Gary Paterson and the TCU Horned Frogs will visit Manhattan on Saturday to take on K-State. (File photo/The Associated Press)
The road to a Big 12 championship for TCU must be achieved on the road.
The Horned Frogs already have a road win at Oklahoma State and play at Kansas State on Saturday. Arguably the toughest schedule in the Big 12 also takes them to Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. In addition, the Frogs picked up a nonconference road win at Arkansas.
“We knew going into the season that we were going to have six tough road games, six tough places to go play,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “This group knows what’s in front of them. When we went to Oklahoma State we knew what we were going into, and the same way with Arkansas.
“We treat Manhattan the same. Coach (Bill) Snyder and the Wildcats are hard to beat at home. No matter what kind of season, whether you’re 0-5 or 5-0, they’re hard to handle so we have to get ready to play.”
There’s no doubt Patterson – a native Kansan from Rozel and former K-State player – will have his No. 6-ranked Frogs ready for the 11 a.m. kickoff at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. TCU has a 15-9 road record in its Big 12 history and since 2009 has the nation’s third-best road record at 35-10.
“Gary is a magnificent coach,” Snyder said. “He’s a very competitive individual. He’s able to get the message across. Even Gary will tell you it’s that underdog environment that he likes to be in. If it’s not there, he tries to create it and he has young guys that respond to that.”
Patterson, however, disputes that notion.
“Everybody says that I like being the underdog,” he said. “I really don’t like being the underdog.
“I think it fits TCU in the scenario in the state of Texas. Bottom line to it is, instead of fighting it, why don’t we just go about our business and prove people wrong?”
TCU OFFENSE: Quarterback Kenny Hill is a dual-threat passing and running. The Frogs rank only ahead of K-State in the Big 12 passing stats but have a potent rushing attack that is No. 1 in conference at 219.8 yards a game.
Darius Anderson averages 93.0 yards and Kyle Hicks averages 66.6 a game.
“They have good depth at the running back position,” Snyder said. “They are vastly improved up front and that makes a big difference in the running game.”
The key to the offense, though, remains Hill.
“We have to go after him with an effective pass rush but still contain him in the running game, which is tough,” said K-State defensive end Kyle Ball. “He can hurt you with his legs if a lane opens up.
“They have a lot of speed and up front they are pretty talented and pretty big. They have speed at quarterback so we have to combat that speed and get our assignments quick and go after them.”
TCU DEFENSE: Patterson is a defensive-minded coach and has a good unit.
The Frogs are No. 4 in the Big 12 in total defense at 360.4 yards a game and No. 1 in scoring defense at 19.6 (K-State is No. 2 at 20.0). They are strong against the run at 104.0 yards, which is No. 1 in the conference and No. 15 in the nation.
“Gary has an awful lot of things that they do,” Snyder said. “They are playing a little bit different this year than what they did against us last year, but he’s a smart man and they’ll do what they need to do to defend us as well as they can. You better be prepared for everything they have in the tank.”
Defensive end Ben Banogu has 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks among his 23 total tackles, while linebacker Tavin Howard has 38 tackles with one interception.
“Gary is a bright defensive coach,” Snyder said. “He’s going to find those things a defense has to do in any given game, and that can vary from game to game. He gets the very best out of them. They put people who can do certain things in the right spots.”