"Our guys haven't acted much different. They understood the competition going into the season and it hasn't been any different,'' Patterson said. "Usually as it does when you're closer in competition, it's going to be six to eight plays that are going to be the difference in the ballgame, and that's held up pretty true so far.''
Still, TCU isn't used to this. The Horned Frogs under Patterson have finished in the Top 10 three of the last four years. At 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12, that's not going to happen this time around.
No, tied nationally for the most true freshmen (16) and total freshmen (28) who have played this season, TCU's goals are more modest. Like getting the one more win for bowl eligibility.
Patterson isn't using the absence of Pachall or the injuries or anything else as a crutch.
"For us to get where we want to go, we've got to grow this football team up one way or the other because that's what good programs do,'' Patterson said. "We've just got to keep moving forward, because once I decide I'm going to make that excuse then they're going to make that excuse.
"We went through a little bit of this back in 2004 and we bounced back in 2005. So we're trying to win one more ballgame so that we can get the extra practices and get to a bowl game. And if you can get six then you're going to try to get seven and then eight.''
In the Big 12, though, that's no easy task. TCU's last four games a year ago were against Wyoming, Boise State, Colorado State and UNLV. This year the last four are against West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma.
Patterson will be delving into that schedule with freshmen and backups littered throughout the lineup. It's not ideal, but it is what it is.
"Obviously it's a little bit frustrating because you would like to have played with a little bit stronger team, an older team going into a strong conference,'' Patterson said. "But I've learned that with the football gods, everything happens for a reason. And so we're going to keep pushing at it and try to find a win on the road against the Mountaineers.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.