Horned Frogs will be missing two defensive players against Minnesota

The TCU defense, led by defensive end Terrell Lathan, stops Minnesota running back David Cobb on a third-down play in last year’s game in Fort Worth.
The TCU defense, led by defensive end Terrell Lathan, stops Minnesota running back David Cobb on a third-down play in last year’s game in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

TCU will be missing two defensive players on Thursday night at Minnesota, coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday, but he did not reveal who or why.

“You’ll find out when we get to game time,” Patterson said.

A depth chart released late Tuesday night did not have the names of defensive end James McFarland or cornerback DeShawn Raymond. McFarland led the team in sacks last year with seven and was the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl. He played with a foot injury in the latter part of the year and missed some of spring training this year to have it treated.

Patterson has taken pains to reveal little about personnel or starters for the Minnesota game. He said Gophers coach Jerry Kill “knows enough already” about the Horned Frogs.

But Patterson has mentioned that a handful of players on the defense have been banged up: cornerback Torrance Mosley (groin), defensive tackle Davion Pierson (undisclosed), defensive ends Mike Tuaua and James McFarland (undisclosed) and linebacker Montrel Wilson (undisclosed).

On offense, receivers Deante’ Gray and Josh Doctson have been held back in practice. Gray is recovering from knee surgery in the spring. Docton’s injury has not been announced.

But quarterback Trevone Boykin remained confident even if the offense doesn’t have all its weapons.

“The way we’ve been practicing, you have guys that are going to have to step in and come up with big plays,” he said. “I dont feel like it’ll slow us down at all. We really have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. You can’t complain about it.”

TCU head football coach Gary Patterson coaches his defense with the assumption his prolific offense won't score.

Big stage

Patterson said he’d rather not open the season on a big stage, as the Horned Frogs will on Thursday night on ESPN.

“Unless you can tell me I was going to win,” he said. “It’s great for recruiting and everything, but you’d like to be able to get all the kinks out before you step on a national stage. But that’s what goes along with the league that you’re in.”

The Horned Frogs are 10-4 in season openers under Patterson. They won season openers against No. 5 Oklahoma in 2005 and No. 22 Oregon State in 2010 and lost to No. 12 LSU in 2013.

Patterson is wary about opening-game jitters.

“Always in these games, you worry about the silly mistakes,” he said. “You watch the first games, you see a punt get blocked, you see a punt get returned, fumbled kickoff – all the things you don’t want to see. But you can’t dwell on it; then you’re too tight.”

No BU talk

Patterson declined to talk about the Sam Ukwuachu transfer controversy at Baylor after being asked about TCU’s policy for accepting players with troubled pasts.

“We have a way of donig things, and as a general rule, we do it,” Patterson said. “But you’re not going to draw me into that whole conversation, I can promise you that. We have a story around here called ‘Shark Rules’ – never jump into the water to help a wounded swimmer; the sharks turn on you.

“You’re talking to the wrong person when it comes to all that stuff. I get enough DMs from Baylor people. I don’t need to be part of any other conversation.”

Rested legs

The Horned Frogs did not practice Sunday, and they took off the previous Saturday and Sunday in an attempt to heal and rest.

“We’ve got to get ourselves as healthy as we can get by the time we play and get our legs back under us,” Patterson said. “That’s what we did.”

Patterson said he pushed the team during the August practices, but that the players sometimes asked for more.

“A couple of times, they asked to stay outside instead of going into the air conditioning halfway through practice,” Patterson said. “They wanted to stay with it.”

With any receivers

TCU receiver Ty Slanina said quarterback Trevone Boykin is good enough to win the Heisman Trophy “with anybody running routes for him.”

“That’s just how talented he is,” Slanina said.

TCU junior wide receiver Ty Slanina discusses the receiving corps role in helping quarterback Trevone Boykin pursue the Heisman Trophy at TCU's weekly press conference Tuesday. (Video: Carlos Mendez)

Slanina, a junior receiver who caught two touchdown passes a year ago, said Boykin’s ability helps the receivers.

“People have to respect his legs, and that opens up stuff for us sometimes,” Slanina said. “As a unit, that helps us. As an offense, that helps us. He’s just gotten better. He worked hard in the spring and summer. He didn’t take a day off. He’s just become such a better player than he was last year.”

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7407, @calexmendez