WVU football: TCU's Boykin still learning
MORGANTOWN - In the increasingly secretive world of competitive gamesmanship, TCU Coach Gary Patterson made the bold statement Tuesday that he expects his starting quarterback will be ready to play Saturday at No. 22 West Virginia.
That would be Trevone Boykin, and that would be the team's backup when the season started. Boykin left last week's loss to Oklahoma State game with a knee injury.
If he can't play, the Horned Frogs (5-2, 2-3 Big 12) would be on their third quarterback of the season. Casey Pachall left the team earlier this month to get inpatient treatment at a drug and alcohol facility.
"We don't know if he's going to play or not, but they don't know if any of our guys are going to play, either," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "What we can do is prepare for what's on tape."
TCU is 1-3 with Boykin. His first start came against Iowa State and that loss ended TCU's 12-game overall winning streak and 25-game conference winning streak, both the longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
He can hand the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) a third straight loss for the first time since 2001 when TCU visits Mountaineer Field at 3 p.m. Saturday (WVAH).
"He's going to be a really fine football player," Cyclones Coach Paul Rhoads said. "We had enough film on him to have a good idea what kind of football player he was, but that didn't make us feel any better."
In his first start, Boykin was 23-for-40 for 270 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. A week later, he was 22-for-30 for 260 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a win against Baylor.
He's followed that by completing 47 of 84 passes for 517 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in two losses - though one was 56-53 in three overtimes against Texas Tech and one was 36-14 after leading 14-0 against Oklahoma State.
"He's got a strong arm and does a nice job delivering things on time and he's an outstanding runner," Rhoads said. "We thought he was very, very explosive and tough to bring down. He's going to give teams fits for a number of years."
Boykin is also learning the position. Patterson thought enough of the runner in Boykin to try and get him on the field as a running back. Boykin was practicing at running back the week he was asked to replace Pachall.
In his four starts, he's run 46 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.
"He's a dual-threat guy who's dangerous with his feet, especially with his weapons around him," Holgorsen said.
"The receivers he's got are quality players who could have gone to different programs. He's doing a tremendous job distributing the ball to a bunch of different people."
Nine Horned Frogs have caught at least one touchdown pass.
Two have five. Six have at least 15 receptions and six average at least 11.4 yards per catch. TCU has 47 pass plays covering at least 20 yards and 15 each from Skye Dawson and leading receiver Josh Boyce.
This matters to the Mountaineers, who remain ranked last nationally (No. 120) in pass defense and have allowed 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Seven came in the last game, a 55-14 loss to a Kansas State team that entered with runs on 69 percent of its snaps, but left with a quarterback who passed for a career-high 323 yards and four touchdowns.
Patterson said Tuesday that Boykin didn't play well in the loss to Oklahoma State and that he's perhaps too concerned with making big plays. Patterson wants Boykin to remember he's a redshirt freshman and to make smart decisions when they're there. When they're not there, Patterson would like to see Boykin run - and he is capable of divvying his duties.
Boykin, from Mesquite, Texas, ran for 1,799 yards and 30 touchdowns as a high school senior and completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,930 yards and 28 touchdowns. Boykin threw 11 interceptions as a senior and has six already this season.
TCU is plus-10 in turnover margin in its five win and minus-8 in the three losses - each started by Boykin.
Holgorsen said the Mountaineers paid the closest attention to the TCU games that featured Boykin. He said the offense hasn't changed from what he's known it to be and that Boykin has been the same all four games - which is to say he's maintained a certain level throughout.
"They had a very veteran quarterback that was a physical presence - he was a big dude who ran the ball probably a little more - but you can't come up with just a hundred different ways to put the ball in play, especially throughout the course of a week," he said.
"They're missing a good running back. Their running game isn't as good as Gary probably wants it to be, but they're moving the ball fine. They can beat themselves on offense.
"Our defense has got to do a good job pressuring the quarterback and trying to create turnovers."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.