Fielding a team that looks vastly different because of injuries, TCU head coach Gary Patterson knows not to take an opponent lightly.
In fact, Patterson doesn't want anyone in his program to even consider the ease with which the Horned Frogs (3-4, 3-4 Big 12) are expected to beat winless Kansas (0-7, 0-6) on Saturday at Lawrence, Kan.
"We've only won three ballgames, so no one is going to get overlooked," Patterson said. "Right now, we're just worried about us, not Kansas."
No fewer than 20 TCU players have been lost for the season because of injuries, Patterson said, off a squad that includes just nine scholarship seniors. Those setbacks have only compounded the health issues created by COVID-19 and any players who have had to be scratched because of illnesses.
A two-week layoff since a 24-6 loss at West Virginia did not exactly brighten Patterson's outlook.
"You are what you are at this point," said Patterson, who stands 175-74 entering his 250th game as TCU's head coach. He has won 200 games with the Frogs when counting his time as defensive coordinator.
Only Kansas (15.1) ranks worse in scoring offense than TCU (24.0) among Big 12 teams. The Frogs' strength has been their ground game, which averages 177.3 yards and is triggered by quarterback Max Duggan, who has accounted for more rushing touchdowns (six) than passing (five).
Defensive end Khari Coleman leads all FBS freshmen with 9.5 tackles for loss, helping the TCU defense ratchet up its QB pressure with 12 sacks in the last three games.
Wide receiver Derius Davis returns after missing the West Virginia game. His 21.8-yard punt return average ranks second nationally and could challenge a Kansas punt coverage unit that allowed two touchdowns in one game earlier this season.
COVID-19 test results diminished depth along the defensive line and prompted the Jayhawks to postpone their game last week against Texas. Kansas has not played since a 62-9 loss at Oklahoma on Nov. 7, when the offensive line struggled mightily, allowing nine sacks.
Freshman quarterback Jalon Daniels left with an ankle injury late in that game but should be available against TCU.
"He practiced all last week. He'll practice this week," said Kansas coach Les Miles. "We'd expect him to be certainly a player."
Daniels averages 110.2 yards passing and has not yet thrown for a touchdown. He supplanted two veteran quarterbacks, senior Thomas MacVittie and junior Miles Kendrick, who each drew starts this season before Miles opted to see Daniels develop.
The shabby performance of the offensive line in the OU debacle led to the off-week dismissal of position coach Luke Meadows and the promotion of John Morookian. Kansas, which has been outscored by 33.3 points on average, is attempting to avoid the third winless season in its history and its second in six years.
Attendance on Saturday will be limited to participants' family members and essential personnel after Kansas extended its recent no-fans policy to Dec. 5.
--Field Level Media