Patterson: Frogs can’t rely on fans on road

With No. 14 Utah looming in the distance, Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson said in his weekly press conference Tuesday that it is important to focus on what is in front of them as the team prepares for this week’s road game against a “resilient” San Diego State Aztecs team.

“I don’t think anyone’s looking forward to Utah,” Patterson said. “I think the fans are, but as far as our kids I don’t think so. I think if they would have done that you probably would have seen a little of that against UNLV.”

Despite being ranked No. 6 in the country in the BCS rankings, Patterson would rather discuss his team’s turnovers than the possibility of playing in a BCS bowl game.

“I’m excited for our fans,” Patterson said. “I’m excited that they have something to talk about. Nationally we’re getting a lot of attention, but my job is to make sure they don’t get their hearts broken.”

Patterson also noted the importance of the team not relying on crowd energy at road games when he talked about the difficulties of being so far from Mountain West Conference opponents.

“It’s different than Colorado State going to play Air Force where they’ll have 25,000 of their own,” Patterson said. “We’re only going with about 250 people — I don’t know what the crowd will be like there, but whether you play at BYU or anywhere else you’ve gotta go take ball games. If we rely on (fans) we’ll get beat.”

The team will likely rely on its nationally top-ranked defense, which appears to be reaching its stride, Patterson said.

“The thing I like is they all hunt a lot better together now,” Patterson said. “Their confidence level in each other and communication level on defense right now in the last is the best it’s been since we started with this group last spring.”

Patterson attributed some of the defense’s, and the team’s, recent success to a less physically demanding practice week where he allows his players to remove their pads halfway through Wednesday practice.

“I think it’s helped us get our legs and shoulders back a little bit more,” Patterson said. “We’re just trying to always look up avenues of what we need to do and how to do them.”

While it might be easy for a lot of fans to overlook what appears to be an inferior Aztec team, Patterson understands nothing will come easily for his team.

“We’ve gotta keep our noses down and understand we’re gonna have to go fight, claw and scratch to get everything we can,” he said.