His team unranked in both the Associated Press and coaches polls, TCU coach Gary Patterson might as well be writing thank-you notes.
“It makes my job a lot easier when people say that we’re not worth a darn,” he told reporters Thursday after practice. “Then I don’t have to tell them that.”
The Horned Frogs will start the season Sept. 2 against Jackson State outside of the AP and USA Today Coaches rankings. It’s just the third time in 13 years they are not in the AP Top 25 to start the season.
“You spend your whole life as a coach either proving them wrong or proving them right,” Patterson said of the pollsters. “It’s what we do.”
The last time the Frogs were unranked in preseason, they put together a 12-1 season and finished third in the final polls.
If pressed, Patterson can see some similarities to 2014. But some differences, also.
“I think probably there’s a lot of similarities,” he said. “Nobody’s giving me a chance. Picked low. We won more ballgames last year than we did in ’13. The thing you’ve got that’s different from ’14, that year you were playing 10 games in the state of Texas. This year, we’ve got to go on the road six times.”
“Those are tough places to play,” Patterson said.
TCU is 62-28 on the road under Patterson, including 14-9 in the Big 12.
▪ Backup offensive guard Casey McDermott Vai will miss the season because of an injury, unspecified by Patterson. Starting right tackle Lucas Niang, slowed by injury, is expected to play against Jackson State, but not likely the entire game, Patterson said. Matt Pryor has been playing tackle when Niang has been out.
▪ Defensive tackle L.J. Collier has been slowed by a foot injury but will be ready for the first game, Patterson said, and might see action at defensive end against Arkansas. “You need a bigger, 278-, 280-pound guy out there,” Patterson said.
▪ Patterson said Ty Summers is likely to play in the season opener at defensive end but could move to linebacker for Arkansas and other games, depending on matchups.
▪ Kicker Brandon Ritchie returned to practice after a week and a half off to rest his leg and nearly made a 57-yard kick. “He just barely missed,” Patterson said. “It was straight.” Jonathan Song made a kick from 50-plus. “I had two of them make from over 50 today,” Patterson said.