TCU coach Gary Patterson repeated a familiar concern Tuesday: the defense's penchant for giving up big plays over the top of the secondary.
“It’s the old adage; you can play three-deep coverage, you don’t have to play man, but if they run three verticals after 15 yards you’re in man coverage,” Patterson said during his media luncheon. “It doesn’t matter what you call, when the ball is in the air you have to make plays.”
However, Patterson has shaped his defense a little different at times this season to help give his secondary some support.
Varying from Patterson’s traditional four defensive linemen, two linebacker and five defensive back formation, he’s opted to pull a defensive lineman off the field in favor of an extra safety to aid in pass coverage.
Saturday, TCU ran this package four times against Texas Tech with a high success rate, typically subbing free safety Geoff Hooker in for defensive tackle Davion Pierson.
In the first quarter, the extra coverage support allowed Patterson to blitz Jason Verrett, stopping a Tech run for a loss.
In the third quarter, Devonte Fields punishing sack on Seth Doege came from this formation. Patterson rolled this formation out exclusively on third down and long distances. The coaching staff dialed up a noticeably larger number of blitzes in the Frogs past two games, rushing more than the front four approximately 16 times against Texas Tech. Out of those 16 blitzes, TCU picked up a sack, a tackle for loss, or put significant pressure on Doege at least seven times.
The game plan could remain similar Saturday against another pass-first Big 12 team, Oklahoma State, at 2:30 p.m. in Stillwater.
-- Travis L. Brown