TCU lost to LSU 37-27 Saturday night in the Cowboys Classic, and TCU head coach Gary Patterson said that the mistakes by his team were the difference in the game.
“I told them before the ballgame, the bottom line was you couldn’t make mistakes,” Patterson said. “You can’t fumble the ball… [or] give up the long kickoff return.”
TCU did both of those things Saturday night. After LSU scored a field goal on its opening possession, Brandon Carter fumbled during the kickoff return to give LSU a first-and-goal that resulted in a field goal and a 6-0 lead for the Tigers.
TCU answered with a field goal on its first offensive possession to make it 6-3, but Casey Pachall, who started at quarterback for the Frogs, had trouble finding his rhythm against a physical, athletic LSU defense. After Pachall threw an interception on his first pass of the second half, Patterson took him out for Trevone Boykin. The coach said the decision was based on Boykin’s athleticism and ability to escape pressure.
“They were making our quarterback move his feet,” Patterson said. “We had to get an extra running back in the back field. It was simple. So we tried to go change of pace, and I thought it worked. We got a couple of touchdowns.”
TCU’s offense scored two touchdowns and a field goal with Boykin leading the offense. The didn’t score with Pachall at quarterback after its first possession.
Patterson emphasized, however, that Pachall is still the starter, and that he plans to use both quarterbacks over the course of the season.
Patterson pointed to the athletic ability of LSU’s defense, particularly its defensive line, as the reason for TCU’s offensive troubles.
“I don’t think, athletically, we’ll play anybody that’s going to be any more athletic in any other positions than what we just played tonight.”
TCU was also missing one of its most athletic players on defense, defensive end Devonte Fields. Patterson was coy this week about whether Fields would play Saturday after being suspended for two games for violating team rules, but held to his word and kept Fields out.
“There is no doubt we missed Stansly Maponga and Devonte Fields,” Patterson said. “No doubt about that. But if you asked me if I would do it over, would I let him play? The answer is no.”
The coach said, however, that the team couldn’t use Fields’ absence to as an excuse.
“We don’t make excuses,” Patterson said. “I told them after the ballgame, we got ourselves in that situation, now we need to make it up in the next 11 games.”
LSU scored its first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run by fullback J.C. Copeland, which gave the Tigers a 10-point lead in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, B.J. Catalon, who was put in to replace Carter after his fumble, made the play of the night for TCU.
With 13:41 remaining in the first half, Catalon caught the ball at the goal line and returned it one hundred yards for a touchdown.
“I heard the coach call out a return play and we set up the blocks and I made my move,” Catalon said. “And I was off to the races.”
The touchdown was the second-longest return in TCU history, and the longest in any college football game ever played in AT&T Stadium.
The return wasn’t the only big play Catalon made for the Frogs. He put another six points on the board with a 26-yard run on an end-around in the third quarter.
“If you want just highlights, how about B.J. Catalon?” Patterson said. “I mean, what a good player. I mean, kickoff return, breaking tackles…Here’s a guy nobody knew about [coming out of high school]. Great player.”
TCU’s second mistake came in the fourth quarter. After the Frogs scored a field goal to bring LSU’s lead down to three points, the Frogs gave up a 75-yard kick return to wide receiver Odell
Beckham Jr. LSU scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Zach Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry three plays later to make the score 37-27.
Patterson said his team knew what was coming on that touchdown play.
“Oh, we knew it was a slant,” the coach said. “I ran both linebackers through to try to get pressure, and everybody on our sideline knew they were going to throw it to [Landry]. They were going to throw the slant, and we didn’t stop it.
Patterson pointed out that the scores that resulted from those two mistakes were the winning margin in the game.
“Key is, we gave them ten points. That’s the difference in the ballgame when you play somebody good.”
The coach said, however, that this game showed that TCU can compete with high-profile teams from the SEC, and that his team will become better because of playing in this game.
“I told them going into this, most of [the media] thought it was going to be a 30-point ballgame,” Patterson said. “So for me…there is no reason for me to walk into my locker room and tell them that they’re not very good because they just got beat.”