FORT WORTH, Texas — Gary Patterson was already thinking about the big games TCU has next season.
“I think that’s why we’ve been successful, because we don’t just stop,” Patterson said after the Horned Frogs completed another 11-win season with another Alamo Bowl comeback to remember.
While Patterson never mentioned any specific games, the Frogs have a much-anticipated matchup next September against Ohio State in AT&T Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys about 20 miles from their campus. That comes right before their Big 12 opener at Texas, which is coming off a bowl victory and winning season in its debut under coach Tom Herman.
Still, after No. 13 TCU overcame an 18-point deficit to beat No. 15 Stanford 39-37 on Thursday night, the coach took time to reflect on a senior class that won 40 games the past four years. And that even included a rare losing season for Patterson, who has now won 160 games in 17 seasons.
“I said before the season I really like this group,” Patterson said. “I didn’t know whether we were going to win very many ballgames, if we were or not, but the bottom line is coaches love coaching guys that are good people and they work hard, and this group does that. For me, it’s been a blessing to be a part of it.”
It was the third time in four years, and the 10th time in 15 seasons that TCU won at least 11 games. Only Ohio State has more 11-win seasons in that span with 11, while three-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma and Boise State both have 10 as well.
The departing seniors include two-time Alamo Bowl defensive MVP Travin Howard, the only player in school history with three consecutive 100-tackle seasons. His 343 career tackles are the most under Patterson, who still calls defenses like he did when he was TCU’s defensive coordinator for three seasons before becoming head coach.
Cornerback Ranthony Texada, defensive end and sacks leader Mat Boesen, safety Nick Orr and defensive tackle Chris Bradley were also part of that senior group. Junior defensive end Ben Banogu, the team leader with 16 1/2 tackles for losses, is considering bypassing his senior season for early entry in the NFL draft.
There are still 10 underclassmen other than Banogu on defense that had at least 25 tackles this season.
Kenny Hill, the former Texas A&M transfer who was TCU’s starting quarterback the last two seasons, scored three different ways in his last game — throwing, catching and running for touchdowns. Desmon White also was a three-way scorer in his finale, with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to go along with his TDs pass from and to Hill.
There will be two young quarterbacks following behind Hill. Shawn Robinson started a game when Hill was hurt, and appeared in five other games as a true freshman.
“I’m excited for his future,” Hill said. “Very talented. I think he’s going to be very special.”
Recent signee Justin Rogers will enroll at TCU in the spring, like Robinson did last year.
Speedy freshman Jalen Reagor had a 93-yard touchdown catch, while sophomore running back Sewo Olonilua had 58 yards rushing and caught four passes in the Alamo Bowl.
The return of Olonilua and leading rusher Darius Anderson, who missed the last three regular season games injured and didn’t have a carry in the bowl game, will help the Frogs overcome the departure of Kyle Hicks, the pass-catching running back whose senior season was plagued by injuries. Speedy receiver and special teams threat KaVontae Turpin will also be back.