LAWRENCE — It’s probably not fair to say that TCU coach Gary Patterson extols the virtues of “old-man football” — to borrow a phrase once heaved at the physical, battering-ram style of the Southeastern Conference.
But the characteristics are certainly there: a hard-hitting defense, a ball-control offense, a program built in the image of Patterson, a hardworking son of western Kansas.
That’s what KU coach Charlie Weis saw when he studied film of the Horned Frogs this week. And if Weis is being honest, there was a bit of a comfort level with the TCU style.
“They’re trying to be balanced, play physical and play hard,” Weis said. “Who does that sound like? Who do you know that kind of believes in that?”
The answer, of course, is Kansas, which has attempted to establish itself the past two seasons with the core tenets of a reliable running game and physical defense. The results have been mixed — though the Jayhawks have shown progress on defense this season. But one week after getting shelled by Texas Tech’s turbo-speed spread offense, the truth is this: This Kansas team may better suited for an old-school slugfest.
“They’re not trying to go hurry-up on you,” KU junior linebacker Ben Heeney said of TCU. “They’re just trying to line up and see who the more physical, better team is. And I think we match up better with these guys.”
In its first two Big 12 games, the TCU defense held Texas Tech and Oklahoma to 20 points apiece, well below each team’s season average. And despite also facing LSU in the season opener, the Horned Frogs rank fourth in the Big 12 in total defense (354 yards per game).
Weis said that while the film he’s watched gives the impression that the TCU defense may be susceptible to an over-the-top passing attack, that’s fool’s gold.
“You have to be patient,” Weis said. “You have to make sure that you don’t sit there and go bombs away against this team — or you’ll be in for a long night.”