The TCU football team, which has lost 20 players since late last year, including two starting running backs and two starting linebackers, lost its most valuable asset Thursday with the suspension of quarterback Casey Pachall.
Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson indefinitely suspended the junior after his DWI arrest early Thursday morning.
The suspension propels redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin into a starting role for 15th-ranked TCU's Big 12 home opener against Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Matt Brown, who was Pachall's backup in 2011, had moved from receiver earlier this week and will back up Boykin on Saturday. Patterson said Brown moved back to quarterback because Boykin was practicing at tailback to help the already thin backfield and an injured Matthew Tucker carry the load against the Cyclones (3-1, 0-1 in the Big 12).
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But now Boykin, who attended West Mesquite High School, will make his first start and see his most extensive playing time. Recruited for his dual-threat talent, Boykin has played in three games, completing 9 of 10 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 122 yards on 12 carries. Against Grambling State, he was 8 for 8 for 75 yards and a touchdown and rushed five times for 57 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown. He also had a 42-yard run Sept. 22 against Virginia.
"He opens up the playbook for us," Patterson said on a SiriusXM radio show. "We actually have more offense with Trevone Boykin in the game than we do with Casey Pachall in the game because he can throw all the throws, but now you have a very athletic guy that can do a lot of other things that Casey can't do. In a lot of ways, it bothers Iowa State because they've got to get prepared for something they weren't ready to be prepared for."
Freshman quarterback Tyler Matthews, who the Frogs hope to redshirt, has not played and isn't likely to see any action in 2012.
Former TCU great LaDainian Tomlinson, who was inducted into the school's Letterman's Hall of Fame on Thursday, said a suspension could be good for Pachall.
"I think sometimes, time away from the sport, you realize what you miss and how much it really means to your life," Tomlinson said. "In terms of the structure that athletics does for an individual, as it did for me and a lot of guys that play this game ... we appreciate and we need the structure of a game like football. So sometimes that's all it takes, being away from that and almost losing it, to finally realize that this is what's best for me."
Patterson said team spirit was high during Thursday's practice. He reiterated that Boykin, who has impressed coaches since arriving a year ago, has looked good in practice. Patterson praised Boykin's leadership qualities before the '11 season.
"He's looked great for five weeks," Patterson said. "Yes, he makes the offense [better] because he can run. Heck, my wife can tell you that. He runs a 4.5, Casey runs a 4.8."
Patterson repeated a favorite adage about teams relying on reserve players to win games.
"My job is to raise people, teach them and get a ... team to win," he said. "Waymon [James] is on crutches. We're playing the next guy. That's what teams do. We've lost Tanner Brock, we've lost Ed Wesley. If you want to go win, the next guy steps up. That's what teams do."
Unfortunately for the Frogs (4-0, 1-0), that adage has been tested more in 2012 than any of Patterson's previous 11 seasons as head coach.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760