TCU got a player back on Saturday in defensive end Devonte Fields, who is returning (sort of) from a suspension. But the Horned Frogs lost a key player in a 38-17 win over Southeastern Louisiana, as well, in quarterback Casey Pachall.
—UPDATE SEPT. 7 8:10 P.M. ET—
TCU QB Casey Pachall had surgery after an injury to his left arm today, coach Gary Patterson said. He will miss multiple games.— Stefan Stevenson (@FollowtheFrogs) September 8, 2013
The senior went down with what Fox Sports Southwest labeled as a "forearm injury" late in the second quarter.
Flushed out of the pocket, Pachall ran to his right and was tackled out of bounds. Replay showed a SE Louisiana player landing on Pachall's left arm as he tried to brace his fall.
Pachall did not return to the game.
Without knowing the exact details of the injury, it's too early to speculate how long Pachall will be out, though Gary Patterson said in his post game press conference that Pachall will miss next Thursday's game on the road at Texas Tech.
That means the quarterback duties will once again fall on sophomore Trevone Boykin.
Boykin, just as he did for much of last year when Pachall was suspended to deal with substance abuse issues, filled in nicely on Saturday with 136 yards passing and a pair of touchdown passes.
Coincidence or not, the offense started to find its rhythm when Boykin switched over to quarterback—he had played some wide receiver earlier in the game.
Or, maybe it was Patterson's halftime adjustments with TCU up just 17-14 that got his team going.
The Horned Frogs defense got a crucial fourth down stop and an interception on back-to-back series early in the third quarter. Both ultimately led to TCU touchdowns.
Either way, it was much sharper effort by TCU in the second half, after initially looking lethargic and uninspired. The Horned Frogs were clearly the better team and able to shake off a slow start.
Whether Pachall can return this season or not is less clear, but the prognosis doesn't sound promising.
Gary Patterson on Casey Pachall: "I don't know if he'll be back."— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 7, 2013
The loss hurts, obviously, but the advantage TCU possesses is that it has two quarterbacks with meaningful game experience and success to boot.
The offensive game plan changes a little bit depending on whether Boykin or Pachall is in the game, but both are effective in their own way. Pachall is the better pure passer, but Boykin brings another element with his athleticism.
Personally, I had TCU winning the Big 12 this year and expressed in Week 1 that Boykin was better suited to start for the Horned Frogs in the process.
With a solid defense and an emerging star in B.J. Catalon in the run game, this is a team that can win the Big 12 no matter who's at quarterback.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow him on Twitter @BenKercheval.