Each week, MetroNews will hear from a writer who covers West Virginia’s opponent. Today we’re joined by Stefan Stevenson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, for whom he covers TCU. You can follow him on Twitter (@FollowtheFrogs):
METRONEWS: Like West Virginia, TCU is on a two-game slide, and the Frogs need an upset during the final four weeks to become bowl-eligible. How have Frogs fans responded to the more difficult grind of the Big 12?
Stevenson: They’ve responded fairly well despite having to play (and in many cases start) freshmen at key spots. Anyone who watched TCU’s losses knows that a few plays here or there could have meant a victory for the Frogs. That’s especially true against Iowa State and Texas Tech. Last week, Oklahoma State pulled away in the fourth quarter and won 36-14, but TCU was within striking distance but just never could make the big play to stem the tide.
METRONEWS: How dynamic has redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin been in four starts, and if he can’t go Saturday, what should fans expect from third-stringer Matt Brown?
Stevenson: Boykin will start Saturday, according to Gary Patterson. He can be very dynamic, he just needs to remember it during games. Last week against OSU, Boykin too often tried to force a pass instead of tucking and trying to run for a few yards. TCU wants him to remember that he’s a gifted runner and that he shouldn’t be hesitant to take off if the pass isn’t there. He’s also a better passer than his performance against OSU would indicate. He’s got a great arm and is much more accurate than he showed against the Cowboys.
METRONEWS: How about the pass-rushing productivity of true freshman defensive end Devonte Fields? He was a four-star recruit with SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten offers, but did TCU coaches dream he’d have such an immediate impact?
Stevenson: I think TCU knew how talented he was, but whether they predicted he’d have such an impact as a freshman, I’m not so sure. Ross Forrest, a senior, was listed as the starter in August, before his career was cut short by an injury. He has stayed with the team and has helped coach Fields and the other young defensive linemen. My guess is that even if Forrest had remained healthy, Fields probably would have found the field in 2012 anyway. He’s just too good.
METRONEWS: Gary Patterson has evolved into one of those college coaches with the tenure and success to stand as the face of a program. What has he meant to TCU football and do you envision him eventually retiring in Fort Worth?
Stevenson: Patterson is, indeed, the face of TCU football and has a very loyal following among Frogs’ fans. He’s also been able to retain most of his staff for a long time, which says a lot. I do expect him to stay at TCU until he’s ready to retire. He has great affection for Fort Worth and TCU and is very loyal. Recent rumors about him being Arkansas’s leading candidate rolls the eyes of most hardcore TCU fans. They don’t expect him to leave any time soon, either. He’s got a great job, paid very well, and a $164 million stadium just opened this season.
METRONEWS: That 56-53 loss to Texas Tech appeared to be a gut-punch for TCU. Do you expect another shootout Saturday, especially with Geno Smith hungry to rebound from consecutive poor outputs?
Stevenson: That certainly wouldn’t surprise me. But nothing would at this point. TCU has been a hard team to peg this season because of all the new players and inexperience. There’s less stability at key spots, making them tough to figure out. I agree that Geno Smith and his offense are probably poised to bust out of their two-game funk. TCU’s offense played its poorest game last week, so they have some funk-busting to do as well.