NORMAN — Oklahoma hosts TCU on Oct. 5, only a week after the Sooners’ dangerous trip to Notre Dame.
The Horned Frogs enter their second Big 12 season as one of the favorites to win the conference. Last season, OU won 24-17 at TCU to claim its share of the Big 12 championship.
Continuing my blog series with a beat writer from each of OU’s 2013 opponents, Stefan Stevenson from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was kind enough to answer a few questions about TCU.
You can follow Stefan on Twitter @FollowtheFrogs.
1. Trevone Boykin didn’t seem to play all that bad down the stretch last season, but now finds himself in a tough position battle. Do you think Casey Pachall will ultimately win back his job?
I’d be shocked if Casey Pachall is not the starting QB Aug. 31 against LSU. If he keeps his focus, and by all accounts he’s returned to TCU with a renewed energy and determination, he’ll earn the starting job. Boykin is talented and performed admirably after being thrown into a tough situation last season. But Pachall’s experience and talent trumps Boykin’s. It’s not even close.
2. TCU seemed primed to pull a big upset to open the season against LSU before Devonte Fields’ suspension. Do you still think the Horned Frogs can win that game?
I think a win is still possible, but with Fields out it got a lot tougher. If TCU plays well but loses a close game I think it still bodes well for the rest of the season.
3. Speaking of Fields, he’s such an enormously talented player but has obviously found himself in Gary Patterson’s dog house. How has he handled the suspension, and do you think he’s working well toward getting back into coaches’ good graces?
I’m not sure he’s in Patterson’s dog house so much as he apparently needed to be reminded of how serious TCU takes its rules. If Fields keeps his act together and has a good August he’ll be back in Patterson’s good graces.
4. TCU is a trendy pick as the darkhorse in the Big 12 championship race. What do you think will be the keys to winning the conference crown?
If Pachall is able to play up to his potential and running back Waymon James returns to the level he was playing at before a season-ending injury last year, the offense should be much improved. The defense returns nine starters and should be better than last year’s unit that led the Big 12. If both of those turn out to be true, then TCU should be in the thick of the conference title hunt.
5. Where do you think TCU’s greatest strengths are as a team, and where do you see potential weaknesses?
TCU’s deepest area is the secondary, where all five starters are back and led by strong safety Sam Carter and cornerback Jason Verrett. Pachall’s talent could shine if he’s back to his old form. The weakest area is linebacker where experience and depth are big issues. The offensive line also has a few questions that need to be settled in August.