Different Paths to the Middle of the 4-2-5
Sept. 25, 2004
By James Allan
Strap up and wait. The message engrained in the minds of the Frog defense and the linebacker corps is simple. Strap up and wait.
The Frogs' defense in the past five years has been one of the best units in the nation. The 4-2-5 defense that has made the team so successful relies on the linebackers to be stout against the run and versatile enough to make plays in pass coverage.
"In our scheme, it is key for us linebackers to be where we are supposed to be," said Martin Patterson, the veteran member of the bunch. "The bottom line is we need to make plays. It's as simple as that."
The top four individuals on the depth chart, Patterson, sophomore Andrew Ward, redshirt freshman David Hawthorne and senior Logo Tevaseu, all are playmakers for the Frogs, but the routes they've taken to get to Fort Worth have varied. Patterson came to play for his hometown team after playing at nearby DeSoto High School. After not seeing action in his first game as a true freshman, Patterson has played in every single contest of his career in Purple and White. Last season, Patterson enjoyed a breakout year as he eclipsed the 100-tackle plateau for the first time in his career, finishing with 103 stops.
His top battery mate in the group is Ward, a transfer from the University of Colorado. Coming out of Evangel Christian High School, Ward was a four-star recruit who was being recruited by all the schools in the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 South. After a year in Boulder, where he saw action as a true freshman, he decided to leave the team and packed up for a move to play for the Frogs.
Hawthorne arrived at TCU last season and took the more traditional path of a recruit when he was asked to redshirt to adjust to the speed of the college game. The Texas native used the year of learning to his advantage as he made his first career start against SMU on Sept. 11.
"It was tough last year not being able to play," said Hawthorne, who intercepted a pass against the Mustangs. "My whole life I've never stood on the sidelines. My main focus this year has been to get on the field."
Tevaseu came to TCU after playing for two seasons at Santa Rose Junior College in California. At 5-foot-9 inches and 210 1bs., Logo isn't the prototypical linebacker. However, what he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in sheer strength. Tevaseu benches 555 pounds and squats 720, both of which are both top figures among the linebackers.
"I really don't care about size," said Tevaseu, who is one of the top special team players on the team. "I am not into size, statistics, speed or tackles. I don't care about any of that. When it's time to strap up, I just go out there and make plays." Thus far this season, the linebackers have been doing just that - making plays. As you browse through the defensive statistics, all four rank near the top of the list. Patterson (25), Hawthorne (12) and Ward (12) are all among the top five on the team in tackles. Ward's stats are impressive because he piled up all 12 tackles in the season opener before missing the next two games due to injury.
In that season opening tilt, it was Ward's first game action since his freshman season at CU because he had to sit out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. The adrenaline of strapping up for the first time at Amon G. Carter Stadium provided the Frogs with a spark that helped lead to the hard fought victory.
"It was so exciting to get back on the field," said Ward, who spent time at strong safety last fall. "I hadn't played a game in 20 months and I couldn't wait to get back out there. It was a good feeling knowing that all the work that I put in during my time off was worth something since I was able to help us win the ball game."
Besides being the team's top tackler, Patterson has also taken on the role of being one of the team leaders on the defense.
"I definitely take on the responsibility of leading this team," explained Patterson. "But on our defense everyone plays a major part. I look at it where I am only one/11th. Without one person we're going to be off somewhere, so everybody on this defense is important if we're going to win games."
In addition to being a team leader, Patterson has also served as a mentor for Hawthorne. The rookie admits to thinking too much before games, but it's always Patterson who is there to keep his head on straight.
"Before the games, Martin talks to me to calm my nerves because I am constantly thinking about the game," said Hawthorne, who rooms with Patterson before game days. "On the field, he is the coach among the players for us. He point out things he sees and he helps me correct things that I might be doing wrong."
One of the things that Patterson sees out of his teammates on the opposite side of the ball is an offense that regularly puts a whole lot of points on the scoreboard. But before people start jumping on the bandwagon of the high scoring run-and-gun offense and disregard what has been the strength of the TCU team for the past five years, Patterson has one message.
"Ever since I was young, I've heard that offense sells tickets and defense wins games," said Patterson. "We've got to go out there every week and play our best. We're not falling off the map here. Defense is always going to be tough at TCU, I can promise you that."