Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back to Work

The TCU Horned Frogs appeared rested and ready Saturday morning during their first practice since learning last Sunday they’re playing Boise State at the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.

Officials from the Fiesta Bowl and the city of Glendale, Ariz., watched as the team practiced for the first time in six days at the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility. The Frogs will practice again today before taking a break for final-exams week.

Coach Gary Patterson was pleased with how the Frogs (12-0) practiced and said he looks forward to playing Boise State (13-0), a team the Frogs beat 17-16 in the Poinsettia Bowl last season.

"These guys play fast, so we have to play fast," Patterson said of the Broncos. "We need to get to game speed."

Patterson and Broncos coach Chris Petersen first met in 1986 at California-Davis when Patterson was the linebackers coach and Petersen was the quarterback.

"To me it’s a challenge because I consider them one of the best offenses in the nation," Patterson said of the Broncos’ offense, which averages a nation-leading 44.2 points a game. "It’s a challenge to see if you can match wits with them, and line up against them and play well."

Offense scores
Receiver Curtis Clay, a junior, had never seen it happen. Gary Patterson hadn’t seen it happen in the last four years.

So what happened Saturday at practice?

The first-team offense scored a touchdown on the first-team defense during the Frogs’ mayday drill. In the drill, the offense starts at midfield and tries to drive for a score. As far as anyone can remember, the defense has held the offense to nothing more than a field goal, if anything, for several years. But Andy Dalton hit Ryan Christian on a short route over the middle and Christian ran untouched 40 yards for the touchdown. Christian, a senior, made a head-first flip into the end zone as the offense roared in celebration. The nation’s No. 1 defense was burned on a second-and-10 blitz.

"They haven’t scored very often," Patterson said. "They had the perfect call for a perfect blitz."

Key stat
50Years since TCU played a bowl game later than Dec. 31. The Frogs played Air Force in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1959. The game finished in a 0-0 tie.

Hughes All-American
Defensive end Jerry Hughes was named to his third All-America team Saturday when he was selected to the Football Writers Association of America team. It’s the third such team for Hughes, who leads the Frogs with 11.5 sacks.
Defense No. 1 again TCU is on the cusp of having the No. 1 defense in the nation for the fourth time in nine years after last week’s conference title games. How the top five defenses compare, with rank in parentheses:

School Points Rush Pass Total/Gm
1. TCU 12.4 (6) 80.5 (3) 152.8 (4) 233.3
2. Alabama 11.0 (1) 77.9 (2) 163.8 (7) 241.7
3. Texas 15.2 (8) 62.2 (1) 188.9 (23) 251.1
4. Florida 11.5 (3) 101.6 (13) 151.5 (3) 253.1
5. Ohio State 12.2 (5) 83.4 (5) 179.1 (17) 262.5

Stefan Stevenson - STAR-TELEGRAM