By Will Martin
Saturday – November 16 – 2:30 PM
Bill Snyder Stadium – Manhattan
A long hard road will ultimately take you back to the beginning.
It was 30 years ago when Gary Patterson was a part of something special in the great state of Kansas as a linebacker/ safety with the Wildcats.
In 1984 Gary Patterson made his first official stopoff in Manhattan as a linebackers coach for the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech. Not a pleasant experience as K-State would roll 28-12.
Only six times have TCU and Kansas State met in history. An even 3-3 split. This Saturday at 2:30 pm TCU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) and Gary Patterson will make their first visit to Manhattan as the Horned Frogs coach.
Last year the Wildcats (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) made the trek to Ft. Worth and would be victorious 23-10 in the first meeting between both teams since 1986.
The last time TCU had played in Kansas was 1985 as TCU would prevail 24-22. The very first meeting was back in 1922 in Kansas. K-State won that game 45-0. Four straight meetings followed 1983-1986 prior to last year.
The goal for TCU is pretty simple. Gather a win in hostile enemy territory, get one step closer to attaining bowl eligibility for the 9th straight year and 15th time in 16 seasons under Coach Patterson’s watch. K-State coming off a convincing 49-26 victory in Lubbock over the now struggling Red Raiders as John Hubert and Daniel Sams provided a strong and consistent running game while Tyler Lockett is always a threat to go deep on the throwing arm of Jake Waters.
For K-State to be a disruption defensively TCU will have to be on the lookout for Blake Slaughter and Tyler Zimmerman. Two gents who have combined for 141 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 interceptions.
This should be a historical weekend for Casey Pachall. One more touchdown pass to tie Slinging Sammy Baugh for third place all time in TCU history (1934-1936) and 100 yards from surpassing 5,000 career yards as a Horned Frog.
History and sentimentalities aside Gary Patterson had a few items of interest on his mind as he addressed the media earlier this week.
Can you talk about the current state of the team?
“We’re into the third phase of our one-game seasons. The story is about the same. We have to go on the road and play at a tough place against a team that is also working to be bowl eligible.”
As an alumnus/graduate of K-State do you get to deal with the fun of leaving tickets at Will-Call?
“A couple. I know a few people in Kansas. As a general rule, there will not be anybody yelling for me for three hours. That’s okay. That’s the way you’re supposed to do it.”
Will this game have any significance for you?
“This is the first time I’ll be back in 30 years. I don’t think I’ll have time to worry about it, except for probably standing before the game and maybe after the game. It’s been a long time since I was on that field. Coach (Bill) Snyder has done a great job, and there have been a lot of good coaches and good players who have come through since then.”
Your thoughts on the job Bill Snyder has done in bringing K-State back to prominence?
“There is not even a comparison from where it was to what Coach Snyder has done. It extends to the facilities and Manhattan, Kansas, in general. I think it has been voted one of the top places to live. The city and university are really growing. There are just a lot of positive things going on there. They have also been playing good football.”
In winning three games in a row exactly what is K-State doing right?
“They’re playing with a lot more confidence. They are going to run the football and grind at you. You have to be able to handle a three-hour middle drill, both offense and defense. They will then play-action pass. They don’t get enough credit but if you look at them on offense, they actually throw the ball for more yardage than they run it. You need to understand that you have to get ready to hit people in the mouth, because that is the way Kansas State plays. They are going to be very physical, and then you need to make plays. Defensively, they’re not going to beat themselves. They’re going to come after you. (Defensive end Ryan) Mueller leads the nation in sacks, so you have to get ready to play.”
What was the overall mindset of the team after the win in Ames, Iowa?
“They fought back. They also fought back in the Oklahoma game and to tie the West Virginia game. When you look through the season, they have continued to fight back and were finally rewarded at Iowa State. In other games, we have done something to stop ourselves. In this ballgame, we didn’t. We got the stops and score that we needed. Iowa State is a tough place to play, especially without a Jason Verrett, B.J. Catalon, Waymon James and Devonte Fields. That is a hard place to win when you take all those people with you. You then go with Deante’ Gray, a guy who had never played corner and he plays the whole game without giving up a pass.”
Do you feel like the play of your wide receivers the last two weeks has improved?
“I think it has to do with Casey (Pachall) giving us a spark at quarterback. We’ve still dropped some balls. We dropped balls (last) Saturday, but we had some great catches. The two vertical routes going to LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter were both great plays. Not many people could make the play that Brandon made.”
Are you experiencing a sense of Deja Vu of other years where TCU was fighting for a bowl bid?
“Yes, with injuries. In 2004, we also lost five defensive linemen to graduation. In 2001, you had 10 new starters on offense because you lost so many guys from the 2000 season. It is very comparable. We are kind of in the same situation where we sat that year, trying to be bowl eligible and we have to beat two teams who are playing the best in the league right now in Kansas State and Baylor.”
With that said, TCU has an outside shot to become the first team since the 1996 Nebraska Cornhuskers to lead the conference in sacks and interecptions. The 28 sacks lead the conference while the 17 picks are 4th overall in the Big 12.
Look for this game to have a little bit of everything, and somehow TCU pulls out a crazy win with the help of special teams and some strong play from Jason Verrett. I also anticpiate another great performance from Trevone near the goal line. In all a very memorable homecoming for Gary Patterson after 30 years away from his alma mater.