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Five questions with TCU beat writer Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

by Jason Kersey Published: November 29, 2012
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has played admirably since taking over as starter in the middle of the season. AP PHOTO
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has played admirably since taking over as starter in the middle of the season. AP PHOTO
NORMAN — Stefan Stevenson covers TCU football for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions to advance Saturday’s regular-season finale between OU and the Horned Frogs.

You can read Stefan’s stuff here, and follow him on Twitter @FollowtheFrogs.

1. On the whole, how would you grade TCU’s first Big 12 season?

“Considering all the personnel issues TCU has faced I’d have to give them a B. If the Frogs pull the upset against Oklahoma, then maybe even an A. I know every team deals with injuries, but I’d argue TCU’s losses were more severe than any team in the league. If the Frogs don’t lose their quarterback, two running backs and two linebackers they likely win games against Iowa State and Texas Tech.”

2. The Frogs were an obvious choice to join the conference, and certainly won huge games before joining it, but how significant was last week’s win at Texas? It seems like TCU winning in Austin — even with the Longhorns being somewhat down — during this inaugural Big 12 season fully legitimizes, in a way, TCU’s step up from occasional BCS buster to power-conference challenger. Do you see it that way?

“I think that’s probably how many outsiders view TCU’s success. It’s hard to argue with that viewpoint. And, yes, beating Texas was significant. It’s significant any time you have won on the road somewhere since 1967. It’s also important because until they actually beat Texas (done) and Oklahoma (again), then there will always be those that think TCU can’t compete. Some of that may subside a little. I predicted Texas would win, but I wasn’t shocked at all that TCU won. They didn’t beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl by a fluke. Beating Oklahoma in Norman wasn’t a fluke. Winning at Clemson, at Boise State, at Utah — these are/were all solid teams, whether John Q. Longhorn fan realizes it. What TCU fans need to realize is that year in and year out most of the time schools such as Texas and Oklahoma are going to be favored to win and rightfully so. Most of the time those schools get the pick of the best recruits. They should be good. Until TCU puts up a string of Big 12 titles, they’ll always be the underdog.”

3. Trevone Boykin has demonstrated an ability to run, and Oklahoma has had some big problems with mobile quarterbacks in recent weeks. Is that something you expect TCU to try exploiting?

“Yes, but as much out of necessity as any kind schematic advantage on Oklahoma. TCU wants to minimize mistakes and eat the clock. That gameplan has served them well in wins, including last week at Texas. When they start trying to get clever, the redshirt freshman has made some mistakes with his arm. They may throw it more than they did against Texas (10 passes), but I don’t think we’ll see more than 20 passes.”

4. Does Boykin have a firm grip on the TCU quarterback job for the forseeable future, even if Casey Pachall returns to the team? Boykin seems to have earned it.

“I think as far as the public will know, it will be Boykin’s job to lose. But if Pachall returns and shows he’s matured and changed, then I don’t see any reason why TCU coaches won’t let him earn the starting job back. Boykin is a very talented athlete and could be used as a running back or receiver. If it’s a straight up QB battle then I don’t see how Pachall doesn’t win the job back. He’s too good a passer.”

5. TCU has been tough in run defense all season, and Oklahoma has struggled to effectively — and consistently — run the football through this recent stretch. Landry Jones and the OU receivers have operated pretty effectively, though, even without much of a threat in the running game. Do you expect those matchups to be determining factors Saturday?

“Yes, those are the keys to this game. The Frogs secondary, as good as it has played this season, has been susceptible to the long pass. If Jones can hit on some of those early that could open up TCU’s run defense and cause problems for the Frogs. I expect TCU to come at Jones with abandon, especially defensive ends Stansly Maponga and Devonte Fields. If the Sooners can keep those two at bay, they have a chance to exploit some of TCU’s vulnerabilities. I expect a close game.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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