‘We need to have more fun.’ TCU’s D searching for more takeaways

TCU hasn’t had a takeaway since Big 12 play started. The Frogs are the only conference team with that dubious distinction.

Winning the turnover battle is something that is constantly preached inside TCU’s football walls, but it hasn’t come to fruition early on. Coach Gary Patterson is well aware that must improve, going as far as saying his program needs to “have more fun” doing so.

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Maybe that means following Miami’s lead with a blinged-out “turnover chain” that has created spinoffs such as Boise State’s “turnover throne” or Memphis’ “turnover robe.”

“We won’t probably start this game, but we need to have more fun to be honest with you,” Patterson said. “So we may start some of that stuff that everybody else is doing. In our own way.”

Any extra motivation should be welcomed at this point as TCU travels to Kansas State for a 1:30 p.m. game on Saturday.

The Frogs’ defense produced five takeaways the first three games, but have been shutout in two Big 12 games against Kansas and Iowa State.

It’s a similar trend from last season when TCU forced only six takeaways in its first eight games. The Frogs were 3-5 during that stretch before forcing multiple takeaways in each of the final five games.

This season has seen TCU record all of its takeaways on interceptions. There have been zero fumble recoveries thus far.

“I didn’t even know the stat,” Patterson said. “Takeaways ... the game has to slow down. If you have three guys getting to the tackle, then one is usually stripping so you’re going to have more of those kind of things happen to you.

“For our guys, we need to think about it. It’s something we talk about.”

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K-State has been prone to fumbling the ball away this season, losing the second-most fumbles among Big 12 teams with six. The Wildcats have thrown just one interception.

As far as interceptions are concerned, Patterson pointed to the defensive system dictating opportunities. If the Frogs play more man coverage, opportunities for interceptions decrease.

In zone coverage, those opportunities increase because the defensive backs usually have an easier time reading the quarterback.

Patterson said the team works on interception techniques throughout fall camp and every Sunday practice during the season.

“We need to do more of it as far as guys need to be more opportunistic in what we do and how we do it,” Patterson said.

Despite the lack of takeaways, TCU still boasts the league’s top-ranked defense. The Frogs have forced 3-and-outs on 48 percent of possessions (33-of-69), which ranks second in the country.

Continuing that trend is essential against a team such as K-State that covets time of possession. And, hey, it’s not a bad alternative considering the takeaways aren’t coming in bunches these days.

“It’s important for us to get our third-down stops, just make sure we can get off the field and not allow them to chew as much clock off as they want,” sophomore free safety Trevon Moehrig said. “Just get our offense back out there, get them to score, look for defense to get 3-and-outs.”

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This story was originally published October 16, 2019 6:00 AM.

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