Although TCU is coming off a win against SMU, the team will have to play at least its next two games without a preseason All-American.Senior defensive end Tommy Blake will be taking a medical leave of absence during TCU’s next two games, head coach Gary Patterson said at Tuesday’s media luncheon.
Patterson said Blake will be on the sidelines for the next two games, after which his status will be re-evaluated. He said he felt he was hurting Blake by putting him in a situation the end was not ready to deal with yet.
Blake has played in the Horned Frogs last three games, but he did not start in the Saturday game against SMU.
“We’ve tried for three weeks to try and be able to push through,” Patterson said. “It hasn’t been a positive, I don’t think, especially for him.”
If Blake does not improve, Patterson said an appeal for a medical hardship waiver – or redshirt – is not out of the question.
“He hasn’t played too much to redshirt,” Patterson said. “It’s just really hard to get a sixth year, at least at TCU.”
A player qualifies for a medical hardship waiver if the player only plays in two games or 20 percent of a season, the injury is before the sixth game of the season or the injury is incapacitating and supported by medical documentation, according to the NCAA’s medical hardships regulations.
Patterson said he is not sure whether the team will apply for a medical waiver, but a waiver request for Blake would most likely be rejected and TCU would appeal.
Senior defensive end Chase Ortiz had started every game of his TCU career with Blake until this year.
“It’ll probably be best for him,” Ortiz said about Blake’s medical leave.
Ortiz said he had been instructed to defer all other questions concerning Blake to Patterson.
Junior Matt Panfil, who started the Baylor and SMU games, will be starting again in Blake’s place.
“The guy who’s really played well,” Patterson said, “who’s really been coming along, who’s been a surprise because we didn’t see him in the spring, is Matt Panfil.”
Ortiz said Panfil has done a lot this season to prove himself as a player and has already gotten better after his two starts.
TCU’s next game is against Colorado State University, a team TCU has defeated in the last three meetings, at Amon Carter Stadium this Saturday.
Patterson said not to be fooled by Colorado State’s record, describing them as a physical and disciplined team with 20 returning starters.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Andy Dalton will be starting, but Patterson plans on rotating him with sophomore Marcus Jackson, as he did during the SMU game.
Playing time will depend on which quarterback bothers Colorado State the most, Patterson said.
“We’ll find out who has the hot hand and then we’ll go forward,” he said.
Junior center Blake Schlueter said Jackson’s demeanor before and during the SMU game showed the team he was ready to go.
“He had this spark that got all of us going,” Schlueter said, “and we just kind of felt it along with him that we were going to make something happen while he’s in there.”
Patterson said he expects to keep junior running back Aaron Brown in the starting lineup against Colorado State. Brown returned to the Frogs with 108 total yards against SMU after being out two games with a leg injury.