Published September 16, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU's home stadium has become a construction zone, with the 81-year-old facility under going a renovation project that will turn it into a modern showplace.
The 23rd-ranked Horned Frogs have some work of their own to do on Saturday, when they play their home opener against Louisiana-Monroe (1-1)
"As long as they don't change that 100 yards of grass out there, I'm not going to worry about it," coach Gary Patterson said.
TCU has won 20 consecutive games at the stadium, where the renovation began after the final home game last season and a month before the Frogs won the Rose Bowl. The players have gotten accustomed to the unusual setting with yellow tape and hard-hat areas.
"It is real weird. Luckily we've gone through the spring, and every couple of days we'll go down and practice on the game field," fullback Luke Shivers said. "We're used to it, and hopefully we won't really worry about the stadium, but just the team on the field."
TCU hasn't lost at home since 2007 against Utah, which holds the Mountain West Conference record for consecutive home wins. The Utes won 21 in a row at home until the Frogs' 47-7 victory in Salt Lake City last season, before Utah moved to the Pac-12.
With the new upper deck at Amon G Carter Stadium unfinished and unusable, there are only 32,000 seats available this season (down from more than 44,000 last year).
Most, if not all, of the seats will be filled when Patterson goes for his 100th career victory and the 10th consecutive win in a home opener.
The only TCU coach to win more games than Patterson was Dutch Meyer, with 109 from 1934-52. That included the Frogs' only AP national championship in 1938, their only other undefeated season until last year.
"Someday when I look back that will be a big deal," Patterson said. "But not right now, that's not a big deal to me. Us growing up and playing better as a football team is."
After its opening 50-48 loss at Baylor two weeks ago, which ended its nation's-best streak of 25 consecutive regular-season victories, TCU rebounded with a 35-19 win at Air Force in the Mountain West opener.
"When you lose a game, it's very humbling," Shivers said. "Once we lost, we got humbled, so we wanted to get that taste out of our mouth. ... It was a good feeling to get back in the win column."
Their first-ever game against ULM is the first of three consecutive non-conference home games for the Frogs. During a three-game homestand last season, they outscored Wyoming, BYU and Air Force by a combined margin of 114-10.
Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry is no stranger to Patterson and TCU.
Before taking the job at ULM, where Berry is still building with young players, he was coach at Army when the Black Knights and TCU were Conference USA foes from 2001-03, then offensive coordinator at UNLV of the Mountain West from 2007-09.
"All of us get caught up in what people were rather than what they are," Berry said. "I tell the players that I am a believer in what I see right now, and I am not worried so much about the past. I think it's the same thing with teams."
Berry is 0-6 vs. Patterson, losing all three of his games against the Frogs at both Army and UNLV.
Louisiana-Monroe opened with a 34-0 loss while managing only 191 total yards at fifth-ranked Florida State. The Warhawks are 0-21 against Top 25 teams.
Though they bounced back with a 34-7 victory over Grambling State, the defense set the tone for the Warhawks with 10 tackles for losses and seven sacks against the FCS team.
"Offensively right now we are really out of sync and I don't understand it at all," Berry said. "We'll get to the bottom of it this week, I promise you I will because, for whatever reason this is the same group of offensive players that we played with last year and nobody's making any plays."