DALLAS -- Gary Patterson can see a lot of 2014 in 2016.
"A lot more attention to detail, a lot more work being done," the veteran TCU coach said.
Not to knock 2015, but ...
"I thought last year, we didn't do as good of a job with that during the summertime," Patterson said.Not that the Horned Frogs had a bad season in 2015 -- they went 11-2, won the Alamo Bowl with a postseason record-tying comeback and finished seventh in the final polls.
But Patterson, speaking Monday at the Dallas Omni on the first day of Big 12 media days, gave the impression he can sense something about 2016 that he last sensed two years ago.
"I really like the way this team has approached the summertime," he said. "And sometimes you get a feel for your team -- 'Oh, here comes two-a-days.' This group has not been like that."
Linebacker Travin Howard said this year's Frogs just know better.
"We're older now," he said. "Last year we were a young team, rebuilding on the defensive side. We're older now, we understand more about TCU football and TCU defense. We understand Coach P, the way he coaches."
More than once, Patterson referenced the 2014 team that was coming off a 4-8 year but went 12-1, losing only to Baylor in the unforgettable 61-58 game.
"I like the way our kids have approached the spring and, really, how they have approached the summer," Patterson said. "I sat up here and didn't tell you that a year ago. That's going to be very important for us, to understand going forward that you've got to win as a team when you don't have some of those guys that we had a year ago that were All-Americans."
Even without quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson, TCU will be an experienced team with 13 returning starters.
But it's more like 19 considering six will be back from injury that cost them all or part of the season.
Defensive end James McFarland, linebacker Sammy Douglas, safety Kenny Iloka and cornerback Ranthony Texada were all out by Week 3 last season. Receiver Ty Slanina is back from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 4. Offensive tackle Aviante Collins is a starter after missing last season.
Yet for all its experience, the 2016 team doesn't act like it, Patterson said.
"They're still in a situation where they want to become great," he said. "They don't know who they are. I think that helps you sometimes, as long as there is a competence level. Just watching this summer, if it's any indication, I think there is a bunch of them that will have a chance to step up."
Still, it remains a young squad, and young squads can't afford to let attention to detail slip, running back Kyle Hicks said.
"We know what we have a lot of young guys," he said. "We know that we all have to pay attention, lock in and just be ready, make sure we are well prepared for this year."
Already, the Frogs have to dip into their depth. Running back Shaun Nixon will miss the season because of an injury, Patterson said. He missed 2014 with a knee injury, but played last season as an injury fill-in at wide receiver and finished second on the team in catches.
He is the second player who will have to miss the season because of injury. Starting cornerback Julius Lewis is also out for the year after a leg injury suffered shortly before spring training.
But Patterson remained upbeat. It's easy to tell 2016 intrigues him.
"I'm a lot more excited right now than I was a season ago," he said. "You know when you can tell you have a group where they think they've arrived a little bit, and this team doesn't feel like it's arrived. We only have seven seniors, but I'm not really sure we're a young football team.
"We've got guys that have played a lot of football and have experience. We're going to have to handle things. If we do that, we stay physical, don't beat ourselves, then I think we'll have an opportunity to win more than we lose."Share Video