While TCU fans might have been surprised by how close the first half was at Amon G. Carter Stadium Saturday, head coach Gary Patterson was not.
“They’re a good-looking football team,” Patterson said of Southeastern Louisiana. “I knew that watching them warm up. I walked into the locker room and said, ‘You guys better get ready because you’re going to play somebody that’s ready to play.’”
The Horned Frogs defeated the Lions 38-17 on Saturday, but certainly didn’t look like a Big 12 title contender for much of the first half.
“I thought we didn’t play with very much enthusiasm,” Patterson said. “And I told them, if they do that, that’s what good teams don’t do. You can’t come down to the level of the team that you play.”
The offense struggled mightily in the first half, failing to score on its first two possessions, which both began in Southeastern territory. Both drives ended when TCU failed to convert a fourth down attempt. The Frogs had to kick a field goal as time expired at the end of the first half just to go to the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
TCU’s problems multiplied when starting quarterback Casey Pachall went down in the second quarter with a left forearm injury. Pachall was injured after being tackled out of bounds on an eight-yard run, and was down for several minutes on the sideline.
Patterson said Pachall has received x-rays, but declined to comment on the severity of the injury.
“He won’t play next week. I’ll promise you that,” Patterson said.
Trevone Boykin came in to lead the offense after Pachall went down. With Boykin’s athleticism and ability to scramble, the offense finally gained some traction, scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half.
“I just think we woke up,” Patterson said of his team’s second-half surge.
Boykin will start at quarterback while Pachall is out, according to Patterson. The redshirt sophomore had been playing at receiver before Pachall’s injury, and caught three passes for 25 yards.
Boykin, who started seven games at quarterback for the Frogs last season, wasn’t thrown off when he had to make the transition mid-game.
“I did that during practice,” Boykin said. “It was pretty easy.”
Boykin finished with 133 passing yards and two touchdowns: a 27-yarder to WR Josh Doctson in the third quarter and a 9-yard screen to RB Aaron Green to start the fourth. He also had 35 yards rushing.
With Pachall injured, Patterson said that Boykin will need to stop risking his body when he runs the ball or scrambles out of the pocket.
"He's an unbelievable competitor. In fact, he needs to calm down,” Patterson said. “He’s not going to last a full season leaping over people. He needs to slide. He needs to get out of it and get to the next play.”
“I’m trying to do whatever it takes to win,” Boykin said of taking unnecessary hits. However, the quarterback agreed with his coach that he’s “hard-headed,” and that he needs to change since he is the starting quarterback now.
Boykin’s competitive play was only one reason for TCU’s improvements in the second half. The team’s defense also received a boost when suspended defensive end Devonte Fields was finally allowed back onto the field. Fields only played for the third quarter, but Patterson said that quarter was when the defense performed its best.
“And to be honest with you, I needed to [play him],” the coach said. “Because he’s still got some game shape to get back into.”
Patterson had said at his press conference Tuesday that he was concerned about the possibility of Fields being injured if his first game came against Texas Tech on Thursday. The preseason All-American was suspended for two games in May. After Fields sat out three quarters Saturday, Patterson said he would decide later when he would serve the final quarter of his suspension.
RB B.J. Catalon continued his fast start to the season, scoring on a 15-yard run on third and goal in the second quarter. Catalon got into the end zone twice last week against LSU: once on a 100-yard kickoff return and another on an end-around run.
Catalon led the team in rushing in 2012 as a freshman, and says the guidance of RB Waymon James, who was inured most of last season, helped him get to the point he is at now.
“It helped having older guys like Waymon, who really just took me under his wing like a little brother,” Catalon said.
James scored his second rushing touchdown of the season to open up the scoring for TCU, making it 7-0.
Southeastern QB Brian Bennett, a transfer from Oregon, tied the game at 7-7 with a one-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. He tied the game again at 14-14 after Catalon’s run with a 65-yard touchdown pass to WR Jeff Smiley, who was left uncovered on a wheel route.
Those plays, among others, were the result of Southeastern’s preparation and TCU’s lapses in focus, and Patterson gave the Lions credit.
“I thought Southeastern Louisiana came [and did] exactly what I thought they would,” Patterson said. “This was a statement game for them…I thought they played hard. They tried to be really physical.”
When the Frogs play the Red Raiders on Thursday, they will have to approach that game like the Lions approached this one.