He might be one of the early contenders for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, but TCU cornerback Jason Verrett is hardly satisfied by how this season has begun. The senior is tied for the Big 12 lead in pass breakups with nine and is ready to get the Frogs’ season back on track.
TCU is 2-3 with two early Big 12 road losses, but Verrett likes how his team is coming together and is confident this defense – despite Devonte Fields' season-ending injury – is ready to take the next step in conference play.
ESPN.com caught up with Verrett this week to discuss what’s next for TCU going into its Big 12 home opener against Kansas.
This is your third year in the program. What has impressed you most about playing in a Gary Patterson defense?
Jason Verrett: Just his game-planning and the way he prepares us for the opponents. He puts us in so much good opportunities for us to get takeaways, turnovers, pass breakups, the whole nine. Just the way he prepares us for games is tremendous.
How much more complex is the defense you play in now than what you experienced at the junior college level?
JV: At junior college, it wasn’t as complex as it is here as far as the knowledge of the game is a lot different. At juco, you really only had three coverages: man, cover-2, cover-3. Here, we have so many different things we have to do as far as game-planning for the opponent. That’s the biggest difference -- the instincts and knowledge of the game and all the complex terminology.
As a cornerback, how do you like playing on an island in the Big 12?
JV: It’s fun. This is a passing league, so you’re always going to have opportunities where you can make plays as far as trying to get interceptions or pass breakups. It’s fun playing in this league. Good competition week in and week out.
I’m sure you guys aren’t happy with where you’re at right now, but what do you like about where this defense stands right now?
JV: We’re starting to get the chemistry that we had last year, with the guys we had last year. We’re getting that and I feel like our secondary is improving. We have a lot more stuff to improve on, but I feel like we’re doing well. The defensive line is coming along even with Devonte Fields out. We’ve got a lot of guys stepping up behind him. I feel like we’re gradually getting to where we were last year, and there’s seven weeks to pick it up.
The three losses were all grinding games. Do you take some satisfaction in knowing nobody has blown TCU out and you can play with great teams? Is this is better team than the record indicates?
JV: Yeah, the three losses we had are all tough. We’ve just got to find a way to finish. That’s been our main focus every week. Keep trying to find a way to finish and get the ‘W.’ We’re fighting hard and the offense is fighting. We’ve just got to find a way to start faster and finish.
Do you look at this Big 12 and think two conference losses doesn’t knock anybody out of contention at this point?
JV: Yeah, not at all. It’s any given Saturday, really. I feel like if we can pick up a winning streak after Kansas, we’ll probably pull this thing out. It’s not our first rodeo. We’ve had a few ups and downs before. We’ve got to find a way to get that win and focus on staying consistent after that. It starts here with Kansas this Saturday.
Are you getting hungry for your first pick of 2013?
JV: Oh, yeah. I’m ready to get that first interception. I’m just patiently waiting and doing my job.
Do you play the rest of this Big 12 schedule thinking TCU isn’t getting enough respect and with the plan to surprise some people?
JV: We’ve always been known to play with a chip on our shoulder. So we’re pretty much the underdogs in almost every game. We’ve got to keep fighting and get this first win right here against Kansas and get the winning streak going.