The TCU Horned Frogs dropped its season opener in Dallas to the visiting LSU Tigers, 37-27.
While the game was close and both teams played pretty well, the Horned Frogs clearly missed DE Devonte Fields, who last spring was suspended for the first two games after violating unspecified team rules. His presence might have been the difference between a win and a loss.
First off, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sacked only twice the night, and both were by blitzing defensive backs.
Had TCU head coach Gary Patterson lifted the suspension and allowed Fields to play, the pass-rushing end would've surely put more pressure on the quarterback, allowing the secondary to focus more on pass coverage. Because TCU's secondary had to assist in putting pressure in the backfield, that allowed Mettenberger to toss for 251 yards and a score.
Patterson: "There's no doubt we missed Devonte Fields."— Stefan Stevenson (@FollowtheFrogs) September 1, 2013
Where the Horned Frogs really missed Fields, though, was in run defense. The Tigers tore up the gridiron to the tune of 197 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Fields is a great run-stopper; he helped the Horned Frogs defense hold opponents to 1,370 rushing yards last year. In 2012, the TCU allowed over 150 yards on the ground in just three games.
Should Gary Patterson have allowed Devonte Fields to play?
Finally, Fields could've been pivotal in shutting down LSU on its final drive of the game. The Tigers ate up the final 5:15 of the clock and converted two crucial third downs to put the game away. Had Fields been playing, perhaps the Horned Frogs defense stiffens and forces a punt and gets the ball back to the offense for once last comeback effort.
Patterson surely missed Fields during the game and would've loved to have him on the field. But he stuck by his decision to suspend him.
Fields will be eligible to play in Week 3 against Texas Tech, the team's Big 12 opener.