FORT WORTH, Texas-Texas Christian University head coach Gary Patterson has discovered the best way to keep opposing offenses from scoring points against his Horned Frogs.
"The best way is them not having the ball to score," Patterson said during his weekly press conference. "Keeping them off the field is the easiest way against that offense."
Patterson and his Horned Frogs (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) haven't been able to accomplish that feat much during TCU's recent two-game slide, but their opponent on Saturday-West Virginia (3-5, 1-4)-has had a lot of trouble just scoring.
"Week nine, West Virginia. They're a little bit like us. They've had opportunities. They've not been able to find a way in the end to finish ballgames. Even last week at Kansas State, they were ahead at halftime. They have a lot of good potential as far as wide receivers. Their skill set is really good.
"On offense, the key is that they're finally getting settled in at quarterback. Every week they've been getting better. Defensively, they've been very physical. They've played hard and some really good defense. They are very athletic and physical up front."
Words that could just as easily describe the Horned Frogs in 2013.
West Virginia (3-5, 1-2 Big 12) at TCU (1-4, 3-5)
Game time: 3:30 p.m. Saturday ? Television: ESPNU
"You look at the amount of guys we have gone through, playing 16 true freshmen last year and only playing about seven seniors this season. Let's look in the league and find the ones who are playing well. There are guys making plays. You have to find guys in critical situations.
"I've always said great players make great plays, good players make good plays, average players make average plays and bad players make bad plays. Our job as coaches is to make bad better, good better, average better and great better. On both defense and offense, how do you mix it and tweak it going into a season. Over the last two weeks, I thought it made a big difference that Texas and Oklahoma State had off weeks.
"When you get two weeks, you go in and examine what you do and you change it up. When you get four days to change it, it's one thing. It's another thing to have two weeks to look at it and decide how you want to attack people and how you want to do things. You can go down the list. All of it doesn't matter, though, when it all comes down to it because my job is to make sure we win by one point and score one more point."
And, like WVU, that has not happened in a while.
Offensively, TCU received a lift last week when senior quarterback Casey Pachall returned under center. The one-time Offensive Player of the Year candidate in the Big 12 Conference completed 13-of-34 attempts for 139 yards and one interception. But, his numbers don't show his importance to the team.
"I didn't think there was that much rust," Patterson said. "The key is being on the same page. One of the things we get out of him (Pachall), which is very obvious even in practice, is the leadership part. After having to sit out, I think he took a whole different perspective. He looked at the game like a coach does compared to like a player, which is a big difference. It's where you really need to get to if you want to own the system.
"We still have to do a lot better. In this league, scoring seven points isn't going to win you very many ballgames."
And, Pachall and Company will be facing a Mountaineer secondary that ranks No. 9 in pass defense, giving up 261.4 yards per game, and dead last (No. 10) in pass defense effeciency (145.2).
"The bottom line is that you have to score more points. However you do it, you have to catch passes, sustain drives, run better and block better. If you listen to everybody's conference call, the guys who are doing well have the same answers. When you're not winning ballgames, it's also the same answers that come out.
"I've been on both sides of the street in giving the same answers to everybody. You don't make excuses, and you don't talk about it. You find ways to get it done."