As TCU prepares to play LSU in the Cowboys Classic on Saturday, a nationally televised game, TCU head coach Gary Patterson increased the intrigue by toying with the media regarding the status of suspended defensive end Devonte Fields.
Rumors have been circulating in the past week that Fields will play Saturday, despite being suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules.
The speculation intensified Monday night after it was reported that Fields would be in uniform for the game. The depth chart released to the media on Monday listed him as a possible starter alongside Matt Anderson.
When Patterson was asked if Fields was still suspended for the game, he fueled the fire.
“You’ll find out at game time,” the coach said.
When a reporter said the released depth chart had confused people, Patterson said, “That’s what it was for.”
Patterson gave his reasoning for leaving the door open on the situation.
“The deal with Devonte is a three month ordeal where he’s already been embarrassed,” Patterson said. “He’s already done everything the university has asked him to do.”
But the coach said that his main concern is teaching life lessons to his players. When asked if he would go back on his previous decision, the coach said, “You know I stick to my guns.”
“If you were a betting man, and you know me, you probably know which way you would bet,” Patterson said.
Preparing for LSU:
Patterson said his team will have to be fundamentally sound if the Horned Frogs want to have a chance to beat LSU on this national stage.
“They make you live up to the big five,” Patterson said of the Tigers. “You’ve got to block. You’ve got to tackle. You’ve got to be physical. You’ve got to take care of the football, and you’ve got to handle the grind.”
The coach said the Tigers run the ball very well and play with great physicality, joking that his team would have to put all eleven players in the box to stop LSU’s running game.
Defensive end Jon Koontz compared the Tigers style of play to what he saw on film of the Wisconsin team that played TCU in the Rose Bowl in 2011.
“There was a lot the same type of smashmouth, power football,” Koontz said. “So Wisconsin, I would say, would be the team that resembles them most.”
However, Koontz said he doesn’t view the SEC differently compared to any other conference.
“Personally, I don’t view them any differently,” Koontz said. “They’re kids out of high school just like all of us.”
Tight end Stephen Bryant said the game is a chance for the Big 12 to make a statement.
“I think it’s going to be a big game,” Bryant said. “It’s going to show that the Big 12’s got some talent in it.”
TCU is regarded as the underdog in the game because of LSU’s reputation as an SEC team, but Patterson said he likes it that way.
“I don’t know any coach that doesn’t like that role,” the coach said. Bryant agreed.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bryant said.
Even if the team pulls the upset, Patterson said a win would only be one step to a long season.
“It means we’re 1-0,” he said of what a win Saturday would mean. “I beat an Oklahoma team [in 2005 that was ranked fifth in the country] and then came back and got beat by SMU the next week.”
Patterson said he would remain silent on who will start at quarterback for the Horned Frogs Saturday, saying that he hasn’t even announced his decision to the team yet.
"I haven’t even told my wife,” Patterson said.
However, Patterson said his players know who will start.
“They know. They’re watching. Even in our mock game, one [quarterback] took the first set of reps and one took the next set of reps,” Patterson said.
The competition has actually improved the relationship between Trevone Boykin and Casey Pachall, according to Patterson, who said last season the two didn’t have a relationship at all.
“Now I think they’re very close. I see them joking all the time," he said. "It’s something where we’ve built chemistry because, inside of our walls, we haven’t made a big deal of [who will start].”