FORT WORTH, Texas -- When your team wins its final two regular-season games by a combined score of 96-20, as TCU did against Wyoming and New Mexico to close out a perfect regular season in 2009, you'd expect the good times to keep rolling.
But Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson didn't see it that way, noting minute details missing in his team's performances. Both games followed an emotional, program-defining 55-28 win against Utah before the largest crowd to watch a game at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Despite relatively smooth sailing at Wyoming (45-10) and in the home finale against New Mexico (51-10), Patterson detected something askew. The Frogs committed six turnovers in the two games (five fumbles and an interception) and Patterson connected the two performances with the Frogs' 17-10 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl a month later.
Whether there's a connection or pattern between the three post-Utah performances of 2009, Patterson noticed a change he did not like.
So he wasted no time reminding his 2010 team of the '09 situation Sunday after another, program-defining, 47-7 win at Utah. Then he let it rest.
"The focus has been very good," Patterson said after Wednesday's practice. "Not quite as emotional, but it's been good."
The third-ranked Frogs (10-0, 6-0 Mountain West Conference) play San Diego State (7-2, 4-1) at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday in the home finale at Amon G. Carter Stadium. It will be the last home game for 26 seniors, including receiver Curtis Clay.
"We really didn't play our best ballgames (at the end of 2009)," Clay said. "We don't want to have that kind of letdown this season being in a similar situation."
Is there a chance the Frogs could be too fired up for the home finale?
"None of that really matters to these guys," Patterson said. "It matters to alumni and other people, but they're just trying to win."
COACHING PROPS -- It almost seemed overlooked after TCU gutted Utah last week, but defensive lineman Cory Grant reminded the media that the Horned Frogs' coaching staff also had a great game. He spoke of the defense knowing what was coming before the Utes snapped the ball.
"We're calling out their plays and they're looking at us like, 'Are we going to audible?' " Grant said. 'No, you're not going to audible, but we know what you're going to run, so now we're going to stop it.' That's what was cool. I've never had that kind of coaching in my life."
It all goes back to preparation time spent in the film room, Grant said.
"Of course, the fans at home don't see that," he said, noting there are always things to improve. "But when we come here (to study film), we're looking at the technical things and we see it and think, 'Oh, that could have been really bad.'
"We have a wide gap of improvement still. It can be boring, but it pays off, as you can see."
KIRKPATRICK A FINALIST -- TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick was named one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award on Wednesday. The honor for the nation's top lineman will be announced Dec. 8 in Houston.
Kirkpatrick is the lone offensive lineman among the finalists. The other three are defensive linemen: Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), and Nick Fairley (Auburn).
KEY STAT -- 19: Consecutive home wins for TCU, which hasn't lost at Amon G. Carter Stadium since a 2007 loss to Utah. It's the third-longest such active streak in the nation, behind Oklahoma (35) and Boise State (30).