Why Is TCU Quarterback Trevone Boykin Struggling?
TCU entered 2013 with one of the best quarterback situations in the Big 12. Six games in, however, it now looks like one of the worst.
It's been a surreal turn of events. Starter Casey Pachall, the best pure passer in the conference, remains out with a broken forearm he sustained in Week 2 against Southeastern Louisiana. Meanwhile, sophomore Trevone Boykin has yet to play consistently well in relief.
Boykin looks uncomfortable and nothing like a quarterback who started the final nine games in 2012 while Pachall dealt with substance abuse issues.
"Tevone needs to take a step back and chill out," head coach Gary Patterson said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "He won three out of five road games last year, so he's shown he's capable. He just has to slow down."
Chances are Boykin is feeling rushed because he's on the run a lot—as in, leads the team in rushing attempts (73) a lot.
TCU's offensive line has been a revolving door, even before the season with the departures of Tayo Fabuluje and Michael Thompson. And the already patched up O-line has yet to have the same five starters for more than three games.
The Frogs have also experienced the growing pains of turnover at the wide receiver spot. Two of the five leading receivers from a year ago—Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson—are gone, leaving Brandon Carter and Cam White as the best returning options.
Carter is the second-leading receiver on the team in total yards with 170, but he has no touchdowns and a terrible case of the drops. Chemistry between quarterback and receiver is noticeably lacking.
Opposing defenses haven't provided any mercy. Texas Tech and Oklahoma, TCU's first two conference opponents, rank 21st and 12th respectively in total defense. Things don't get easier in the second half of the Frogs' schedule, either, as defenses across the Big 12 are generally improved.
Those issues provide context for Boykin's struggles, and they would just as easily affect Pachall, but they don't completely absolve Boykin of blame. Boykin hasn't always been careful with the the ball, and he's still improving on going through his entire progression of reads before tucking the ball and running.
As Boykin goes, so does the offense. And Boykin tends to play better in the second half. Of TCU's 167 points scored this season, 123 have come in the third and fourth quarters.
Consistency isn't limited to just Boykin, though. The Frogs are 3-3 and have yet to win more than one game at a time. If it wasn't for TCU's stellar defense, things could be looking even more bleak.
Patterson may have to keep relying on that defense if the offense can't improve. Boykin has shown that his athleticism can, at times, make him difficult to stop. But his accuracy is a work-in-progress.
If Boykin, if TCU's offense as a whole, could put a good game together for 60 minutes, the Frogs would become a dangerous team. However, there have been no signs that will happen.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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