TCU coach: 'The Utah game is one that everyone remembers'

TCU coach: 'The Utah game is one that everyone remembers'

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS - TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson has been down this road before. As he'd tell you matter-of-factly, this isn't his first rodeo against the University of Utah (8-1, 5-0 MWC).

In his weekly press conference Patterson was quick to praise the 14th ranked Utes and Head Coach Kyle Whittingham; and why wouldn't he? Utah is the only team in the Mountain West Conference Patterson has a losing record against. In fact, Utah has dominated the series (5-1).

And don't think for a minute Patterson doesn't know that. Don't think he'll be blinded by the lights of ESPN's GameDay or the shimmer of the new Horned Frogs uniforms from Nike. The odds makers have Utah as a 16-point underdog, but Patterson said he knows better.

"Utah is one of those teams that is going to come at you," Patterson said specifically mentioning how well prepared Utah always is and how talented the Utes are on the field and on the sideline. "They have good players and are well-coached."

He even admits the Utes are one of a few teams that neutralize a huge advantage the Horned Frogs typically have over their competition.

"We don't necessarily ever have the speed factor against Utah. Not only TCU, but a lot of people struggle with Utah," Patterson said. "It's always been close ballgames; it's always been physical - this ballgame's probably not going to be much different."

Last season's game fits that description, a 13-10 comeback win for the Utes in Salt Lake City. A game the Horned Frogs felt they should have won and could have won if not for two missed field goals in the fourth quarter. A game the Utes used to propel them in to the BCS picture.

"The Utah game is certainly one that everyone remembers," Patterson admitted, but said it is not serving as motivation heading into Saturday's contest. Instead, it was a learning experience his team carried through the end of last season and into 2009.

"It was a heartbreaker. Not only did I learn from the experience, but the players also learned from the experience.

"I think it helped us in the first part of the season. It helped us in the Boise St. game when we played them in the Poinsettia Bowl because we understand the difference between winning and losing is a very tight fraction- it's a very fine line," Patterson said. "It has helped us mature."

Patterson credits that maturity for the Horned Frogs' success in 2009. The offense only lost two starters from last year and is led by a veteran quarterback (Junior Andy Dalton) and a veteran group of playmakers. Patterson sites cohesiveness, health plus talent for his team's offensive production.

In past years TCU would play and win a lot of close ball games. The defense would dominate and the offense would score just enough to gain victory. 17-7, 21-10 were typical scoring lines from a TCU contest.

Now the Horned Frogs are blowing teams out averaging more than 37 points a game, sixth highest average in the country.

Add that potent offense to one of the most dominating defenses in the country, TCU is ranked third and fifth in total defense (240.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (11.2 points per game), and you've got a 9-0 record and a No. 4 BCS ranking.

But despite the gaudy numbers Patterson is not deterred. He knows what Utah is capable of and knows his team can't afford the types of mistakes it made last year in Salt Lake City.

"We've got to be very focused. We got to play within ourselves because that's what teams do that win big games. They've got to make the critical plays at critical times, not just be jumping all over the place."

Patterson said it is these types of games that make you better; the type of games you mark on your calendar because they can teach a person or a team a lot about itself.

"This is the kind of game you want to play in. This is what you work for all season, since last January," Patterson said. "You love playing great competition, you like playing in big ballgames- it's truly what you play for. Get a chance to prove what kind of player you are and what kind of team that you have. Utah is one of those teams that always make you step up to the plate."

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. from Fort Worth, Texas.

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