Reporting Nate Griffin
HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) Moving forward can be the phrase associated with Darrell Patterson who is now in his sixth season with the Owls, but his first as Assistant Head Coach.
Patterson has served primarily on the defensive side of the football as linebackers’ coach, while also overseeing special teams’. He will continue to handle those responsibilities while stepping up to the plate with the new job responsibilities.
“Great honor! It was a Coach’s decision, (Bailiff), quite honestly,” said Patterson. “For me to elaborate to any great degree, hopefully he had some confidence in some of the things I’ve accomplished. I just consider it an honor and privilege to have an opportunity to work as that level.”
THE HIGHEST LEVELS
Speaking of levels, Patterson played at the highest level of the sport as a linebacker during his playing days in the NFL and CFL. He was a sixth-round selection of the New York Giants in the 1983 NFL Draft out of TCU where he is also a member of the Hall of Fame.
Patterson eventually migrated to the Canadian Football League and played seven seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger Cats. He was team captain of the 1984 Winnipeg team that won a Grey Cup Championship defeating the Ticats 47-17 in minus-10 degree weather.
But he’s been on the other side of victory as well. Patterson was, again, team captain of the runner-up Hamilton Tiger Cats who lost 43-40 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 1989 Grey Cup Championship.
Patterson is also a member of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame where he was team captain and MVP of the Big Mac football team in 1979. He was an All-Western Conference running back and captured the Western Conference Wrestling Championships in back –to-back years, 1978 and 1979.
TEACHING AND MOLDING
Patterson will continue coaching linebackers and special teams. He’s got good young linebackers with which to work – and he obviously knows what he’s doing.
Last season, linebackers Cameron Nwosu and senior Justin Allen led the team in tackles with 108 and 97 respectively. Allen’s playing days as a Rice Owls are over. However, based on his play last season and his play during the spring, it’s safe to assume that Nwosu will be the leader of the 2012 line-backing crew.
But, according to Patterson, Nwosu will have plenty of help in the new defense.
“(James) Radcliffe’s a good player. (Cameron) Nwosu’s a good player; (Kyle) Prater – (Michael) Kutzler. (Nick) Elder is the first one that I actually had a direct involvement with.”
Patterson is referring to the recruiting process with freshman linebacker Nick Elder. He was directly involved in the recruitment of Elder. The aforementioned players were on the roster when he took over the linebacker coaching responsibilities in 2010. Regardless, coaching these young linebackers to prominence is his goal.
“Yes, I coach ‘em. I coach ‘em and teach ‘em and spend a lot of time with them. They’re a bunch of good young men. They’re hard workers and pretty dedicated to what we want to get accomplished.”
Patterson speaks during this interview about his group of players like he does when he’s coaching them – never too excited – but an understanding that there’s room for growth and an understanding of what it will take to get them to play above and beyond.
“So far, we’ve gotten some results. There’s always work in progress. But, that’s never going to change. So, I just keep working with them. I’ve been happy with what they’ve been able to accomplish so far. But, I still think they still have a lot of plays ahead of ‘em.”
LOOKING AHEAD DEFENSIVELY
The Owls have made subtle changes to the defense that were somewhat noticeable during spring drills. First, there’s new defensive coordinator Chris Thurmond, who calls for different looks along the defensive front, one of which also includes a 3-man front or look. Patterson lends his expertise about the defense.
“As far as the changes, there aren’t a whole lot of changes. But there are some minute changes allowing us to do some things with our personnel a little differently and trying to actually put the right person in the right spot. You know it’s like Tiger doesn’t use his driver to putt.”
Patterson is correct which is probably true of most golfers. However, putting the ball in the right place for a par, birdie, or eagle is what most attempt to do. That’s what Bubba Watson did to win this year’s Masters Golf Tournament. Hence, the Rice defensive coaching staff looks to do the same with their players.
“That’s kind of what you got to do. You got to get the right fit and put the right player in the right spot. And that’s really what we’ve done a lot more – evaluate what they’re doing and how they’re doing the body types and just getting them where they need to be and putting the puzzle together that way.”
FAMILY AND FOOTBALL
Timing is everything is the phrase as true as a day only last 24 hours. Patterson joined the coaching staff February of 2007. The honor was his of watching his son become a member of the Rice Owls football team in 2008.
Adding to the honor, the senior Patterson got the opportunity to watch his son Michael play four years of college football as a wide receiver and on special teams. He will graduate this year.
“I’ve been very, very fortunate there to watch my son and have him play for us and spend quality time with him which very few coaches have done. I think there’s only 9 of us in the country who’ve had that opportunity at this level to have their sons play for them. It is a blessing.”
CLOSE TO THE HEART
Meanwhile the Coach has daughter Monika who will be graduating from Fort Bend Elkins and attending Rice in the fall.
“She’s looking towards medicine and it will be nice having her around,” says Patterson. “I think she’s going to spend most of her time over on the campus side. But, she is Daddy’s little girl. I should see her from time to time.”
Topping off this story of family and football, the Coach and his wife Julie will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on – April 25th. When asked his plans for the momentous occasion, Patterson decided to keep his plans classified.
“I can not divulge that at this time!” Understood!
The humor with which he delivered that line put it all in perspective. It’s about timing and planning and Patterson clearly has a plan. So does Head Coach David Bailiff who made the decision to promote Patterson to Assistant Head Coach.
“Coach Bailiff is an unbelievable gentleman to work for and he has a lot of passion for the game and passion for the kids and passion for family. He’s got his priorities in place. It’s not just for the families of the coaches, but also for the families of the young men.”
“Because he’s such a people person, he gets a great response from these young men,” says Patterson. “He’s one of the better head coaches I’ve had the opportunity to work for.”