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August 14, 2012

Practice Notebook 8/14: TCU's youth movement excelling

FORT WORTH, Texas - Blame it on practicing in the new stadium, or maybe all the preseason hype surrounding TCU's offense, but the Horned Frog defense came to play Tuesday.

Led by senior Kenny Cain, the defense on the field was flying to the ball, while those on the sidelines chanted and yelled to keep the intensity level high.

"[Cain] has to," Patterson said. "Him and Stansley [Maponga] have to become that guy. When you only have freshman and sophomores you have to have some older guys who step up and do those kind of things."

The importance of upper classman leadership increased as senior right defensive end Ross Forrest was not dressed for practice due to injury. True freshman Devonte Fields spent the practice taking reps with the first team defense.

Patterson took the practice into the new Amon Carter Stadium to try and get some adrenaline pumping into tired legs.

"When you come in here you have to play different," Patterson said. "That's what you do when you come in Amon Carter, where you're 66-6. When you come in The Carter, you have to be different."

The focus of not only Tuesday's practice, but also the entire camp up to this point has been trying to speed up the maturation of a very young and inexperienced TCU team. As of Tuesday, in TCU's top 22, 14 to16 players are freshman and sophomores, Patterson said. He went on to say that this is probably the youngest team he's put on the field in his 15 years at TCU.

Included in this group of players inexperienced to TCU football is sophomore transfer Paul Dawson, who has found his way into 1st team reps at linebacker due to a head injury to Joel Hasley.

Patterson said he wouldn't be surprised of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Aviante Collins were starting at tackle when the season begins. He also mentioned safety Derrick Kindred and cornerback Deante' Gray as two freshmen that could earn a starting spot before it's all said and done.

"We're going to play the best," Patterson said. "We're going to have growing pains, but if they want to win ballgames they're going to have to grow up. But you have to put the best people on the field."

Watching practice, Patterson's fiery demeanor might come across as disappointment, but he said it's just part of pushing these young athletes to grow up as quickly as possible.

"You've got to drive them and you've got to keep getting better," Patterson said. I'm excited about playing them because there is a whole bunch of these young guys that want to get good."

Tuesday came just on the heels of the team's first scrimmage of the fall, which Patterson dismissed as all right. He said it was mostly about watching the players block and hit and get into the physical flow of the game.

Because of that, not much progress has been made in selecting a true backup to Casey Pachall at quarterback. In Tuesday's practice, both Trevone Boykin and Matt Brown took a lot of reps as they continue to try out for the spot.

Patterson said the time is drawing very near that the coaching staff will need to make a decision and go with it to give that player a chance to prepare for the season.

The team will only be on the field once Wednesday morning for another scrimmage. Patterson's goal for his team is to push through the rest of the week, fighting through the fatigue that has set in, and get through Saturday before they get some rest. Monday marks the beginning of classes for the team.

Be sure and check out our video of Patterson's post-practice comments for more on Patterson's thoughts about developing a young team



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