As a defensive coordinator, TCU coach Gary Patterson has defended against all types of quarterbacks.
Whether it’s the quarterback from the opposing team or his own quarterback during practice, Patterson’s defensive mind has faced some of the best, many of whom went on to play in the NFL.
In his 31 years of coaching, Patterson said, TCU’s Trevone Boykin is the toughest to defend.
“You go through the quarterbacks in 31 years I’ve defended and I wouldn’t trade Trevone Boykin, to be honest with you, for any of them from what I know and what I see in practice,” he said.
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Patterson’s praise of Boykin’s ability goes beyond anything he ever said about Andy Dalton before the former TCU star helped him hoist the Rose Bowl trophy in his last game as a Horned Frog.
Patterson made his case for Boykin this week, knowing that Casey Pachall would be available to play Saturday for the first time since he broke his left non-throwing arm Sept. 7.
How much will Pachall play against Texas (4-2, 3-0 in the Big 12) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday is unknown, but the senior has been working as the scout-team quarterback for a month. Before his injury, Pachall played only two halves after missing much of last season.
TCU’s offensive troubles, as they usually are with a struggling offense, have been laid at the quarterback’s feet. The word regressed has been thrown around to explain Boykin’s inability to move the offense and put points on the board.
Is that fair? Will Pachall have any more success than Boykin with an offensive line that has allowed 15 sacks in seven games? With a receiving corps that has consistently dropped passes, failed to make adjustments and has too often been caught running the wrong routes?
Boykin and most of the offensive linemen were not available for interviews this week. Safeties Sam Carter and Elisha Olabode were the only players available to speak during Tuesday’s media session.
The Boykin who replaced Pachall for the last nine games in 2012 was forced to grow up as a redshirt freshman. There were growing pains, rookie mistakes and ill-advised throws — all part of the natural progression for a young, first-time starting quarterback.
A year ago, however, Boykin had an older offensive line that included seniors James Fry and Blaize Foltz. He had Tayo Fabuluje starting most of the time at left tackle. They’re all gone. He had experienced receivers in Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, both now in the NFL.
Sure, Boykin isn’t always the most accurate passer, but when you’re running for your life on nearly every snap, as Patterson has characterized it, how accurate are you expected to be? And when you’re forced to grab nearly every snap off the ground, how quickly should you be expected to pick up your receivers down field?
Patterson said there could be a change made to address the low snaps, a consistent problem last week against Oklahoma State.
“That’s one of the things that would help Trevone,” Patterson said. “Before we start placing blame I think you need to look back and say here’s all the factors. Even if there’s 10 things, if you can improve on eight of them you’re going to make yourself a whole lot better football team.”
Boykin didn’t just lose his natural athleticism that everyone saw when he found his footing a year ago. He’s still showing it every day in practice, Patterson said.
“The key for us is we have to see it in a ballgame, point blank,” he said. “The results have to happen in a ballgame and so until that happens it doesn’t make any difference. Perception is reality.”
There’s no question Patterson admires Boykin for his physical toughness. He takes a pounding on a weekly basis, whether it’s by choice when he tucks and runs or whether he’s being sandwiched between two defensive linemen who gashed TCU’s line.
The calls to replace Boykin with redshirt freshman Tyler Matthews have become louder, and Patterson has heard them. Matthews replaced Boykin for a couple of series last week but Boykin responded in the second half by playing better and moving the offense.
Boykin doesn’t lack for confidence; it’s part of what makes him a good athlete, despite the lumps he and the offense have taken so far in 2013. His teammates have been supportive and have taken responsibility for the offensive struggles, including offensive guard Eric Tausch and tight end Stephen Bryant.
“It’s 11 guys playing together,” Bryant said on Patterson’s Thursday night radio show. “You can’t blame one person. We’re a team. I feel like it all falls on everybody.”
Patterson has always said he judges quarterbacks on wins and losses only. He hasn’t changed his stance on that, saying Boykin will be replaced — perhaps Saturday by Pachall — if the offense isn’t moving. This season, however, TCU’s most successful coach in history has been forced to compromise a little on his position.
“Young guys have to work out that there’s only one thing that’s really counted at that position and that’s wins, whether it’s in the NFL, whether it’s in high school,” he said. “The only thing that can be fun about being a quarterback is W-I-N.”
Texas at TCU, head to head
|Points per game||25.3||33.0|
|3rd down conv.||30.2%||45.4%|
|Def. 3rd down conv.||37.9%||41.8%|