Injuries part of first-half problems

The halfway point of the football season has arrived for TCU, and it heads into the second half of the season with a few problems it hopes to take care of, head coach Gary Patterson said.After losing at Wyoming on Saturday, the Horned Frogs returned to an even record with all three losses coming on the road.

Patterson said two of the main reasons TCU has struggled out of the gate have been injuries and tough play from the opposition.

The injury of sophomore running back Joseph Turner limits the Frog’s ability to pound the ball in the red zone, Patterson said.

“If you want to win ball games, you’ve got to be able to run in the red zone,” Patterson said. “There are no ifs, ands or buts.”

Patterson said injuries have not been this big of a factor since the 2004 season – TCU’s last losing season at 5-6.

Senior linebacker David Hawthorne said injuries are going to happen and a team just needs to find a way to adjust and live with those injuries.

“It’s our job to prepare for the next man to step up, and I think we’ve done that well,” Hawthorne said. “Injuries haven’t really hurt us, but in a couple key positions, we had to grow up a couple players faster than normal.”

After starting the season ranked and as the favorites to win the Mountain West Conference, Patterson said, teams always bring their “A-game” against the Frogs.

“They’re not playing against you like you’re just some average team,” Patterson said. “By beating you, because you’re the pre-season favorite, that makes their program look better.”

The Frogs will travel to Stanford, Calif., on Saturday where they will face the Stanford Cardinal.

One week ago, Stanford was a 1-3 team that had allowed more than 40 points in each of its losses. Last Saturday, Stanford beat the previously No. 2 University of Southern California, showing how much difference a week can make.

Patterson said the talent of Stanford has never been a question in his mind.

“Everybody I talked to in the summertime said this: ‘They’re a lot more talented then what people give them credit for,'” Patterson said.

Senior wide receiver Marcus Brock said Stanford has been in the back of his mind since seeing an ESPN special on the team in the summer. After the win against USC, Brock said, his attention toward Stanford has definitely increased, but the pressure to win has not.

“Them beating USC, that’s a fantastic win for their program,” Brock said, “but us personally, we’re concerned for TCU, with what it does for us – bettering our record and getting us our first victory on the road.”

For Hawthorne, Stanford’s big win serves as extra motivation.

“It lets us know that we have to go on the road against a Stanford team that has a lot of confidence right now,” Hawthorne said. “If we want to win, we’ve got to take the ball game.”

TCU’s three losses have come against teams with winning records, which Patterson said shows him the problem is not whether the team is playing hard.

He said the Frogs could be a 5-1 team right now if they had been able to finish strong against Air Force and Wyoming.

Brock said the team isn’t used to losing and it just needs to get back to the basics in order to start winning again.

“We have to put it all together and close that last gap,” Brock said, “and put our thumb on the last few things that we need to clean up.”

Patterson said despite the injuries, tough play and a difficult remaining schedule, there is no reason to give up hope.

“We’ve got half a season left. No reason to throw in the towel yet,” Patterson said. “This is not the movie ‘300’ where we’re getting pushed off the cliff.