TCU's Patterson sees two sides to bye week

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

TCU coach Gary Patterson has mixed feelings about his team not playing this week. On one hand, it gives his younger players a chance to continue to prepare for what should be a grueling and highly competitive season. But it also gives Virginia, the Horned Frogs' opening opponent, a chance to tweak things after seeing its team in game action.

“We were supposed to get Texas State this week, but it just couldn’t be worked out,” Patterson said during the Mountain West coaches teleconference Tuesday. “Now as you look back, it’s really allowed us to grow our team up a bit more. We only have 13 seniors. We have a lot of guys that are underclassmen playing, especially on defense, and it’s really allowed us to get more preparation time, and we’ll be able to do more good-on-good stuff this week up till Thursday.”

Patterson said the extra week also would help his team get healthy. He said 12 to 14 players have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms. Seven of those players are still out today.

“I think over the long haul [the extra week] really helps us,” Patterson said. “Especially with the flu bug and everybody being out; for us to get our team healthy, get our team more prepared. I think in the long run for the season it’s going to turn out to be a good deal. Whether it is early here only time will tell.”

TCU will have a mock scrimmage this weekend, which includes a simulation of pregame and postgame activities. The Horned Frogs also will host fan day. After all that, the team hopes to watch an Internet stream of Virginia’s season opener against William & Mary, and some of the other games throughout the day, including No. 20 BYU’s matchup against No. 3 Oklahoma.

That BYU game is the first showcase game for a Mountain West Conference that has been the center of attention since the 2008 season ended in January. Utah finished as the only undefeated team in the country, but was denied an opportunity at the national championship, which sparked a six-month, nationwide debate about the fairness of the current BCS system.

The Mountain West expects to face scrutiny this season as it makes a case for acceptance with the BCS conferences.

Patterson said he’s eager watch the game, but he doesn’t think the Cougars have to win to make a point that the Mountain West can play with the best teams in the nation.

“I don’t think they have to win, I think they have to play very well,” he said. “The thing is to do it, but I’m sure they’re going in to win. I’ve listened to their player’s comments and everything going out, so I don’t think they’re intimidated by Oklahoma at all, and I think they’ll come in and play. They’ve played in some big ballgames.

“I think everyone out there [in the Mountain West] playing ballgames this week, they’re in the same mode of moving forward as a conference. Everyone talks about last year, but last year was last year and we need to all forget about it now. Now we need to move forward. Everybody needs to go play well again this year, and that’s what we have to do as a conference to keep getting the recognition that we’ve acquired here in the last couple years.”