure are doing what needs to be done in the classroom.
"There's some guys we may take out of spring ball the last week just to give ourselves the best opportunity to make sure we're doing what we need to - as much as we can academically," he said.

- Before spring break, Patterson said he was worried his players may doing something stupid or get hurt but he said on Tuesday that everyone stayed safe. The only player not back on campus as of yet is offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje, who is stuck in Salt Lake City with a standby airline ticket.

- Patterson said he is not too comfortable with his team's depth at tight end: "We lost two physical tight ends. We've got better vertical, physical tight ends but playing them the way TCU does we've got to keep being physical and that's what our tight ends do…We've got two tight ends coming in in the fall so we will see how it all turns out."

- Patterson pointed out that the team has only eight receivers on scholarship when asked if Kolby Listenbee would see some playing time this fall: "I would say yes."

- When asked if Catalon is continuing to prove his merit, Patterson pointed out that young running backs prove themselves by being able to pass-protect. "He's a 600 pound squatter and a 400 pound bencher," Patterson said of Catalon. "So he should be able to block anybody coming off the edge."

- Patterson said Joel Hasley and Danny Heiss are performing at the linebacker spot but overall, he is somewhat concerned with depth at the position: "It's pretty easy to be a No. 22 right now because there is nobody pushing them. I might be able to be a No. 3."

- Patterson said defensive line depth would improve once several players return from injury: "You are going to get Matt Anderson back…you're going to get David Johnson…so right now the great part about these last five practices is Davion Pierson, (Ray) Burns, all those guys, Jon Lewis - they are getting all the live reps so all that does is make you better down the road."

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