TCU coach Gary Patterson wasn’t going to declare a No. 1 quarterback after the Horned Frogs’ first spring practice Friday at the Sammy Baugh Indoor Practice Facility, but he made it clear in passing, so to speak, that the job is Casey Pachall’s to lose.
At various points during his 10-minute post-practice talk with the media, Patterson expressed relief that TCU begins its spring camp with an older team compared with the past two years. That includes Pachall, a senior, who is back after leaving the school to seek substance abuse counseling after the Frogs’ fourth game in 2012.
“I don’t know who the No. 1 guy is right now,” Patterson said when asked directly. “We’re just in Day 1.”
But later Patterson pointed out that when Pachall left last October he was rated the No. 1 quarterback in the nation and the Frogs’ were 4-0.
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“There hasn’t been anything said,” Patterson said about the reaction from teammates upon Pachall’s return in January. “He had a great image with those guys as far as his relationship, and I don’t think the relationship is any different.”
Patterson said that all four quarterbacks, including Pachall’s replacement last fall, Trevone Boykin; redshirt freshman Tyler Matthews; and true freshman Zach Allen, who enrolled early, are not getting equal reps. At least in Day 1.
So how wide open is the competition?
“I don’t know,” Patterson said. “I don’t judge quarterbacks until we have a scrimmage. So until we hook it up two or three times here in the spring that’s how we’ll do it. Because it’s [about] how people handle it when it’s not scripted, and you don’t know what the defense is going to do. Scrimmages will be big for the quarterbacks.”
This is Matthews’ second spring in the program. He redshirted his freshman season last year after coming to TCU as a four-star recruit from Kansas.
“Obviously, this is the spring for Tyler Matthews to start making movements and start challenging the guys for the second and first position,” Patterson said. “It’s probably as good a depth at quarterback we’ve had in probably five or six years.”
The bigger battle is probably between Boykin and Matthews for the No. 2 spot. If Matthews has shown enough improvement this spring, he could supplant Boykin, who went 3-6 as the starter last season.
“Both quarterbacks want to be the starting guy,” Patterson said of Pachall and Boykin. “[Boykin] learned because he had to by fire. He did a tremendous job for what we threw him into. I’m excited, and also about the two young quarterbacks that go along with it. All four are very competitive. Everybody knows what strengths both of them [Pachall and Boykin] have. It just makes us better because now there is competition. We’ll see how it goes.”
On the move
Several players have moved positions, including safety Johnathan Anderson, whose move to linebacker from safety could prove interesting to watch.
Patterson said Anderson “tweaked” his ankle Friday, but that Anderson gives TCU more depth at the position, especially with a deep crop of talented defensive backs on the roster. One of those is Kolby Griffin, who moved to safety from cornerback. Deante Gray moved to receiver from cornerback.
“We have three safeties coming in, so we felt like with the shortness at linebacker it would help getting him in a position where he could benefit from it,” Patterson said. “I think it’s going to be a good move. He understands the defense from the safety position up so that really helps us.”
No spring game
TCU will not have a spring game for the second consecutive season, which probably is just fine with Gary Patterson, who’d rather not have his team on display for prying Big 12 enemy eyes.
Last spring, Amon G. Carter Stadium was under renovation, preventing an official spring game. This year the field is being replaced with new Bermuda Tifway 419 grass. The new grass will go down in early May after the base has been perfected and drainage improved.
Spring practice concludes April 6.