Despite all he has done this year, Trevone Boykin is still going to be judged on the result of Saturday’s Top 10 matchup against Kansas State, coach Gary Patterson said.
“That’s just the way it is. Quarterbacks get judged in the biggest games they can possibly play in,” Patterson said.
Saturday night’s matchup between the No. 6 Horned Frogs and No. 7 Kansas State certainly qualifies as the biggest game so far this year — for both teams. The winner could have the inside track to the conference championship and perhaps a spot in history’s first College Football Playoff.
“This’ll be the game he’ll be judged on,” Patterson said. “Like Andy Dalton, sophomore year, he got judged on how he played against Oklahoma. Junior year, he got that and the Fiesta Bowl. Then finally, he was able to do it against Utah, and he was able to play in the Rose Bowl.”
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Boykin leads the Big 12 and is fourth nationally in total offense at 361.9 yards per game. But he is coming off his worst game of the season, when he completed only 12 of 30 passes and threw for a season-low 166 yards at West Virginia.
Patterson said he practiced well last week and has practiced well again this week.
“You get to where you get, and you do it,” Patterson said. “If there was ever a week for him to do it, then this would be the one.”
One of the things Patterson looks for from the Horned Frogs is poise. He said he could see that on the sideline in the West Virginia game when he watched the ABC broadcast of the game.
“Watching the TV copy, no matter how it all turned out, our kids stayed very calm,” Patterson said. “I thought our sideline, it was kind of like we did what we needed to do to get where we needed to get.”
Receiver Kolby Listenbee said composure was key to coming back from a 27-14 deficit.
“At some point, you thought it was going to go downhill,” he said. “But at the same time, everybody was just so poised on the sideline. We all knew we we were going to come back and win. The game was still close, and we hadn’t had our great drive yet. We still had confidence in ourselves.”
Patterson said a former West Virginia player complimented him after the game.
“He said, ‘My hat’s off,’ ” Patterson said. “He said, ‘This doesn’t happen in Morgantown. We don’t get a couple-touchdown lead and ever lose.’ And he’s right. Look through history. It doesn’t happen very often in Morgantown. So you’ve got to give the kids a lot of credit for their resolve and how they finished the game.”
The quarterback scramble remains one of Patterson’s most pressing concerns for his defense, and Kansas State’s Jake Waters is not easing his mind.
“He’s got the innate ability to not get sacked,” Patterson said. “He scrambles. There are a lot of plays where he uses his feet to get himself outside of things, and then he throws it. A lot of his bigger plays come after a half-scramble.”
The Horned Frogs have been hit-and-miss against elusive quarterbacks. Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight proved the toughest to contain, running for 61 yards.
“We struggled with him,” Patterson said. “Those kind of guys stop you from playing certain coverages because they can take off and run.”
Cornerback Kevin White felt good about his performance against West Virginia’s Kevin White, the conference’s leading receiver. But he said it would not have meant anything without Jaden Oberkrom’s game-winning kick.
“I was just happy that guys played well. Jaden made the kick, offense came through when we needed them to,” he said. “I was just happy more about the win.”
The next challenge is Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett.
“He’s a quick player, fast player, great routes, physical dude,” White said. “I’ve played him going on three years now. I’m real familiar with him. He’s a great player.”
Oberkrom, whose 37-yard field goal won the game at West Virginia last week, was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the country’s top place-kicker. Oberkrom was also a semifinalist in 2012.
The junior from Arlington Martin leads the nation with 11.3 points per game. He has made 14 of 18 kicks, including his last five in a row. He is 5-for-7 from 40-plus yards this year, and his 69 percent rate for his career from that distance ranks third in Big 12 history.