Coach: Rams’ physical traits to challenge Frogs

Most would point to next Thursday’s showdown with No. 8 BYU as the biggest upcoming game for the Horned Frogs. At his press conference on Tuesday, head coach Gary Patterson said Saturday’s game with Colorado State is the only one that matters right now.

“This week’s meeting with the players only lasted about two minutes,” he said. “I told the guys this Colorado State team is the second-best team they have faced to this point, and they will have to bring the energy on the road.”

While TCU dispatched San Diego State 41-7 on Saturday, Colorado State improved to 3-2 on the season, cruising to victory at home over UNLV 41-28. The Rams were led by senior running back Gartrell Johnson, who rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Colorado State gained 510 yards of total offense as quarterback Billy Farris passed for 294 yards and a touchdown.

“They’ve got two big skill players that can run by you and catch the deep ball,” Patterson said. “They’ve got big tight ends like they’ve always had, and their offensive line is big and physical. And it always seems like they have a back that can run over you.”

TCU has gone 5-1 in its first six games, due in large part to the team’s ability to stop the run. On Saturday, the Horned Frogs held San Diego State to minus 13 yards on the ground. TCU stopped SMU for minus 8 yards rushing earlier in the season and ranks No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense, yielding 22.3 yards per game.

Frogs’ senior safety Stephen Hodge said the defense’s main priority is to stop the run each week.

“If we come and play like we have, we can do well against any running back in the nation,” Hodge said.

In the Frogs’ 35-10 loss to No. 1 ranked Oklahoma, the defense stood up against a Sooners’ backfield that had rushed for more than 200 yards per game in its previous three games. The Frogs only yielded 25 yards rushing on 36 attempts.

However, the Rams’ Johnson has rushed for 491 yards and five touchdowns in five games, averaging five yards per carry.

“The Johnson kid is a guy that even gave Cal fits,” Patterson said. “He is definitely physical.”

The Frogs will travel to Fort Collins, Colo., and play a Rams team that is 3-0 at home this season. The Rams got a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Sacramento State 23-20 in the second week of the season and defeated Houston the following week 28-25.

“The main thing is keeping focus,” Hodge said. “It’s just another game and we’ve got to get it.”