Gary Patterson’s past is full of moments in Kansas.
From the time he was born in Larned to his days as a safety and linebacker at Kansas State, and, later, a graduate assistant at his alma mater, some of Patterson’s fondest memories and deepest connections come from the Sunflower State.
“My uncle, Harold Patterson, is a Hall of Famer at KU,” said Patterson of the former Kansas University end, who played from 1952-53. “Another uncle, Ray Patterson, played for Bill Parcells at Wichita State. I have a lot of history going back that direction.”
The list will grow by one at 11 a.m. today, when Patterson brings 16th-ranked TCU to Memorial Stadium for the school’s first Big 12 Conference game.
Although it’s clear whom the 12-year TCU veteran will be pulling for in today’s meeting, Patterson has had plenty of Rock-Chalk moments in his past.
“I was probably more of a Kansas fan growing up,” he said. “But I felt I was a better fit (as a player) at Kansas State. A lot of my friends ended up going to Kansas State, and I walked on there. My family is split, about half Kansas and half K-State.”
In addition to playing and coaching at Kansas State, Patterson coached linebackers for a year at Pitt State and played two seasons of football at Dodge City Community College before transferring to K-State.
Patterson is not the only member of the TCU program to have ties to Kansas. The Horned Frogs’ roster features three Kansans — Blaize Foltz and Brady Foltz (Rose Hill) and Tyler Matthews (McPherson) — but Patterson said he did not think today’s homecoming would be a distraction for any of them.
“I haven’t spoken to them about it,” Patterson said. “For us, it’s like Texas kids here playing (hometown teams) all the time. I know (they) would like to win the ballgame.”
Through the season’s first two games, the Jayhawks have identified plenty of areas of weakness that need to be addressed.
The offensive line is not one of them.
“We’ve given up two sacks in two games, and we’ve rushed the ball up and down the field against everybody,” KU coach Charlie Weis said matter-of-factly. “You have to give some credit to the offensive line.”
Not only has KU’s offensive line opened enough holes for tailbacks Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox to each average 100 yards per game and more than 6 yards per carry, but it also has done a wonderful job of keeping opposing defenses away from quarterback Dayne Crist. While Crist has struggled to settle in, he said he has been pleased with the protection in front of him.
“I really have,” he said. “I haven’t had to worry about that at all. You’re gonna take hits, it’s part of the game. But I think the guys up front have done a great job.”
Ready to run?
While the running backs have been a bright spot for the Jayhawks so far, things figure to get more difficult when a bigger, tougher TCU team lines up on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage today.
While Weis fully expects TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas to present a new challenge for his offense, the first-year KU coach said he believed his running game was capable of continuing to roll.
“Let’s face it, you just played the almost identical scheme last week so you schemed that scheme,” Weis said. “Besides, your players created some running lanes, but (Bumpas is) going to take that away. He’s not going to sit there and say, ‘OK, they were running that, so I’m going to let him run, let them have those plays.’ So what that forces you to do is come up with new ideas, (and) I think we feel pretty confident that we have ways to attack them in the running game.”
Trick play policy
In each of the first two games, Weis has called some kind of a trick play on the Jayhawks’ first offensive series. In Week 1, a slight-of-hand, delayed bomb from Crist to Kale Pick went for a 43-yard gain and energized the home crowd. The second, a ‘Jayhawk’ formation flea-flicker, was intercepted by Rice. However, just because the Jayhawks are batting .500 in that department does not mean Weis plans to get conservative.
“Going into a game, I always have multiple flea-flickers,” Weis said. “I mean, I have a list of them all ready to be dialed up. But, you know, there’s a risk/reward factor when you call them. When they work, everyone thinks they’re great. (When) they don’t work, then you’re dumb. So the risk/reward factor for a play like that is high on both ends.”