Former Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett explained to me once that "You are always defending your team". It makes sense - you don't want to trash your guys unless it's on your terms. A coach is not going to allow a fan, and certainly not a member of liberal elite hippie media, to bag on his team before he does.
Nonetheless, it surprised me greatly when roughly 30 minutes after a nice phone conversation with TCU head coach Gary Patterson the man called me unprompted because he wanted to explain something.
"You got me thinking about the Michigan State game, so I went back and watched it," he said of the Frogs' bowl game loss against the Spartans in 2012. "You said our offensive line was bad. If you look at it, we weren't that bad."
In our conversation I expressed concern over the quality of his offensive line as a major issue for this team in 2013. (BTW - He's more concerned with the linebackers).
In my memory, his offensive line was exposed in games against Oklahoma and Michigan State. My lasting memories of TCU's season was that of quarterback Trevone Boykin, and his running backs, being eaten alive by Michigan State.
Specifically, tackles Tayo Fabuluje and Aviante Collins looked completely overmatched.
TCU averaged 2.9 yards per rush in the game, the same for Michigan State.
"Offensively, we were tired in the fourth quarter and they knew we had to throw the ball," he said. "I really don't think this was a case of our offensive line not being good enough. The strength of that Michigan State team was their defensive line."
He added, "If I'm being honest with you, nobody ran the ball great in our (the Big 12)."
Let's see ... the Big 12's rushing averages last season & their national rank:
1. Baylor - 5.0 yards per carry, 231.7 yards per game; 14th nationally
2. Oklahoma State - 5.4 yards per carry, 215.3 yards per game; 21st nationally
3. Kansas - 4.6 yards per carry, 221.7 yards per game; 22nd nationally
4. Kansas State - 4.8 yards per carry, 194.0 yards per game; 32nd nationally
5. West Virginia - 4.8 yards per carry, 171.8 yards per game; 52nd nationally
6. Texas - 4.5 yards per carry, 171.5 yards per game; 53rd nationally
7. Oklahoma - 4.8 yards per carry, 161.4 yards per game; 60th nationally
8. TCU - 3.9 yards per carry, 152.1 yards per game; 65th nationally
9. Iowa State - 4.2 yards per carry, 150.1 yards per game; 73rd nationally
10. Texas Tech - 4.6 yards per carry, 139.9 yards per game; 86th nationally
As you can see, some teams did run the ball pretty well in the Big 12 last season.
Gary was defending his team, and specifically his line.
I told him, "My thought was this is a case of at least a lack of experience and strength."
He said, "That's a fair assessment."
Then he added, "We've got to be better running the ball."
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