Pachall’s return couldn’t part TCU’s storm clouds

Posted Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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lebreton Nine plays into Saturday night’s weather-lashed contest, the storm clouds parted for TCU and the bright blue skies of a resurrected season appeared to briefly appear overhead.

I’m no weatherman. There still was plenty of lightning in the area and it was raining cats and frogs.

But the metaphor turned out to be only a temporary respite. Quarterback Casey Pachall, back on the field for the Horned Frogs seven weeks after breaking his left arm, couldn’t solve TCU’s season-long miseries.

"The bottom line," head coach Gary Patterson somberly assessed, "is we’re not very good, and we’re going to have to get better if we’re going to win any ball games."

Throughout TCU’s football renaissance, which coincides with Patterson’s arrival on campus in 1998, there have been few, if any, more dismal nights – and early mornings -- than Saturday’s 30-7 loss to Texas.

A fumble at the TCU three-yard line to give the Longhorns their first touchdown, 86 yards in penalties, three turnovers, a half-dozen or so dropped passes and one lone touchdown on a trick play were all the Frogs had to show for a game that concluded nearly six hours after it started.

"I’m not pleased with anything," Patterson said in the wee hours of Sunday morning. "We’re 3-and-5. We got beat 30-7. I’m not pleased with anything."

The few dry and early moments of optimism vanished quickly. When Pachall ran onto the field for TCU’s third possession, the home crowd had given him a spirited – and hopeful – round of applause.

Rusty? He had every reason to be. Pachall missed the final nine games of the 2012 season and hadn’t played this year since the second quarter of Week Two.

"Maybe a little rusty," Pachall said later. "But for the most part I felt good. Whenever things went well, I was able to do what I was able to and throw comfortably."

Against a Longhorns defense, however, that has been rejuvenated under new coordinator Greg Robinson, Pachall and the TCU offense soon struggled.

It was nothing new. Sophomore Trevone Boykin was undermined by the same sorts of problems in the 6 ½ games he played at quarterback.

Pachall was 13 of 34 passing for 139 yards Saturday with no touchdowns and one interception.

"There was some confusion," Pachall said. "But within the entire game, it wasn’t just those pass routes. There was confusion within the offensive line, within the receivers, myself and some missed assignments by our running backs.

"But I can’t blame any one person. We all did what we did."

Pachall clearly has been missed. Just think back a few months. A gathering of learned media minds gathered in Dallas and predicted that TCU would finish third in this season’s Big 12 race.

The preseason all-conference quarterback, as voted by the media? Casey Pachall.

But on a simple scramble out of bounds in the second quarter against Southeastern Louisiana, the right-hander from Brownwood fractured his left arm. In the four Big 12 games after his injury, TCU had scored only one first-half touchdown.

Patterson said Tuesday that Pachall could be back on the field as soon as he was cleared to play by team doctors. That clearance came soon afterwards, apparently, because Pachall was back and practicing with the first team Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever promising flashes he showed Saturday before the rain and lightning came, they all seemed to wash away during the three-hour deluge.

Patterson said he tried everything during the long delay, including pondering whether to take the team to the Sam Baugh indoor practice facility to run around.

"Obviously, [Texas] did a better job with [the delay] than we did," Patterson said.

The Frogs’ disappointing season has little margin for more losing. They will somehow have to win three of their final four games to be eligible for a post-season bowl.

With Pachall back at quarterback, though, it seems that at least one part of the repair job has started.

To save his team’s season, Pachall will have to shed the rust quickly.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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