‘I’ve never played to lose.’ TCU football’s Patterson defends late-game strategy vs. OU

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TCU coach Gary Patterson brushed off fans who thought he waved the white flag too early in a 52-31 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday night.

There were three decisions in the second half that drew the most scorn, but Patterson explained each decision afterward.

Trailing 38-21 with five minutes left in the third quarter, TCU faced a fourth-and-goal from the 4. Instead of going for a touchdown, Patterson opted for a field goal.

“It made it a two-score game,” Patterson said. “I don’t care (if fans disagree).”

Patterson then talked about his decision to go for an onside kick earlier in the third quarter after TCU pulled to within 31-21. The onside kick didn’t work out, but Patterson used that as an example of playing to win the game.

“(OU) wasn’t ready for it,” Patterson said. “They had missed a 35-40 yard span between their front line and the guys back there. All he had to do was kick it on the ground and we’re going to get it.”

Outside of settling for a field goal in the third quarter, fans were upset when Patterson punted it twice on drives afterward.

Trailing 45-24 late in the third quarter, the Frogs faced a fourth-and-9 from the Oklahoma 38 and punted. Trailing 45-31 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, they punted facing a fourth-and-8 from the TCU 18.

The decision to punt from the OU 38 in the third quarter ended up working out for TCU. The Sooners started that drive on their own 6 and the Frogs forced a three-and-out.

TCU capitalized with a TD drive and pulled to within two touchdowns 45-31. But OU scored a TD following the punt in the fourth quarter, sealing the game.

“It was fourth-and-whatever. You’re over 6, 7 yards,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he didn’t have any inclination to go for either of those fourth-down plays.

He then added: “Here’s what everybody needs to understand. You have to manage a season. You’re not just managing a ball game, you’re managing a season. Which side of the ball is beat up? (Defense). You better manage the season because the key is to get to six (wins) and then win more. It’s not just manage this ballgame.

“I’ve been here 24 years and I’ve never played to lose or to get by. You have to be smart about what you do. Obviously I kicked an onside kick, right? We also have to have a lesson where you can’t hit a guy when he fair catches the ball. Two lessons there, kick it like I want you to and don’t hit the guy that fair catches the ball.”

TCU (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) faces West Virginia next Saturday in Fort Worth.

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