TCU coach Gary Patterson may have been cagey about who the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs starting quarterback will be Saturday against LSU, but hes been forthright about his confidence in using either Casey Pachall or Trevone Boykin.For the all the gamesmanship that has been on display for weeks between Patterson and LSU coach Les Miles, whose teams open the season at 8 p.m. at AT&T Stadium including the status of key personnel such as TCUs starting quarterback, LSU running back Jeremy Hill and TCU defensive end Devonte Fields the point Patterson has consistently made is that Boykin has made tremendous strides since his redshirt freshman season when he replaced Pachall for the last nine games.Boykin is a different quarterback on and off the field, Patterson said, including an improved throwing motion.Both quarterbacks will represent the offense as team captains during Saturdays coin flip, perhaps to not only keep No. 12 LSU guessing for a few more minutes, but to also honor both for the path they took to get to that point. Pachall returned after three months of substance abuse treatment last fall and has embraced his admitted second chance. Boykin showed spunk in leading the Frogs to big road wins as a freshman and dedicated his off-season to improving his passing game.Pachalls new direction has been striking to his teammates, including tight end Stephen Bryant.I think hes more confident. I think hes just proud of himself, Bryant said. He went through some adversity but hes back. He worked through some struggles and I think he looks great. I think hes ready to go. More than anything, I think he wants to prove to himself that he can get back out there and be the player he used to be, if not even better.Patterson said his players know the game hes playing with keeping the starter a secret. Theyre watching. They all like the game, he said. They know I dont need to say anything. I think they have confidence in both guys.Patterson has a purpose for keeping it quiet and its not just to keep LSU guessing. Even if Pachall is the starter, as most expect, both quarterbacks have proven they can win. And he thinks Boykin can still be an important role for the Frogs offense.Keeping LSU guessing is just a nice side benefit. For us, its about making sure we give ourselves as much of an advantage as far as preparation for LSU as possible, he said. I think anybody who had any common sense would probably do about the same thing. Because theyre both a lot different in different aspects. I think I can win with both of them in games.Trevone has really improved what he can do. He has a different skill set. Casey has really improved even from the spring where he was a little bit rusty. I feel like we have two guys here who can win ballgames.That wasnt the case when the 2012 season began. In fact, thats rarely been the case for Patterson, who doesnt recall ever having two quarterbacks with a good enough skill set to go win against the competition level you have to play in the Big 12 and a team that is as high-quality as LSU.The competition has forged a deep relationship between the two quarterbacks, one that Patterson said he didnt think existed at this time a year ago.And now I think theyre very close, Patterson said during his Tuesday media luncheon. I think weve built chemistry because inside our walls we havent made a big deal of it. Before the season is over I think its going to take a certain kind of quarterback to beat certain teams and its going to take a certain kind of quarterback to beat others.If [our offensive line is] not protecting very well its going to take a guy who can get away from all that stuff. Either youre going to beat them with your legs or youre going to beat them with your arm.But Patterson said Monday that he wont flip-flop the position, say, for example, using one to start the first quarter and the other to start the second.We wont have a rotation but both of them will play, said Patterson, who declined to get specific. Thatll be kind of behind closed doors but both of them will play. Both of them have the capability to win Big 12 games and play at a very high level.Its a nice luxury to have, Patterson admits, to have two experienced quarterbacks with differing styles.Both of them can run 95 percent of what we do, he said. The key will be how we do that other 5-10 percent of our game plan that really highlights what theyre capable of doing.So if Pachall starts, for example, it doesnt necessarily mean Boykin remains on the bench. Patterson compared the backup role as an NBA Sixth Man Award winner.Theres a most valuable player award for the sixth man in the NBA, he said. In this case you can only put 11 on the field. We feel good about both quarterbacks. I see the [reserve] being that guy. I really see him as a starter.
Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs