Big 12: Casey Pachall

That didn’t take long.

One day after Matt Joeckel's departure from Texas A&M, the senior-to-be has landed at TCU.

[+] EnlargeMatt Joeckel
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsFormer Texas A&M QB Matt Joeckel's decision to transfer to TCU could strengthen the Horned Frogs at two positions this fall.
The addition of the former Aggies quarterback, who will be eligible immediately, has to bring a smile to the face of Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson. TCU exited spring football with questions remaining at the position after the offense failed to score a touchdown in its spring scrimmage finale.

Trevone Boykin, who started six games at quarterback for the Horned Frogs in 2013, got the majority of the snaps at quarterback with TCU’s starting offense this spring, yet he could be TCU’s best receiver. Tyler Matthews, who was battling Boykin in the spring, elected to transfer earlier this week, and redshirt freshman Zach Allen never emerged as a major threat to Boykin’s spot atop the depth chart.

Joeckel’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Horned Frogs are moving to a pass-heavy offense under new offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie but don’t have a trigger man for the attack.

Joeckel could be that guy. Or, at the very least, he could provide a veteran bridge while freshman quarterbacks Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein get comfortable in the offense and in the Horned Frogs program. Patterson has been candid with his willingness to turn to one of the true freshman in 2014, but Joeckel’s decision could be the answer to all the remaining questions at the position.

Joeckel, who backed up 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel during his time at Texas A&M, ran a similar offense with the Aggies and started the 2013 season opener against Rice when Manziel was suspended. He finished the 2013 season with 293 passing yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He was 14 of 19 for 190 yards and one touchdown during one half of action -- before Manziel took over -- against Rice, his lone start a year ago.

The overlooked impact of his decision to join the Horned Frogs is the opportunity for TCU to move Boykin back to receiver and still have a mature, veteran option under center this fall. Boykin was arguably TCU’s best receiver at the end of the 2013 season after Casey Pachall returned from injury. The junior is dynamic with the ball in his hands and is much better served catching passes than throwing them, particularly in TCU's new offensive system. He had 26 receptions for 204 yards in 2013.

Thus, with Joeckel’s addition to the TCU offense, the Horned Frogs might have added two additional pieces to their arsenal, not just one.

Reviewing the Big 12 pro days

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Pro day season has come and gone. Draft-eligible players returned to school this month and hit the weight room and practice field to give NFL scouts a taste of their potential. Here’s a rundown of how the Big 12’s top draft prospects fared as well as a few who surprised.

TCU (March 6)
Big name: CB Jason Verrett. A total of 26 NFL teams had reps at the Horned Frogs’ pro day, and you know many of them came for Verrett. He didn’t look to improve his 40 time from the NFL combine (4.38), but he did show off a 39 -inch vertical and benched 19 reps.
Sleeper: QB Casey Pachall. While he’ll have to answer lots of questions about his off-field issues, Pachall’s on-field work at pro day was encouraging. He checked in at 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds, ran his 40 in the mid-4.9s and completed 62 of 72 passes, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Kansas State (March 11)
Big name: S Ty Zimmerman. Though 20 Kansas State players worked out at pro day, Zimmerman was not one of them. He’s still recovering from labrum surgery and reportedly plans to hold a workout next month to show his progress.
Sleeper: OT Cornelius Lucas. Hard to project how things will play out for Lucas, a mammoth tackle at 6-8 and 316 pounds, after he discovered a stress fracture in his left foot at the NFL combine. He’s supposed to be out up to eight weeks but plans to work out along with Zimmerman on April 28.

Oklahoma (March 12)
Big name: CB Aaron Colvin. The Sooners had 28 NFL organization represented at their pro day, but a few key players were still on the mend. Colvin, who suffered a torn ACL at the Senior Bowl, did not work out but hopes to be running again by late April and vowed his recovery is ahead of schedule.
Sleeper: C Gabe Ikard. While Ikard elected to stand by his combine numbers, which were strong for his position group, he did use the pro day to show in position drills just how athletic an interior lineman he can be for an NFL club. Running back Damien Williams also made a solid impression, and receiver Jalen Saunders drew mixed reviews after poor shuttle times.

Oklahoma State (March 13)
Big name: CB Justin Gilbert. The Steelers have the No. 15 pick, so it made sense that Mike Tomlin and his GM were among the many coaches in Stillwater to scout Gilbert. He stood by his 4.37 in the 40 from the NFL combine but did agility drills and reportedly wowed in his position drills. He’s a first-rounder, no doubt.
Sleeper: WR Josh Stewart. Well, OK, he’s not much of a sleeper. But Stewart had work to do to raise his stock, and pro day should’ve helped. He improved his 40 slightly, from 4.69 at the combine to 4.59 at pro day, and showed what he can do as a receiver and returner. Safety Daytawion Lowe also made a good impression.

Texas Tech (March 14)
Big name: TE Jace Amaro. The All-America tight end tried to secure a spot in the first round with improvements in the 40 (4.68) and vertical, and at 6-5 and 266 pounds he evoked comparisons to Vernon Davis from one 49ers scout.
Sleeper: CB Bruce Jones. He’s undersized at 5-7 and 183 pounds, but Jones did grab some attention at pro day with a run of a 4.5-second 40 time and team-best vertical of 41 inches.

Kansas (March 14)
Big name: RB James Sims. A dozen scouts showed up for the Jayhawks’ pro day, and the highlight was probably Sims busting off a run of 4.56 seconds in the 40. The 6-foot, 205-pound back was not invited to the NFL combine and told the Lawrence Journal-World he felt good about the numbers he put up.

Baylor (March 19)
Big names: OT Cyril Richardson, RB Lache Seastrunk, S Ahmad Dixon. Richardson shed 20 pounds after his senior season, which had to encourage NFL scouts, and he did nothing at his pro day to diminish his chances of being a top-50 pick. Seastrunk was as explosive as expected, with a time of 4.37 in the 40 and a 4.36 second shuttle, and tried to show off his pass-catching ability. Dixon ran a 4.64 in the 40 at the NFL combine and improved that to 4.48 at pro day.
Sleeper: TE Jordan Najvar. At nearly 6-6 and 280 pounds, Najvar certainly has the size to make the NFL. His speed had been a question mark, but his reported best for pro day was 4.86 seconds in the 40.

West Virginia (March 21)
Big name: RB Charles Sims. A nice showing at the NFL combine (40 time: 4.48) meant Sims needed only to do positional drills, and he drew good reviews for his pass-catching ability despite small hands.
Sleeper: DE Will Clarke. Knowing it’s possible he’ll be asked to play outside linebacker in an NFL scheme, Clarke worked out at both end and linebacker on pro day and tried to show what he can bring to pass coverage as a nearly 6-6, 268-pound defender.

Iowa State (March 25)
Big name: LB Jeremiah George. After a subpar showing at the combine, George had a nice day in front of 30 NFL officials. He hit 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, posted a big improvement in his broad jump and was solid in positional work.
Sleeper: CB Jeremy Reeves. How’s this for a success story? Reeves played at ISU from 2010-12, missed last season with a pectoral injury and showed up to pro day to prove he’s still got it. He had a crazy good day: 4.29-second 40, 43-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump. The New York Jets signed him on Friday.

Texas (March 26)
Big name: DE Jackson Jeffcoat. Like most other top prospects, Jeffcoat stuck with his NFL combine testing numbers. The 6-3, 253-pound end demonstrated his coverage ability in position drills amid talk that he might have to be a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
Sleeper: CB Carrington Byndom. Questions about the three-year starter’s speed were put to rest when he ran his 40 in 4.37 seconds. Byndom was happy with his positional drills and is starting to line up meetings.

Casey Pachall: TCU lacks leadership

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
TCU had all kinds of issues while struggling to a disappointing 4-8 record last season, and leadership, according to former quarterback Casey Pachall, was one of them.

In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Pachall didn't hold back when asked to comment on the state of TCU's football program.

"It's rough right now," he said. "There is zero leadership. Nobody wants to step up and take charge of anything. It's rough."

In the preseason, the Horned Frogs were picked by some to win the Big 12. But after injuries to Pachall and preseason All-American defensive end Devonte Fields, TCU finished with just two wins in the league.

Pachall suggested the response to adversity within the team hasn't been good.

To continue reading, click here.

Big 12 games of the year: No. 8

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
We’re counting down the 10 best games of the year in the Big 12. Below is game No. 8, an overtime thriller in Fort Worth which appeared, at the time, to decide which one of the teams was destined to go bowling in 2013. WVU stumbled down the stretch, failing to secure bowl eligibility.

No. 8: Nov. 2 -- West Virginia 30, TCU 27 (overtime)

The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs played one of the most entertaining fourth quarters of the entire season, as the two teams traded punches with both squads grasping at bowl hopes.

What happened: The Horned Frogs had appeared to fumble (and throw away) their chances at a victory with two fourth-quarter turnovers leading to two WVU touchdowns as the Mountaineers went from a 17-13 deficit to a 27-17 lead. But TCU quarterback Casey Pachall rallied his team after those back-to-back turnovers and took them on an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive and a game-tying field goal in the final seven minutes of the game to force overtime.

Yet, in a sequence that was representative of how TCU stubbed its own foot for much of the season, the Horned Frogs somehow ended up with a 62-yard field goal on their first possession after penalties and mental mistakes. TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom couldn’t connect and WVU secured the win with Josh Lambert’s 34-yard field goal.

Overlooked for much of the game was WVU running back Charles Sims’ 189 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. And you can't forget quarterback Clint Trickett going 11-of-14 for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime, which had shades of his clutch play in WVU’s win over Oklahoma State.

Player of the game: Darwin Cook was all over the field for the Mountaineers, finishing with 14 tackles and one fumble recovery. He was one of the few bright spots on WVU's defense for the entire season, and it was rare to watch a Mountaineers' game without noticing No. 25 showing up around the ball for Dana Holgorsen's squad.

Stat of the game: WVU’s 20 points off turnovers. The game was decided by turnovers, as the Mountaineers were plus-20 in points-off-turnover margin. Give WVU credit for capitalizing on TCU mistakes without making mistakes of its own in a tough road victory.

Quotable: "You have to give credit to West Virginia for coming back and doing the things they did, but to be honest with you we gave one away. That is about as simple as I can tell you how it is." -- TCU coach Gary Patterson.

The rest of the list:

Season report card: TCU

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
TCU began the year as the player's pick to win the Big 12. The Horned Frogs ended the season as the conference’s most disappointing team.

Gary Patterson’s squad fielded a quality defense again but the offense made life much harder than it should have been with mental mistakes and turnovers handcuffing the Horned Frogs’ dreams of winning the Big 12. The injury bug didn’t help, hitting 2012 Defensive Freshman of the Year Devonte Fields and starting quarterback Casey Pachall. All in all, not much went right for TCU in 2013.

Offense: F

TCU’s national offensive rankings read like basketball scores: No. 104 in total yards (344.8), No. 103 in yards per play (5.03), No. 112 in third down conversion rate (32 percent) and No. 87 in points scored (25.1).

Ugly numbers, indeed.

But the main reason the Horned Frogs get an "F" is because they had way too much offensive talent campus to finish lower than 50th nationally in every major offensive category. With Pachall, B.J. Catalon, Trevone Boykin and others, the offense had playmakers. It just didn’t make plays and, worse yet, its 30 turnovers ranked No. 114 in the country.

Boykin, who started the majority of the season at quarterback, was the bright spot as the most explosive playmaker on the offense and arguably the best receiver on the roster when Pachall returned to the lineup.

Defense: B

[+] EnlargeJason Verrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsThe 2013 season didn't go as planned for cornerback Jason Verrett and the Horned Frogs, but Verrett could still be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The defense was the reason TCU played several close games as Texas was the lone team to blowout the Horned Frogs. The unit finished among the top three in the Big 12 in several categories including total yards (356.4), yards per play (4.83), rushing yards (130.83) and yards per carry (3.31).

Big 12 co-defensive player of the year Jason Verrett led one of the Big 12’s best secondaries and blanketed receivers from his cornerback spot, safety Sam Carter finished among the Big 12 leaders in interceptions (5) and Paul Dawson was among the conference’s most productive tacklers with 91.

Its struggles on third down and in slowing down the pass are the lone reasons the defense didn’t earn a higher grade.

Special teams: C-

Outside of its kick return units, TCU’s special teams units were pretty average. Catalon returned 32.1 percent of his kickoff return attempts for more than 30 yards and finished with a 26.54 average to provide a game-changing threat on kickoffs.

The Horned Frogs finished in the bottom half of the Big 12 in punting, net punting, kick return average allowed and opponent starting position so their special teams didn't do things to change games and turn the momentum in their favor.

Overall: D

The defense was the lone cause for hope for the Horned Frogs for the majority of the season. They easily could have finished 8-4 or better but turnovers, the inability to make key plays when they needed them and injuries doomed the Horned Frogs to a bowl-less season. They finished the season without a signature win, yet they aren't that far away from being in the thick of the Big 12 title race.

Big 12 all-star game invitations

December, 17, 2013
With only the bowls left, the all-star games are beginning to fill out their rosters. Invitations for pre-draft games have gone out to seniors around the Big 12.

This is not a final list, just an early rundown of who we know that has decided where to showcase their skills in front of the NFL scouts.

REESE'S SENIOR BOWL (Jan. 25, Mobile, Ala.)
EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME (Jan. 18, St. Petersburg, Fla.)

Also, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall will take part in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl on Jan. 11 in Charleston, S.C.

Big 12 fantasy football: Week 14

December, 3, 2013
The Jake Trotter fantasy football train just keeps rolling. After stumbling last week, Trotter was once again the high scorer in Week 14 of our Big 12 fantasy football league. He’s now won five of the past seven weeks.

This time, it was because of 20-plus point performances from the usual suspects, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and West Virginia running back Charles Sims, as well as a 21-point day from Iowa State receiver Quenton Bundrage, who Jake added to his roster this week.

My team finished second, as usual, but did get 28 points from Kansas State running back John Hubert. Getting another goose egg at the quarterback spot was probably not helpeful. Chatmon came in third place despite big games from Texas’ Mike Davis and TCU’s Casey Pachall.

Here’s how the rest of our lineups fared this week:

Jake Trotter’s Team

QB Bryce Petty, BAY - 22
RB Charles Sims, WVU - 29
RB B.J. Catalon, TCU - 9
FLEX Trevone Boykin, TCU - 5
WR Quentin Bundrage, ISU - 21
WR Eric Ward, TTU - 8
TE Jace Amaro, TTU - 14
DEF TCU defense - -2
K Aaron Jones, BAY - 11
Total: 117

Max Olson’s Team

QB Daniel Sams, KSU - 0
RB John Hubert, KSU - 28
RB James Sims, KU - 8
FLEX Malcolm Brown, TEX - 12
WR Levi Norwood, BAY - 14
WR Brandon Carter, TCU - 4
TE E.J. Bibbs, ISU - 9
DEF Baylor defense - 13
K Anthony Fera, Texas - 11
Total: 99

Brandon Chatmon’s Team

QB Casey Pachall, TCU - 26
RB Shontrelle Johnson, ISU - 13
RB Lache Seastrunk, BAY - 9
FLEX Aaron Green, TCU - 1
WR Mike Davis, TEX - 23
WR Tyler Lockett, KSU - 4
TE Jimmay Mundine, KU - 8
D Texas Tech defense - -2
K Ryan Bustin, TTU - 4
Total: 86

Season Leaderboard

1. Jake: 1,569
2. Max: 1,488
3. Brandon: 1,358

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 14

December, 2, 2013
Taking stock of Week 14 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: After trailing by three scores for most of the game, Iowa State came roaring back with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter and ultimately prevailed 52-44 in a stunning, triple-overtime comeback. Freshman QB Grant Rohach was terrific in his second career road start, accounting for five touchdowns, including the winning toss on the first play of the third overtime. The defense forced four turnovers to help spearhead the rally. And punter Kirby Van Der Kamp converted a fake punt into a huge first down, igniting the comeback early in the fourth quarter. As a result, Iowa State finished off an otherwise disappointing season with a thrilling road victory and a two-game winning streak to build on for 2014.

[+] EnlargeRyan Erxleben, David Brenner, Keenon Ward
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsTexas Tech punter Ryan Erxleben (26) celebrated perhaps the Red Raiders' only highlight Thursday.
Disappointment of the week: After a fake punt touchdown gave them a 7-0 lead, the Red Raiders basically no-showed the rest of the way in a discouraging 41-16 loss at Texas. The Longhorns obliterated Tech up front, as both Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron topped 100 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, Tech couldn't protect its quarterback, as Baker Mayfield was sacked seven times. As a result, a team that once was ranked 10th in the country ended its regular season with a thud -- and a five-game losing streak.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Kansas State running back John Hubert and Iowa State wide receivers Quenton Bundrage and Justin Coleman.

Hubert unleashed a monster performance in his final Sunflower Showdown. The senior rushed for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, as K-State defeated Kansas 31-10 for a fifth consecutive victory in the series.

Together with Rohach, Bundrage and Coleman fueled Iowa State's comeback with huge catches down the stretch. After Van Der Kamp's fake punt conversion, Bundrage hauled in a 62-yard touchdown grab to cut West Virginia's lead to 10. Later, Coleman's 19-yard scoring reception tied the game with a minute left in regulation. And on the first play of the third overtime, Coleman reeled in another touchdown, which proved to be the game winner.

All told, Bundrage and Coleman combined for 12 receptions, 184 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Big (defensive) men on campus: Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Lackey played a hand in two turnovers that ultimately led to defensive touchdowns. With the Horned Frogs driving at the end of the second quarter with a chance to take the lead before halftime, Lackey charged up the middle and tagged TCU QB Casey Pachall's legs. The hit forced Pachall's pass to be behind his intended receiver, and Orion Stewart intercepted it and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Then on TCU's first possession of the third quarter, Lackey picked off Pachall and dashed 54 yards for another score, putting the Bears up 34-17. Lackey added six tackles and a sack in Baylor's 41-38 win.

As good as Lackey was, no player was more dominant than Verrett. Matched up one-on-one with Baylor's Antwan Goodley the entire game, Verrett checked the Big 12's leading receiver to just one reception for 12 yards. As a result, Baylor finished with a season-low 206 passing yards.

Jeffcoat also flourished in his final home game, recording a game-high three sacks as Texas shut down Texas Tech's passing game. Jeffcoat also had seven tackles and a quarterback hurry, solidifying his candidacy as an All-Big 12 defensive end.

Special-teams player of the week: Tech punter Ryan Erxleben produced one of the special-teams plays of the year in the Big 12 in Austin. On Tech's second possession, Erxleben took off on a fake punt and raced 51 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Red Raiders an early 7-0 lead. After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Erxleben called the fake on his own. It proved to be Tech's longest rush of the season, but pretty much its only highlight in the lackluster loss to the Longhorns.

Play of the week: After falling behind 34-17 on two Baylor defensive touchdowns, TCU made a furious rally and drove into field goal range with a chance to either win or send the game to overtime. Instead, with 18 seconds to go, quarterback Pachall's pass to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl and into the arms of Terrell Burt for the game-clinching interception to seal Baylor's victory.

Stat of the week: By holding Baylor to 370 yards of offense, TCU snapped the Bears' 37-game streak of at least 400 yards of offense. Ball State now holds the longest FBS streak at 12 games.

Quote of the week: "Gary Patterson lives in Fort Worth. If he's got a problem with me, that's where I live."

-- TCU coach Gary Patterson, after a pair of heated exchanges with Baylor coach Art Briles

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 14

December, 2, 2013
There was a shakeup at the bottom of the Power Rankings after the miracle in Morgantown:

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, last week 1): The Cowboys have a chance to state their case as the Big 12’s top program of the last five seasons. Beating Oklahoma to win a second Big 12 title in three years would convey a very compelling argument.

2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, LW 2): Baylor’s two worst offensive outputs have come in the last two weeks. Is America’s top offense running on fumes? The friendly confines of Floyd Casey Stadium -- for one final game -- should give QB Bryce Petty & Co. the refueling they need.

3. Texas (8-3, 7-1 Big 12, LW 3): For all their issues and injuries, the Longhorns remain in the mix for an outright Big 12 title and automatic BCS bowl berth heading into this final week of the season. Ironically, if Texas somehow upset Baylor, this would actually be one of Mack Brown’s better coaching performances.

4. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12, LW 4): Nobody before the season predicted these Sooners, with a young defense and a new quarterback, would contend for a national championship. A victory at Oklahoma State and another 10-win season would make this a solid season in Norman.

5. Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12, LW 5): Even after a 2-4 start, Kansas State still managed to finish ahead of where it was picked in the preseason for a third straight season. Going forward, the media should automatically bump K-State up two spots when filling out Big 12 preseason ballots, to account for the “Bill Snyder effect.”

6. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, LW 6): After another November slide, the Red Raiders are likely headed back to the Texas Bowl for the second straight season. Tech has had several memorable moments in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. The 41-16 loss at Texas was not one of them.

7. TCU (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 8): In their final game, the Horned Frogs finally showed what could have been this season. While the TCU defensive backs locked up Baylor’s receivers, senior QB Casey Pachall looked the sharpest he had in two years, even with the two pick-six interceptions. Take away those two plays and the fumble at the TCU 1-yard line, and the Frogs might have won this game going away. Yes, TCU finished with its worst season since going 1-10 in 1997. But if defensive end Devonte Fields can return to his freshman form, and TCU can figure out the answer at QB, the Frogs could be a force next year.

8. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12, LW 9): Coach Paul Rhoads proved those who have wanted him out to be ridiculous. Despite all the tough losses, the Cyclones never quit on their coach, even when down 17 points in the fourth quarter on the road in Morgantown. With a little bit of luck, especially around the goal line, the Cyclones have the pieces to return to a bowl next year.

9. Kansas (3-9, 1-8 Big 12, LW 10): Hey, at least they beat West Virginia.

10. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 7): The Mountaineers capped off another depressing season with an epic fourth-quarter collapse. Good thing no one was there to see it. Well, almost no one. Saturday featured the third-smallest crowd in Milan Puskar Stadium’s 33-year history, and the smallest since 1992.

Baylor beats Horned Frogs for Briles

November, 30, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Before Baylor's game at TCU, Bears running back Lache Seastrunk pulled his head coach to the side.

“Coach Briles, I know you lost somebody,” Seastrunk told him. “But you’ve gained 99 of us.”

On Wednesday, Art Briles lost his brother, Eddie, who died unexpectedly from a head injury after falling in the bathroom of his home.

On Saturday, Briles’ football family gave him a win to ease the pain of that loss, if only for a little bit.

Keeping their Big 12 title and BCS bowl aspirations alive, the ninth-ranked Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) held on to defeat TCU 41-38 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in a thriller that came down to the final seconds.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
MCT via Getty ImagesCoach Art Briles' Baylor team didn't play its best game against TCU but still came out on top.
After falling behind 34-17 on a pair of Baylor defensive touchdowns, the Horned Frogs made a furious comeback and drove into field goal range with a chance to tie. But with 18 seconds to go, TCU went for the win, and quarterback Casey Pachall’s pass toward the end zone was tipped, then intercepted by Terrell Burt, sealing the victory.

“That just showed we're a tough football team,” said Briles, who declined to speak directly about his brother, but spent time outside the locker room emotionally hugging players, boosters and administrators. “You want to be in a room full of fighters and believers, and that’s what we have.”

This week required some fight from the Bears.

They suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, as Oklahoma State emphatically bounced them from the national title picture with a 49-17 victory in Stillwater.

Four days later, Eddie -- a nurse in Haskell, Texas, and Briles’ only sibling -- passed away, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Eddie actually appeared in a "College GameDay" feature last weekend, and spoke to for a feature story on his younger brother earlier this month. Their parents, Dennis and Wanda Briles, and their aunt, Elsie "Tottie" Kittley, died in a car accident while traveling to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to watch Art play for the University of Houston on Oct. 16, 1976.

“(Winning for Coach Briles) was the emphasis of the week for sure,” Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. “Every guy in that locker room loves him like their own dad. It hurts you to see him hurt. I think this win was huge for him and that’s what we wanted to do.”

The win didn’t come easily.

TCU (4-8, 2-7), without enough wins to have a chance of qualifying for a bowl, turned Baylor into its de facto bowl game.

Due to an array of injuries and suspensions, the Horned Frogs had struggled offensively all season. But with an extra week to prepare, they saved their best performance for last. The Horned Frogs outgained the nation’s top statistical offense by 40 yards. Yet, after a flurry of turnovers, they found themselves still trailing Baylor 34-17 early in the third quarter.

Over the course of four possessions, TCU fumbled at its own 1-yard line, then Pachall threw two interceptions that Orion Stewart and Eddie Lackey returned for touchdowns.

"I made quite a few mistakes that cost us the ball game,” Pachall said. “I gave them 14 points, just handed it over on a platter."

But TCU didn't go down without a fight, either.

And the turning point came on its following possession. Baylor senior captain and safety Ahmad Dixon was ejected for a targeting penalty on Horned Frogs wide receiver Trevone Boykin, seemingly igniting a heated exchange between Briles and TCU coach Gary Patterson on the field.

Briles avoided addressing the exchange after the game. But Patterson didn't.

“To come across the field to me. ... He's picking on the wrong guy,” said Patterson, who didn't refer to Briles by name. “You're not going to come across to me. You can go correct your player, not me.

"If that's what class is, then I don't want to be it."

The penalty ultimately ignited the Horned Frogs, too. TCU scored touchdowns on its next two possessions, thanks to a Pachall 4-yard touchdown scamper, then a 16-yard scoring toss to Josh Doctson at the back of the end zone.

After Petty found Levi Norwood for a touchdown, TCU came right back again with Pachall’s touchdown strike to David Porter, trimming the deficit to 41-38.

The Horned Frogs got the ball back again with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining and moved the ball all the way to the Bears’ 23. But two plays later, Pachall’s attempt to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl, and into the arms of Burt in the end zone.

“This win really showed the character of this team,” Holl said. “We were all playing for Coach Briles. He’s family. He’s going through a rough time right now.

“So we really wanted to get this one for him.”

Boykin maximizing his versatility for TCU

November, 13, 2013
Trevone Boykin laughs at the question, but it’s not an unfair one to ask: What positions can’t he play?

The TCU sophomore started six games at quarterback this season. He’s playing wide receiver now and caught 11 passes for 100 yards against West Virginia. Coach Gary Patterson has even floated the possibility that Boykin will start returning kicks.

And he’s fine with all of that. Boykin just wants to do whatever can he to stay on the field and help the Horned Frogs.

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
David Purdy/Getty ImagesWith Casey Pachall back starting at quarterback for TCU, Trevone Boykin is playing different roles for the Horned Frogs.
“I’m a team guy,” he said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”

So, again, what other roles does Boykin have in his arsenal?

“I could probably play safety. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be a good corner, though,” he said. “I don’t think I have the feet or speed for it.”

Well, what about kicking?

“I’m not really a good punter,” Boykin said. “I mean, I played it in high school. It was more of a rugby-style thing. I think I had one 60-yarder. That probably was lucky.”

He doesn’t have a punt to his name in 2013 (at least, not yet), but he does have 1,176 passing yards, 303 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

Add up his time as quarterback and receiver and he has touched the ball on 43 percent of TCU’s offensive snaps this season. Boykin likes having the ball in his hands, and he's glad those opportunities are still coming his way even if he’s once again the backup quarterback.

Back on Oct. 4, 2012, the day he learned that Casey Pachall was out and that he was TCU’s new starting quarterback, Boykin was actually practicing at running back. That came on a Thursday, so he had one walkthrough practice to prepare for his debut.

He now has 15 starts under his belt as a Big 12 quarterback. Boykin made his last one against Texas last month before giving way to a healthy Pachall in the first quarter. As much as the young backup is a competitor, he was fine with the decision.

“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Boykin said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win the game. If that was me playing receiver or me playing quarterback, it really doesn’t matter.”

And a week later, Boykin was Pachall’s go-to target at receiver against the Mountaineers. In the past decade, he’s one of only two players -- the other being Michigan’s Devin Gardner, in 2012 -- to surpass 1,000 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same season.

“He makes TCU better wherever he plays,” Patterson said.

Boykin’s roommates, receivers LaDarius Brown and David Porter, give him grief about his skills at receiver, but Boykin believes years of playing quarterback prepared him as a pass-catcher far more than he’d realized.

“Just being in the film room as Casey, we just kind of clicked,” Boykin said. “Me knowing what a quarterback wants, I was just in the right spots at the right time.”

The same could be said of his performance against Iowa State last Saturday. Boykin lined up at quarterback for five carries. He scored touchdowns on three, including the 1-yard game winner in the final minute.

That wasn’t part of the game plan going in, he said. Just a game-time decision and, evidently, a fairly successful one. Boykin doesn’t know what’s in store for him this week at Kansas State. He’s ready for anything Patterson and the coaches put on his plate.

The situation he’ll face next year will be just as intriguing. Pachall graduates, but the Frogs have young backups in Tyler Matthews and Zach Allen plus incoming freshmen Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer.

Even if Boykin is the presumed starting quarterback entering next spring, Patterson said he’d still like to maximize his versatility in multiple roles. Boykin is talented enough to create mismatches all over the field.

That uncertainty might bother a more selfish athlete. Boykin enjoys the challenge. He’s having plenty of fun this year, even if he’s not the one behind center.

He still attends the quarterback meetings with Pachall and prepares knowing he could return to quarterback at any moment. But does he refer to himself an “athlete” now when people ask?

“I tell them I play quarterback,” Boykin said, “because that’s what’s on the roster.”

That’s not likely to change, even if the box score on Saturdays tells a different story.

Big 12 lunchtime links

October, 31, 2013
He's back, and he's still gettin' buckets.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 10

October, 31, 2013
Here’s what to watch in the Big 12 for Week 10.

Will Texas Tech rebound after losing to the Sooners? Kliff Kingsbury’s squad pulled out all the stops in their 38-30 setback in Norman. Fake punt returns, halfback passes, onside kicks, nothing was left on the table. Yet, they still lost. It had to be deflating for the Red Raiders. But TTU comes back home to Lubbock with the realization that its Big 12 title hopes remain intact with Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor remaining on their schedule. If they simply win out and get some help with another conference loss by the Sooners, their title hopes would be well within reach.

Will Oklahoma State remind people it remains in the Big 12 title hunt? The Cowboys still control their destiny with the rest of the top half of the league still on their schedule. OSU can send a message that it has been forgotten during discussions about the Big 12 with a road win in a tough night environment in Lubbock. Multiple starters remain from the 2011 Big 12 title squad so don’t expect the Cowboys to sit back and watch the title be decided without having their say.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
Can Texas look dominant for the third game in a row? The Longhorns still have doubters thanks to their stumbling, bumbling start to the season. Yet they sit at the top of the Big 12 standings unbeaten in conference play alongside Baylor and have been as impressive as any team in the league during their past two games. If they come out and hammer Kansas, it will display the type of consistency that tends to be a trait of championship squads.

Will Roland keep rollin’? OSU running back Desmond Roland set a career high with 219 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first collegiate start. What will he do as an encore against a Red Raider defense that has allowed 460 rushing yards in their past two games? TTU will likely try to take the running game away and force Clint Chelf to beat them with his arm.

Who will be the best running back on the turf at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium? Texas’ Johnathan Gray (93.71 rushing yards per game) and Kansas’ James Sims (84.14 ypg) sit at No. 2 and 3 among the Big 12 leaders for rushing yards per game behind Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (124.14). Clearly, Gray has more help as he strives to make plays but Sims did rush for 176 yards against the Longhorns last season. It should be fun to see two of the Big 12’s top running backs in action on the same field.

How strong is OSU’s defense? The Cowboys are, statistically, one of the best defensive units seen in Stillwater in recent memory. Yet they haven’t seen anything like they will see against Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders feature a bag full of tricks and receiving corps full of treats unlike any other in the conference. Jace Amaro is an automatic mismatch, Eric Ward can make teams pay for leaving him in one-on-one situations, Jakeem Grant is slippery and fast and Bradley Marquez will hit you with a big play when you least expect it. Few envy the task of Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer this weekend.

Can Kansas State’s two-quarterback system continue to excel? Each week Bill Snyder is asked about his two-quarterback system and the Wildcats’ head coach commonly responds by saying both guys are good players who can help his team win. While far from colorful, his consistent message is dead-on accurate. Daniel Sams has caused havoc for Big 12 defenses all season and when West Virginia came out with a plan to stop Sams, Jake Waters promptly made the Mountaineers’ pay with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to spark KSU’s win. There's no reason to think the two-quarterback system won't continue to excel against Iowa State on Saturday.

Can WVU finally finish? Every week the Mountaineers show more and more signs that they are starting to find a rhythm. While many are quick to brush WVU off, the Mountaineers would have beaten Tech and K-State if they made key plays when it mattered in the fourth quarter. If they ever finally learn how to finish, they could finish the season with a strong final month, starting Saturday at TCU.

Will Casey Pachall look better in his second game back? Pachall didn’t look like the savior against Texas in his first game back from injury last Saturday but he still represents the biggest reason for hope as TCU tries to battle its way into a bowl game. If he looks like a healthy and confident Pachall against WVU and leads the Horned Frogs' offense to a high-scoring output, it would be hard to bet against Gary Patterson’s squad finding its way into a bowl game.

Someone help Quenton Bundrage: No, seriously, anyone? Bundrage keeps finding ways to make an impact on games despite not having another consistent threat alongside him in Iowa State’s offense. The Cyclones have been ravaged by injuries, but it would be interesting to see what the sophomore could do with someone alongside him forcing defenses to account for them. Regardless, Bundrage is a name to watch against KSU on Saturday.

Where the TCU offense went wrong

October, 30, 2013
Going into the season, coach Gary Patterson felt optimistic about the TCU offense. So did almost everyone else, too.

Veteran Casey Pachall was back at quarterback. So was backup Trevone Boykin, who gained valuable experience in 2012 filling in for Pachall.

[+] EnlargeCatalon
Jim Cowsert/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty ImagesB.J. Catalon looks like the favorite to emerge as TCU's lead RB, but that doesn't mean other backs won't find their way on the field too.
Waymon James and B.J. Catalon, TCU’s 2011 and 2012 leading rushers, were also back to anchor the ground game.

And Brandon Carter seemed primed to take over as the No. 1 receiver.

All of that, combined with a star-studded defense, made the Horned Frogs the players’ preseason pick to win the Big 12.

But somewhere along the way, it all went wrong. And as a result, TCU is in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004.

When did the offense begin to go south?

“I think everybody feels good going into (a season),” Patterson said. “You lose a starting quarterback -- but I don’t know if I can actually answer that question for you. Obviously, we’re not doing well, but I don’t feel like we felt like we were going to go south; but I’m not sure we did that. We just haven’t done what we needed to do.”

TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) ranks 114th nationally and ninth in the Big 12 with an average of 320 yards per game. The Horned Frogs have 19 touchdowns. They have 18 turnovers, only one shy from tying for the Big 12 lead. And they have produced just five first-half touchdowns offensively all season.

The truth is, there were early signs this offense might have problems.

Before the first day of practice, starting right tackle Tayo Fabuluje quit the team. A few days later, guard Michael Thompson had to give up football due to injuries. That left the thinnest unit on the team with two less bodies.

The problems have only ballooned from there.

TCU actually put up 27 points in the opener against LSU. But that came on only 13 first downs and 259 yards of offense, as Catalon’s 100-yard kickoff return turned out to be TCU’s only first half touchdown.

After Pachall was picked off on the first play of the third quarter, Patterson replaced him with Boykin. And the quarterback position has been a disaster ever since.

The following week, Pachall was lost to a fractured forearm for five games. And although Boykin was more effective than Pachall the first two games, he struggled once he took over as the full-time starter.

Boykin ranks 15th in the Big 12 with an Adjusted QBR of 39.4 (scale of 0-to-100, with 50 being average).

Pachall, who returned from the forearm injury last week, hasn’t fared any better. He produced a QBR of just 13.1 in the 30-7 loss to Texas while completing only 38 percent of his passes.

But the offensive woes can’t all be pinned on the quarterbacks.

“When it’s not going well,” Patterson said, “there are a lot of ways to point fingers.”

Carter has been a major disappointment this season. While flanking Josh Boyce last year, Carter had 36 catches for 590 yards and six touchdowns, positioning himself to become TCU’s primary receiver after Boyce declared for the draft.

But since getting benched in the SMU game on Sept. 28, Carter has just four catches for 41 yards.

Without a true go-to guy, the Horned Frogs’ receiving corps has been wildly inconsistent. In the Texas loss alone, the Horned Frogs had seven drops.

With the passing attack posing little threat, defenses have loaded up to shut down James and Catalon. And for the most part, the two have been contained. Catalon ranks 10th in the Big 12 in yards per carry (4.95); James is 13th (4.75).

“We gotta find a way to score points,” Patterson said. “Gotta find a way to move the ball.”

The Horned Frogs have four games left to find a way. If they don’t win three, they won’t go to a bowl.

“At this time of year, you don’t end up really being able to fix a lot of things,” Patterson said. “You are what you are, so how do we make it better? And that’s what we’re trying to get accomplished.

“If you don’t do that, then you go home for Christmas.”
At the beginning of every week, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has a state of the union with his team about where they stand in the conference and where they stand for making a bowl game.

The Wildcats are out of the conference title picture. So are West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas. But all five still cling to bowl hopes. Here’s a look at the chances each has of making a bowl game:

Kansas State Wildcats (3-4, 1-3 Big 12)
Remaining schedule: Iowa State, at No. 15 Texas Tech, TCU, No. 10 Oklahoma, at Kansas

Chances of a bowl: The West Virginia win was huge for K-State’s bowl aspirations. Now all the Wildcats have to do is beat Iowa State and TCU at home, then take care of Kansas on the road in the Sunflower Showdown. K-State should be favored in all three of those games. Games at Tech and at home against Oklahoma aren’t automatic losses, either. The Wildcats suffered some tough losses during the first half of the season. But they are finally healthy again, and with the way QBs Jake Waters and Daniel Sams are playing, good bets to get to a bowl.

West Virginia Mountaineers (3-5, 1-4)

Remaining schedule: at TCU, Texas, at Kansas, Iowa State

Chances of a bowl: No team in the Big 12 has played a tougher schedule than West Virginia. The schedule lightens up quite a bit. But that doesn’t guarantee the Mountaineers will get bowl eligible. Even if they beat Kansas and Iowa State, they’ll still have to knock off TCU in Fort Worth or Texas at home. West Virginia is a two-touchdown underdog at TCU. And the Mountaineers will likely be heavy underdogs against Texas, too. West Virginia is still capable of wining either game. But the Mountaineers will have to play much better than they did Saturday in Manhattan to have a chance in either.

TCU Horned Frogs (3-5, 1-4)

Remaining schedule: West Virginia, at Iowa State, at Kansas State, No. 6 Baylor

Chances of a bowl: The players’ preseason pick to win the Big 12 suddenly is in danger of just getting to a bowl. If you chalk up the Baylor game as a loss, that would mean TCU would have to win its next three games, including in Ames and Manhattan, to become bowl eligible. The Horned Frogs have the defense to do that. But do they have the offense to win three in a row? QB Casey Pachall is back. He’ll have to play well to get the TCU offense back on track -- and the Frogs to a bowl.

Iowa State Cyclones (1-6, 0-4)

Remaining schedule: at Kansas State, TCU, at No. 10 Oklahoma, Kansas, at West Virginia

Chances of a bowl: The Cyclones have suffered some tough losses, notably the one-point defeat at home to Texas. Now they have to win out to get to a bowl. With a road trip to Oklahoma on the remaining schedule, that’s just not happening.

Kansas Jayhawks (2-5, 0-4)

Remaining schedule: at Texas, at No. 18 Oklahoma State, West Virginia, at Iowa State, Kansas State

Chances of a bowl: To become bowl eligible, the Jayhawks would have to knock off Texas or Oklahoma State on the road. Kansas should be more focused on snapping its 24-game Big 12 losing streak.



Saturday, 12/20
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Friday, 12/26
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Thursday, 1/1
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