TCU

TCU’s Big 12-leading ground game will be without starting center at least a month

TCU linemen Matt Pryor (left), Austin Schlottman (center) and Patrick Morris close in on SMU linebacker Andrew Adams during third-quarter action of a Sept. 16 game at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
TCU linemen Matt Pryor (left), Austin Schlottman (center) and Patrick Morris close in on SMU linebacker Andrew Adams during third-quarter action of a Sept. 16 game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

TCU center Patrick Morris could be out until the Nov. 4 game against Texas while he recovers from an injury suffered against Oklahoma State.

“Probably somewhere between four and five weeks,” Patterson said Tuesday at a press conference. “He’s a really tough kid, so I won’t be surprised if it’s sooner rather than later.”

Morris missed the fourth quarter of the Horned Frogs’ 44-31 victory in Stillwater. His last play was a 1-yard touchdown run by Sewo Olonilua that put TCU ahead 34-17 late in the third quarter. Video of the play showed Morris being blocked onto his back over another player.

Patterson said he did not want to disclose the nature of the injury in order to protect Morris from opponents trying to hurt him again once he comes back.

“We’ll know more in a couple of days,” Patterson said. “If there’s anybody that can fight back after all that stuff, he’s a guy that can fight back through it.”

Morris was replaced by right guard Austin Schlottman, who started 11 games at center last season and one at center in 2015. He was a second team All-Big 12 pick last season. He started all four games this year at right guard.

TCU leads the Big 12 in rushing during its 4-0 start. Running back Darius Anderson was named the Big 12 offensive player of the week after rushing for three touchdowns and 160 of the Frogs’ 238 yards on the ground at Oklahoma State.

In the fourth quarter Saturday, right tackle Matt Pryor moved to Schlottman’s spot at right guard, and Lucas Niang entered at right tackle.

“Schlottman started for us all last year, so you have a guy that’s a veteran,” Patterson said. “Now, you have another one that goes down? That’s a little bit different answer. Not many people have three.”

Patterson said it will be important to find another backup center during the two-week break between games, but that it is also a chance to increase versatility.

“Good part about it for us is it gives us an opportunity to give Lucas Niang even more reps so he can play more and more,” Patterson said. “Matt Pryor’s really been playing guard and tackle, and that’s really hard to do against the competition level we just got done playing against.”

On the status of running back Kyle Hicks, who missed the Oklahoma State game, Patterson said he should be able to play against West Virginia.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

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